On a recent autumn weekend I made the hour-long drive to the Goodradigbee River with good mate and keen angler Pat Sherley. After picking up some ales and rugging up with layers of clothing, we spent the picturesque drive through the mountains discussing how many big trout we were going to catch and what the best cooking techniques would be. On arriving at the Brindabella bridge, we disembarked the car and realised it was much warmer than Canberra! Off came the beanies and scarves, on when the hats and we set off.
The Goodradigbee River is a lovely little trout stream about an hours’ drive west of Canberra. To get there, you head out towards the Cotter, then hang a right before the new Cotter Dam onto Brindabella Road. You continue along here for some time before turning left at a small locality (sorry forgotten the name but there’s some hideous development going on here so you can’t miss it). After that the road climbs up through the Brindabella Ranges towards Picadilly Circus, which is essentially the top of the range. From here it’s maybe 20km on the dirt down into the Goodradigbee catchment and the locality of Brindabella. It’s easily two-wheel drivable but watch out for motorists coming the other way on some of the corners.
We decided to trek upstream first, through the grazing country, to try our luck on the local browns and rainbows. It started fairly slowly and took around an hour to get the first fish – a tiny rainbow of around 10 cm. After spotting some fresh boot-prints in the mud by the side of the river I started to suspect someone had beat us to fishing this stretch of the river. We continued on a little further and only caught one more small fish, so decided to head back to the bridge and have a look downstream.
Downstream from the bridge was where the fun really started. As we were running out of time, we essentially had to approach each spot from upstream, which is obviously difficult when chasing a fish that spends most of its time intently looking upstream for prey and predators to arrive. The section of the river below the bridge is characterised by granite gorge country. The scrub here is so thick, and there are so many blackberries and steep, rocky hills, that it is incredibly slow-going. Nonetheless, it looks far fishier and holds more (and bigger) fish that the more easily accessed agricultural land upstream from the bridge.
I only landed two fish here, but they were bigger than the ones from earlier and were in a much shorter stretch of river. I also saw a number of other fish following and rising, but failed to tempt them. There was also something a bit bigger splashing around, which in hindsight was presumably a platypus, but I didn’t get a good look at it.
Three of the fish were caught on a small celta and one on a trout patterned rapala. The rapala lures are quite good and are more forgiving for novices as they float. In shallower water, I’ve noticed that some people have trouble clicking the bail arm over fast enough to start winding and the celtas tend to find the bottom and get snagged.
It was a really enjoyable session and it was great to get some exercise fighting through some rough country. I’d encourage any Canberra angler to give it a go. You’ll increase your chances by beating the crowds (i.e. going early morning or weekdays) or heading downstream, but even if you don’t catch anything I can almost guarantee you’ll enjoy the spectacular scenery and crisp, mountain air.