Yet another wonderful week has passed in what will be remembered as one of the best summers in the living memory of those who fish the Goulburn River. The cicadas just keep on keeping on and the fish are responding accordingly. There’s been too many ridiculously good days to count, days where the number of fish caught and released was at best, a guesstimated blur. For Bo and myself out on the boat, the days just all roll into one long montage of smiles, high fives and wild brown trout.
The reason for this amazing fishing is something of a perfect storm of conditions that have come together this summer. When you combine low water levels with lots of big terrestrials, the result is always going to be exceptional fishing. Now on top of the cicadas, you can add the recent arrival of the willow grubs.
Thanks to the weather gods who gave us plenty of spring rain and cooler January temps to boot. I can’t remember the last time the lake had only dropped 4% +/- by the third week in January. It looks as though we’ve got at least two more summers worth of water in the lake without even accounting for whatever rain falls in the interim. Great for the region, the fishery and for us as a fly fishers.
While Bo and I feel like we are living in our drift boats at the moment and only stepping out each day to shower and sleep; Werner has been stalking the edges and spotting fish in under the willow trees. Every time I’ve encountered him of late it’s been this ethereal, disconnected experience with his voice emanating from deep under the shade of the willow trees.
No sign of the man himself. Just his voice yelling out that he’s busted off three and got two in the net or something similar.
This sits well with the man known as ‘The Dude’ among his fellow guides. For those that don’t know, we joke that Werner is the embodiment of Jeffrey Lebowski and to be fair to the man, he does own the URL http://www.thirdlaziestman onearth.com; and as such willow grub fishing fits him to a tee. The reasons for Werner and willow grub fishing are three-fold. Firstly when willow grub fishing the car can be within 30 metres of you all day. Secondl you don’t walk more than 200 m in an afternoon; and last but by no means least; you are in the shade all day. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118715/quotes
Those of you with a predisposition for sight fishing to fussy fish, staying in the shade and never raising a sweat; should seriously consider the journey up to fish here right now. The next month and a half will see some of the best fishing for the season succumb to small foam fly patterns fished at at between 1-4 fly rods in distance. Eyeball to eyeball fishing at close quarters. Lots and lots of fun to be had.
And the wasps aren’t even out yet either.
While on the whole terrestrial tangent, it would be remiss of me not to make mention of probably the most reliable of summer trout foods – the ubiquitous grasshopper. While the small rivers are all fishing extremely well for those using all manner of hopper patterns; the Goulburn is still more a cicada party. Don’t get me wrong. You will get fish on hoppers and a few of you that I know have your own secret ties that are catching fish right now – but the real hopper action on the G is still a week or two of hot weather away. Of course YMMV. But we’ve been busy with the magic markers turning our hoppers into cicadas of late.
Beetles and ants are of course falling in all-day, every-day. But the presence of the much larger terrestrials has meant that imitating these guys hasn’t been super-important just yet. A picky fish in along the banks, may however require a change to a smaller fly to elicit a take and these guys should be somewhere in your fly box and on your list of choices.
Many of you will know that I am big fan of fishing both ants and beetles. But truth be told I haven’t had to fish one since the start of December. This may be the first summer that I don’t end up calling on these most reliable of fly patterns. That’s how good the cicada fishing has been. Hopefully the transition to hoppers and willow grubs is a smooth one, and I can save myself a lot of peacock herl as the need to replace beetle patterns from the flybox should be greatly diminished this summer.
But only time will tell on that one.
One thing I can usually skip at this time of year is going into detail about the evening rise. In essence this is because there usually isn’t one!! As previously stated these lower water levels are seeing a much bigger hatch of caddis and mayfly each day and last light can be very good. The smaller rusty duns are about, as are some kossies, and the spent spinner fall in the late afternoon sometimes has to be seen to be believed. As long as the river remains low’ish, there will be a hatch and rise of an evening.
The smaller rivers have all been fishing exceptionally well. There’s too many to mention here and in any case I wouldn’t publish the names of them online; but suffice to say that there are numerous options within a short drive of Thornton. Hopper and willow grub feeders have been the most frequently encountered fish; but don’t forget to give your attractor patterns a good run.
It’s pretty hard to beat a well tied Stimulator, or Royall Wulff or Humpy at this time of year.
The guys have had some solid fishing over in NZ despite the weather. The rivers started off low in early January when they arrived, but a couple of cold front’s has seen the air temperature plummet and also a bit of snow falling. As such they are in great shape and things look good for the new group arriving this coming weekend. Numbers of fish caught, something we keep track of as part of our licensing obligations to the Department of Conservation in Southland, are about the same as in previous years. So all in all. A typical start to our summer over there.
Those of you interested in a trip with us this summer can look to only two weeks that still have spots left.
- WEEK 7. SUN 12 – SUN 19 FEB
- WEEK 10. SUN 5 – SUN 12 MAR
Other than that it will be a wait until 2018, where the number of spots on offer will be considerably less than there were this year.
