It’s been a real mix of fishing opportunities up here this past week. The Goulburn has seen some ups and downs with great fishing on Tuesday afternoon followed by heavy rains that turned the river the colour of concrete less than 12 hours later. Yesterday it cleared up and we again had some amazing fishing; today we are back to solid rain. While definitely not the norm for the end of January; it is nonetheless a most welcome respite from the heat that we usually expect to be belted with at this time of year.
This water falling from the sky means that we are in for some stellar fishing opportunities in the coming weeks. Many of our smaller streams have been fishing well even before the rain; they will only be better once things settle again. Also the Goulburn has been difficult at 3000-4000MLD. The crystal clear flows combined with the lower water levels and the unusual amount of boat traffic has made for very spooky fish. Of course there are times of day that you can fish when the fish are not so on edge and when the boat traffic (mostly kayaks/canoes/punts) subsides, but I am speaking of the main part of the day when most of us are out their sight fishing.
Our guides have been out walking the banks every day with at least one on foot and me in my boat looking for fish. Bank fishing has trumped boat fishing for numbers and opportunities whereas boat fishing has allowed me to find some great fish for my clients, even on the most difficult days, simply because we know where the vast majority of the fish are at any given river height. Knowing the river so well we know which banks to scoot by, which ones to scour; which ones to blind fish, which ones to polaroid. On top of this we know exactly which flies to persist with and when to change out. And all of this changes depending on the river levels, weather and hatches. I have spent huge hours on the water this season with barely a single day out of my drift boat in months. As a result we have had some pretty awesome fishing and I am supremely confident that I can put my clients in front of a number of good fish each session. You can’t always say this about tough tailwaters like the Goulburn but we’ve had a lot of success .
Getting back to the first point of the previous paragraph I should say that the edge fishing has been consistent and the best of the willow grub fishing has come from walking the banks. While not a great willow grub season thus far, there are some wonderful patches of them in the various sections of the river, but you must search them out. They certainly aren’t everywhere. But seek and ye shall find some good opportunities for testing out your weird and wacky willow grub imitations. I have mine perfected in that I stopped the hunt for new materials a few years ago with a lifetime supply of the foam safely tucked away in my tying box. But it’s always interesting to see what others are tying up to fool these, at often times picky fish.
One of the difficult things to overcome at the moment is the amount of heavy weed around the edges when the river is low. In the slower sections of water this is severely hampering the opportunity for sight fishing or blind fishing the banks. This is due to the very high levels that were sustained throughout Spring to provide for the various environmental (vandalism) releases that were made. During this period the weed beds grew bigger than I can ever recall seeing them, and now that the water releases have decreased and the level of the river has come down, these weed beds are like floating grass mats that clog up the edges and push currents back out into mid-river. Often taking the fish with them.
This is both an annoyance and an opportunity. Those unable to recognise that this has occurred will no doubt be left disappointed as they fish the same water in the same way. Those of us fortunate enough to be out on the water every day or to have access to our reports, will see it as simply a chance to fish slightly differently. A seasonal anomaly in the way that a downed tree in the small streams may affect your favourite pool until the next spring when the rains dislodge it and return things to normal.
Hatches have been better than expected. Some Caenids at first light since the river dropped is seeing spinner falls from mid-morning onwards. Keeping flies small and tippets light is the key to success on these guys. Oh yeah. You have to find them hatching first. Hint: look for slower flowing sections of river with a silt bed. Some of our best fish this week came from fishing these tiny #22 spents in the mornings.
Caddis continue to figure in the lives of the smaller fish. We don’t fish them that often as we are always on the hunt for the 3-4lb fish, but if you just want a few runs on the board and twilight is near, don’t discard fishing adult caddis patterns in and around the willows. Dun hatches have been coming off through the day but they are sporadic requiring timing, luck and the right flies. Some evenings have been epic. Last night was unbelievably good.
Terrestrials once again are the best option. I have been playing with my standard ties as well as a couple of new patterns. One of which is quickly earning a place in my main drift boat box; discarding an old favourite in the process.
The word in from our team in NZ is of some great fishing. One of our guides (Cameron) injured himself a couple of weeks ago and it looked touch and go that he would need to be replaced. But he has since come good and has been finding some solid fish for this clients.
