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 **
Dark green fly box containing nymphs lost Thursday evening (27/11/16). On the southside of the Goulburn immediately upstream from the Acheron confluence (within 300m of the confluence).
Please contact us if you find it as we would love to help out one distraught fly fisher!!
Well it’s the long weekend again, and as is often the case when Melbourne Cup rolls around, the fishing is excellent. The Goulburn has remained low throughout the entire spring period and should remain this way for at the immediate future (as per the forecast below); and this has made for very settled fishing and predictable hatches.
The flip side to this ‘picture-perfect’ setting is that the fishing on these bright blue sky days (like today) can be very tough indeed. Sure you’ll see rising fish; but catching them is an entirely different prospect. Skinny tippets, careful approaches, long leaders, accurate casts and spot-on fly choices are mandatory in much of the smooth flowing water. You can get away with a lot more in the faster riffles/runs where the smaller fish will eat both dry flies and nymphs with equal gusto. But no so in the slow.
I guess the crux of the message that I am clumsily trying to impart is that the pools, for the most part, are a tough proposition for even the most astute and practised of fly fishers.
That being said there are ways to fool many of these tougher fish on any given day. For those coming by the shop we will do a run through of the techniques we are using. Suffice it to say that extreme care is paramount to success.
Having said all of this I must point out that these blue sky days (or if Bob Dylan penned a song about them it might be titled ‘Blue sky dry fly blues’), the fishing is outrageously good once evening comes and the shadows slowly turn to darkness. Huge emergences of caddis, many species of Mayfly including Kossies (ask for the main colour and size), spents, a few stoneflies and grannoms. It’s a smorgasbord of trout food with the most difficult part being determining what they are actually taking. While I can’t say for certain without being on the river with you at the time; it has MOSTLY been caddis early on in the hatch, with a switch about 20 minutes from dark to the mayflies.
All of this blue sky talk naturally brings us to the cloudy days and all I can say is ‘Damn!’. The fishing has been outrageous. Cricket scores are common with literally dozens of fish rising in most pools. David had one float trip that resulted in well over twenty fish on dry flies and I’ve had numerous wade sessions; both with clients and ‘George Michael’ (Guide’s euphemism for ‘solo’) that have resulted in big numbers of fish. One session remains particularly vivid in the imagination as I arrived on the river just after 2pm with a mere 45 minutes to fish before I had to pick up my son from kinder. I managed to land around 11 fish in that period, all within 30 metres of the bridge, and I left the river at 2.57 and was there at 3.02pm to collect him.
The perfect crime, with the only difficult part being leaving a river full of rising fish. Sigh.
There has also been a noticeable increase in the number of flying ants of late. I’ve not seen many of what we call termites; those lemon-rust bodied ones. But the blacks have been prolific. That 45 minutes of fishing that I had was all with caddis and mayfly patterns, but by the time I returned an hour later, the fish were well and truly on ants. All I can say is pray for cloud and a little warmth in the high teens or more. The fishing was as good as it gets and the conditions were just nothing short of perfect.
There are some other methods working that will be kept ‘off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush’. We have to reward those who support us so please show that you do and drop by for a cuppa and all the latest info on flies, access and techniques. Or even better, if you want to really support your only destination based flyshop in the country and stop me from going into advertising (or some equally repugnant field!) and closing the doors; book a guided trip or join us in NZ!
It’s a win: win if you do. Let us show you some amazing fishing and help to keep us doing what we do best; assisting people to make the most of their precious leisure time when they visit our valley.
On that note I should mention that we have an Intermediate Workshop scheduled for this weekend and we have one spot left. Seriously. At $390 for two full days of instruction, transport, use of all gear, flies and lunch both days; it’s a no-brainer.
We also have a couple of days still open for the Swampy trips late next week and early the following week. There are some New Zealand dates left (JAN-FEB-MAR 2017) and I only have a few places left on our Idaho, USA trip scheduled for July 9-19. See the advert below. Those of you who’ve said ‘I have to do that trip ONE DAY’ need to call and book. One day can easily become never, and If I am forced to go into advertising (kicking and screaming by the way); then we won’t be running these amazing trips for much longer.
