I wrote a post a while ago about a secret creek. The creek I wrote about was secluded, unknown, wild. Or so I thought. I now know that some others have fished it, but it remains as much of a secret for them as it is for me, as far as I can tell. But it’s not really a true secret; a bit of research on google provided the hunch, and the hunch paid off. It’s 300 metres from a major highway…how secret can it be? If you’re prepared to battle the rotten woodpiles, stinging nettles, ticks and leeches, it’s an easy find.
I recently found a new ‘secret creek’. This creek also isn’t really a secret, but has, as far as I can tell, been largely forgotten. It used to be a well-known trout stream, but drought, death and isolation have moved it closer to secrecy. The wonderful thing about this creek is that most of it is on private property, miles from the nearest roads. Good for those who have access, and useless for everyone else. Nonetheless, there is something special about finding fish where they are not supposed to have existed, at least for decades.
I first found the secret creek while out hunting. A mate and I had sat down for lunch, lamenting a few missed long shots at foxes and the lack of pig sightings, and watched the pretty stream in front of us while eating sandwiches. A small fish was rising in the next pool up. It couldn’t be a trout. Trout don’t live here. Surely just a large mosquitofish. My attention was drawn to the pool beneath us; large, deep and slow-flowing. The water was deep green, with gunky weed and basalt rocks lining its edges.
A fish materialised. A big fish. We both nearly choked on our sandwiches when we saw it. It was a rainbow trout of a few pounds and over 12 inches in the old scale. The creek looked far too small to hold such good fish, but anyone who has fished basalt streams in Australia’s high country knows that as long as there is water in them, there is food. And where there is plentiful food and trout, the trout grow big.
As we only had our rifles, the only option we had was to shoot the fish. Just kidding! Shooting fish is not ok, especially when you miss the buggers. It also tends to bugger up the fillets.
A few weeks later I was back with another mate, rods in hand. It didn’t take long to find some fish. The next few hours provided some fond memories. We both caught fish, and some good fish at that. We didn’t see, or hear, another soul. It threatened to rain, and we had a fleeting sunshower while fishing a particularly fishy pool. At least three or four good fish in it; none were caught, or seemingly catchable, but we weren’t worried. The soul was the stream itself, and the isolation. At the time, we didn’t realise we were fishing a ‘hot bite’, and eventually, after an hour or so with no action, we called it a day.
I went back to fish it once more before the season ended for the year. Again, the fish were there, and they were hungry. I doubt they have ever seen a lure before, let alone a human. And then it struck me. The only reason the fish are there is because they are stocked. It’s not a secret at all, and I’m sure there are a few others around the place that are only too aware that there is a 5lb rainbow in that pool, about half a mile from the homestead, near those blackberries down from the pump and just before you get to the old ruin. But for now, I will cherish it as a secret creek, for at least as long as it takes for the creek to dry up, the acclimatisation folks to die, or the trout to disappear (the last two scenarios might not be mutually exclusive). It will again become a myth; a mystery, a secret, and in 10, 20 or 30 years, maybe someone else will make their own discovery.