I had another session last weekend on my favourite little Monaro stream. The plan was to fish some of the faster water, which I have tended to neglect in the past. After seeing a few fingerlings in the shallow water on a recent trip, in addition to a fun little session on a shallow, fast flowing river near Bombala recently, I was determined to see if I could nail a few of these smaller fish on the dry.
I arrived full of optimism and donned the waders. It’s actually the first time I’ve bothered to wear waders on this stream, and it was great to get in the water and open up some new spots that were previously inaccessible. I fished some of the undercut, reedy banks in the slower water with a hopper, but it was drizzling and the hoppers weren’t active. Resolving to find some flow, I ventured further up the stream to a spot where there are usually some small rapids running down into a short riffle, then into a deeper pool. Despite the drizzling rain, there was virtually no flow. I was a little disappointed as I wanted to get Rache onto her fist fish on a fly, but the relatively ‘easy’ dry fly fishing in shallow water wasn’t going to happen on this occasion.
Not that dry fly fishing in shallow water is easy, but it generally requires less casting and there are usually more opportunities to catch fish. This doesn’t mean you actually catch more fish, as evidenced by many of my own failures when fishing these faster streams with the likes of Hamish, Perrin, Nick and Brett.
Anyway, we decided to head back to the slower water and fish some ‘Molly buggers’, which are some flies I tied up using some hair from my cavoodle, a bit of that hemp packing twine, an orange bead head and a few wraps of copper wire.
Rache was battling with turning over the heavier flies, and decided to head back to the car. As she walked off, I was letting my fly sink a little deeper than usual before giving it a good, sharp strip. When the line went taught, I thought I had caught the bottom, but struck instinctively. My snag started moving vigorously, and I was connected to a good fish!
I yelled out to Rache, who was halfway back to the car, and she came back to witness me jumping into the stream, net at the ready, to land my fish. She was a beautifully conditioned brownie of around 3 pounds, and put up a lengthy and spirited fight on the 6 weight (3x leader). I got Rache to take a few quick photos before returning her to the water.
Unfortunately, perhaps due to the warm temperature of the water and protracted fight, she just didn’t want to swim away, even after about 10 minutes trying to revive her. I agonised over the decision to knock her on the head, but I figured it would be better to do her justice as dinner than risk letting her float downstream, belly up, only to be eaten by a fox, an eagle or some yabbies.
By this stage, Rache was keen to head back to the farm, so I reluctantly but contentedly walked back to the car in the rain and headed off. I cleaned the fish back at the farm and despite the fantastic condition of the fish, found the stomach to be empty of anything readily discernible. However, judging by the deep orange colour of its flesh, it was obvious that a large proportion of this fish’s diet was yabbies and shrimp. I decided to fillet it and cooked it as you would a nice piece of salmon. Just fried in butter, fairly hot and skin side down (with a ‘healthy’ pinch of salt on the skin). Wait until the skin goes golden and crispy before turning over to seal the fillet and finish cooking….anyway, I hope you can tell by this that I think I did do her justice, as she was delicious.
I suppose I don’t mind keeping the odd fish…but it’s interesting to me how my perspective of trout has changed as I have grown fonder of them. They are such an endearing fish, and I can start to see why people dedicate their lives to fishing for them, and why there are tomes of literature written about all things trout fishing. I guess the flip side of the coin is that they are an introduced predator, the rules say I’m allowed to keep a few, and taking out a fish like this will arguably give the little ones a chance and actually improve the longer term sustainability of that trout fishery.
Needless to say, I can’t wait to get back. Thanks for reading,