Great weather and patchy fishing this past week – typical for this time of year. The good news is that we have a few more days like this to come before the next significant cold front hits.
I’ve been on the lookout for early spawning fish this week and there have been very few on the Goulburn. The view from atop the Pondage gates has been especially telling with only seven fish (yes only seven!) visible on Tuesday when I stopped by. The light was good enough to see the bottom clearly and there was enough cloud to keep the fish out and about, yet there were very few fish to be seen. The biggest fish there was 3lb with most in that 1-2lb range.
This is typical for this time of year and great news for all of us that worry about ‘our’ vulnerable fish. The other great thing is that the season closes a little earlier this year and although I think a June 1 closure would make a lot more sense for everyone, from fisherman to Fisheries Managers and everyone in between, midnight on Monday 8th June isn’t too bad.
Having said all that the fishing itself is patchy now. Still very good at times with some decent nymphing, streamer fishing and hatches, but there are some lengthy lulls in between. I think one of the main things to realise is that the water is now very low and that stalking skills, casting accuracy, fly selection and a wee bit of luck will be required in order to have success.
There are parts of the river that are fishing better and there are flies that are working well, but we will have to keep that info for those that stop by the shop for a chat, coffee and a map. Basically those that support us in some way.
Unfortunately we have been dealing with a person of low moral standing who thinks it’s ok to lift content directly from our websites and re-post it as his own, in order to start up a business in opposition to us! The silver lining of the recent back and forth with this person is that it has forced us to seriously reconsider our business model of always just ‘giving away everything for free, to everyone with an internet connection’.
While it won’t change who we are and what we do for people (we lent out numerous pairs of waders this week and a couple of rods to visitors who either forgot theirs at home/travelling without fishing gear and we let many people access the river through our property), we have to be a bit more careful of what we just give away online to everyone.
As such you can expect reports to appear more often next season, say 2-3 times per week, but they will be more generalised rather than ultra-specific and will include more photos. We are happy to let everyone that stops by the store know what is going on in great detail, but sharing everything online (flies/hatches/locations/times) has to stop so that we can protect ourselves and ensure that we are here for many years to come.
Also before we hit the end of the season I want to apologise for having to constantly advertise our trips and offers on our blog and FB page. Unfortunately due to the seasonal nature of our business and because we are a destination shop rather than one in the suburbs that is easily accessible to hundreds of passers by each day, the only effective way for us to let you all know about the trips we offer, is via these websites. We trust that you understand this and we thank you for your support.
If you are heading this way in the coming weeks we will be open most days from 9am-5pm but we can open anytime from 7.30am to 6pm if you phone us on 0418 995 611 and let us know you are about. Same goes for those that are in the area and find the shop door locked. There is so little traffic at the moment in the store that we are often somewhere on the property felling trees (we have 100 pine trees to knock down) or doing other maintenance work. As such the open sign may be out but the door will be locked for security reasons. Please phone 0418 995 611 and we will open up.
In fact if you ever think you will be stopping by I advise you to punch that number into your phone now or phone the shop and let it divert to the shop mobile.
Lastly we have very few spots left for our Montana and Patagonia trips in July and December respectively. We sent out a special offer to our mailing list subscribers yesterday to encourage those considering the Montana trip to pull the trigger and book.
The deal is as follows and is still valid:
If you book a spot or find someone else to book a spot – we will reward you with a ‘special gift’ as a token of our appreciation.
Rewards are as follows:
- book or find one person to book and we will provide you with a gift voucher for an evening rise float trip valued at $350.
- book as a pair or find two anglers to join us and we will provide you with a voucher for a full day drift for two people and two nights’ accommodation in our private cottage valued at $950!
There are no time-limits attached to the vouchers and there are no restrictions on when/how the drift boat trips can be redeemed. The accommodation component excludes Saturday nights and long weekends. Vouchers can be resold if desired.
Click here to learn more about our Montana Trip. Our ad goes into the new FlyLife issue due out next week and if the spots are not filled within a couple of weeks they will be withdrawn.
We would like to thank you all for your support over the past 12 months in particular and the past 20 years in general! You’d think after all that time that we might be jaded or pulling back, but it is the exact opposite with the search for a younger Director to join the company continuing and David constantly reiterating the desire to keep doing NZ, Swampy, Montana, Patagonia forever! Yes he is the Terminator.
