Perhaps more than any other month, April sees me torn between lakes and streams. On the one hand, it won’t be too many more weeks before a lot of streams slip into winter mode and are either closed, or too cold for anything other than fishing to prove it’s still possible. It would be nice to get a session or two in before that happens. On the other hand, April can provide that Victorian lake fishing sweet spot when the water is cold enough for the trout to happily surface feed all day, but the air is warm enough for insects to be out in force.
In the end, Max, Mark and I chose lakes over streams for our Saturday fish (first decision) and then Wartook over several other strong contenders. If there’s one thing wrong with a season as productive as the current one, it’s the realisation that you can’t hope to cover all the really good options on the menu and you’re therefore certain to miss out on something; such as Bullen Merri smelters or big Mitta sippers. Different friends have raved about both lately, the subtext being that if I don’t get there, I haven’t got my priorities right…
Well, despite my profession, there’s only so many hours I can dedicate to actually being on the water. So Wartook it was, and although our day wasn’t the best ever, I’ve no regrets.
Wartook is a beautiful place to be no matter what the fishing is like. Is it the prettiest lake in Victoria? We’re getting into subjective territory, but it must be up there; and no more so than on a settled autumn day. With the clouds bubbling and changing colour, the sun bursting through, the lake glassy enough for perfect mountain reflections, emu and kangaroo prints in the pure white sand on the shore… Wartook was a postcard come to life.
As for the fish, at first they were oncers or ‘twicers’, moving temptingly enough to make us run along the shore or chase them on the electric, only to then vanish for good when we were within casting range. As the day wore on though, the action became a little more consistent. Our groans still echoed across the lake as a fished that had risen ten times in one direction, abruptly changed path just moments after the perfect cast was laid in ambush. How do they do that? Or, the smelter crashing along a sandy shore for minutes, only to stop as I breathlessly arrived – and be replaced by another in exactly the bay I’d just bloody left!
Still, slowly the curses were replaced (at least in part) by the crashes of hooked fish. We ended up with half a dozen trout to 4 pounds – browns and rainbows – plus the obligatory near misses. A perfectly presented beetle pattern or little parachute midge worked on the rising fish, while an Olive Yeti seemed to get the thumbs up from the smelters that got to see the fly. (The galaxia schools are vast at present; made up variously of fish ranging from pin fry to finger-size.)
On the way home, I texted a friend with a report. I wrote that we had done okay and had a great day, but I truly thought we (and the fish) could have done better. Later, I re-read that and hoped it didn’t sound either ungrateful or greedy.