AFTER THE STORM, Goulburn Valley

As work began to get into full swing after the Christmas break, the need for a weekend escape loomed, and a fishing trip to the mid-Goulburn area sounded like a dream. Leroy, Elsa and I spent the entire week tying up different flies, predicting trout behaviour and planning the journey from one idyllic stream to another.

The weather however seemed to have other ideas for us. Eyes glued to the BOM, Willy Weather and every other map imaginable, we watched rain flood across the state by the inches. After tossing up between a fully cancelled trip, or trying other rivers, we decided to test the waters and head up as planned anyway.

We arrived early at the Goulburn itself, and the discoloured water and high flow had us concerned. The trout made us work hard, and question our fly choices. But after persisting, we found fish cruising the clearer, slower pockets on the edges. That’s where I left Elsa to her own devices and headed a hundred metres upstream. Ten minutes later, I heard my name being yelled out from an anxious and excited Elsa, hooked up to a good fish. She fought it like an expert, and despite the strong current, she eventually landed a beautiful brown – and on the dry. You can’t ask for much more!

After the storm and on the dry.

After that, the fishing went quiet and it was a good time for lunch by the river – homemade meatballs. With stomachs full, we moved on to the next stream, much smaller and far easier to manage.

Lunch break.

However, this came with the downside of being even dirtier. While checking the clarity of the water, Leroy looked down and just under his nose, he spotted a shadow weaving back and forth. We whipped the waders on in record time, and I was in the river before the others had their boots tied. I cast a metre in front of the feeding trout, which was breaking the surface with each eat. With a subtle sip of the fly, I was on. Some quick teamwork from Leroy (he had forgiven me for hooking ‘his’ fish!) had the fish netted: one of the most beautifully-coloured browns I’ve caught in Victoria… like pulling a gold bar out of the river.

River gold.

After catching another couple of small browns, we headed to our campsite and set up for the night. Fire burning, beers opened and feet up, it was a beautiful summer’s evening… until we realised someone (me) forgot the pillows, blankets, sleeping bags and doona.

After an uncomfortable night, we woke early and headed to our third and final stream. We covered the water slowly and carefully, and the fish began to turn on more and more as the sun peeked through the trees. Leroy got into a few nice browns early on, which took a nymph deep in the clearing pockets of swirling water. A tricky cast into a side run saw me connect with another beautiful brown on the trusty Royal Wulff.

With an almost perfect weekend (well, apart from the actual camping) coming to a close, Leroy went out with a bang. We watched from the opposite bank as he commando-crawled towards a back eddy where he suspected a gem to be hiding. First cast, and he was on. From the high bank, he jumped into chest-deep water and followed the fish downstream, under trees and over rapids (not recommended). It was a sight to see. I’m pretty sure you might have heard Leroy from a few kilometres away as he yelled out in celebration when that brownie was finally landed.

Worth the swim!

With that (and Leroy retelling the epic tale of the fish he’d just caught) we journeyed home, more than satisfied with decent weekend salvaged from the storm.