Not that I’m into the hard-sell.
Our lakes are fishing very, very well. There’s just so many rising fish, every single day. Once again bright sky days the fishing is best early and late, but as I sit here typing on the rear veranda of the shop, I can see about 15 individual fish rising.
Our accommodation has quite a bit of mid-week vacancy in the weeks ahead. This augers well for anyone looking to sneak away and do a short session with us. If this sounds like you please give us a yell as we can do drift-accommodation specials to get more people to stay the night after a late finish on the river. Our unit is actually available tonight and tomorrow, and the cottage is vacant from Sunday onwards. Call for more info as I’ve just updated the info on STAYZ so that we are sure to fill it.
The small creeks are obviously fishing the best they have so far this season. With all eyes on the Goulburn, and rightfully so, it’s been easy to not notice the significant drop in water level on them. Don’t get me wrong. They are still higher than normal, but they are getting to those levels where the nymphers will do very well and on top of this, it’s not impossible to bring fish up to the surface. I raised three yesterday afternoon on a ‘Dog’s Puke’ salmonly. Or was it a ‘Cat’s Vomit’? I can never remember which is which.
Suffice it to say that big dries will bring the odd fish up. And I mean odd in both ways of interpreting that statement.
Ok I am now rambling.
So the synopsis is that the Goulburn is the best river in the state right now. It has hatches that wouldn’t look out of place in a David Scholes story from way back when, it’s easily wadeable, the water is crystal clear, the trees and flowers are in full bloom and the air temps are perfect. You can get away with just a fishing shirt and sweater in the backpack for evening. No bulky jackets, fleeces, gloves, beanies and conversely – no super-hot temps either. Just perfect to be outdoors right now.
So have a great weekend and please consider booking one of our trips or staying with us or stopping by to support our little business. After a slow opening to the fishing season (nearly 8 weeks of lost trade due to rain – which we need by the way); for the first time in over twenty years I am considering a different career. One where I’ll be rewarded with more than just good karma and a few magic beans! I’ve since learned that HECs debts can be paid with either of those two things.
Stay safe and tight lines to all.
Most of you that come in the shop will know that I am rather precocious when it comes to taking on the personality of a salty fishing guide at a relatively young age. Twenty plus years of dealing with droughts, bushfires, bank managers and the public; will do that to even the gentlest, zen-like creatures out there. I like it when there’s no one around up here and I have the fish all to myself.
So to have write a report, one that is likely to bring up more anglers with which I will ultimately have to contend with for space; is kind of a chore. One that you know you sort of have to do, but you’re going to resist it until given no other choice and even then you are going to let everyone know that you are doing it begrudgingly.
I joke, but then that’s how it feels after being cheated of several weeks of spring weather that would have brought some decent hatches just as the masses were too busy with footy and the wind down to winter. But suddenly the fishing is hitting top gear and people are starting to wake up to this fact. I’m just hoping that the Spring Racing Carnival distracts a lot of people so that I can get my fill of catching before the ‘guiding work’ kicks into overdrive.
Selfish? Maybe. Honest. Definitely.
All jokes aside I just want to make the point that the fishing has been superb this past 5-6 days and those of you who postponed visiting, have seriously missed out on some of the best fishing of the season. Morning hatches have been outrageous, with many veteran Goulburn anglers coming in bleary-eyed and white knuckled from dawn sessions on the caenids. Pronounced see-nids and not kay-nids. It’s ok. I used to say the latter as well.😉
The fish have been rising in big numbers to the millions and millions of these tiny critters that hatch on the cold, clear-skied, still mornings. We have the patterns and know the hatch well enough to help those struggling to elicit a take. Size is important but getting the drift right is perhaps even more so. Trying to get the fly to arrive at the same time as the fish is about to rise is key when there are so many bugs on the water.
Those of you who have experienced this hatch will understand. Sometimes a fish rises every two seconds and if the fly drifts through just as he has taken something, actually scratch that. If the fly arrives at any other time than when the fish is on its way up; then it’s see-ya-later see-nid.
