The benchmark for an unbearably hot day in England was 100o Fahrenheit (or 37.7778o Celsius on the new scale) and the idea of going fishing was anathema. Which just goes to show what a bunch of whingers we Poms are when now, with my Australian acclimatised blood (nearly 30 years worth) I can still go fishing when it’s 40 oC.
And so we did this festive season as the mercury crept up in the Snowies towards 40 between Xmas and New Year, complaining not about the heat, but the fact that we could only manage one good session a day before collapsing in a heap unable to effectively rehydrate – one can, after all, only drink so much water!
The wind came up every day; often quite strong and nearly always a nor-wester. The sun beat down relentlessly and the lakes seemed a desperate prospect. The winds died in the evening and staring across the water with distant shores seemingly a shimmering mirage brought naught to be caught but junior burgers on Griffith’s Gnats. The amount of vegetation on the banks of Lake Eucumbene is a real cause for optimism. It’s not a weed I’m familiar with, but in one spot it was head high within 10 metres of the shore.
But the rivers ran cool, still benefiting from the early December rains. Stephen – who miraculously appeared again after I reported two good browns in a short “just stopped for a look” session – joined me for some epic fishing where we could seemingly do no wrong. For three consecutive days in different spots on different rivers, we fished small dries to willing fish. Some of the least technical fishing in the last ten years. All you really had to do was get the fly in the right spot – and the fly, so it turned out, was a size 14 Royal Wulff (which in recent years has almost been relegated out of the box in favour of various go-to Elk Hair Caddis patterns). But are we the only ones surprised at the number of 3 to 5 lb browns (joy), and the complete lack of rainbows in the Eucumbene River (sadness)?
There were plenty of bugs around. The underside of every rock was wriggling with mayfly, caddis and stonefly larvae and a procession of insects drifted past. We watched fish nosing in bubble lines, half body vertical rises (like some kind of jack in the box), and full body leapers for damsel flies. I spotted a fish on station between two boulders (just like in NZ!) as Stephen was walking past the lie. He froze and set the video going, I put a cast into the current and the trout drifted up, held station, then rose to suck the fly down perfectly.
My absolute pick of the bunch remains Tantangara and the many campsites littering the foreshore should be gone within a day or two – unfortunately a lot of rubbish will not.
Don’t miss out. Did I mention there are a lot of hoppers around as well?
Happy New Year, Steve