I briefly thought about going for a fish today, then I walked outside into a stiff southerly, 6 C drizzle and a sky without a hint of blue. Back indoors, the heat of the fireplace exerted an irresistible pull, so now I’m sitting at my desk with a cuppa in my hand instead of a rod. Thumbing through my fishing diary, it seems as good a time as any to review the last 12 months or so.
For much of south-eastern Australia, winter 2013 wasn’t too far from normal in terms of rainfall or temperature – although in my part of the world near Ballarat, Victoria the lack of sunshine seemed relentless. The winter trout fishing was about typical too – I had some reasonable days at Purrumbete, Tooliorook, Wartook and particularly Tullaroop. Max and I also some managed some great bream fishing on the south-west estuaries (see the latest issue of FlyStream magazine.)
Some people describe the September to mid-December period in Victoria and Tasmania as the spring that never was. That might have been a bit harsh, but it’s true that my diaries show a distinct lack of warm, settled and sunny days. There seemed little to recommend the high, cold and fast flows of the north-east rivers so I mainly concentrated on the lakes. These were in top shape – by mid spring virtually all the Victorian central highlands lakes were full and clear, while the main Grampians trout lakes weren’t too far behind at around 80%. (Unfortunately Toolondo was the exception – the water managers decided there wasn’t enough surplus in Rocklands for a Toolondo top up. This had no impact on the excellent spring fishing there; however it leaves the lake reliant on good rain in winter/spring 2014 to comfortably hold enough water to survive next summer.) Spring highlights for me included October dun hatches and polaroiding at Lake Fyans, and an evening click-beetle fall at Wartook.
It was also a weird spring elsewhere. On the central Victorian lakes, dun hatches were light and unpredictable everywhere, despite the presence of good numbers of mayfly nymphs. In late spring/early summer, our Rainbow Lodge friends reported much the same from the Tasmanian lakes – was the common thread lower than average degree-days? (see ‘Scientific Angling’ in the latest issue of FlyStream magazine.) Conversely, at Upper Coliban Reservoir, I caught the tail end of the biggest caenid hatch I’ve ever seen in Victoria before rain stopped play.