Actually that title is not entirely accurate as we are happy to have as much rain as possible, given that our summers are always long and any extra rain now, means an extended season on the smaller rivers and a later start to the low-water, summer stalk and snake-athon!
We didn’t get a lot of rain where I was last night, but evidently we did elsewhere. The Goulburn suddenly dirtied up this morning and is still discoloured. Only time will tell as to whether we get the predicted rain and the river stays dirty through the end of the week; so keep in touch via this page or on the phone for more details as conditions either improve/deteriorate.
We have people in our accommodation at the moment but no scheduled guiding jobs for tomorrow. As a result I’m heading off for a fish.
See you all on the river and tight lines to all.
The river cleared unexpectedly over the past 24 hours as the forecast rain never eventuated. It is the clearest we have seen it all season, but be warned, we have a lot more rain on the way this week.
If you can sneak up to fish the Goulburn, my advice is come up before Wednesday night when the real big falls are due. 20-40mm is the forecast with more significant rain events in the days to follow.
Video: A sneak peek at what’s to come in the next month.
Right now though there are plenty of fish about and the evening rise last night and tonight (I am typing this while sitting in the car), was superb. A few different duns, caddis and I swear I saw a few ants as well. For the most part the fish aren’t large; but they are feeding well and behaving like Goulburn fish. That is, they are locking into certain bugs, much to the chagrin of those either unable or unwilling to change flies in the low-light.
I have had a few short <45mins sessions at the main access points this week and managed fish on all but one occasion. There we quite a few rising fish, requiring an extremely stealthy approach (I knelt and crawled into the tail outs to get into positions without being seen); and I also maximized my chances with longish leaders and fine, supple and sunken tippets. Most of the fish I caught took small caddis emergers fished just beneath the film.
Proper report to come in the days ahead. Hope that this finds you well and excited to hear of the start of the proper spring hatches; right on time as we approach the September/October transition.
PS – We have updated our Calendar of Events Page to highlight all of the workshops, trips and special offers running over the coming months. To learn more, please click here to go to our website.
Another week has passed but you’d never have guessed it if you had driven over the Goulburn seven days ago and today; as not much has changed. The water is still dirty and other than in a few select places where a clear watered tributary is having an effect, it’s visibility of about 1-2 feet at the most.
This hasn’t stopped us from fishing it, as we have clients who are time-poor and have to come when they get the chance and are ‘fishing tragics’ ourselves; but it’s definitely not the low water Goulburn that we all anticipate and have come to love each spring.
Nothing much will change the situation in the foreseeable future as it’s kinda like the perfect storm or coming together of a particular set of environmental circumstances. The huge volume of rain that we had last week actually discoloured much of lake Eildon where the water coming off the steep much edges has created a lot of cloudy water. On top of this we have every gully and gutter spewing dirty water into the river and it only gets worse the further downstream from the pondage that you go.
Of course with so much water falling on the state there is little demand from farmers for irrigation releases. More likely that they’d probably pay to keep the river low right now instead. This means that we are stuck with murky water until we get one of those ‘dreaded’ environmental releases or we get a burst of warm weather that the farmers so often want to utilise and convert to dramatic and rapid growth in their crops/pastures.
While this is a PITA for those of us that love fishing the river when it’s low, being a fly fisher and therefore a supreme optimist, I am left to mull the positives to the situation. For me they rank in order of importance:
- It means we are storing more valuable water in the lake for the summer fishing ahead. Yeehaa.
- That the fish have effectively been given a time-out just after the season opened, with every tough day that goes by resulting in another 20 fish that will make it through until the summer and maybe even spawning time.
That being said we have been getting fish on most outings. You just have to modify your techniques (and expectations!) to give yourself the best chance of success. You also have to concentrate and fish with a diligence not generally required in a few weeks’ time when the hatches are in full swing. An example of this can be seen in my drift boat client yesterday who fished carefully and with great enthusiasm, in the wind and rain, right up until the end of the drift; for only two short takes.
