Winter’s cloak descends,
Life renews beneath the stones,
Fly reels sleep till spring.
That was a haiku I wrote at the end of the 2016/17 trout season. I’d milked the season for all it was worth and fished on the final day until nightfall. I wanted to be the last angler to leave the river. Standing in the quiet darkness on the Goulburn and swinging a nymph, looking at the black, cold river and leafless trees silhouetted against the stars, was a bit depressing. The river seemed dead, like the season. It was time to hang up the fishing gear.
Trudging chilly, fishless and alone back to the car, I was a bit disappointed with that final outing, but there was the deep-down knowledge that the trout were now free to do their thing unhindered. Under the stones, not only the new cohort of trout but also the caddis, mayfly and such were also going about doing what they do.
The haiku was born.
Fast forward to the new season with all its hopes, expectations and, no doubt, disappointments. I have to admit I was late getting into it. I did fish on Opening Day; well I only fished the last half hour of evening to be precise. I can’t stand the opening crowds but when I went down to have a look at the Goulburn, there was no-one there. So, in some form of cosmic symmetry, I fished the exact same spot where I finished last season… and nothing much had changed. This early in the season in the fading light, the river still looked black and dead and the trees were still leafless. Again, I trudged cold, fishless and alone back to the car in the dark.
Work commitments in Melbourne and an annual week-long trip to Queensland halted further trouting, until a power outage today meant an opportunity to take advantage of the pleasant afternoon weather and an unexpected forced early knock off. So, I went fishing.
I hit a small local stream. The flows were strong, but not high. The water crystal. The sun warm enough to feel too hot in a light jacket. Roughly 200 metres and about 15 vigorous and feisty trout later, I gave it away and went home. The fishing was fast and furious even if the fish, nearly all rainbows, were small. Each took the nymph except one which grabbed the indicator Royal Wulff.
The season has started and, in contrast to my previous couple of trips, I was almost bouncing back to the car – now with a gratified, slightly smug feeling and full of anticipation for the coming season. The fishing was very satisfying and hopefully many other small streams around the State are in similar condition. If so, it augers for a terrific season ahead.
So, it seems that over that long, dark winter, the river did renew and the fly reel now awakes! Time to write another haiku? Not yet, I just want to get back out there and fish. Looks like the winter has indeed renewed me.