We are also excited about the range of new workshops, services and trips that we are currently putting together for season 2015-2016. As part of this there will be a two day course designed to take those that did the two day beginner’s workshop to the next level.
Jumping back to a previous thought we are relieved that this idiot has been stealing our content as it has forced us to re-examine what we do, and in the process made us realise just who is important to us. This is great news for most of you. Those of you who come into the shop will have exclusive access to the information gathered by our team of guides and this will also mean less people fishing the better water, at the right time of day, armed with all the detailed information on methods/hatches/flies. This has been a long time coming and is mostly a result of feedback from regulars who responded to the news of this person taking our reports/images.
As part of this new agenda we will keep the shop open every day throughout the fishing season, even during our busiest periods when we are usually all on the river. This has always been difficult for us as a small business that relies on teaching/guiding to get by, and it means putting extra staff on to ensure that we can provide you with a high quality service. As stated earlier. Punch that phone number into your phone now so that you can grab us even if we are out the back working or you are arriving early/late outside the posted business hours. If we are here – we will open up.
Good night to you all. Hope that you are all well and that you get to enjoy what is left of the season. The winter closure is a long break from fishing in running water, unless you are coming to Montana with us (shameless plug!), so if you can get out onto the nearest stream for a few hours you really should. The countdown to the closed season has now started.
There isn’t a lot to report on at the moment given the fact that the river is low and the fishing fairly predictable. The best way to describe it right now is fair to good with occasional moments of excellence. By far the most exciting fishing is on the evening rises on those nights when the kossie duns hatch on last light. There have been some excellent browns caught and dropped this past week while fishing huge dry flies into the setting sun.
The river is at a great level and I personally prefer it around 1500MLD that it is now; as opposed to the minimum or riparian flow that it will be shortly. At 1500 there is just that little bit more cover and depth in the runs and on the gravel bars – you still have to approach things with care and be very deliberate in how you fish each piece of water.
One thing I find myself having to do regularly at this time of year is just slow down and think carefully about not only how to approach the water, but also how to deliver every cast. Where is a fish most likely to sit? Where should my line be placed relative to the fly to maximise my chance of a drag free drift or to ensure my flies stay deep and tumbling near to the bottom? There’s a lot more to it than chuck and chance it – something I prove to myself whenever I’m lazy and just going through the motions. This sort of seems counter-intuitive and one might think that this sort of care is more necessary in spring during a hatch with selectively feeding fish rising all about you. But trust me, it is equally important now when the hatches are winding down. You still have to do a lot right to have repeated success.
Without a doubt the largest fish that we are seeing are pre-spawn browns with plenty of wild fish, as well as pondage escapees, showing up in the mix. The rainbows are mostly small and to be fair there are probably 20 small fish caught for every larger one. Not terrible odds at all when you consider most have been catching 3-7 fish per session.
There is a hatch of midges and also duns to look out for. The former we are not too interested in just yet, as the mayfly are bringing enough fish up to keep us from bothering with #20-22 flies. These mayfly can come off at any time of the day, particularly when the weather is poor. Evenings on the cold, windy nights and the warm stills nights alike, can be equally good for the kossies. Look for pools or runs just downstream of shallow gravel bars.
Daytime nymphing has been consistent. Dry dropper rigs have been good but two nymphs has worked better for us. Those who swing by will be given the good oil on rigs/flies.
I’m in somewhat of a quandary at the moment as to how much to give away in these reports, due to the fact that we have a guy that comes into our store begging for info and asking for help with the most basic aspects of fly fishing, while all the while shamelessly lifting our content (reports and images) and re-posting them on his own recently listed FaceBook page (SEPT 2014) – passing them off as his own work and listing his services as a guide. He even goes so far as to state that he has worked on the Goulburn rowing drift boats since 2010; despite not even owning a drift boat.
To say that I am disappointed in being used in such a way is a significant understatement. Furthermore to see the images that we produce for our websites/blogs/Facebook just blatantly stolen by someone that has come into our shop on a regular basis over the past 24 months and taken up countless hours of our staff’s precious time in the process of his ‘intellectual property heist’ – is extremely aggravating.