I then twisted his arm into staying out an extra hour, even though it would put him back in Melbourne later than he had planned, and we finally got a fish in the boat with little more than a kilometre to go. Not a big fish, but definitely worth the effort and illustrative of my point.
There are a lot of smaller fish getting about and those who wish to complain about it can contact me for email address of the cretin to blame. But it is definitely giving people a catch rate in what are otherwise challenging , and if I’m going to claim to be an optimist, then I must salute said cretin and just go with the flow.
But. Anything deeper than two feet, is, if you’ll indulge me my favourite saying at such times; ‘too thick to drink, too thin to plough’. Once you get into the shallower water the visibility is quite good and it is here in these places that there have been a number of fish taken on nymphs fished carefully. Heavy weight is not required, in fact it is to be avoided, as the river is running slow and the water is very shallow.
As such unweighted Pheasant Tail nymphs have been doing the damage on these guys and it pays to have some black versions as well, or you can do what us cheapskate guides do; carry a permanent marker to darken them up as required.
Hatches have not been great. At least not in the daytime when we’ve been out. A few March Browns, some olives and some 16’ish grey bodied mayfly have been popping off in dribs and drabs, with only the occasional fish getting in on the act. I’ve not seen any caddis as yet (others have seen grannoms), or any major spinner falls, the latter suggesting that the evening mayfly hatches are yet to happen en masse. We’ve not been out until dark of late due to the conditions and because most of our guide jobs have ended mid-afternoon.
For those looking for clearer water, there are a number of decent options nearby. I won’t go into detail on what is working on them, as we want to support those who support us and also help keep the crowds down, but it’s been surprising how many people are catching good numbers of fish on some of the smaller rivers in the district.
Our lakes are fishing very well, as you’d expect. Good water temps, some hatches and no fishing pressure will always equal good fishing. I mention this as we now have two accommodation options on the property; meaning that more of you will get the chance to stay with us this season and beyond.
On the fishing trip front we are about to put Swampy dates up for the week and a half preceding Melbourne Cup and we have taken a few NZ bookings this week (website needs to be updated). Please contact us ASAP should you wish to join us as we don’t have all that many spots left for NZ 2017.
We hope that you have been out for a fish over the past couple of weeks and that you’ve started the new fishing season with some fish to hand. Things will now get good very quickly, as hatches start and the fish begin feeding in earnest.
Spring always promises so much for the fly fisher. The build-up, as Mother Nature puts her ‘foot to the floor’ in a race to beat the clock, always starts off slow and ends with a flurry. This year it’s a bit later than in previous seasons, but when it does happen it will be quite spectacular, with a condensed period of hatching bugs and rising fish. It really is exciting to mull it over.
So what are you waiting for?! Get the calendar out and start planning, because spring is here and if you are not ready, you are going to miss some of the best, if not the best, fishing of the entire year.
Take care and see you on the river.
Just a few pics of the Goulburn (first three pics) and Rubi to help folks decide on whether to come up or not. We are still catching fish but it’s a great time to attend to other jobs before the fishing gets really hot.
Have fun out there and don’t forget to book your spring accommodation soon, as we are beginning to get busy right up until Christmas.
Well, the opening of yet another fishing season is upon us and it’s time to start thinking about chasing trout in our favourite rivers, right across the state.
Fly fishers are an optimistic bunch and spring is the most optimistic time of the year, and so as in years past, there is a real buzz that we are sensing from those emailing, phoning and stopping by. It’s a great time to think of the trips to come, while also sneaking out for a few sorties with the long rod, and the general thought is of what to come as the hatches and fish activity all build to a crescendo in early summer. Yeehaa.
As those of you with more than a few seasons under your belt all know, the fishing will not be truly great just yet. While the fish will feel that urge to put condition back on after the rigours of spawning, water temperatures and flow rates will restrict just how quickly this happens. Sure the water temps aren’t super-cold for the fish, but they do impact the amount of insect activity going on and hence the fish in turn.
So we now look to the opening weekend and the immediate future
Well you can bet that the safest options for temps and flows will be the true bottom-release tailwaters like the Goulburn. Problem is that the ‘cat is well and truly out of the bag’ when it comes to this river and as it is so low in level; the fish will be pestered from start to finish.
