Escaping the heat
With the weather forecast predicting that Melbourne would go up into the 40s last weekend, Ceri and I decided to escape the heat and head for the mountains. We grabbed the dog after work and drove the 1 hour and 40 minutes to one of our favourite little dog friendly campsites. Brett and Merinda joined us that night, we drank a few bottles of wine and settled in for a weekend of lazing about by the river.
Over the weekend we got a fair bit of fishing in. The fishing wasn’t great, the heat seemed to be affecting the fish as much as it was affecting us. They were there, they just weren’t their usually happy go lucky dry fly eating selves. To anthropomorphise hey felt a little “grumpy”. The first morning provided the best fishing, in a few hours Brett landed 4 or 5 and I managed 3 or 4. All energetic little small river brown trout. During the heat of the day we joined the dogs and the girls by the river, reading and drinking beer while sitting on camp chairs in the stream. It was a pretty perfect way to while away the weekend. The afternoon session wasn’t as action packed. Brett got a couple on nymphs, I missed a load on dry flies, they were short striking and slapping at the dry flies rather than eating them. The going was tough, but it was still good fun. That night while cooking dinner I headed down to the stream to wash up a few things. There at the base of the pool was a nice little brown consistently rising. I grabbed Brett and my rod and had a few casts at him. He wasn’t having a bar of my royal wulff, so I gave Brett a go. On Bretts first cast with one of his “secret” flies, bang, fish on! Very soon afterwards we repeated that same sequence of events in the pool just below. I spotted the fish, got ignored by the fish, Brett caught the fish on his first cast. The next morning after breakfast we managed to fit in one more little fish, fishing a favourite section of pocket water a little further from the campsite. We didn’t have long, but we caught a few little trout and it was a great way to finish the weekend. We timed our return to Melbourne perfectly, arriving as the “cool” change arrived. Twas a very successful weekend, trout, beer, books, dogs, walks and a little swimming. Perfect.
The most “frustrating” stream in the world
Fast forward to this weekend and what turned into a bizarre yet fun little session. As Saturday slowly drifted by I decided to head out fishing on a whim. I hoped in the car about midday and started driving. Arriving at one of my favourite spots, three cars awaited me. So I headed off to another spot, only to be greeted by the same sight. That happened two more times, the four spots in the area I had been thinking about fishing occupied. So I decided to do a bit of exploring. I headed off to a tiny creek I’d driven over before countless times but never fished. From the road it looked barely more than a trickle running through blackberries and thick undergrowth. Until Saturday I’d never even thought about fishing it. However I was desperate so I decided to give it a shot. Once I got out of the car, if anything it looked worse. Logs and blackberries criss crossed it willy nilly, in places it disappeared under the undergrowth for meters at a time. The first pool was pretty open though so I set up the rod and headed in. Almost as soon as I got into the stream, I saw the first fish. I stalked it, put a fly in front of it and a few seconds later had a nice 700 gram brown in the net. Not bad from a stream you can step over. That spurred me on a bit.
So I continued wading. What I discovered was that this impenetrable little trickle of cold clean water was full of trout. Lots and lots of trout. There was only one problem. Getting a fly on the water. Most of the stream was protected by all manner of things hanging over it, in it, onto it, around it. An assortment of stuff busy enveloping it, making putting a fly on the water simply impossible a lot of the time. It was at least 30 meters and countless fish spooked before I found the next “open” bit I could bow and arrow a cast into. In it sat a trout, clearly visible. I shot my fly next to it and was immediately rewarded with another nice brown trout. For the next 2 hours, this continued, me bashing, crawling and climbing my way up this tiny stream, spotting loads and loads of trout and maybe being able to present a fly to 1 in 10 of them. Most of the time the stream was entirely covered by plant life, creating beautiful “archways” or making it seemingly magically start at bottom of a log jam or blackberry thicket (which would then mean 10 minutes bush-bashing around the obstacle to find the stream again). Every time it opened out enough to get in a bow and arrow a cast, I would spot and then catch a fish. Finding those spots was the difficult part. On numerous occasions I was just about to turn around because it was all too hard, when I’d spot an opening, spot the trout sitting in it, bow and arrow my fly, catch it and decide to “just fish one more pocket”.
In two and a half hours I landed 7 trout between 600-800 grams as well as 5 little tiddlers. All were sightfished, all were caught using bow and arrow casts. I only made approximately 20 casts in total. Result: 12 fish, 3-4 missed hits, 3-4 spooked fish “casting” and one fish that spat the hook. This is where the frustration comes in. As I walked up the stream, I spotted a lot of very nice trout, 2-3lb trout, monsters in this type of water. It was quite bizarre, so many decent sized fish, happily hanging out in such a small, scrappy looking and overgrown creek that I wouldn’t even consider fishing normally. I’ve never seen anything like it, sometimes you might see one fish that size in these little creeks, but multiples, sometimes more than one a pool, it was just crazy. In the end only one of those better fish was in a place I could get a fly (and that fish managed to find a log jam and spit the hook), most were hanging in the prime lies, where they had a good pool and a load of cover. Places where the stream was well and truly enveloped, cacooning them from danger. Getting a fly in without spooking them was pretty much an impossibility. And this is where I started to get frustrated. Lots of big fish, so visible, so apparent, often only a meter or so in front and yet so fiendishly safe! At some point, after spooking another big brown I unfairly nicknamed the stream “the most frustrating stream in the world”. Its not, the fish I caught were fine, good even, I had a really fun session catching lovely small stream browns. But I just couldn’t shake that feeling that lead to the nickname, as I walked back to the car I was conflicted; happy, buzzing, frustrated, scratched, tired. What I did know for sure was I’d definitely being going back to “the most frustrating stream in the world”, all the scratches and frustration were well worth it. I’ll leave you with a few more photos.