A NSW trout opening: sometimes everything works out…

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I am up in Canberra doing a bit of lab work at the moment. While I was considering working the allure of the opening of the NSW trout season was just too hard to resist, so on Saturday me and Perrin decided we would go for a fish. After much umming and ahhhhing we decided to head out to a secret stream not all that far from Canberra. Perrin picked me up early early and we were on the water by eight. The sun was out and it was shaping up like it was going to be a glorious day. Expectations on the fishing side of things weren’t high, Perrin had been out there a few times last season and had failed to land a fish. What had drawn us there was that the stream does hold a few monsters, however they are notoriously hard to temp.The hope for the day was that we would be lucky enough to catch one. Thats how it started, low expectations, high hopes and glorious day.

We fished upstream slowly as the morning progressed but we weren’t having much luck. A couple of hours in and Perrin finally connected to a fish which threw the hooks as it leaped two feet clear of the water. Twenty meters up the stream and Perrin spotted a fish. After having a shot at it and then getting his fly caught in a tree, it was my turn to cover the fish. From where I was standing I couldn’t see the fish, but apparently it was decent

“Maybe between 35, 40 centimetres”

With Perrin guiding me I made the cast. I absolutely shanked it. I failed to account for the wind and managed to both over cast and land the rest of the fly line directly on the fish.

“Spooked it didn’t I?”

“Nah man, it hasn’t moved”

It was then that my next oversight became apparent, I had only just tied on an unweighted wooly bugger and it was floating like a cork.

“Shit”

I wasn’t really game to move it given my fly line given was sitting directly over the fish. As thoughts of what to do went through my head Perrin said something

“I think he’s seen it, he’s moving anyway, yep, yep”

It was then that I got my first look at the fish as its jaws poked out of the water as it slowly ate my “dry bugger”. I waited and waited until it finally closed it jaws and I struck. What became immediately apparent was that it was a little better than 35-40. The water it displaced on its first jump made that abundantly clear. Then came time for the net. This was when I realised it was a good fish, it didn’t fit. After a few nervous moments, the fish getting out of the net a few times, it almost swimming between Perrin’s legs and what not, it was finally landed. My first fish of the NSW trout season, it was a good way to start. After a few quick shots I sent him back home. I was happy for the day.

The fish didn't like the net much
The fish didn’t like the net much
Slab
Slab. Not a bad way to start the season

After that we kept fishing, but not much happened. After a non-eventful hour or so Perrin began the sentence “I just don’t get this strea…”. He was cut off by a fish smashing his slowly retrieved bugger. The fish did its best to break him off in the rocks but Perrin was all over it and we had our second fish of the morning. Another big beautiful brown trout. Good day!

Perrin opens the account with another great fish
Perrin opens his account with another great fish
Some of them were a little smaller
Some of them were a little smaller

 

Not much further up, we sat in the shade, cracked a beer toasted to our success, we had done it. We were both happy, both content. We seriously considered moving on to check out some other streams in the area. Eventually Perrin made a sensible argument that we had come all this way, we may as well fish for a little longer. It was the right decision. What ensued was pure fun. Sun, gorgeous countryside and sight-fishing to large brown trout. We had definitely made the right call. Over the next two hours we ended up landing four more browns, all big, all wonderfully conditioned. Eventually the sun got high, it got hot and seemingly within minutes all the life on, in and around the stream, the insects, lizards, snakes and fish that had been keeping us company all morning disappeared.

Average
Average

We headed back to the car for lunch and another beer. We sat around for an hour or two taking in the rays waiting for the sun to get down in the sky a little bit. When the time was right we went to check out another spot close by. About half an hour after we got back on the stream, insects started popping off the water and the odd fish started rising. Then suddenly the stream seemingly exploded. There were insects everywhere. Caddis, three or four types of mayflies (march browns and a bunch of little guys in different colours), flying ants and midge. SO SO many midge. Suddenly every pool had two or three rising fish. Whether we caught fish or not it was definitely a wonderful thing to witness. We tried tempting the rising fish with dry flies but we weren’t having much luck. As we more closely observed the goings on, it became clear that the fish were fixated on emerging midge. The big duns, caddis and what not all drifted by the fish unnoticed. They had something else on their minds, midge. Eventually we sort of cracked it and we caught a few more fish. The killer technique? Unweighted woooly buggers pulled just under the surface. Not classic but it seemed to work. In the twilight it could be quite hard to detect an eat and we each missed and dropped far more fish than we landed but it was cracking good fun. Just like earlier in the day, the orgy of activity stopped in an instant. One moment it was mayhem, rising fish everywhere, the next it just stopped. Taking a cue from the fish we headed back to the car and made our way back to Canberra. It had been one hell of a day. It was one of those days where everything just worked, where a poor presentation was just as effective as a good one most of the time. Its not always like that, in fact its rarely ever like that. We got lucky, the gods smiled on us and completely turned it on. It was a good start to the season. I’m glad I took the day off.

A pinpoint 40ft cast (with a wooly bugger) was needed to tempt this midge obsessed trout.
A pinpoint 40ft cast (with a wooly bugger) was needed to tempt this midge obsessed trout.
The smallest fish of the day. Connecting to something this small was a real challenge ;)
The smallest fish of the day. Connecting to something this small was a real challenge , hence the smile;)

Until next time good luck on the water

Cheers

Hamish

flickandflyjournal.com

Hamish Webb, Dan Firth, Graham Fifield and Lee Georgeson have been fishing the south-east Australian region since 1987. Since then they’ve become avid sportfishermen who are constantly looking for new ways to challenge themselves. They are all scientists and conservationists who are passionate about the long-term sustainability of the ecosystem in which they live. They promote understanding and appreciation of the complex socio-political, economic and environmental issues surrounding fish, fishing and fisheries, while never losing sight of the various motivations that keep them coming back. In English, that means they love all things fishing and have a damn good time on the water, and that’s all that really counts in the end!

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