Bad weather, good fishing – upper Mitta Mitta system

Matt and I arrived about 2 pm last Friday. The upper Mitta around Glen Wills was flowing low and clear; the weather was mild with light rain falling on and off. We approached the river and immediately noticed a decent dun hatch was in progress and the trout were on to them. This lasted for about an hour and a half. Both Matt and I got several shots at rising fish and more takes than I wish to admit to considering neither of us hooked up once. In our defence it was a long drive getting there after a big week at work and the trout were not monsters – many were splashy juveniles. In the next season or two they will provide great sport. As night approached the mood of the river changed with the falling sun and a drop in temperature. The hatch all but stopped, however searching the shallowest of water hard against a bank produced an aggressive take to a size 14 parachute Adams, resulting in a beautiful silvery-bronze brown of around 2 pounds. (My camera is not behaving and all but died on this trip so apologies in advance for the lack of photos.)

We had a lovely dinner at the Blue Duck, full of enthusiasm for the following day and hopefully more gentle autumn fishing and a few more fish of the larger variety. Then it rained all night. Relentless, concerning, but rain on the huts tin roof is a wonderful sound for this city slicker at least and rain is always to be celebrated – well almost always!

Morning in the sodden Bundarra valley

Morning in the sodden Bundarra valley while the camera was still alive.

We had breakfast as the rain cleared to a soggy but mild day; I feared that the rivers may have come up and discoloured a bit. The reality was a little different. Up to 140 mm of rain at the top of Mount Hotham and Falls Creek pushed huge volumes of water down the Mitta Mitta and Bundarra Rivers which were now chocolate torrents.

As desperate men do we gravitated towards the pub but before we had a chance to order a beer or two, as we crossed the Cobungra River, both Matt and I did a double take. The river was still flowing low and clear! We couldn’t believe our eyes as a trout rose with intent and took something near the bank.

The following hour or two was magic. Long leaders, gentle casts and delicate presentations produced many lovely pan-sized browns that were quickly admired and released back into this healthy stream. To add to the experience, several of Matt’s fish were polaroided.

Then all the activity just stopped and very soon after the most fascinating and dangerous thing happened. Without warning, the river turned from crystal clear to a mass of angry brown water. The first thing I noticed was the force of water against my legs. “Get out!” shouted Matt from above as I clambered towards the bank as fast as I could. Within a minute or two the river had risen what seemed like a metre. Watching the force of mother nature in such an immediate fashion is amazing and also sobering.

Sunday morning was markedly colder. Autumn gave way to a peek at the fast approaching winter. We hoped we could to find some fishable water somewhere, but we weren’t confident. We strolled down to the Bundarra River just below our hut and to our surprise the river had settled to a fishable level – just. Tannin stained but clear, or clear enough.

The one half decent trout picture from my sick camera.

The one half decent trout picture from my sick camera.

We snipped off the tiny mayfly patterns we had been using the day before. I tied on a bushy Wulff and a gold bead-headed nymph a metre below. Matt decided to double nymph under an indicator. The contrast in fishing methods in under 24 hours was extreme, from precise and technical to raw and basic (though not mindless!) Well we got those nymphs down deep and covering water that allowed the better and slower drifts persistently produced another fantastic session, this time with several fish in the 1½ lb class and the rest more than respectable.

More than satisfied we decided to call it a day at around 1 pm. We packed up and were soon climbing up towards Falls Creek as the car’s external thermometer simultaneously went down.

What a wonderful weekend! The fishing was very, very satisfying; all the more for weaving our way through such an onslaught of wild and contrasting conditions. It really was amazing and to cap it all off as we hit the top of the mountain we were greeted by a brief but spectacular snowstorm! An autumn’s fishing to remember.