Also worth mentioning is our Idaho Trip. We are only looking for two more people to completely fill the trip. If this is on your personal bucket-list of fly fishing must-do trips and you have the time to come this July, then I urge you to come forward and let us know ASAP. We have heavily screened each individual attending this year’s trip and we have a wonderful group put together. You and a friend could round out the numbers and join us for a wonderful 11 days of superb fly fishing in Idaho.
For those still unsure about the trip – take a look at the video that our friends ovwe at WorldCast Anglers helped put together.
While spruiking our services, I should mention that Werner is available for languid half day (preferably) and full day (begrudgingly) sessions of sight fishing in the shade. Big, wild brown trout eating willow grubs are the star attraction and our resident Teutophile is available every day. Unless he doesn’t feel up to it that is!!
Bo and myself are always available with our drift boats at the ready. Commando sessions up high in the hills are also on offer, as well as streamcraft sessions and casting/beginner lessons. Call us anytime to discuss the options.
So that’s it for now. A reminder that our lakes have slowed right up over the past month of hot weather and as I tell everyone that books to stay with us, it’s the river that you want to be fishing anyway. It’s just that good at the moment. If you mush fish our lakes expect to encounter plenty of larger redfin and the odd yellowbelly; but the trout are hiding in the depths of the main lake and only really coming out late at night and in the wee hours of the morning.
Also due to popular demand, I am available to take people out taking photos of rising fish. Many of you have expressed not only kind words of praise for my close up photography of rising fish; but also the desire to learn how it is done. This is something that I enjoy helping people with and IMO the world is a better place with more fly fishing photos in it than less. So please sing out if this is of interest. BYO gear or you can use mine. Half day sessions of four hours available daily.
So after all that rambling I think that we’re done here. I hope that this finds you well and to those that support us I say keep an eye out for our new blog when it goes live in the coming weeks. We are about to completely change the way in which we deliver content and we are excited to be able to offer you the chance to be on the inside of what will be an interesting addition to what we already do. Bo and Werner are already having a ball writing content and I’m also looking forward to having a bit more fun with website.
It will be like winding back the clock to a time when we felt able to freely express our views and to share a lot more of what we are learning out there on the river each day. Hard to do when others just lift your information and pass it off as their own. The cut and paste mafia will be halted in their tracks!
All the best people. Stay safe this Australia Day and hope that you end up knee deep in the water somewhere.
Until next time…..
It’s been another solid week of fishing since the last report I posted here. Once again the talk of the town are the cicadas and their incessant song. People want to sleep guys. Why don’t you get a room while you’re at it?!
While some fly fishers have been perfectly happy to stay beneath the cover of the willows and chase the first of the ‘grubbers’; most of us have enjoyed the license to be able to blind search likely looking water, that cicada time offers.
The river has not been a busy place of late and other than a few boats to share the water with, and even then mostly on the weekends, we have not been running into people. As an example there are no cars at Gilmore’s Bridge right now and it’s a perfect day for fishing. Warmish, cloudy and still.
Speaking of the river, it has fallen away a couple of times in the past week and now sits at around 3500 MLD. This is a perfect level for all sorts of fishing and that extra couple of feet reduction in height means a lot less velocity in many key spots. This is seeing us raise fish to the fly in all sorts of places that are usually deemed too deep and fast at this time of year.
Great for us. Not so great for the fish who’ve never previously encountered anglers in aforementioned locales.
Drifting has been very good but to quote myself ‘it’s not been on fire per se; rather we have steadily put runs on the board, like two Test openers’. There’ll sometimes be an hour or more of no takes and then suddenly we get five of six in the space of fifteen minutes. Persistence and faith in your chosen methods and flies being the critical ingredient for success.
Walking the edges is really coming into its own, now that the willow grubs are starting to fish in places. Werner in particular has been watching the tiny grubs for weeks and will soon finally ‘officially’ acknowledge the willow grubs as having started. He is our groundhog and the jury is still out as to whether we will have a stellar grub season. I will defer to him on that in the next report.
The smaller rivers are all fishing well and you can thank the grasshoppers for much of what’s going on. I’ll be honest and say I haven’t fished the rubi in a while; the Goulburn just being so good. But our guides and many of our customers are coming in and reporting excellent fishing. I won’t publish whereabouts online but if you’re headed up and want to fish them, make sure that you speak with us first.
Oh and the place to be on the evening rises is on those smaller streams. It’s been very good in that last hour or so of daylight.
Quick update on our NZ trips. We’ve had some late cancellations for the trip starting this weekend and the following weekend and then after that there’s not a free spot until mid-March. If you have been considering this trip but as yet not been able to go, this is your best opportunity, as those who’ve cancelled have forfeited their deposits and as such the trip is discounted by a significant amount. Phone for more info but please get in quick. A week of guided fly fishing, meals, transport, flies, licences and accommodation for $3350 is the steal of the year.
There are also a couple of spots left for our Idaho-Montana trip in July. Please phone to discuss. Also the drift boat fishing is very good at the moment and we have plenty of availability in the coming week starting on Sunday.
