After a leisurely start this morning, which included washing ice off the windscreen, Raymond and I arrived at Lake Purrumbete around 11 am. The sky was mostly blue, the water its usual midwinter clear, and light ripple brushed across the lake, fading from time to time to dead calm.
I walked inland and down to the spot I planned to start on the eastern shore, noting as soon as I got to the water’s edge how good the visibility was. I was plucking the little nymph I’d tied on from the stripping guide ready to cast, when a movement caught my eye – and soon transformed into a brown of at least 8 pounds. It cruised past less than 2 metres from where I stood. I hoped (or more accurately prayed) that the fish somehow hadn’t seen me, but an increase in its pace and the way it angled out towards deeper water told the truth. Of course I stayed in the area for half an hour, pacing, looking, squinting, searching. I inched back tiny flies, then gradually reverted to pulling larger wets. But nothing happened; my chance was gone.
The next couple of hours were uneventful and cloud slowly filled most of the sky; not threatening, but enough to make polaroiding tough. Then, just as Ray and I were contemplating a move to Bullen Merri, a nice fish swirled just beyond the milfoil weed, and two casts later, the rod tip thumped down to a nice rainbow.
That was the start of a much better session. Besides that 3 pounder, I ended up with a few more of the same size or a bit smaller. It wasn’t frantic action, but careful searching with a Magoo either side of the milfoil brought enough hits to keep us focussed, backed up by the odd swirl or splash. A reasonably slow, steady figure-8 retrieve seemed to work best.
Towards evening I returned to the scene of my original encounter, hoping for redemption, but there was no more sign of the monster. I did however watch a nice fish fin slowly across the top of a milfoil clump with its back, dorsal and tail clearly visible. It was like watching a tailer in the Little Pine shallows, except the water under it was over a metre deep!
A couple more trout swirled sporadically and a big fish smashed (presumably) a school of baitfish two long casts out. Then the activity seemed to fade with the last of light, maybe in part due to a cold wind that blew in from the south-east. That was enough to send us back to the car and an overdue thermos coffee.