My family and I recently headed out to Oberon in NSW, in the hope of finding some trout waters closer to home. While Lake Jindabyne and the Thredbo River were incredible venues, driving 7 hours to fish for trout is just too tall an ask for me to do frequently.
So with that in mind, we left home after work on Friday, and started the 180km drive through the Blue Mountains, to Oberon. I was not initially impressed with our accomodation, the Jenolan Holiday Park, predominantly since it was located in the middle of town, under the clouds of steam billowing from the timber mill’s stacks.
That said, the cabins were comfortable, consisting of 2 bedrooms, a bathroom with a shower, and a small living area including an open plan kitchen, dining room table, and a couch and TV. The park was also well located, close to the main road, and just 5 – 10 minutes from the most popular fishing locations. The park was small, with no facilities for kids such as a pool or park, but is more than good enough as a place to sleep on a fishing trip.
Our first morning was spent exploring some of the fishing spots (namely Reef Reserve, the dam wall, and the golf course), and jumping onto as many of the 4×4 trails in the area as we could. This including having a sausage sizzle in a local forest, overlooking the waters edge, and walking across the dam wall. We also found an amazing local park in Oberon itself, and spent hours on the flying fox and swings.
But when afternoon finally fell, I grabbed my fly rod and headed for Kelly’s Bay. Although we hadn’t been there in the morning, I’d seen the area from the dam wall, and it showed good promise. I also felt it would be better protected from the strong winds which were blowing, and came highly recommended by many anglers.
Lake Oberon, also known as Oberon Dam and Fish River Dam, was built on the Fish River in 1949. The dam was created for electricity generation and as a water supply, and as such powered boating is not allowed. The dam is home to healthy populations of both rainbow and brown trout, as well as the occasional brook trout. Trout releases for 2018 included 11 000 rainbow fingerlings into the Fish River and 10 000 rainbow fingerlings into Lake Oberon. An additional 1000 tagged rainbows >250mm were also released into the lake to combat the growing redfin perch epidemic. On top of that, 18 000 brown trout fry, and 22 000 rainbow trout fry, were released into the nearby streams, and 20 000 golden perch and 10 000 Murray River cod were released into Lake Oberon to provide some native species to target. More information on NSW fish stocking can be found here.
Upon arrived I kitted up my 5 weight rod, with a sinking line and my standard searching pattern – a black wooly bugger. I was impressed to find a sign reading, “Your fishing license at work,” on a newly built fence with an easy access gate for fishermen.
The water level was extremely low, and the fringes consisted of predominantly muddy, clay-like banks. I started on a rocky point, working my way slowly into a small bay with an inlet and a little structure. My plan was to fish the deeper water while the sun was high in the sky, and then to reach the shallows in time for the evening rise.
I was glad to pick up weed on multiple retrieves, indicating the bottom of the dam had some structure to it, and helpfully held some food. The first hour was slow, and I didn’t get any knocks, or see any fish. Thankfully, as the sun dipped towards the horizon, I started to get the odd bump. I even managed to lose a fish after having it on for a few seconds, which got my heart racing.
And then it finally happened! A solid fish gripped my fly and headed for the depths of Oberon Dam. The fish was strong, and put up a good fight, before I finally brought it to the net after many nervous minutes. It was a beautiful rainbow trout of around 2.5kgs, and surprisingly had a tag in it. I carefully released the fish and reported the tag to the DPI (via the NSW Freshwater Fish Tagging Recapture Form).
I managed to land one more trout of similar size before calling it a day and headed back to the car. Despite the low water levels, the dam seemed to be fishing well, and the fish were healthy and strong.
It was great to see the effort being put the management of the trout population in the Snowy Mountains, and Oberon, via the tagging program. I look forward to catching (and reporting) many more healthy trout in the upcoming years.
Sadly the wind kept me off the water for the remainder of the weekend, but it was great to have found a solid trout water close to Sydney. I’ll certainly be back.