As a result we are going to have to be a bit more careful with what we say and do online for the time being. I have been reluctant to post anything of late and when I do, I am far likely to say less than I would like to – as you can probably see courtesy of the big gaps in our reporting this season.
To rectify this problem we are now looking at ways in which we can protect our content and yet still let you, the good guys, gain easy and secure access to it. I don’t want to spend another season having to always watch what I say and code everything in cryptic language just because of this one ‘bad apple’. When we can figure out a way to do this we will let you all know.
But I digress. The fishing is ok as stated earlier and there are plenty of options for both the dry fly and nymph anglers. Another method coming into its own is the simple use of fishing streamers in the pools. If you can be bothered fishing after dark you have the chance of larger fish and decent numbers of them. Daytime fishing with wet flies has been good with the only proviso being please give way to those working up river. Swinging streamers into the bubble line that someone is about to upstream fish is not cool. In any case you are much more likely to catch fish in a pool with a streamer after a dry fly fisher has quietly searched it. Not quite the same for them after we crash through it with our weighted chooks.
So it’s a funny time of year. Many of us are aware that the fish are preparing to spawn, and that there are certain areas to avoid in order to not have a negative impact on the fishery. We ask that all of you that care about the fish and the health of the fishery, leave these trout to do their business in peace. A month of restraint is all that’s needed and you will be doing your bit to assist our fisheries to not only maintain their current levels; but also to improve with each successive season that passes.
Anyway I had better run. I wasn’t going to write a report this week as a result of the idiot who is stealing our content, but that’s not really fair to everyone else. We have always been extremely generous in the sharing of our hard earned knowledge and also our precious time. I can confidently say that we have helped thousands of fly fishers to have a better time on the rivers around here and have probably helped just as many that have never come into the store; the significant numbers of people who choose to just read and take what they need for their own planning purposes, but never stop by.
The local flyshop is a dying animal. Wherever we travel we notice small flyshops closing their doors permanently – with only the big or unique being able to stay afloat. As more of the big box stores gain access to the brands that the small shops and guides have helped to establish, it will only become harder for the small guy. This is being further compounded by manufacturers who wish to squeeze every last drop of profit for themselves by selling directly to the public. Add to this the constant increase in shipping costs, the taxes and duties applied to imported items and the inability of small shops to secure items at reasonable wholesale prices; and things look particularly grim for the smaller independent flyshops. Wherever they may be.
Yet there is one area in which the smaller shops have an advantage over their larger, more process driven brethren and always will. We the destination flyshops are the conduit for the information that every fly fisher so craves. We gather and share the knowledge that is so precious and often time-sensitive. Our guides are out there most days, on the water with clients or fishing themselves, always trying different things and figuring out what is going on. Collecting, comparing, analysing and then sharing. This is what we are so good at and why we are still around, some twenty years on.
If however, we cannot even hold onto one of the few things that are unique to us, our intellectual property, then what hope do we have?
Have a great weekend on your end and please scroll down and see if any of our trips interest you. We know that not everyone can afford to do them and we ourselves have to save all year long to get along to Montana – but if you can afford to go you will have an amazing trip with a really good bunch of people.
For the record I dislike having to promote particular services on our blog/facebook page but it’s the only way that we can remain viable and keep bringing you these reports/photos and helping you all to better fishing when visiting the area. We hope that you understand and occasionally look over our offerings both here and on the Calendar of Events page on our website to see whether anything there might be of interest to you or to someone that you know.
Thanks for your support and good fishing to you if you manage to make it out in the coming days. It might be wet out there tomorrow afternoon, but there’s strong chance of a good dun hatch in the evening for those willing to tough it out.
All the best.
TRIP OFFERS -CLICK ADVERT TO VISIT WEBPAGE
I’ll keep it brief as the fishing is good and we are flat out at the moment.
The river is low. 1500 MLD with clear water and mild water temps at around 13 degrees here at Thornton. Very different to the 9000 MLD and 11 degree water of a few weeks ago.