While the next few weeks are fully booked we do have a couple of single spots left towards the back end of February and a couple more in March. If you are considering this trip I’d urge you to contact us ASAP. We lost a number of bookings from returning clients who had to pull out at the last minute and this has seen some opportunities arise in what are peak weeks; weeks booked since back in March/April of last year. Phone Free Call 1800 458 111 for more info.
While on the subject our USA trips are both now booked out completely and a new trip with a different itinerary for 2017 will be added shortly. We believe that this changed offering will attract both return and new clients in equal measure. Think the South Fork/Henry’s Fork/Teton/Snake in Idaho, then Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, followed by the Bighorn River in Montana.
Lastly in regards to our business we should mention that we are offering February Specials to get people thinking about the great fishing on their doorstep in the coming month. The terrestrial fishing is going to be excellent in all our rivers and as we now have a second drift boat guide trained up; we now have a boat available every day in February!! The deal we are offering is book any full day session – drift boat, guiding, teaching – and we will offer you either 1. the opportunity to bring along a second person at the single person rate or 2. The accommodation at $99 a night. So bring a second person and halve your costs or stay in our cottage and stay for the evening rise or bring the family at a greatly reduced rate.
This offer is only valid for February and is subject to availability. The fishing is going to be good and there are many options so please get back to us ASAP via FreeCall 1800 458 111 to make a booking. We are not up to speed with our emails at the moment so phoning is the only way to guarantee that you reach us in time to secure a date.
Getting back to the fishing there are a ton of options for fly fishers of all levels at the moment. The Goulburn is fishing well on most days with a bit of a slow patch somewhere during the day. The smaller streams are holding up remarkably well courtesy of an unusually cooler January. Most evident in the evenings when the sleeping has been much easier than in previous years. This has meant that we’ve been doing well on most outings and even putting beginners in front of plenty of fish.
Some of the upper sections of many of our streams have been fished quite hard and this is no doubt due to the sharing of their details on social media. Second week running I find myself chastising people for their lack of self-control. Sharing the details of every stream, creek and watercourse via the internet with strangers, is a sure way to see everything ruined. I am not trying to keep them for myself as I pretty much only fish the Goulburn these days; so leveling an accusation of self-interest at me just won’t stick.
While it is my personal view that there should be places that are the preserve of the fit, the adventurous and/or the lucky; this is only my opinion. Much more important and relevant to my standpoint is the fact that I know just how important these sections of river are to the overall health of the fishery. These places are often the slots where juvenile fish thrive before falling back into the water on the valley floor as they grow.
So please think twice before talking up the small rivers and writing about them whether it be on a blog, facebook or forum. I know they are great fun and the smaller fish that reside in them are eager and sometimes make for cricket score sessions; but they are fragile and should be respected as the nurseries that they are. The combination of mass communication of GPS coordinates is making it tougher and tougher for the trout of our tributaries to get by.
Once again I find that I’m being side-tracked as a result of trying to write this as the phone rings non-stop and people come into the shop. Suffice to say that by next Monday the fishing in the valley will be fantastic and we are offering some great deals to coincide with the arrival of February.
Hope to see you up here and all the best.
I just checked our blog and noticed that it has not been updated for the past month! While this is unheard of at this time of year, there are some very genuine reasons for my reticence to share too much info with the broader www. Without elaborating I will say that until I can find a web developer that can assist me to make the information on this page available only to genuine customers/clients/supporters through a subscription service; then we will have to remain a little cagey with our online reports.
Of course, as always, those stopping by will be treated like long-lost relatives and given all the assistance they require.
To the fishing. The Goulburn has seen some incredible fishing this past month. The river stayed low at around 3000 MLD for such a long period that the fish were as spooky as many of the spring creeks that we fish on our OS trips. For the first couple of weeks that it sat at 3000 MLD the fishing was outrageous. I mean average anglers were catching 10-12-15 fish per day. As the weeks of consecutive blue sky days rolled on, the fishing got harder. So much so that I actually saw a fish spook as a result of me lifting my oar from the water from about 80 feet away. I’m not joking. We were all sitting in the boat and just one roll of my wrist sent a fish scampering from nearly a full fly line away. That’s as spooky as it gets.