Back to the fishing.
A lot of people are coming in and lamenting the fact that they are not seeing lots of rising fish. Well despair not because we’re not seeing many either. With cicadas and hoppers on the menu it becomes more about fishing the likely water rather than seeing them. If you must sight fish you should consider getting in under the trees fishing willow grubs.
Those wanting some solitude in the smaller rivers need look no further than their favourite stream’s headwaters. Everything from the top of the Big River right around this way to Marysville is fishing well. All you need is some floatant, a box of dries and the will to explore.
It’s been good to be on the river and drifting every day. Finding fish consistently at all the levels comes down to time spent on the water over many years, but Stevie Wonder could find fish all day long with lower river levels and plenty of cicadas about. This excellent dry fly fishing will continue even after the cicadas are gone as the hoppers are now about in big numbers and in any case, the fish are well and truly attuned to the larger terrestrials going in.
For those yet to do a drift with us this season I would say try and sneak away in the next month. It has been very good and Bo and I are available every day until February 26. Speaking of which February will also be very good and to encourage people to come up throughout the rest of the summer, we are going to offer ‘Stay and Play’ packages. Sorry. Stay and Fish’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Come and do a half or full day drift and we will throw in the accommodation for $99. Do two consecutive drifts on back to back days and get the accommodation for free.
This offer is for February bookings only and is not valid with any other deals/offer. Gift vouchers may not be redeemed for this package. It is also based on a single nights accommodation and excludes Saturday nights.
We hope that this finds you well. We are all so busy that we’re not having much time for anything but guiding and basic email/answering machine triage. Nevertheless we urge you to phone us if you need more info on any of our trips, offers or the fishing in general. While we may not be able to pick up then and there; we will get back to you that same day.
MOBILE: 0418 995 611
The fishing has been outrageously good these past few weeks and the secret that is now well and truly out, is that this is a cicada year par excellence.
It started about three and a half weeks ago with me tentatively fishing some big flies and having one of those sessions where the fish just eat everything all day no matter the presentation. While we have had a couple of poorer sessions since then, that’s merely a blip when you factor in that we have three boats out most days and we’ve caught and released hundreds of fish in that time period. I’ve had three days where we boated over 25 fish on big dries and it’s been so consistent that you begin to think that every cast could bring a fish up.
On top of this there’s been plenty of smaller terrestrials falling in, as well as some mid-afternoon dun hatches and the ever-present caddis. The fish are eager to eat from the top and we’ve completely done away with fishing droppers and the like.
There are some interesting local phenomenon’s other than the’ cicada hatch from hell’ going on at the moment. Stop by the shop to learn more about these events as we have only just figured the main one out and it’s a doozy. We have patterns to imitate what’s going on but seeing as how it’s taken weeks to figure out; it’s something we will keep for those that support us by actually coming into the store to get flies or do a guided trip.
Bank fishing is every bit as good as boat fishing right now. So many of the guys who can fish this river well are killing it. Cicadas are once again the main fly of choice and most people I’m running into have caught 3-6 good fish by the time I’ve drifted past them. Half the time I see other anglers, they have a fish on.
Having said that I only saw one fly fisher today while drifting 18kms of river, and there has only been 1-2 cars at Gilmore’s Bridge these past few days. It has been exceptionally quiet (YAY!) on the river when it comes to other anglers. And long may it continue.
It really is that good and I’m not trying to sell anything as we are all but booked out at the moment and in any case we are short-staffed as well, with guides now in NZ (and Merimbula lying on the beach!). But the fishing has been outrageous for over a month now with no sign of abating; low water levels and cicadas definitely equals heaps of eager fish.
Speaking of those that support us, we are about to introduce a new private ‘client only’ blog. This will be by invite only and will contain much more regular updates, weekly video reports and a private chat board for members to discuss fishing in the area or tee up fishing partners for a drift or leave a trip report for others to read. We are also going to do plenty of technical videos, including flytying and technical fishing films. That plus lots of fishing footage, as well as a regular look behind the scenes at our business and our guides.
Access for those invited will be free until the end of March so that people can get a taste of what’s on offer. From April 1 there will be a small annual fee to retain access to this service and members will also be invited to join us for an annual day of free of workshops, where all of our guides will be rostered on to run technical sessions on casting, streamcraft, flytying and much more.
We have given a lot to everyone over the years and we will continue to do so. But to especially reward those who have supported us and protect ourselves in the age where people just lift your hard earned content with the click of a mouse, we need to change the way we do things. There will still always be a ‘basic’ public report for those that just want to get an idea of what’s happening up here; but we want to continue to develop this little community of like-minded folk and retain the idea of GVFFC as a hub for information and sharing, as we move onwards into an even-more digital age.
Doing this has not been an inexpensive exercise. Building the new blog, purchasing camera equipment and paying for private video hosting, doesn’t come cheap. This is not even factoring in the time that it takes to produce the content. So we hope that those of you that have done a guided session with us and support us see value in doing this.
