Man vs Fish – Does Fishing For Spawning Trout Create An Ethical Dilemma?

Every year if the conditions are suitable the resident lake brown trout of the lakes in the Snowy Mountains make a pilgrimage up the source rivers to spawn. Two major lakes Jindabyne and Eucumbene are very popular fishing destinations. Does fishing for spawning trout create an ethical dilemma?

Every story has two sides, so this is a summary of the issues as I see it:


  • Over crowding.
  • Amount of fishing pressure.
  • Not a subtle form of fishing, often an over-weighted rig is required (especially true of fly fishing).
  • A minority spoil things for the majority – unfortunately this is true of any pursuit there is always someone who leaves rubbish, is rude or does not follows the rules.


  • Most of these fish sulk in the lake the rest of the year and are rarely seen by anglers.
  • Usually there is only a very short window between when the fish start their spawning run and the close of river fishing.
  • Seeing large numbers of fish (often very big fish) is very exciting.
  • Fishery officers regulate the fishery. They check licenses and enforce catch limits.
  • Taking of fish > 50cm is limited to one per day.
  • Very social and in most cases convivial fishing, you get to say hello and chat to fellow fishers.
  • Most fishers are happy to share a part of the river where normally someone “dropping in” on your part of the river would be considered extremely rude.
  • We catch and release all our fish.

Apart from the main rivers we also fished a couple of the smaller tributaries.  In the shallow water the fish were easily spooked so we reverted to un-weighted globugs and waiting until we saw a fish to cast to. The fishing was as challenging as it was exciting.

It was interesting to watch the effectiveness of a “hybrid” fishing method. A standard fly rig of globug and nymph is rigged on spinning gear. The key difference was that it allowed the use of a series a heavy split-shot to make sure the rig was in contact with the bottom of the riverbed. With the recent rain the river flow certainly was up and it was very difficult to get flies down in the strong current. However, heavy spinning gear and braid just sliced through the water like a cheese-cutter down to where the fish were holding on the riverbed.


Eucumbene Spawn Run Crowd

Welcome to the craziness of the spawn run

Eucumbene Spawn Run Fishing with friends

Our fishing is about enjoying the company of friends as much as the fishing

Mark Kelly Eucumbene Spawning Brown Trout 01

A beautiful brown trout in full spawning colours

Mark Passfield Releasing Eucumbene Spawning Brown Trout

Mark about to release a beautiful brown trout

Mark Kelly Eucumbene Spawning Brown Trout

Just about to release another beautiful brown trout

Mark Passfield Releasing Eucumbene Spawning Brown Trout

Mark releases another fish

Mark Kelly Eucumbene Spawning Brown Trout

What a big mouth!

Mark Kelly Releasing Eucumbene Spawning Brown Trout

About to release my biggest fish of the trip

#fishing #flyfishing #Eucumbene #trout

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  1. Paul Miller June 11, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    Nice work Mark Kelly!
    Great photo’s and a very balanced look at what is a pretty surreal experience. I particularly liked your approach to skinny water trout with an unweighted glo-bug…almost “spawn run dry fly”…..and many less foul hooked I imagine.

    • MKImages June 11, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

      Hi Paulo – most of the time they ignored, but very exciting to watch fish take fly. Yes, even MP commented it was more like dry-fly fishing!!

  2. Wanda Lach June 11, 2013 at 8:57 am #

    The Snowy River Hatchery breed and release fingerlings each year as well so the numbers are always monitored and yes the marine police are extremely vigilante. If you are releasing the fish then that’s also a bonus! great pics – did you actually take one home to cook? Nothing better than a fresh trout – smoked ones are fantastic too!

    • MKImages June 11, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

      Hi Wanda – yes occasionally bring home a fish for dinner!

  3. Helen Draper June 10, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

    Great pics and I am sure this is fun but it looks cold and wet!

    • MKImages June 10, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

      Thnx Helen
      yes it was cold & wet, but the fish did not seem to mind…

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