But this is typical as water managers try to capture as much spring run-off as possible into Eildon Lake. This ‘upside-down flow regime’ as it has been coined i.e. high level/cold water in summer and low level/warmer water in winter; means that very little water will be coming down the river. And in this day and age with the proliferation of social media; nearly most anglers know about it.
As such many will turn to their favourite small streams, despite water temps being well down. This is a conscious choice with the trade-off being solitude and space for fewer (if any) fish. This has always been a trade that I have been willing to make, and just walking some quiet stream with not another anglers for 20km, definitely has it’s draw.
Some of these streams are running fast but still have plenty of shallow water to target. I know from experience that fishing small tungsten headed nymphs under a dry will bring results in many of these waters. Others still, will choose to nurse their nymphs through the appropriate water minus any indicator at all. Some will even get eats on the dry fly and start off their season with a real bang.
For me opening day will consist of some guiding on the Goulburn and a few short commando sessions for myself, in between the crowds. I’ve always found the best strategy on Opening to be the following. Don’t expect much space, make the most of what you’ve got and drive, drive, drive searching for the gaps into which you can bomb into for 20-30 mins sessions. But the first point is the most important. Don’t expect much space or for all people to be polite. It’s just not going to happen and to set such lofty (actually modest) standards, is only setting yourself up to be disappointed!!
Fishing wise the Goulburn will be the best bet. The water picked up some colour again yesterday but could yet clear quickly upstream of Thornton. The further downstream you go, the colder and more discoloured it gets. Such a shame aesthetically speaking as it was clear two days ago, but given the low water and likely crowds, some discolouration is a good thing.
I can already feel those thumping streamer hits that we will no doubt elicit come tomorrow morning.
Streamers and other non-ethical methods aside😉, there have been fish rising on the calmer nights with many of the road bridge pools coming alive with heads at the death-knock. Mayfly are definitely the target. But we’ve also had significant beetle activity for at least two weeks, so while unlikely to be a major factor, be sure to pack them in your vest.
You don’t want to show up on opening and the one rising fish you find, is eating the one thing you left behind. Your terrestrials!
For me smaller nymphs and long fine tippets will definitely assist you in making your offerings more enticing to the fish. This is the Goulburn and any extra-care taken is nearly always to your advantage. Super fine fluoro (or mono like I use) is not a bad thing and softer rods can often be used to good effect at the short distances at which you may find yourself fishing.
Don’t forget to bring your favourite streamers as well. Hanging in until last light and targeting any major structure into the evening/dark could bring you a big opening day reward.
As it stands we are 2-3 weeks away from the beginning of the real spring fishing although there will be some moments in between for those that just can’t wait. In fact those that hit those little patches in the next few weeks will experience some of the best caddis hatches of the season. I really can’t wait.
On the business front we have just opened up a second accommodation for rent on the property. The prices are the same as the cottage and it means that you can bring larger groups with you and there might be a tad more availability (but don’t hold me to that!). We actually still have accommodation left for this weekend despite everything else within cooee being booked out!
Other GVFFC news is that we are about to list some Swampy dates with David for the end of October and some Tumut dates with me (Antony) for high-summer. Bo is putting together some mid-week 3-4 days backcountry trips in the Snowies; available 1:1 or 1:2 on any week. Our NZ trips are starting to book out and we urge anyone considering them to phone us ASAP, as this could be the last year that they run in the current format and with all of the current guides.
We have a ton of beginner’s workshops listed and we hope that you support us by sending us any beginners-intermediates that know need assistance. At $390 for a full weekend of tuition, we think it’s a terrific deal and we hope that it allows everyone the opportunity to try out fly fishing. All gear is provided, as is lunch both days; and after 22 years of running them we feel that this is the most comprehensive introduction to fly fishing available in Australia.
There is a USA (Montana-Idaho) trip listed as of yesterday and despite picking up three starters already, we are going to need ten confirmed by OCT 15 or we won’t be able to offer it. Sorry guys, but this is one of those trips that takes an inordinate amount of time to organise and offers no real monetary return!! As such we have to have a cut-off date for making a decision on whether it proceeds or whether we just takeoff and fish over there ourselves.