Part of this service will be that members can always contact one of us; even in the future when our business model changes and we may not be there in a shop for daily face to face contact with people. Member’s will be able to post a message or phone us to chat about any related to fly fishing. We will also offer a customised trip planning/hosting service. You tell us where you want to go and we will arrange everything including coming along with you or your group. We are already doing a little of this but it is something that we are finding is in more and more demand as people have less time and are unable to coordinate their lives to fit in with our scheduled NZ/USA/PATAGONIA trips.
The new website will go live in a few weeks’ time, at which point we will begin contacting clients both past and present, with a free subscription that will run until MAR 31 2017. On APRIL 1 (no prank) those that wish to retain this service can pay a small fee for a 12 month membership. This membership will not only include access to the website, but also to 10% off of all fly purchases and an annual Member’s Day to be held in November valued at $285. This will be a full day of mini-workshops with all of our staff assisting. The only fee on the day will be a small charge for lunch. All the workshops will be free to members.
So to quote the most recent Nobel laureate for literature – ‘The times they are a changin’. We hope that by changing up the way in which we deliver content, we can bring you more of it and of a higher standard.
Back to the fishing.
The smaller rivers have also been on fire but not with the same the low numbers of anglers. For some reason when the Goulburn gets above 2000MLD, the crowds tend to go elsewhere. And so on the smaller streams you are more likely to run into other people enjoying the very same thing that you are. That being said the fishing on them has been very good. Water levels are much higher than normal and the fishing is best the further from the access points you walk.
Be warned though. This is the only two-week period of the year where all bets are off on where and how you may encounter someone. People walking down-river, people camped where they’re not meant to be, people on lilos on the Rubicon!!
If you go into it knowing that this could happen; you’ll have a better experience. My plan of attack during this Christmas period is to leave the popular stretches of the smaller streams alone and head up into the headwaters with a three weight, a box of dry flies and some floatant. Eager fish, cool legs (wet wading) and some solitude. Pack a sandwich and make a day of it.
While some have reported willow grubs here and there, I have not seen any and I am deliberately banging lots of willows with my oars to see if any fall out. I think it’s the mark of just how good a cicada year it has been when you don’t give a fig that it’s almost January and not a grub has been sighted.
So in a nutshell I would say stick to the Goulburn and bash big flies around, or hit the middle/lower Rubi/Stevo from first light until you run into people; or jump up into the headwaters and lose yourself on the smaller trout that live in those waters.
David is now in NZ and awaiting the first week of clients that will arrive on JAN 1. We’ve got eleven weeks there this year and there are still some spots left for those not yet committed to a trans-Tasman sojourn. We still have spots left in high-season January left, as well as five spots in a week in mid-March.
Our July Idaho trip is nearly booked out but we are still looking for a husband/wife pairing or two fishing mates. This is a very special trip and we urge anyone considering it to get in quick as we want to lock it down as soon as we can. Please do not hesitate to phone me (Antony) on 0418 995 611 between 9am and 9.30pm on any day.
Getting back to the Goulburn, our drift boat trips have been very popular and we are looking light on for spots over the next two months; even with Bo drifting now as well. Please. If you are considering a drift this summer, get onto us ASAP. If you only learn at the last minute that you have the time to do one, phone and we will do what we can to fit you in. We are doing plenty of double drifts which gives the scope to start early at 6-7am and be off the water before it gets too warm.
Speaking of which, the past few days it was like fishing on the Mekong Delta. I’ve been half expecting Martin Sheen to come out of the mist in a PBR; that’s how oppressive the conditions have been. Three days ago we couldn’t see kayaks only 70 metres away; we could only hear the voices. Almost like in Apocalypse Now. The warm, humid air, thick with mist atop the cold water being released from Lake Eildon.
Thankfully around noon today those clouds gave way to blue skies, and while the sun had some extra bite from that point on, at least the damn humidity was gone.
The next few days will offer up some awesome fishing. I am completely free tomorrow after a cancellation, and so I will be in the shop tying flies until 1pm. Then I’m closing up and heading out to get some photos. Speaking of which I should mention that we will operate on the restricted hours of 9am-1pm until JAN 8. We are short-staffed right now and by 1pm there’s hardly anyone stopping by. If you are going to be coming by after 1pm, please phone ahead so we can either meet you and open up, or leave some flies out for you.
That’s it for now. We hope that you are out and enjoying the great fishing. It’s just been so good that I hate to think of anyone missing out on the opportunity to experience this ‘once in maybe a decade cicada year’.
Thanks also to Ricky, an Alexandra local who found my flybox of foam flies on the side of the road near Gilmore’s Bridge, where they blew out of my drift boat while ferrying clients back to the centre late at night. I really appreciate you giving them back to me even when others were offering you way more than the $200 reward that I put up. I am so grateful to have the flies that my friend Rob Merrill tied for me in the weeks before he passed away and will now keep them in a safe place at home. Not in my boat for others to lose.