Then the river came back up and the easy fishing was banished to the memory bank. It fished very well the day that it came up with fish poking into the margins everywhere. The following days it went back to how many know the Goulburn to be. A difficult SOB. We were still having 5-6 chances per session but most days that only equated to 1-2 fish landed. I had a few short sessions during this period and I always managed decent numbers of good sized fish; but it required very accurate presentations, most often deep under the trees. Something that most occasional fly fishers struggle to do.
The willow grubs have been around for about 5-6 weeks and are definitely more prevalent in certain river bends. Finding them requires a bit of walking and perseverance (and perspiration given the heat), but they are there to be found for those willing to look. I could go to any access point right now and walk either bank both up and downstream with confidence of finding willow grubbers. Hence I feel confident in saying it doesn’t matter where you go. If you are patient and willing to explore you will be rewarded.
Grasshoppers have been around for over a month and we have had some stellar fishing using patterns imitating these critters. Colour has been important and a selection of magic markers in the right colours is as important to have as the right pattern. Sometimes more so. We also have a few little tricks up our sleeve when it comes to fishing this summer event. Stop by and ask if you are in the neighbourhood.
While hatches have been somewhat restricted of late due to water levels, there are some goings on that the vast majority of the anglers that visit here are unaware of. A few Mayflies are coming off at first and last light and there is one other daytime event coming off with enough regularity to make it worth preparing for. On top of this we have enough caddis in the trees to keep the smaller fish occupied on most warm evenings. So while the emergence of aquatic insects may be somewhat diminished at this time of year with 5000 MLD coming down; it is not bad if you are aware of what could happen and when.
A lot of the fish in the edges have been eating subsurface and will not come to the surface. No matter how delectable a morsel is put in front of them.
As such we have been forced. Yes FORCED. To make sub-surface offerings to these fish. I kid, but we always try to bring them up to the top and then put maximum pressure on them from the get-go to get them into the net while they are still fresh. It also means less fish lost down deep in the timber. We are talking 2x tippet and an all-out tug of war in an attempt to keep them thrashing on the surface where we can immediately slide them into the net. Like Bream fishing in the racks for those that throw hardbodies in the estuaries.
It would be remiss of me not to mention that there are a couple of untoward things going on at the moment. This time of year sees all sorts of people coming to the region and while I don’t want to be judgmental of people as a whole, I don’t mind being judgmental of the folks that are doing the thieving. Last Sunday my clients and I came across a campsite that had just been pilfered, and we retrieved two boats that had been stolen from said camp; minus the motors that they took. That’s right. They stole the boats from the camp and ran back upriver in them to the car park (loot on board) to where their cars were parked; then stole the motors and pushed the boats back out into the river.
Apparently the police managed to lift some fingerprints so hopefully they can catch up with the scumbags involved.
One of the clients that was with me when we found the boats actually had his car broken into the night before and his air compressor stolen. I’ve also heard from many people in the past three weeks that have had items stolen ranging from beer in their camp eskies to fishing rods in their cars. I would not be leaving anything of value in my vehicle at the moment.
While speaking of the negatives we should mention the number of snakes getting about. Right across Victoria we are seeing the results of having no rain since July. What little water is about is attracting snakes in huge numbers ala the drought years, and you do have to watch out. I’m not joking but a few of our guides have gone out on the Rubicon lately and seen more snakes and fresh skins than they could ever recall seeing before. Also I’ve seen snakes crossing the Goulburn nearly every day that I’ve drifted it. We even had a Tiger Snake in our bathroom last week.
The purpose of the previous paragraph is not to spook people. Quite the contrary. We all know they are there and we all fish regardless. I mention it so that you always think to look for them; even when you’re sweating and tired, four hours into a session on a hot summer’s day! It’s easy to switch off when you are simply ‘beat’ but hopefully this reminder ensures that people take the time to be careful.
Which leads me into the perfect segue for touting our New Zealand Trips where there are no snakes at all!
We’ve had an unusual year in that we have now had five people have to pull out of their trip due to illness, injury and pregnancy! As such we have a few holes in our booking diary that look like this:
- WEEK 7. SUN 14 – SUN 21 FEB 1 Spot
- WEEK 8. SUN 21 – SUN 28 FEB 1 Spot
- WEEK 10. SUN 6 – SUN 13 MAR 1 Spot
- WEEK 11. SUN 13 – SUN 20 MAR 2 Spots
The trip price is $4150 for the full week and includes everything except the airfare. The single spots available in week 7/8/10 represent cancellations that we are trying to replace, so that we can refund the people unable to join us. As such we are offering a special bonus for anyone that books one of these spots and an exceptional bonus for someone taking the two spots in Week 11.