It’s a solid package and unlike in other years where participants all got their own cars; Bo and I (Antony) will be looking after you from start to finish. It’s three days shorter than previous trips we’ve organised but it includes two more guided days and the South Fork overnighter. High-end luxury camping in a canyon wilderness two day drift boat trip. We figured that we should try and pack as much quality fishing in with a couple of days of free fishing/sight-seeing; while those who want to spend longer there can arrange something else as Bo and I will remain on for longer and continue on into Montana and Yellowstone National Park.
So if you’re keen, please sing out. You can get me on 0418 995 611.
So that’s it for the time being. The rivers are looking good after some decent rains and we have just about enough water in Eildon already to make for a very good season.
As stated at the beginning of this post, it’s an exciting time to be a fly fisher. With an entire season to come and hatches that will get better by the week (soon day); there’s just too much to contemplate. For the moment though, it’s probably best to just think about the weekend ahead, dust off the gear and lose yourself on your fave stream for an hour or three.
Fish or no fish; it will just be therapeutic to be standing in running water once more. Feeling its pressure against the legs, heavy cobble under-foot, while straining to focus on the movement of your leader that is tracking your tumbling nymphs; all set to the symphony of rushing water. I cannot wait.
Have fun and safe travels wherever you end up.
Most of you will now be aware that the Goulburn has been reduced to a mere trickle. The drop occurred ahead of schedule, with rain falling across much of the state causing a dramatic reduction in the amount of water being called for by irrigators. This has seen the Goulburn cut back in flow from around 2000 MLD at the time of our last report two weeks ago; to today where the river is at its lowest point – 130 MLD and easily waded for most of its length.
Make no mistake though, the fishing for the most part, at least when it comes to the larger fish, is no easier at this time of year. Yes the fish are condensed into a smaller area but as a result they become much more easily spooked. This is because the number of anglers getting about, particularly on the fine weather days, explodes when compared to when the river is running higher. More flies, lures and baits in the water will of course result in more fish being caught. Pretty simple really.
Most of the larger fish will feed after darkness descends at this time of year and there is a noticeable shift in the average size of fish caught in May, with many of the 3-4lb browns encountered in the summer now reluctant to feed during the hours of daylight; at least on the days when people are walking all over the river bed. This is normal and something we see every season. Add to this the ever-closer act of spawning that is so closely related to various environmental triggers that occur around the end of this month (mostly photo-period but also water temperatures and other factors) ; and you are going to see less and less of these larger fish up and eating off the surface.
That being said there are still enough good fish out there and we are still rolling the odd one while on the river guiding. Mostly from the drift boat and as a result this limits how much water we have access to because at these lower levels, we can only drift certain sections and even then only after doing a quick reccy to ensure that we are not going to be running over dozens of fisherman. But using methods usually associated with larger fish will definitely put you in the hunt. Just don’t expect to get these specimens on #18 dry flies right now.
The smaller fish of course <2lb are very catchable and around in decent numbers. There have been some cricket score catches of late, as sometimes happens when the river first crashes, and it has kept even the beginner fly fisherman pretty happy with plenty of takes or bumps to keep things interesting. You really have to adjust your flies and methods as you move along the river if you want to make the most of your opportunities; but that 30-45 minutes of re-tying knots to adapt your rig to suit the water you are on, can often be the difference between a few fish and a dozen fish for the session.
The smaller rivers are completely blown out at the moment. More rain overnight has seen everything between here and the Black Spur discoloured. In any case they have been dangerous places to fish in recent days (today included), as the number of tree falls has been huge. While today started off relatively calm, it’s now blowing hard and I would suggest that you wouldn’t want to be fishing under eucalypts as the risk is very real at this time of year with winds such as these.
In any case they will need a day or two to get back to being worth fishing.
The shop is of course open throughout the next month and we have a good selection of all the relevant flies in stock. Over the past few days we’ve seen a few hatches of smaller mayfly which has brought some of the smaller to mid-sized fish up to the top. I’m also sitting at the vise tying smaller tungsten nymphs and a streamer pattern of ours as quickly as I can manage it.