I hope you (Ricky) have a wonderful New Year and that the $200 reward is well-spent as part-payment on an EPIRB for your new boat.
Until next time.
I really don’t have the time to write report at the moment, with the days all rolling into one continuous drift boat trip; but I am making the time so that you all can’t just say that I keep all the good fishing to myself and because I really should.
The fishing is good everywhere right now. The Goulburn has crept up to 2000 MLD, which is really a trickle, and the amount of fishable water is immense. The past few days it was nothing to encounter 50 fish per day. Getting them to eat wasn’t always easy, but we’ve had some tremendous fishing from both bank and boat.
The Goulburn is running clear and the hatches have continued unabated by the recent increase in flow. Caddis during the mornings, spinners in the afternoons and duns/caddis on dark. It really is a sort of smorgasbord for the trout right now.
While I’m not a huge advocate of having to carry many different patterns; the Goulburn right now can see you changing flies a number of times over the course of the day and just this past week we’ve seen a pretty significant switch as the fish move to terrestrials during the main part of the day. A switch that is most welcomed by us as guides; who love robust flies that float well.
Willow grubs are not about in any numbers just yet, at least not where we’ve been fishing. Lots of people are asking about them but we are still a warm burst of weather from seeing this ‘hatch’ fire up. We have been tying willow grubs as fast as we can in anticipation of this annual orgy of surface action.
This level is great as the hatches continue, yet the edges have enough water for cruising fish. I know that my claims of seeing fifty fish sounds like an exaggeration to the uninitiated, but without a word of a lie I have been polarizing at least fifty fish on most days. Some of them are rising, some are chasing baitfish or tailing and picking up snails; but they are out in the open and pretty bloody obvious to anyone taking the time to look.
We have been out on the boats every single day and the number of fish we are finding is staggering. Those of you who have drifted with us and only saw a few fish should book a trip now as it won’t stay at this level for very long. We now have another boat for Bo and he is also drifting so those who love fishing with him should phone and request a trip. David is booked out until FRI 9 and for me it’s THU 8.
The smaller rivers are on fire as well. So many reports from so many places. The rivers close to home have produced great numbers of fish in the past few days; it’s been like switch was thrown. Dry flies are the way to go and you would be crazy to not take a leave pass now if you have one. Especially given the crazy period ahead with Christmas and work breakups etc
On the work front we have all of our guides here at the moment for teaching/guiding. Beginners lessons, casting lessons, flytying lessons, streamcraft sessions and even just taking people out for the best fishing on any given day.
We’ve also got some spaces left on the Idaho trip and for our NZ trips. Phone if you wish to speak with us about them in more detail.
We hope that this update finds you well. It was a very short report that I haven’t even the time to proof-read; but we hope that it inspires you to jump in the car and hit a river somewhere. To be honest I don’t think it will matter where you go. Everything should be good right now.
All the best.
Well the unthinkable has happened and the river has risen three fold to a whopping 1500 MLD! Yes that was a stupid statement but this has been a ridiculous spring, very much reminiscent of the early to mid-1990’s when spring rain meant something very different to what we’ve known it so far this millennium.
Last year we arrived home from Montana in early August and the rain just stopped. It pretty much didn’t rain for the next ten months. This year we again returned from MT in the first days of August and the rain once again stopped for the entire month. And then it started.
From expecting the lake it maybe get to 60% we have now a hair’s breadth away from hitting 80%, with hardly any hot weather and plenty of cool changes along the way. While this is a pleasant surprise to all of us, it is a surprise. I can’t say that many were expecting things to go this way when the rain stopped falling back in July-August.
This has seen almost zero demand for water releases for the farmers downriver, and with environmental allocations for the Murray seemingly coming from further north, Eildon Lake has benefited with an ever-increasing reserve of water, that has now probably peaked. But who can say whether even this is accurate, with some cooler/wetter than usual weather likely to eventuate across SE Australia in the coming months.
Only time will tell.
Something that we can all agree on, is that the conditions we are currently experiencing, are about as conducive to a great summer of trout fishing as one could hope for. Most of the small rivers are still too high and may not fish outrageously well for a few weeks. This puts them at their peak during the holiday period and many of us are pretty happy about timing that for once seems to work in our favour. It doesn’t always work out that way.
These low flows have had a number of obvious effects to us as guides on the water every day. Perhaps the most important to me is the fact that we’ve essentially had low water conditions for seven months. While this has made for spooky fish, it has also contributed to the huge hatches that we’ve been experiencing and equally as important, it has seen the fish put on great condition after the rigours of the late fall/winter spawn. Having a combination of more food than can be eaten and low water flows whereby the fish are not fighting swift currents to feed, comes together to see the fish put on substantial bulk quickly. So many of the wild river fish we are seeing have broad shoulders and some heft to them already. And we haven’t even started the annual hopper/willow grub fiesta yet.