Phone FreeCall 1800 458 111 if you wish to discuss any of the details. There’s some decent deals on flights at the moment, which may help seal the deal for those contemplating a trip to NZ this summer.
Also in regards to our services please be aware that we have one spot left for our Beginner’s Workshop running this weekend from 9.30am tomorrow. At $390 for two full days of instruction with a 1:3 ratio it’s a great way to get started in fly fishing. Also drift boat trips are going out daily with some availability this coming Sunday and during the week.
The smaller streams that we so often avoid mentioning are offering up some good fishing. Water temps are an issue at times and you are best to avoid the middle of the day through the afternoon; but there are quite a few options for those seeking to test out their favourite three weight outfit.
Once again those stopping by will be helped. We can’t put up too much info on these creeks as they are finite resources that cannot take the pressure that an inadvertent slip of the tongue would cause. It’s actually disappointing that so many people are now blogging and facebooking about the smaller streams. Streams that cannot handle the attention of the ‘kill and grill’ brigade. To those doing this and giving GPS coordinates to the masses I say this; is it worth destroying these places for the short-lived celebrity on social media that you’re getting?
Hence the sticker below.
For those heading to Montana with us in July it’s great to see a return of the decent rain and snow in some of the catchments. It’s looking like another cracking summer over there and as all dates for 2016 are now full, we will be adding a new trip for 2017 in the coming month.
Speaking of OS trips David reports good fishing in NZ with plenty of dry fly fishing. I can tell what is going on by the photos that are arriving back here at base and also as a result of the various fly orders that Dave is putting in. We’ve been tying willow grubs all week to meet with his demands across the Tasman; so summer is well and truly there. I only wish that I could sneak over in February myself; it will depend completely on how the bookings work out on this end.
I’m getting quite excited about my drift tomorrow, as I will get to try out some new fly patterns that I’ve only just knocked up today. I get minimal time to tie these days, so I’m always modifying what I have in the field using scissors and permanent markers. But today I actually had the time to go through my materials and tie up some patterns I’ve been envisaging this past fortnight. Flies to combat the numerous fish that closely inspected and thereafter rejected many of our favourite flies.
Hopefully we can turn some of these picky fish into eaters come tomorrow. ;-)
To those awaiting photos of fish from the past month I want to say that I finally found my point and shoot camera that is so often the thing we use to get a quick capture of the moment. I have found about 100 photos which will be promptly sorted and sent. Apologies for the delay but I’ve been out almost every day for the past two months and I’ve had little time in the office.
So that’s it for now. If someone knows a web developer familiar with WordPress that can assist me in making this blog private for members only; please get in touch with me.
All the best and hope that you get out for a fish this coming weekend. It looks like being a cracker with mild temps and perfect light for sight fishing.
All the best until next week.
Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Centre
Free Call 1800 458 111 or (03) 5773 2513
The fishing is good at the moment- here’s a few pics – come into the shop for details – drift boat availability for January-February going fast – a few New Zealand spots still left.
Happy New Year to you all.
I’m currently burning the midnight oil in a vain attempt to square the ledger in regards to my recent tardy office practices. With David leading our group in Patagonia, it has fallen on me to do all the drift trips while somehow trying to keep the place operating. Between guiding, mowing, doing orders and the general duties required to keep this place open; it has been a busy time and my inbox is in desperate need of a good triage session.
That boring stuff aside, the fishing has been good and we have been out on the river every day; sometimes doing two a days and spending upwards of 10 hours at a time in the boat or walking the edges.
While the fishing has been consistent but care is still the fundamental prerequisite for success. Going slowly and covering a smaller area has definitely trumped running and gunning a larger distance. The fish have well and truly settled into the current river height and can often be found within inches of the bank. Most of the time they won’t be rising, but they can still be brought to the surface with an accurate cast of a suitable fly.
We have found mornings to be best but the afternoons can be terrific when the conditions are right. Most of the larger terrestrials are around now with ants, beetles, hoppers and cicadas all taking fish consistently. Soon willow grubs will be added to this list.
