I awoke to the sound of my alarm and rain hammering on the roof. “What am I doing?” I thought to myself as I dragged myself out of bed and stumbled to the shower. Downstairs I made coffee and checked the radar map. “Good”, the rain was only heavy around Melbourne, in Ballarat there was barely a dot. It was going to be a good day, overcast and with only a little drizzle. Just the sort of day I like to fish Lake Wendouree. Over the next ten minutes I tried to get my fishing gear together. I was planning on doing it the night before, but a friends birthday drinks and what ended up being a late night meant those plans had been put on the back-burner and I was busy playing catch up now. I finished packing the car, went up to give the sleeping girlfriend a kiss goodbye and pat the groggy dog on the head before I started the two hour drive out to the lake. Nothing cures sleep deprivation and tiredness than the anticipation of going fishing.
When I arrived Brett was setting up the canoe. I got my gear out of the car “Why didn’t you bring a longer rod?”. Yeah that sleep deprivation packing in a hurry thing. “Couldn’t find it”. It was going to be a day of fishing loch style from a canoe with a 7ft rod, not ideal but manageable. We set up the canoe and started paddling out to one of our favourite areas. We set the drogue up and started fishing loch style. Last season, loch style produced some truly memorable sessions on Wendouree. The essence of loch style is covering a lot of water, while also covering the water column. You fish with two or three flies, each roughly 3-5ft apart. A heavy fly on the point, an attractor in the middle and a hackle-y thing on top. Apart from fishing a few flies and the potential for epic tangles, its pretty simple fishing. Cast out in front of the drift, let the flies sink to the bottom and then retrieve them, covering a lot of water and the water column simultaneously. Vary up the retrieves and the flies until you find something that works, slow hand twist, short slow strips, short fast strips, long slow strip. Over the next few hours we changed flies multiple times, we changed retrieves, we moved around. For our efforts we were rewarded with a couple of bumps but we never quite converted them. At one point Brett exclaimed “Did you see that?”, I hadn’t. His fly line had been picked up and moved a couple of meters to the right, he was a little slow noticing and had struck a little late and missed the fish. Midday there was a good midge hatch and we saw a few fish feeding on them just below the surface for ten minutes or so before they disappeared, despite both moving to fishing strings of midge flies we didn’t get a hit.
Eventually, the sun poked its way through the clouds and we decided to see if we could find some smelters. The week before, Brett’s mate had got onto a few smelters so we headed over to where he had been fishing. As soon as we arrived, there it was, a trout smashing up a school of little smelt. I tried to cast at it, but the combination of adrenaline and excitement meant I absolutely shanked the cast, ending up tangled around the canoe itself. I took a few deep breathes, untangled, got myself organised and ready again. We waited for the fish to show itself again. Thankfully it did. This time I managed to make the cast, I started a rolly-polly retrieve and BANG! I was on. It wasn’t a good fish but it was a fish, a lovely fat little 2lb brown. I had been somewhat lucky, at some point during our loch style escapades I had tied on a shrimp/baitfish fly on my top dropper. Why I have no idea. Sometimes you get lucky.
We fished for a little longer, but soon after called it a day. It had been a really fun little session, we’d fished from 10am till 2pm, not an epic session but long enough. We both felt, given the perfect conditions that the lake should have fished a little better, that we should of got onto a few more fish. Sometimes thats just fishing. It had been nice just to get out for a paddle, to cast a few flies and see a few fish. The little guy at the end was the icing on the cake.
Till next time, good luck on the water