Usually, an above-average rainfall year like 2018 would see me avoiding the inland Otways until late spring at least. The old saying that it rains in these forested hills for half the year, and drips off the trees for the other half, does stretch the truth – though not by much! While the coastal estuaries and the lowest reaches of the streams can enjoy a bit of watery sunlight early in the season, the backcountry usually remains dark, muddy and unappealing.
For the last couple of days however, Max and I decided that a dry preceding week was a good excuse to explore some half-forgotten stream sections way back in the rainforest-shrouded slopes and gorges.
The gamble met with mixed success. On one stream, we spent an hour trying to find a way to the water as we were constantly blocked by either blackberries or small cliffs. It was tantalising to be able to actually see a rise in a nice run from a mere 50 metres away, and simply be unable to get there. On another stream, access was easier (a half-remembered way in from a decade ago still worked) but the action was sparse. In truth, the icy water and more than a tinge of colour suggested that, despite the recent fine weather, we really were too early.
Then finally, we ended up on yet another stretch of stream which we hadn’t visited for a few years. The entry and exit points weren’t as bad as they looked at first. The fishing wasn’t what you would call fast – it took five apparently identical drifts through a knee-deep run before one fish finally relented and ate the nymph. But at least we regularly saw trout, had some takes, and even caught a few.
Were we too early for the rainforest streams? Probably, although it was good to be reacquainted with some old haunts, and there are at least three spots Max and I will be returning to this season.