Sight fishing has been a lot of fun but this is not to say that prospecting with dry fly or dry dropper combos is not equally worthy of your efforts. Once again it varies from day to day, but it is worth starting with a dry/nymph combo a view to cutting off the nymph if the fish are just eating the dry.
Counterintuitively for most fishers of technical rivers, small is not always better of late on the Goulburn. Scaling up in size has been effective when it comes to choosing a nymph and we’ve found that size 14 has been the best option when choosing a fly to fish beneath the surface.
It’s a great level this. At 4500MLD there’s enough water to keep some fish in the edges, yet not so much that you can’t fish the gravel bars and raise fish to the dry. There are so many options and while I’m not saying everyone will catch as many fish as we have been finding for our clients on both bank and boat; most fly fishers should be able to catch a few decent fish while poking about the river.
While the evening rises have been a bit hit and miss in recent times, my gut says it may be more the former in the coming nights. We had a lot of duns today and should get some primo spinner falls in the next few afternoons. There are plenty of caddis about as well.
The smaller streams are low, low, low. Fortunately they are cool enough and the hoppers have shown up. Once again I won’t go into detail for fear of compounding their woes by sending a lot of unnecessary fishing pressure their way; all I will say is that ‘seek and ye shall find’. Go up high for small water, small rod action. Drop back onto the river flats for more challenging fishing to larger browns on hoppers.
Before I forget I should mention that we’ve cleaned up on the Breakaway to Molesworth stretch in recent days. Both yesterday and today I’ve down two drifts a day; the first up this way and the second one way down river. The lower section has offered up some decent fish and we haven’t seen another angler down there. We’ve also found some ridiculously large browns that we will try to catch in the coming days.
For the record it’s worth noting that all of our boats are all booked out until this coming Wednesday when David gets back from Argentina. From then and until Christmas, we have boats available every day and the fishing is going to be very, very good. I’m also urging all of January/February regulars to get a wriggle on and book the dates they wish to float with me personally ASAP. The first two months of 2016 are getting pretty jammed up already and I really don’t want to disappoint anyone. The Goulburn is set to fish well with cold, clear water and reduced flows when compared with recent summers, as GMW attempt to keep the lake at 30% or more. This is going to be a terrific summer and we hope to show you all a slice of just how good this river can be.
We do have a few New Zealand spots left for JAN/FEB/MAR 2016. Please visit this page on our website http://www.gvffc.com/nz.html#dates for more details.
That’s it for this week. Please sing out if you require information on any of our trips, an up to the minute fishing report or just some general assistance with your fly fishing. You can reach me directly on 0418 995 611 at any time or phone the shop to get Bo if I am on the water.
While it’s been a long time between reports, most that stay in contact with us will be aware that the fishing up here as been as good as it has in recent memory.
We’ve had about a week of terrific hopper fishing and the cicadas have been ‘vocal’ and featuring in the trout’s diet for about the same length of time. This has brought all sorts of new options to the table and opened up water considered only a week ago to be too deep and/or fast to fish.
We love it when these big bugs show up.
That being said it’s been a great month just gone. Starting off with that drop in river, that we hated but most loved, quite a number of 4-5lb fish were caught and released with a very large six pound fish also featuring in the mix. While caddis and mayfly have been important, when the figures for November are crunched and the successful methods reviewed, it’s going to all come back to sight fishing with terrestrials.
Ants have been the number one pattern with a mix of black, rust and honey coloured ants being best. Bi-colours have also been very good. Fishing combinations of colours has been a popular way to go; as has fishing one as a dry and a second trailing pattern with a tiny split shot added to it so that it sinks. I actually watched a fish eating sunken ants and sunken spent spinners yesterday.
There’s been a mix of duns coming off most days with everything from the very tiny #24 caenid to the large kossie duns that run as big as #8. Of course the smaller caenids are coming off pre-dawn with a spinner fall to follow just after first light, the rest of the Mayfly hatching mostly towards dusk and last light. As such you need a variety of patterns to match the most important species likely to be encountered during the rise, but don’t over complicate it. We will assist you to make the right choices if you are dropping by the shop.
Spent spinners have been very important throughout the day with fish eating spents in the reverses and eddies. Many of these drowned mayfly are the left-overs from the previous afternoon-evenings fall being; but from mid-afternoon onwards you can expect to find very large numbers of these guys in the air and falling on the water.