While as fly fishers we are the most tragic of optimists and are loathe to dwell on the negatives; it nevertheless would be remiss of me to not state the one that is bugging the hell out of people right now. And that is the increase water temps due to the low water releases from the lake. The water sits in the pondage for days and is then released not at the 10-11c degrees that it comes out of the lake at – but more like 14-17c after sitting in the shallow pondage for a day or three.
This spike in temps, while still perfect for trout, is assisting the dreaded carp, who have migrated upriver in numbers, to go about their spawning in next to ideal conditions. Huge swathes of edge waters are being churned up by these guys and if I didn’t know the fishery better I would cry. Thankfully the first real releases of cold water are not far off and then this European plague will mostly move off-river to the lagoons, or even better still, they’ll head downstream. Either way is fine with me. It’s just this perfect storm or coming together of environmental factors that is assisting these fish at just the wrong time.
That aside the fishing has been incredible this week. We have had some stellar day with fish rising by the dozen on any given stretch of water and at any time of the day. I ducked out on Thursday for a look-see, it was about 3pm and I hit the river to find about 35 fish rising over two pools on arrival. I’m not speaking of a bunch of oncers or a little bit of action; but an actual full blown rise that would match any evening rise.
Ants have been on the menu and have accounted for many of the fish taken in the past few days. Last night I hung out of a tree and shot a couple hundred frames of some rising browns that were obviously engaged in the aforementioned orgy of feeding. Upon review last night nearly every frame contained >5 winged black ants. I didn’t fish as I was taking photos, but had I have been throwing flies, it would have been crazy while it lasted. This was at 4.30pm’ish.
Walking the banks and wading has been easy with most gravel bars and runs containing enough water to keep fish within close proximity for most of the day. While you can cross at the tails of some pools, for the most part there is just too much water (depth/velocity) to safely be bouncing from bank to bank. But I would gladly trade this luxury for fish that feel considerably more comfortable being out in the open.
The sudden rise in river height last week must have caught some animals by surprise as we found two cows and two wombats drowned in the days since. Each had long lines of rising fish downriver of the carcasses eating the ‘you know what’s’ that were dropping from the carcasses. We contemplated putting on a willow grub pattern at times but instead got them to eat other fly patterns.
While the above statement of how the animals died might be a presumptuous one, given that I’ve not heard of animals drowning on account of a river rise in the past, but it would seem the most likely of reasons given that they showed up the day after the increase in flows occurred. Either way they are something akin to a dead whale washed up on beach. With large piscatorial predators being drawn to the site. I counted about 17 fish lined up in one long, slow drift line below one of the cows.
Warm and humid afternoons have brought out the ants. All sizes and colours have been seen but perhaps the black and the rusty coloured ones have been most prolific. There is also another species with a honey lemon body, that is also quite common and that I tie and carry flies to imitate. Bring ants if you are coming up.
Evenings have seen everything from duns to spinners to caddis to grannoms to ants. Once again it’s a matter of deciphering which one is of most importance at any given time and place. Carrying a broad selection of these bugs in the pupa/emerger and adult stage is pretty important right now.
The fishing from the boat has been very good although we’ve sometimes had to develop strategies to bring success. I say this slightly cryptically as we are catching plenty of decent fish where others trying to imitate us are not. Sunday’s drift was incredible with well over ten fish brought to the next and just as many lost/missed on the strike. Now is a great time to book a drift, even for those that have been doing them for years, as we might not see low water conditions heading into December for many years to come.
We have a beginner’s workshop running this weekend and we need two more people to round off the numbers. If you or a friend want to learn to fly fish, either from scratch or after messing about on your own for a few years, this workshop could be the perfect fit. We also have drift boat availability later this week and across the weekend. Also please don’t forget our NZ and Idaho trips, as numbers are limited and our new ads go out in the Summer Edition of FlyLife which goes on sale next week.
Our lakes are fishing well with these cooler spells keeping them in great shape. There are plenty of rising fish but to be honest it’s kind of hard to recommend them as the river is doing so well at the moment! Nonetheless they are good fun and offer those staying in the cottage another fishing option during their visit.
So that’s it. I could go on and on but I am time-poor at the moment and some information needs to be kept just for those who support us by stopping by the store or doing a trip of some sort.
Thanks to all of you that do. We really appreciate your support.
See you on the river and tight lines to all.
Well what a week we’ve just seen. Great fishing from start to finish and a staggering election result in the USA. I came off the river on Wednesday to several messages from those joining us in Idaho-Montana next summer with the main question being ‘will this affect the fishing?’
The answer to that comically posed question is of course no. Everything will be just as we left it back in August. That is; plenty of rising fish and hospitable folk wanting to share their slice of America with us. Nevertheless it’s hard to write anything right now without at least acknowledging the election results, as it just seems to surreal to think that someone like Trump could triumph.
Beam me up Scotty; there’s no intelligent life down here.
