A hunch

There is something special about fishing new water. An expectation of what may be to come, the sense of joy, mixed with trepidation that comes with stepping into the unknown. This goes for water that you absolutely know is going to hold fish, where the big challenge will be figuring them out, all the way through to what I like to call hunch water. Less well known waters, where all you are going off is a hunch that maybe, just maybe, the fishing will be amazing.

Fishing hunch water isn’t for every body. Its a journey that most often ends in failure and disappointment. Like gambling, its the occasional wins that keep you coming back for more.

The journey usually starts meticulously poring over google maps marking likely spots in the unlikeliest of areas. Spots where if the season and conditions are right may just hold a trophy. Further down the track, the research begins. Every corner of the internet is inspected with a fine toothed comb to extract every skerrick of potentially useful information. Blog posts and social media are scoured for tidbits. Scientific papers read and read again in search of clues. Over time all that information comes together and an idea forms. A hunch.

Eventually, the nagging thoughts become all too common and the time comes when you have to test it. Maybe your right, maybe your wrong. But you have to know. So, you free some time, you forgo fishing your known honey holes, the places you know will hold fish and you hop in the car and start driving. The most likely outcome is a donut, but at least you’ll know.

This is what myself, Nick and Perrin headed out to do last weekend. Headed out to fish a hunch. The day started early and we arrived the spot not long after sunrise. The hope was that we would find big spawners in a tiny creek. It wasn’t to be though. The journey wasn’t in vain. It was the place we thought it was, something discussions with other anglers there more or less confirmed. However, the lack of recent rains meant that there were no big fish in the river. Confirming the hunch would have to wait for another time.

Perrin lining up to cast at the only fish we saw at our first spot. It definitely wasn’t one of the big trouts we had hoped to find.

With a a lot of the day still free we headed off to check out some other rivers. On the drive, we stopped at a stream we’ve fished a few times before. A stream we know holds fish. The fishing wasn’t great. Nick caught six tiddlers, Perrin and I caught nothing. I had a few fish swipe at my 4 inch feathered game changer, but they didn’t connect. The truth was, the fly was laughably big for such a small stream. At one point, after looking at Nick’s fly, the biggest in his trout box, Nick looked at my streamer box. His biggest fly was smaller than the smallest in mine. Given I didn’t have anything appropriate, I kept the 4 inch game changer on. After a few hours we called it and headed off to check out one more hunch before going home.

Nick working a run
Pretty little browns.
Not a bad place to donut

With time running out, instead of driving kilometres of dirt roads, we parked on the road close to the river and bush bashed down a steep hill that turned into a near cliff to reach the water. What we found was nothing like what we had expected. Instead of a lovely freestone stream, we found a gorge, deep water and near impossible wading. We fished the few holes we had easy access to not expecting much. And then, as I retrieved a streamer a large trout emerged from the tannin stained water and slashed at my fly. While the fish didn’t connect, that one sighting confirmed the hunch that big fish live here.  With our time up, we headed back to the car. On the journey back to Melbourne, we started planning a return trip. We’d need drift boats, we’d need to scope out campsites and so on and so on. While only one of us had caught a fish, we had achieved more than most days on the water. It was a good day.

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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