It’s great when a hunch, some anecdotal evidence and a bit of research pay off: I recently found a ‘secret creek’. I’m not really sure what makes it secret; perhaps the reason that no one has heard of it, there is no evidence anyone fishes it, and that there is very little evidence that it would contain trout. It’s situated in the midst of an exquisite mountain ash forest, hidden through thick scrub, treeferns and bracken. There are tenacious leeches and persistent mosquitoes, but they just add to the sense of prehistoric isolation on this amazing little stream. Despite the sense of isolation, it’s only a few hundred metres off a main highway.
I ‘found’ it long before I fished it. I can’t remember when I first heard about it, but I do remember Hamish’s cousin, Emile, telling me about a little dam in the mountains that had long ago been stocked with trout. Unfortunately there is no public access to the dam, but I was determined to find out more, so contacted the relevant authority to see if I could get in there. The bloke I emailed said something along the lines of ‘Under Section 3.2.1 of the Trespassing Act 1926, no public access is allowed’. It wasn’t the answer I was hoping for, so I replied: ‘Ok, thanks mate. Just out of interest, do you know if there are any trout in there?’. His next reply was far more amicable, stating that ‘Yeah mate, there are a heap of good fish in there’. This put a smile on my face, as the secret creek runs into the dam.
I visited the creek a few months ago, but was only able to have one or two casts in a small pool, as the vegetation either side of the stream was impenetrable. I didn’t see any evidence of fish and to be honest, I had doubts. I recently returned with a pair of solid waders, and was able to explore further up the stream. Even with waders, the going was incredibly tough, with thick logjams criss-crossing the stream and overhanging vegetation along both banks. Add to this the deep, anaerobic mud, vines, and logs and sticks of all sizes across the creek bed, and it is a very difficult place to fish. There were times when I tried to get out of the water to walk around a particularly challenging obstacle, only to realise that the route was more impassable than the one I was trying to avoid.
Despite these challenges, I finally got some evidence that the creek holds fish. On the first cast into a beautiful pool, a lovely rainbow trout came darting out towards the lure, although wouldn’t eat. This happened again before the fish lost interest. It didn’t really spook, which may indicate that it hadn’t seen many lures or humans in the past.
Further up the creek I cast up towards a little waterfall and was winding back in, when a little tiny bonsai trout shot out and nailed the lure. I didn’t hookup, unfortunately, but it was a great sign that the creek holds a naturally sustaining population.
I reached an impasse and decided to have a look further down the creek, where there is another access point. Upstream from me was a section of shallow, fast flowing riffles – perfect for dry fly fishing. Unfortunately Graz and I were spinning on this occasion, but I will definitely take a small fly rod next time. Graz fished up, and I decided to fish down. Downstream from the riffles, the creek starts to fall off the escarpment rapidly, and has gouged out a section of perfect pocket water: huge granite boulders covered in lichen and moss, interspersed with little holes, pockets and runs.
I didn’t get to spend much time fishing it, but am incredibly pleased with the ‘reconnaissance’ mission. I went back there this weekend, but I didn’t see any fish. Nonetheless, there is something immensely satisfying about finding and fishing new water. There is also something special about being alone in such an incredible environment. Solitude provides introspection, which provides us with perspective. I will definitely be going back soon.