As always though the earth kept spinning and when Thursday rolled around it was back to all-out action as we had guide trips to prepare for. Nothing focuses the mind of a fishing guide like preparing for a drift boat trip. Preparing lunches, drinks, life jackets, anchors, oars, rigged rods, flies, water, ice and camera gear takes time. Then there’s car shuttles to organise. It’s not just picking someone up and going fishing, and that doesn’t even take into account the fact that we clean our boats after each and every drift. High pressure gun inside and out; add twenty minutes for this as well.
Yes the wading guide jobs are a whole lot easier and on some days it’s hard not envy Werner and his Jeffrey Lebowski approach to … well not just guiding….. but everything!
‘H-hey, this is a private residence, man!’ – The Dude
But all dreams of being Werner aside, the drift boat opens up another world when you have an experienced guide on the oars. And this week was no exception as we explored every little nook and cranny of the river. With so few anglers about we’ve had pretty much the complete run of the place.
This week the fishing from the boat was not easy, but we figured out some things that only revealed themselves after many hours streamside, and as a result we had great success fishing dry flies to either rising or sighted fish, despite having to play dodgem boats with the kids in canoes and kayaks. The best fish this week was just shy of 4lb and most were in the 1.5-2lb range. We had some seriously good days on the water with some eyeball to eyeball sight fishing thrown into the mix. Think fish caught with only the only the leader out of the rod tip; and from the boat! Not hiding behind a tree in the shade; but from the boat. That’s with two people standing and catching fish one rod length away on dry flies.
Just so much fun.
Perhaps the highlight for me was catching up with long-time regular Dennis for a full day float. When I head out with him I can do whatever I want. I could ask him to fish streamers all day and he’d oblige. Or I could try and new patterns we wanted to test or spend 10 minutes setting up a photo opp. This makes for a very relaxed day, and so it when I finally looked at my watch, it was 6.30pm and we’d already been on the river for over ten hours.
The day went very slowly and we only fished 10% of the available water; instead choosing to fish to sighted fish only. We ended up with eight in the net for the day, with maybe three missed and another two that took 3 the feet of 4x tippet and the fly with them. A very good session given the fact that the river is still rather low and very clear, making for skittish fish in the bright midday sun.
On that same day, David was drifting further upstream of us and also landed eight fish; but he got all of his on small dries fished down-river to rising fish. His fish were also mostly of a decent size. All of them though were very chunky and in great condition, well in advance of the hopper and willow grub smorgasbord yet to come.
I forgot to mention that the river is at 800MLD and has been for about a week. You can still cross on all the gravel bars but there’s just that little bit more water coming down. Enough to send fish searching over the only slightly flooded ground. It is here that I have been doing most of my guiding and photographing of rising trout this week. David has mostly been ignoring these places and stalking rising fish mid-stream. Bo has been looking to the smaller streams for his clients and Werner has been slutting himself about to the fish of the Breakaway. He is cheap. Not straying far from his home in Alexandra.
The good news is that the hatches have continued with caenids very early in the day, followed by caddis at around 9am, a few grannoms through the morning, then depending on the day, spinner falls in the afternoon and/or termites if if’s muggy. Evening is the domain of the caddis and mayfly. If you’re visiting you’ll have to be armed for both possibilities and have patterns that cover the emerging and adult stages. Caveat emptor. Not all flies are created equal. Stop by for the right patterns and please phone us if you are coming so that we can ensure that we are here to open the shop, or at very least leave some flies and a mud-map out for you to collect on arrival.
This past week we have been super-busy and after two months of little work we are doing two-a-days to catch up. It’s been a matter of having to be on the water more than in the shop of late. So please punch this number 0418 995 611 into your phone and sing out if you are considering a mid-week visit. We are only too happy to leave flies outside for you to collect, or meet you somewhere along the river.
Perhaps the best news for us fly fishers is that the cicadas are now getting about. A drive through the Black Spur and Narbethong/Buxton/Taggerty (anywhere there are a lot of eucalypts), will illustrate this rather obvious point. BTW BYO earplugs.
Their chirping has been deafening.
This week is shaping up to be epic. We have 15-17 degree water temps here at Thornton and the hatches and fishing will continue to be excellent. I would put money on some big ant falls this week and the first of the real terrestrial fishing from the boat. Wink Wink! Anyone wanting to drift with either David or myself should get in quick. Our 2FOR1 deals being extremely popular right now. Also both of our accommodations are available at the moment and the weather is going to be perfect.
Reports from the smaller rivers are all verging on being good. Water temps rose quickly this week and have had a few reports of 13-16 degree water in the nearby streams. Fish are looking up and some people are speaking of 12+ fish sessions. This is mostly second hand information from reliable sources and I can’t tell my own stories, as I have been on the Goulburn – it’s pretty hard to leave it when it’s fishing this well.
Some brave souls have been venturing even higher further afield to fish in the headwaters of the various rivers in the district. The fishing up there is patchy at best, but there’s already been some sessions of note. I would think that another week or two and we will see some pretty interesting opportunities right across the state. Still. It could be worth a look come Thursday or Friday if you’re sick of the Goulburn’s rising fish madness.