They have saved our bacon on the tougher days with fish willing to rise to a spent spinner fished blindly over likely lies.
Caddis have featured well but we haven’t been using them as much as in previous years. This is no doubt due in part to the huge focus on terrestrials; their numbers being so great. Nevertheless fishing elk hair variants (Hot Creek Caddis and Yellow Sally has been best) has also saved the day for many fly fishers, as at least the smaller fish are willing to leap in an often futile attempt to pluck a caddis or two from the large clouds that form nightly in the lee of most willow trees. Unlike our Mayfly species that only live a matter of hours or a day or two as full adults, many of our caddis live for 4-6 weeks and their numbers build up and accumulate over the course of time. This captures the attention of most fly fishers and smaller fish alike. As such it’s definitely worth having a few in the fly box if you are heading up to the Goulburn.
Finally on the bug front the word is getting out that we are now experiencing the first of the willow grubs. Since the drought broke we’ve seen a procession of November/December periods that featured cool weather and heavier falls of rain. This has meant that the willow grubs have mostly shown up around Christmas. This year feels a little like the return of the good ole days for willow grubs but the bad ole days for lack of rain; but not quite. While we have seen grubs as early as mid-Nov in year’s gone by, we are not getting the scorching weather we thought we might and the nights are cool. So while we cannot make any definitive declarations as to what will/won’t happen; we can say that the willow grubs should make a stronger showing than recent years, but as to how good it will be; no one can say.
We can all be thankful though to see the willow grubs and not have to fight the euro wasps for them. Yet.
Great fish on a dull day
So the fishing has been very consistent for the most part. When I say that I realise that it is the Goulburn and that you are not going to catch huge numbers of the larger fish, but on some days we have caught 10-15 fish with many upwards of 2lb and several in the 3-4lb range every day. All on dry flies. All sight fished.
The small streams have been solid. While they’ve been low on water relative to other years, they are still cool and fishing well. In fact the hopper fishing on them in recent days has been red-hot with plenty of fish appearing from nowhere to a well placed pattern constructed from either deer hair or rubber/foam. Hatches can come off at anytime but they have been super-reliable as somewhere to fish the evening rise. The upper sections up in the hills have been good as well.
I won’t elaborate any further as they are delicate and the reason for me not reporting on the blog in recent times is due to the fact that it has brought up a lot of folks whose only mantra is to kill every fish that they see. As always those that stop by the shop and show themselves not to be dickheads, will always get the good oil and all the help that they require. While most people who sell their services will never be this forthright for fear of alienating people; we value our fisheries enough to state this and stand by it. We help nearly everyone we encounter but we will never be putting this detail onto the ‘net’ due to the fact that it could drive folks that will cause carnage to our small, precious and fragile streams.
So that’s about it. I have to remind everyone about our Beginner and Intermediate workshops scheduled throughout the coming months and also about our New Zealand Trips which are getting closer to being booked out, with seven more bookings coming in recent weeks. David and our crew have just left for Patagonia and our Montana Trips for July and now September are now completely booked out. Sorry to those that will miss out but we scaled back the numbers this time around and they filled quickly.
Some of you will have noticed that we have knocked down many of the pine trees outside of our place. This is simple fire risk management. We now have water all around us to the north and west, the most likely direction of approach should a fire breakout, and a road to the south where we could stop an approaching grassfire. This is a big relief as we are often short-staffed through summer with 2-3 of us in NZ for all of the fire season.
We are also working on our in-house man made creek again. We finally have all our pumps working with cold water streaming into all of our lakes each day. Work on the creek will begin shortly with some major earthmoving and sculpting to the creek to come. Widening in places, shaping pools, planting of trees and dropping gravel into sections. Then seeding it by pumping water from the river in that last hour of light and through the night . Did anyone say ‘Invertebrate Drift’?
Speaking of water the Goulburn is cold and clear. I am uploading a clip from yesterday on YouTube right now and it should be ready late this afternoon. Just a few minutes of rising fish along the edges from yesterday and the day before. The water clarity is phenomenal.
Drift boat trips will be a scarce commodity this summer, if the bookings of recent weeks are anything to go by. I am doing two-a-days at the moment and cannot keep up as David is away in Argentina and Bo is recovering from his hernia op. Get well Bo!