For those interested in continuing to fish throughout the winter, don’t forget about our private lakes and onsite accommodation. From $198 a night and sleeping up to four people, it is exceptional value when you consider that fishing on our lakes is also included for the duration of your stay. It’s also a great fall back for those fishing the river or up at Eildon.
Also don’t forget to check our clearance page to check through the list of available items. There’s no fancy pictures of the items so please phone (rather than email) to discuss any questions that you may have.
Hope that this finds you well and hope that you are able to get out for a few more sessions before season’s end. Last weekend was super-busy but if you can sneak up during the week you may be in for a pleasant surprise. We’ve only had one pair of anglers in so far this morning and I don’t think anyone came in yesterday.
Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Centre
Free Call 1800 458 111 or (03) 5773 2513
Once again we come to the end of another week where we are left scratching our heads and asking what the hell is going on with this weather. It’s been a strange April thus far with temperatures as high as 27 degrees Celsius recorded on Wednesday and more warm weather on the way for the coming week. In fact one could be forgiven for thinking it was mid-spring rather than mid-autumn and you can only wonder what is in store for us in the weeks and months ahead.
At least we can take some solace (not) from the fact that we are not alone in our unusually dry/warm weather patterns. Our fishing friends in Montana-Wyoming-Idaho are already speaking of their snowpack being seriously diminished, when usually there are still more storms to come. Warmer than usual temps are causing rain, rather than snow to fall, and it looks like it’s going to be a dry summer in the Rocky Mountains as well.
Getting back to the Goulburn Valley the good news is that the folks at BOM are saying that we can expect a return to normal rainfall patterns for the approaching winter and spring. This is sort of the very least that we need to get things on track for next summer. The rain up here effectively stopped last July and we had no winter or spring rain after that point. So things are very low in the small creeks and Eildon has lost half the water that it had in it when we started out this season. That’s still a hell of lot of water but if we don’t see the forecasted rain falling; we will see a very different fishing season in 2016-2017.
The rivers up here are all holding out well. The Goulburn is obviously the best of them but it has been a tad inconsistent. This week we’ve had days were we’ve caught as few as three fish and days where we’ve caught as many 13. You really have to be able to read the water and select your flies and methods accordingly.
Hatches were good earlier in the week but crappola last night in that cold wind. There were only tiny size 20 rusty duns in limited numbers on yesterday’s rise bit on other nights emerging caddis and mayfly have been about in good numbers. Well good enough to get some decent fish rising late on.
There is definitely a change going on at the moment with fish beginning to knock back certain flies in the past 48 hours. Whether this is ‘the change’ that we see every year as aquatic insects once again begin to outdo terrestrials, or whether it is just a temporary response to the conditions of the day; still remains to be seen. Suffice to say that by week’s end and 4-5 days of weather in the 25 degree mark, we will definitely know where we stand.
The smaller rivers are very light on for water. We didn’t get any real rain yesterday and today it is back to blue skies, so the creeks and streams will have to keep waiting for the real autumn break. But they are fishing well to a variety of methods. This means that there are plenty of places to wet a line and a great chance of actually catching some fish.
This week we have drift boats available every day for those wanting to go for a float. The weather is going to be fabulous so if you have the time you’ll be in for a very relaxing day at what is a very pleasant time of year.
While speaking of what we have going on in the coming months, it would be remiss of me to fail to mention our Beginner’s Workshops. If you know anyone looking to get into fly fishing please send them our details as these sessions are hard to beat. At $390 all-inclusive for the two full days of instruction with all gear and lunch provided both days, it’s a real steal.
With the river at 3500MLD a lot of different options now come into play. Hatches will increase in intensity, duration and regularity in the coming weeks; as will the number of method that will catch fish from both boat and bank.
If you need any assistance please don’t hesitate to phone us at any time. We are here to help.
All the best to you all and hope that you make it out onto the water this weekend.
PS – one last pic of a sunset this week taken with my phone….