Simple in theory. A little more to it in practise.
These hatches usually persist until the first real wind comes up, which usually equates to about 10.30-11am on those days that they hatch in great numbers. However some hatches went for most of the early afternoon this week and I often saw upwards of 15 fish rising in the pool above Gilmore’s Bridge as I drove over it. That’s literally a minimum of fifteen rise forms at any one time, each time I crossed the bridge at 90km/h.
Tiny mayflies aside, it has been all systems go on the caddis front. Plenty of bugs getting about from mid-morning onwards and even some grannoms dopping up the pool centres and positioning themselves over the riffles, where the impetuous adolescent trout live and jump, in their mostly futile attempts to intercept one.
It has been fun.
Late afternoons can be very productive as well, with numerous things going on bug-wise. I fished my first ant fall of the season a couple of days ago and it was pretty good given it was the first warm belt of weather we’ve had. Small dark ants and rising brown trout equals fun in anyone’s language.
Evenings are once again a smorgasbord of bugs and I would like to pay special thanks to the mayfly (all stages and species that showed up to help), caddis (both emergers and adults), the Dobson fly, the grannoms; and also the midges and especially the ants that made my Saturday night possible. Umm I must be forgetting someone. Oh yeah and a big shout to all the entomologists who painstakingly identified all of these bugs in the first place and to God for making the rocks under which they live. Thanks for the cold oxygenated water and all the workers who built the dam at Eildon Lake; without which none of this would even be possible.
Sorry. Poor attempt at Academy Awards acceptance speech humour and I’ve probably just offended most of Trump’s supporters; not to mention the nuns at my old high school. But then this drawn out Spring is kind of maddening. Just when you think it’s going to happen, there’s another cold front on the way.
Drift boat trips have been very limited due to the river levels that we’ve been seeing so far this season. This is because we have to avoid other anglers as much as possible and this severely restricts where we can go. I am out floating on Thursday and Friday and I’m looking forward to testing out some new variants on our tried and tested streamer patterns. But having said that, I won’t be surprised if we and up fishing dry flies at times to sipping fish in the flattest of pools. That’s how many fish have been up and feeding.
We have had to reschedule our Swampy Plain River float trips due to the huge releases from the dam. As such we have a few spots left as per the table below.
Our lakes are fishing extremely well with rising fish showing all throughout the day. Caenids have been hatching en-masse in the mornings and keeping the fish happy until at least noon on the calm, still mornings. There’s also plenty of damselfly activity which is making for some interesting, if not challenging fishing.
For those looking for a place to stay on their upcoming trips, don’t forget our cottage and unit. Good value and a great base from which to raid the local streams. It’s also a terrific spot to bring the family with both being comfortable but the unit having a pool fence on the deck, a trampoline in the yard and pet friendly area.
Hope that this finds you well. I thought that it would be remiss of me to not update the report earlier than scheduled, given how good the fishing has been. If it were me on the other end of this relationship; I would want to know.
Enjoy the river if you get out there and please take note that I never mentioned nymphing until the penultimate sentence; and even then it was only to denigrate it.
It’s a special river that Goulburn.
The fishing has been very good this past week, with the Goulburn rapidly clearing with each successive day without rain. We are now on the cusp of some of the best spring fishing, with good water temps and an ever-increasing level of insect activity to be seen from one day to the next.
These are exciting times for all fly fishers and the first six weeks of the season can be now seen as a distant anomaly; one that had the positive side-effect of extending the closed season for a month and a half. That is how much of an impact the weather to date has had on the fishing pressure on the river. I’ve not seen a person on the few drifts I’ve done and other than a few people right on evening at Gilmore’s Bridge; it’s been a ghost town.
This is great for fishing if not for business, and to say that we’ve ‘enjoyed’ having the place to ourselves, is a huge understatement. It’s been phenomenal to fish anywhere at any time without even considering who else may be about. But this cannot will not last as the word will get out in the next two weeks and the weather will keep improving, which will further turn people’s minds to fishing once more.