My advice is that if you want to do one this December/January/February is to get in ASAP. Half days are going to be the best option, the timing of which will need to be determined at the time of booking. Please note though that this year we will be offering early 7am starts to get folks off the river about noon before the warmest part of the day. While half day guided trips walking the banks are for four hours, most of the half day floats run to about five. These are great value and offer people the chance to pick the best of the fishing on any given day, as the start time is able to be skewed to suit. Evening drifts that take in the last three hours of light are also available.
So we hope that this update finds you well. There is a ton of fishing to be done up this way in the coming months and dare we say that soon the Goulburn will be one of the few games left in town. While it is impossible to say how hot and dry this summer will be, we can say that we didn’t get the rain we wanted this past winter/spring, and so many of the creeks and rivers around the state will be too low and hot by about the time of the Australian Open. Of course you can go up higher in elevation and chase smaller fish on 2-3 weights (great fun) and limit sorties to the first few hours of light each day, but if you want to chase large browns in rivers on dry flies within two hours of Melbourne, then the Goulburn is going to be it.
Hope to see you all soon and good fishing to you all.
Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Centre
Free Call 1800 458 111 or (03) 5773 2513
The river has come crashing down as the demand for irrigation dwindled courtesy of state-wide rains over the past 48 hours. Looking back its kind of hard to believe that it was at 9000 MLD for so long a period so early in the season. Especially when you’re confronted with the river at 1000 MLD; a level that is a lot more in sync with the month of November than the previous height at which it was running.
In any case what it means is that the river is very low and easily waded along its length and the fishing has shifted from sighting trout in close to stalking rises mid-river and searching the gravel bars. While I would much prefer the higher flows of recent weeks, for most out of town fly fishers visiting the Goulburn, 1000 MLD is definitely a more user-friendly level and brings into play all of your regular methods used on the smaller rivers.
Crossing on all the gravel bars is easy at 1000 and will mostly remain that way when the river slowly creeps up to 2000 MLD tomorrow. Hatches have not improved greatly as of yet, but there are more bugs (mayfly/caddis) throughout the day and first light has again come into play.
Perhaps the best option right now is the terrific nymphing, something fairly predictable on any major rise/fall of the river. Yesterday we all snuck out for an hour here and there with certain nymphs dragging fish after fish from some of the runs. We will hopefully have a repeat performance this afternoon before the weekend anglers arrive.
Daytime rises are not so much to the beetles and ants of previous weeks but back to your regular caddis/mayfly/midge imitations. The balance may shift again over the weekend as the temperatures increase, but for the moment you should be thinking more about imitating the aforementioned classes of insects. Of course if you are stopping by you can always pick up a handful of the right patterns from our store.
The smaller rivers have a little colour to them and some are a little higher than the same time last week. I would imagine that they will fall away and clear by tomorrow, at least in their mid-upper reaches, and also offer decent fishing. This fresh will hold them in good stead in the weeks to come and the timing is rather fortuitous.
We have a couple of spots left for our beginner workshop for this weekend due to a client mixing up their weekends! If you know of anyone that wants to learn fly fishing, please let them know as they won’t find a better deal anywhere and the rivers are in great shape.
Also on the booking front we have taken several NZ bookings this week and wish to let people know that we still have about 10 spots remaining. This trip is something to consider as we go into a strong El Nino event which will severely limit the options for fly fishing in Australia in the New Year. Luckily we have water in Eildon and so the Goulburn will fish well throughout. But much of the rest of SE Australia is going to bake this summer while the South Island will continue to fish well despite the conditions here in Oz. See our ad in this update for more info or visit the website/phone us anytime to discuss.
It has been an interesting couple of weeks. I refrained from updating last weekend as I didn’t want to cause a stampede on our rivers. Something I am happy to report was avoided with us seeing very few anglers along the Goulburn on most outings. The fishing has been very consistent for some time now and this drop in river height is desired by most, it has thrown the form guide on its ear with everything having now changed.
This is not to say it’s a bad thing and it’s the reason why so many of us love this river. You can fish the smaller rivers every day and they won’t change all that much other than a steady decline in levels through the season, punctuated by the odd rain event that raises them for 24-72 hours before they drop back to their former levels. Everything is much the same throughout the season, the fish are in the same exact lies and it’s all rather easy.