The Goulburn has not been busy at all. I have not seen a car at Gilmores the past few days and to state the obvious; this cannot continue given word is out that the river has dropped. When it gets busy is hard to say, as weather on the Melbourne side of the divide is most often the determining factor and the footy fixtures also play a part. I would put money on that this weekend is going to see a bit of pressure put on the region.
To my way of thinking of wouldn’t be bothered fishing early mornings. Yes there will be some fish on the gravel bars and staying in the shallows until pushed out by wading anglers, but the advantages of a later start us fly fishers, one that sees us fish through the afternoon, cannot be overstated.
I’m not going to go into all the details of the fly patterns and techniques that are working for us. There’s enough competition for fish when the river is <2000 MLD as it is and we will keep this info for those that stop by the shop. Suffice to say that the river is low and you must stalk your quarry carefully. While not rocket science it does bear repeating. Wade carefully. Close the distance between you and any rising fish. Go finer in tippet and try as best you can to match any hatch that is going on. Don’t be distracted by the millions of European wasps dying on the water. Stripes are mother nature’s warning sign and the fish have been snubbing these biting bastards despite their massive numbers.
While on the ‘be careful theme’ of the previous paragraph, a simple phrase should be shared. Quite simply. Less is more. Im speaking of course in terms of how much water you cover. One of the crap things about the river being this low is that the guys who fish quickly can frustrate as they pass on through; nonchalantly throwing a cast or two in each pool, run, bubble line before moving on, almost at a clip.
On one hand this is a blessing because if you go slowly and wait, the fish will often settle/appear – but exasperating when someone just walks through the water you are fishing.
This hasn’t been happening yet as the river only just dropped, but you can bet that if you are out early in the mornings that you will run into people doing exactly this.
Evening rises have been decent as has fishing after dark. Hatches of larger mayfly have been consistent and there have been quite a few caddis out on the previous two evenings due to the warmer weather. Tiny spinners have been falling in huge numbers in the middle of the afternoons. There’s also been a lot of black flying ants but very small and the fish eating them have been ultra-picky in regards to tippet size/presentation.
I won’t mention the small streams other than to say that there has been some good dry fly fishing and that outside of any sort of hatch or fall; fly selection hasn’t been critical. They’ve been fun, but the Goulburn is the main game in town now that the water levels have been pared back.
For those interested we have a few OS trips that we are taking bookings for. This week we include our latest advert for FlyLife’s 80th edition due out in a month’s time. If you are interested please see the ad below and click on it if you wish to learn more.
Hope that you can make it out onto the water somewhere in the coming days. While still a while to go, the end of the river fishing season is within sight. Always a sad thing to contemplate but still plenty of chances for good fly fishing in the coming six weeks.
Today I crossed Gilmore’s Bridge on five separate occasions while shuttling boats and cars about the place. I saw two cars only the once and a single car every other time. The river is looking superb and is fishing well, but the few people up here are on the smaller streams. Go figure.
Sing out if you are coming by the store in the coming days. We have a huge weekend planned with a two day workshop fully booked out but we will have someone in the shop and a drift boat available as well should you want to go out for a float with us.
Below is a photo of the best fish for the day. Taken on a dry fly of course! Well done to Michael on getting his fly into the right spots all afternoon.
Ciao guys and sing out if you are thinking about Montana. Bring a mate with you and we’ll reward you in a major way – as we have to fill these new spots to make this trip work.
Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Centre
Free Call 1800 458 111 or (03) 5773 2513
There are only two spots left for our upcoming trips to the USA. Click here for more info. Attached are a few more pics to ‘persuade’ you into giving in and joining us. If you need more motivation just think of your poor friends left behind in Oz, having the same old conversations about the lack of snow on Buller or arguing about which of the Ballarat lakes they are going to flog in the wind and rain; while you are wet wading and stalking fish on dry flies!!
Just a head’s up to let everyone know that the river is down to 3000 MLD and is fishing well. Guide jobs today revealed plenty of fish in the shallow runs right throughout the day, as well as the odd fish picking off duns in the afternoon. Quite a few small caddis about as well. Evening rises have been good without ever reaching any lofty heights. The big duns are just around the corner.
Things will only get better as the river stabilises at these lower levels. Hope that you can make it out sooner rather than later and please let your fish go. Our rivers are not stocked, nor managed in any meaningful way. Each fish that goes back has a chance of spawning and sustaining these trout fisheries that we all value so much.
