Twice in the last two days, I’ve cast a dry fly to a stream trout I’ve polaroided in clear water and bright sun – an almost unheard of experience during the last few months of cloudy water and/ or cloudy skies whenever I’ve ventured up to the rivers. Yesterday’s brownie was sitting on a submerged rock bar on the King Parrot NZ style, and after so long away from this sort of fishing, I briefly though I was imagining things. Then the fish moved a metre to eat something off the top. My painstaking crouch down and change from dry/dropper to a Shaving Brush alone, almost worked. It was wonderful to watch the brownie move a foot right to the fly, then swing below and clip it off perfectly… or so I thought. My strike didn’t even touch it.
Then today, can you believe it, I spotted another one on the Rubicon, again sitting on a rock bar and lit up by the brightest December sun. Once again, I took a deep breath, removed the dry/dropper, and tied on the same drab Shaving Brush from yesterday. The cast was good, the trout moved over… and refused the fly! Immediately after this indignity, it drifted downstream a metre and nestled into a slot in the rock, still clearly visible, but perhaps a little stiffer? Something told me not to repeat a cast with the Shaver, so instead I changed to an even drabber fly: a sparse brown ‘cruncher’ nymph I still had on my vest patch from yesterday evening on the Goulburn, courtesy of JD. Another cast, good drift… and to my relief the brownie swam over and almost rose for the barely-submerged fly. This time, the strike came up heavy, and after a fastwater tussle, the fish was in the net. Yes!
Speaking of the Goulburn, it was simply a pleasure to fish. As JD and I wandered down to investigate a favourite bend with a clear 12C flow running at 1500 ML/d, we marvelled as we recognised places we’d last cast from a month earlier, when the river was 10,000 ML/d – now high and dry white gravel and many metres from the water.
Insects and trout were clearly benefitting from JD’s ‘new’ river. Backing the theory about Kossie duns and floods, I started off fishing a size 10 Kossie Dun dry along the edge of an ideal run, and within 5 minutes, a ripper brown inhaled it. This set the scene for a few hours of exciting fishing. A steady trickle of duns (including a few Kossies) plus caddis and craneflies, created enough rises for regular targets, without anything too frantic.
Then the rise built to the inevitable twilight crescendo, where the game changed to hunting out the better fish from amongst dozens of smaller models. We both caught our share of trout I’d travel a lot further to see. However, one I didn’t catch stood out: an absolute head and shouldering monster I could see in the afterglow reflection, mooching up and down the edge of the current. I finally had my fly in the right spot… and a silly little rainbow shot over and ate it! Oh well.
All up, it was great to feel plenty of sun, and to see almost constantly flooded streams back in their banks. And although they’re not yet at summer level, they certainly look a lot more like the conventional idea of trout water.
Things have changed in places, with some old spots gone and new ones created. But I quite like the novelty of that. Meanwhile, I’m hard-pressed to recall the trout looking any healthier than they do right now.