A golden day on a river

I must say I enjoy the preparation for a fishing trip almost as much as the fishing itself, and this particular trip was no exception. Together with fellow guide James and good mates Chris and Mick, we were off to chase native fish, in particular Murray cod, on a medium-sized stream in north-east Victoria. Flies had been tied in readiness – including some around 20cm long and full bodied. The right gear to chuck these huge flies was rigged up, with rods up to 10 weight ready to go. James told us he had selected the river in question, which winds through grazing land and big, beautiful redgums, for being relatively easy to fish.

Trip preparation included preparing a box of decent flies.

We planned to use three types of flylines: fast sinking for the big holes, intermediate sink tips for getting just below the snags, and floaters. All the lines had aggressive short head tapers, designed to throw large flies with minimal false casting. Our leaders were straight 30lb mono or fluorocarbon, 3 to 5ft long.

We arrived at the river all pumped and confident, even though the barometer was falling, and the hot, humid weather threatened rain later. After all, we’d planned this trip weeks ago and we weren’t going to let less than ideal cod conditions deter us.

Chris casting a big fly – James assured us the murky water wasn’t a problem.

At first glance the river appeared to be heavily discoloured with a good flow. It also had plenty of submerged timber – perfect for native fish. James reassured us that the milky water was normal and wouldn’t be a problem. We all selected sinking lines and tied on dark flies that would stand out best.

We headed upstream, targeting the structure that Murray cod love as ambush predators with casts as close as possible to submerged logs, branches and reed banks. However, we fished some great-looking water without success.

Then James decided to change to a smaller fly and head to a faster and more bouldery section of the river. Soon after, a “Yahoo!” came from upstream. We headed up to find that James had landed a lovely golden perch – another hard-fighting native that often inhabits similar water to Murray cod. A few casts later and James was on again, landing another fine golden perch.

Not a cod, but who cares!

For most of the afternoon, James persisted with fishing the faster water leading into the deep pools, and it quickly became predictable where the goldens were holding. Swinging the fly through these areas proved the best technique. The fish would usually tap first then hit properly the second time. They fought hard, bending James’ 7 weight to the butt.

More productive water.

By the end of the day, a total of five golden perch had been landed and we’d had a chance at many more which fought hard but came off. Although no cod were caught, it looks like we’ve found a fantastic spot to chase another great sportfish. James had previously caught cod in the same stretch – maybe the dropping barometer put them off; who knows? One thing is for sure though, we’ll be back to explore more of this exciting river.

We’ll be back!