I would advise that you make the most of the time that you get from now on, as things are just getting interesting and we will see a very much condensed period of hatches as all the required elements come together at the same time. There is going to be some superb fishing in the days and weeks ahead.
Morning caenid hatches (see photos in previous report) are back for those early birds out there. This is something we have documented over our 22 years here and something most fly fishers would be completely unaware of. These tiny duns #20-24 hatch in the pre-dawn period and at first light and almost immediately turn to spinners, mate and fall spent on the water. The action is fast and furious and the sheer numbers of insects emerging has to be seen to be believed. Hundreds of thousands of them come off on these cold, clear sky mornings and they fall in huge sheets of food for the fish to pick from the film. Fishing to a fish that is rising 20x a minute only 20 feet away can be infuriating and yet completely engrossing.
Stop by the shop if you need flies and suggestions on tactics/locations. We have been fishing these hatches for a long time and as such we have developed plenty of strategies to improve the odds of success.
Caddis will hatch at any time of the day with mid-morning through mid-afternoon the peak times and then again on last light. Emergers are important, as they always are when any hatch is happening, and you would be well-advised to carry a selection of colours in #16-18. Duns are happening in dribs and drabs during the day but last light is seeing numerous species of Mayfly hatching and there have also been some late afternoon spinner falls. Think rust and #16.
There are plenty of beetles around in what is the eight week of their appearing again this season. But as yet I’ve not noticed any fish on them. No doubt when the river rises in level these guys will become more important but when this will happen is hard to say.
While I like the river at 1000 MLD or higher, many prefer these levels where nearly every square metre of water is wadeable/fishable. But irrespective of your position on this, there is only one absolute truth when it comes to river levels on the Goulburn. You never know when it is going to change. There are so many different stakeholders when it comes to releases from lake Eildon and it could change suddenly at any given point in time. While unlikely when the rest of the state is green with water sitting on the paddocks courtesy of mother-nature; an environmental release could happen at any time.
In brief. If you like these lower water levels and if you want to fish the Caenid hatch; get out there now and make the most of your opportunities.
Before jumping to the smaller rivers I have to mention that we have the following events an trips happening soon;
- Beginner’s Workshop tomorrow SAT 15 – SUN 16, OCT 1 spot left. Bo is leading the group.
- Swampy Plain River Drift Boat trips with David. Just two days left – MON 24 and TUE 25 OCT
- Spring Primer 1 Day Workshop SAT 22 OCT Werner and Bo running it.
- New Zealand Trips JAN-FEB-MAR, 2017
- Idaho Montana Trip JULY 9-19, 2017
I won’t bleat on about these but if you are interested please phone us on FreeCall 1800 458 111 to discuss the details.
The smaller rivers have all held their own given their flow rates and water temps. Don’t ask David as he will just say you’re flipping mad for even trying unless you’re Czech nymphing or similar. But then he is 72 y.o. and spends a third of his year bouncing between NZ, Patagonia and Montana! But ask the rest of us who have to take it when and where we can and we will say that the smaller streams have offered a decent chance at a few fish; but you have to work for them.
Getting nymphs down deep in those sorts of flows is not what I would call fly fishing in a zen like state. It’s more akin to a cardio workout while balancing on slippery bowling balls, all while hoping that a fish is stupid enough to be looking up long enough to eat one of your offerings.
So be warned. It’s a lot of effort for little reward right now. But the conditions are not far off being really good for dedicated nymphing techniques and it will be worth checking it out when you drive over it and taking not of the height off your favourite markers.
There are other creeks offering similar fishing to the Rubi but once again I won’t mention them here. Stop by to ask any questions as there are just some things that should not be posted on the internet.
Our lakes have been fishing very, very well. Then again it is October and this is normal for this time of year. Fish are eating midges, spent spinners and damselfly. The guests staying on our accommodation have been having a ball in between sorties onto the river.
If you are interested in staying with us this Spring/Summer; please click here to learn more.
So that’s it for the time being. Hope that you manage to get out for a fish this weekend. I’m going right now myself.
See you on the water.