With the notable exception of Steve’s very down-to-earth piece, the blogs of late have tended towards the exotic. So here’s something closer to home to help maintain some balance before Max hits us with more NZ giants!
It’s Sunday afternoon, and you suddenly realise you have a clear Monday & Tuesday to go fishing – and a forecast to match. That’s the good news; the bad news is all your fishing mates are back at work in that non-negotiable ‘January’s for holidays, February’s for work’ way. Who you gonna call? JD of course! He’d be back at work too, but JD lives but a few minutes from the Goulburn River, and only a few more from the Rubicon. Best case, he could steal some after work hours to go fishing; worst case we could have dinner on Monday night and I’d have a sympathetic ear for my trout stories.
The best case played out, and after a short head start, JD joined me for a mid-afternoon polaroiding session on the Goulburn near Thornton. The river was barrelling at 8000 megalitres a day and the theory was we’d spot a few good fish along the edge from a high bank. It almost worked, but a gusty wind and too much cloud hampered us. I got fleeting shots at two nice fish, but to be honest I think I saw them too late.
After one lingering cloud too many, we cut our losses and head for the Rubicon, where we hoped the wind would put some grasshoppers on the water. Good decision! We had lovely fishing and several nice fish came gliding up from nowhere to variously sip or smash a Commonwealth Hopper (FlyStream issue 1 & Annual) or Wee Creek Hopper. The most mesmerising was a beauty that nosed my fly just as it caught on a willow twig while I stood waist deep in the river not five metres away. Then I noticed a movement right beside me. I hardly dared to breathe as the three pounder swam casually around my legs and then dawdled back upstream.
Tuesday dawned with no cloud and no wind, so once I’d given the day (and the bugs) time to warm up, I headed back to the Goulburn. Sure enough, the light was better – if a bit glary – and it didn’t take long to spot a nice fish cruising between two willows. I dropped to one knee ready to cast, but after five minutes I was still waiting. I only walked about 20 metres before I saw another one. This fish was much busier, feeding steadily along a steep bank and rising every few metres. At water level, I could just make it out; enough to land a foam beetle on its tail (I dared not cast ahead of it in the bright, flat water.) Fortunately the two pound brown heard the plip, turned around and confidently ate the beetle. Soon after, the wind picked up so I headed for a willow-choked bank hoping to find some willow grub feeders – we’d seen a couple on the Rubicon on Monday. That plan didn’t really work out. I spotted a couple, including a monster, but the grub activity was too subdued and the rises were too infrequent to track the fish in the shadows. I thought about trying another willowy stretch I had in mind, but with only time for one more session, I took the soft option and headed for the Rubicon – the upper this time.
I found plenty of 10 to 12” trout in the bouldery pocket water, and they would take a Royal Wulff if I managed a perfect presentation first cast. If there was any drag, no go. A good drift second cast was a cast too late. I had one heart-stopping moment when a rainbow at least twice the size of all the other trout drifted back with the fly an inch from it, but it didn’t follow through. Shortly after I was back at the car. While I’m guessing the evening rise would have been a good one, I’d planned to be home in time for dinner and nearly two days of fun fishing, planned less than a day out, seemed like a pretty good result.