That’s it for this weekend’s report. The detail of the flies and techniques working will be kept for those that stop by and support us. Sorry but the only way that we can pay the bills and keep the doors open, is if you guys support us; your only destination flyshop in the country. 😉
On another note I just spent the afternoon tying 18-20 Yellow Sallys; so stop by if you’re after any, as I won’t get any time at the vise in the coming days and they will sell out by tomorrow afternoon. 😉
Don’t forget to take a look at our NZ and USA trips if you are considering a visit to either. You will not find better value than our NZ trip at $4450 for a full week of guided fishing; including accommodation, meals, transport, flies, licences.
Also our USA trip is one that every fly fisher should experience at some stage in their journey. These rivers offer what is considered by many to be the most amazing dry fly fishing imaginable. We have secured wonderful lodgings and the very best of the local guides. Bo and I will be leading this trip with numbers strictly limited to ten anglers. This is a great trip for a husband/wife pairing or a couple of fishing friends. Singles also welcome as we will find you a suitable fishing partner. Please contact us for more information and we wiln send you our latest trip brochure.
Further to this there exists the chance to travel with just Bo and myself as we are inviting 2-4 people to join us and fish with us from SUN 24 JUNE – WED 5 July; for ten days of fishing, just going wherever the road/best reports take us. We have drift boats and an open agenda and we will spend the 4th of JULY doing something uniquely American with some of our great friends over that way. If you have limited time and just want to experience the very best of what Idaho-Montana has to offer; then this could be the perfect trip for you.
So that’s it for this week. We hope that you can get out there for a fish as it’s really very good at the moment with a great week of weather ahead.
See you on the water.
It’s been a wonderful week on the river. Actually wonderful doesn’t even come close to cutting it as an apt adjective. It’s been super with so many rising fish at times that you could think that you’re on the Missouri in Montana or the Henry’s Fork in Idaho. Sure the blue sky days required some extra care in the approach, but going out an catching twenty or more fish in a day was the norm. Many, many people contacted me to say thanks for the info and relate stories, replete with photos, of just how well they had done.
So take the word of a fisherman with a grain of salt and dismiss what would seem like hyperbole at your peril; because it’s been bloody fabulous.
The trick at the moment is the stalking and fly selection. If I had to restrict myself to a simple two word explanation of the previous statement it would be thus; ‘slow’ and ‘small’. You have to use a lot of care when approaching fish at the moment and keeping flies smaller than usual is a bonus. Pick your chosen fly and then put it back in the box and take the same pattern in the next hook size down.
The river bumped up to 500 MLD on Friday which is hardly even noticeable to anyone but the fish. They immediately moved into what little inundated ground there was and began feeding Tassie tailing style; head down-tail up. This will however help the fishing and I’m kicking myself being stuck in the shop today with no one coming up and an overcast sky practically guaranteeing that there will be a lot of fish activity.
There’s been a heap of flying ants/termites on the warmer nights; from Thornton to the Breakaway and beyond. Having a few of these in smaller sizes has been very important on the afternoons/evenings when they’ve been about.
Caddis continue to proliferate and they are important from mid-morning until dark. Caenids are still hatching at dawn and through the morning on the clear nights and larger duns are hatching on evening. Oh and there’s grannoms dipping the surface of the water in the tail outs of the pools.
It’s pretty hard to fault except that on the blue sky days you really have to be extra careful if stalking the fish in the pools. Thankfully for those who don’t have the time or patience to do this; the fish in the runs will eat nymphs regardless of the sloppiness of the cast or the dragging of the flies.
Before I forget we have a new Idaho Trip brochure which you can view by clicking here. We literally have a handful of spots left for this trip, so please, if you’re at all interested in joining us, please take a look and phone us ASAP to discuss the options.
The fish in our lakes are going crazy eating all manner of aquatic insects. However something revealed itself to me these past few days and it only came to me by accident. You see I was taking photos of a huge midge hatch in our lakes with plenty of close ups of rising fish. The problem was that most of the rise forms were not typical ‘I’m eating midge’ rises that we generally see. They were violent takes where the fish, who was visibly tracking across the lake, suddenly darted to one side and took in a very aggressive and splashy manner. On close review of the photos that I took, I was able to discern the reason. The fish were eating stick caddis swimming in the surface film.
Those small critters with their pale bodies sticking out of the top of their cases and doing that awkward, crawling sort of swim; was the reason for the excited takes.
Talk about a masking hatch. The thousands of midge on the water deceived us into thinking that they were on the menu; when in fact it was something completely different that they were eating. You learn something new every day in this caper.
So that’s it for now. The rain has now finished and summer is almost here. If you can get out for a fish, you should do so now. The next few months are going to be great but it’s hard to beat the hatches and wade fishing that’s available to everyone capable walking from their vehicle to the river right now!
Have fun. Drive safely. And please release your <*)))<
** SOME RELEASE SHOTS FROM OUR MOST RECENT IDAHO AND MONTANA TRIP – JULY 2016 **