Click the links for more info or go to the fishing report below. Another set of links can be found below with pics from the trips interspersed throughout this update.
What a summer it was for weather. Perhaps only one true 40 degree day and a significant cooling off at the end of February, with the odd warm day thrown into the mix every 4-5 days since Autumn’s arrival. It is safe to say though that we are well and truly into normal fall weather patterns; with cold nights and beautiful mild-warm days lining up in a row in between the odd cold event like we are experiencing now.
Before speaking of the fishing I should say that everyone here is stoked to learn that young Luke Shambrook was found alive and well after an ordeal that lasted for the entire Easter break. It was amazing to see the reaction from the local community in particular, and the wider community in general, to what was every parentrs worst nightmare. It bears stating the obvious that it was extremely fortunate he was located today, before having to spend another night exposed to the elements. This is the coldest night we’ve had in a while and I hate to think of what it would be like to be out there in wet clothing right now.
That being said I want to say a few words about the how the summer fished for those that didn’t get up here and also because I didn’t do a lot of reporting on the blog (mostly Facebook).
The fishing throughout January and February was excellent. As good as last year, although we had to scale back the size of our dry flies (we were never going to see back to back cicada years). Last summer was truly phenomenal for those huge cicadas that are the size of a small hawk. This year we mostly fished smaller varieties of terrestrials; including hoppers, crickets and other attractor patterns to bring up our best fish. It was a terrific couple of months of fishing to larger browns on big dry flies and some of the takes are constantly replaying in my dreams at night. There were some exceptional captures, some cruel losses at the net and many that were missed on the strike or lost in the first second or two.
All in all a lot of fun was had.
Sometime in January the willow grubs got going and persisted through until the end of February in a major way. Not like the huge falls of them in 2007-2011 but I would say that it was the best summer out of the previous four. Some days we would see a lot of fish on them; at other times the river would appear dead yet we could just confidently fish a grub pattern into likely pockets and boom! I vividly remember stopping my boat to offer Werner and his bank-bound clients some cold water from my esky, only to be told to keep away as they had been catching fish along the big open bank we had found them fishing on. The nearest willow trees were 300 yards upriver from them. I think they’d caught eight without having moved more than 300 yards for the afternoon.
This fishing continued with a few peaks and troughs until early March. Of course the best days were the ones that started hot and humid with a brisk wind developing throughout the day. Sometimes the wind wasn’t happening until about 2pm and this saw us stagger the start times of our guided sessions to match the conditions. Many guys were hitting the river way too early and were already on their way home or crying in their beer by the time the fishing started. Unless there are Caenids around (think November), you will never see any of us on the Goulburn early in the morning.
Another interesting thing that happened this summer that we haven’t really noticed before, was that the European Wasps suddenly started hunting in the willow trees along the river. I think Werner was the first to actually observe it, but the wasps were eating the willow grubs. This seemed to happen all of a sudden and while I am not suitably qualified to delve into the details, I can relate to you what we saw. It actually was alarming to enter under a canopy of willows with the drift boat for fear that we would simultaneously agitate a few hundred wasps. Something that would be very dangerous with the river flowing at 9000MLD.
It got to the point where I wouldn’t even go close to the trees as every day I was killing 20-30 wasps that had somehow fallen into my boat and were walking around on the floors. Even more would be flushed out each evening as I hosed down the boat in preparation for the next day’s drift. Thankfully tonight’s weather will begin to sort the little striped bastards out.
The river has been very high for most of the fishing season and this has made things difficult for those that are less experienced and those that like traditional fly fishing. Unfortunately for the aforementioned demographic of folks the river is still high and will remain so for the next few days at least; but it is on the way down. From our perspective we are still experiencing terrific dry fly and sight fishing with fish averaging just under 3lb. Cricket patterns have replaced the grasshoppers of last month and we’ve often had to resort to fishing tiny dries and unweighted nymphs to sighted fish. This is happening more and more with each passing week.
