I love summer fishing around my home in the Eildon district, with warm weather and plenty of terrestrials to get the fish looking up. There is so much going on, the trout generally aren’t too fussy and will willingly investigate quite a range of flies. But, without question, the mainstay of summer daytime flyfishing around the lower reaches of many of our trout streams is the grasshopper.
So when my mate Taylor phoned to say he was calling past the next day and wanted to chase some trout, the answer was obvious—small streams and grasshoppers. This summer’s hopper season had come early and was very, very, good. The forecast was for a hot day so the hoppers would be active. In my enthusiasm I may have built up our prospects and Taylor was keen.
The next morning was already warm when we arrived at a local stream down in the farmland section, with plenty of grassy edges. Walking just a few steps along the bank resulted in the constant plop, plop, plop, of hoppers landing in the stream and I soon counted close to 30 floating in the water. We watched them carefully as they travelled downstream and saw a few disappear into the rings of a rise. A great sign, as it meant the fish were already on the job—or so we thought!
With a spring in our steps, we walked downstream a distance so we could fish back up to the car. I know this stream fairly well as it’s close to home and I fish it a lot. We tried the usual spots with our grasshopper patterns but no result. Runs, pools and rapids that had produced fish on other trips now seemed barren. Plenty of casts were made, flies were changed, numerous discussions held and a range of theories constructed. But no joy.
It was between Christmas and New Year so there were a lot of anglers in the area and finding fresh water to fish at other locations would be a gamble. So the decision was made to stick at it and stay where we were. The lack of trout was frustrating, especially when I knew they were there and I wanted to get my visitor onto some fish. It became a mental battle to work out what approach to take, to keep concentrating and to keep on fishing. If truth be told, it was a battle that I was fast losing. In my head it was becoming one of those bad days where everything goes wrong.
It was almost the last straw when my fly got caught in a tree and I lost it, together with a sizeable chunk of leader. Then and there it would have been easy to just admit defeat, pull stumps, walk away, call it a bad day and commiserate with a cold drink.
But it was shady and relatively cool under the same tree that had claimed my fly, so Taylor and I sat down to regroup and I took the time to re-tie my entire leader. Then our conversation was interrupted by a slurping sound and some rings right in front of us. Soon after, another fish rose a bit further upstream.
New leader finished, a fresh fly (a variant of the Commonwealth Hopper) tied to the tippet, and one of the fish, now in the middle of the pool, rose again. Game on. A bit of a crawl/stalk along the bank, and a gentle roll cast a few metres above the last rise was rewarded with a solid take. Finally!!!
The brownie turned out to be a good one for the size of stream and one of my better fish for the season so far. We fished on back to the car and while we did end up catching another couple of trout, we both agreed that the big one was the real highlight.
We ended the session in the shade of the local shop veranda enjoying a cold drink, having been reminded once again that the difference between a bad day and a good day can be just one cast.