The Goulburn however is in a constant state of flux. The height can change by a foot or more in an afternoon which then effects everything from the insects to the fish to the dynamics of the river itself. Personally I prefer the Goulburn and the other tailwaters of VIC/NSW. They are bug factories and the fish that live in these waters are always onto whatever it is that is hatching. Clear water and lots of bugs can make for some tricky hatch based fishing but that is what is so enticing about it.
Hope that you are all well and see you on the river. I’m headed there right now.
This is just a quick update before I have to head back out on the drift in about an hour from now.
We’ve had steady water flows this week with 5000 MLD the new standard and the fish slotting straight into it as if it were their preferred height over any other. Backwaters remain important but the runs and gravel bars have been quickly brought into play. It really is a big difference from the 9000 MLD that we were used to but the fact of the matter is that you are more likely to just catch fish now; no matter what your approach.
While for many this is great news, it hasn’t yet heralded the sort of excellent daytime hatch activity that we have become accustomed to when the river is low in October, other than for say at evening time. But there are more fish rising to the plethora of terrestrials that are still falling in all day; every day.
If this sounds strange to hear, you can rest assured that it feels even more bizarre to write. We just don’t usually see so many terrestrials so early in the season. I guess you can lay the blame at the weather patterns of the past few months, starting back in August when it refused to rain and culminating that heat wave at the end of September.
A Goulburn River Ant feeder from this past week
The trees are crawling with beetles and there are ants on the wing even on the cooler days. It really has been just a case of just using the ‘evidence of your own eyes’ and seeing what is on the water. Contrary to how trout usually are in situations where there are a lot of one insect on the water; matching the hatch hasn’t been that important other than when the ants are about. It’s been pretty easy to catch the fish once you’ve found them.
Despite saying that the hatches are not what you’d see when the river is lower, in actuality there probably are a lot of bugs, it’s just that there has been a lot more water running a lot faster than normal. No doubt this has hidden what is going on rather well. I say this as I have been seeing a lot of emerging and spent mayfly and caddis when reviewing my close up photos on the big screen in the office.
Evenings have been excellent at times. Strong hatches of multiple species of both mayfly and caddis have been observed most nights and fishing a nymph in the pre-hatch period leading into dusk has been successful for us. While we haven’t been seeking the rise out on last light ourselves; when we’ve been out drifting I hasn’t disappointed. It’s just hard to wrap your head around hatches when you see that flow of water coming down. After all 5000 MLD is still a decent volume of water.
The smaller streams between here and Healesville continue to offer good fishing. Without giving away too on the internet and causing them to unnecessarily suffer due to overfishing, they are at levels and temps usually associated with mid-late November and as such are quite easy to fish. Stop by the shop if you require assistance with the what/when/where of it all.
We have continued to hear reports of poor fishing from those returning from the rivers and streams that flow into Lake Eildon. Unfortunately this has been the norm these past few years, as the decline in fish numbers post the end of the stocking done by Rex Hunt’s FutureFish Foundation has gradually come into effect. The great work by FutureFish in stocking the lake saw a period of resurgence of the fishing in the streams running into Lake Eildon, but alas the taper into an outright decline has been a long time coming. So much so that one of our guides moved from Howqua to Alexandra a few years ago.
I forgot to mention that we just received a cancellation for this weekend and so have one spot left in our Beginner’s Workshop scheduled for tomorrow and Sunday. At $390 for the two full days you won’t find anything that comes close. Our cottage is also available for the next week as the cancellation took in the next three nights and we already had a substantial gap in our cottage bookings next week. This could be a fortuitous opportunity to head up this way, given that the Goulburn is in great shape and the smaller rivers are also fishing well.
While plugging our services I should say that you should consider doing a drift boat trip now as the river has so much to offer at these sorts of levels. From sight fishing the edges to evening rises to bringing fish up in deeper water to large attractor patterns. It really is a fun way to see and fish this river and a great way to bring a non-fishing partner along for a pleasure drift. The coming period leading into Christmas will fish very well and all indications are of another great summer ahead.
So that’s it for the moment. Our clients for the day are set to arrive at 9am and there are still a few things to be done before they show up.
Have a good weekend and all the best. It looks like a good one right across Victoria.