Hatches are on the cusp of going off but are still less than stellar due to the unusually high water releases from Eildon Lake. The bugs are under no illusions as to what is going on- the longest flood in years- and they will not hatch en masse when the river is this high. The good news is that we’ve done some sampling this past week and there are a lot of bugs prime to hatch once the river levels fall away. There were a truck load of large mayfly nymphs, think kossies, so now is the time to start tying these critters. Once the river gets to 2000-4000 and below the hatches will strengthen significantly (don’t forget about our evening drifts). Once it drop below 2500 we should see superb hatches accessible to all.
Nevertheless there has been some reasonable evening fishing of late for those willing to risk the likelihood of getting skunked. A few of the regulars in the shop have reported reasonable success fishing yellow sallys in the smaller sizes to the sputtering caddis hatch that occurs near dark most nights. Duns are a strong chance at last light.
This all leads us to the smaller creeks that I will not speak about here on this public blog. One in particular has been fishing exceptionally well. The others have only been fair. I can’t elaborate here as it will drive a stampede of people to them given the Goulburn’s height at the moment.
I will say that all the small streams are very low and cool. Water clarity is excellent and the fish are eager to feed, as the clock ticking down to spawning time draws down.
To illustrate this I should mention that on last week I stopped in at Tumbling Waters at about 6pm, as my kids wanted to skip pebbles in the main pool where everybody swims. A weather front was all but upon us and a few duns were hatching and perhaps 5-6 fish were rising when we arrived. Within 25 minutes an ant fall started and the two main pools (including the one just down from the bridge) had about a dozen fish rising in each. So much for it being fished out, when you have two dozen rising fish in the middle of the local swimming hole that sees about 50 people a day stop and eat lunch, swim and throw a lure.
Point being is that any sort of hatch. Any sort of fall of terrestrials. Anything edible at all is going to see these eager fish feed and feed well. A lot of it will come down to technique and fly selection so craft up some long fine leaders, grab a good selection of tiny dries and use all of your streamcraft skills to battle with these eager but cautious feeders.
Drift boat fishing continues to be good with sight fishing options up and down the river and the start of the hatch fishing all but upon us. Most nights we are finding rising fish and by placing the fish between us and the setting sun; we are getting a reasonably long rise. This will only improve in the coming weeks.
I should also mention that we have a heap of trips coming up. Firstly there is our Montana Trip which was booked out early but the lodge have just given us some extra spots to fill if we can. Do you want to fish with us in Idaho and Montana this coming July? We have up to five spots available with singles, couples and groups welcome.
The first week is in Idaho staying on the banks of the Henry’s Fork and the second is on the Missouri River in Montana with the chance to fish Yellowstone National Park for the final 1-2 days of the trip.
Please get in quick as any spots we cannot fill will be relinquished to the lodge in the coming weeks.
SOME USA TRIPS PHOTOS
We are also taking bookings for our Patagonia Trip (early December 2015) New Zealand Trips running January, February and March 2016. More details can be found on the relevant pages accessed via the following links:
SOME PATAGONIA TRIPS PHOTOS
SOME NEW ZEALAND TRIPS PHOTOS
We are also running some beginner’s workshops in the coming weeks and we urge anyone wanting to do one of these weekend courses to get in quick. They are extremely good value with two full days of instruction at a 1:3 ratio for only $390. More info can be found here.
So things are looking interesting up here in the coming weeks. April is a brilliant month for fishing and the good fishing can persist on through well into May. It can be a crap-shoot as to when it slows down but April is always a safe bet for plenty of perfect autumn weather and light wind days.
We hope that this finds you well and that you survived the Easter carnage.
See you around.
KEY REASONS why you should learn to fly fish with us:
* only $390 per person for the 2 Day Workshop
* only 9 participants per workshop with three instructors. Ratio of 3:1 = more individual attention
* all our instructors are full time professionals who teach fly fishing every single day
* we have the best teaching facility in the country
* GVFFC has been teaching fly fishing full time since 1994
* we have taught thousands of people to fly fish over the years. We can teach you too
* we have a fully stocked flyshop and only sell gear that we ourselves use. Beginner’s combos start at $299 for a good quality, ‘ready to fish’ rod, reel, line, leader, fly package and are available for purchase every day. Other options also available.
Can’t find a suitable date for a our beginner’s workshop?
To book or for more information phone us on Free Call 1800 458 111