Big Water Bliss

This is not turning out to be a normal summer. As if in payback for all the rain and cold through the latter half of 2022, my last few trips on the streams through north-east Victoria and to the upper Murray, have been as good as I can recall.

Even the smaller streams have maintained good flows… and in turn, often better-than-average fish.

Rain and storms are still a thing, but in between, there are warm dry spells which allow water levels to clear and settle to ‘goldilocks’ condition: higher than for a typical summer, but more than manageable.

Rain and storms are still part of the equation, yet the streams are now settling quickly after each event – they’re more top-ups than floods.

Meanwhile, the bugs are out in force too. It’s been no surprise to see the mayfly and caddis thriving – we know they love the big flows which have been a feature of recent times. However, the abundance of terrestrial insects has been something of a bonus. I had wondered how the cold, very wet spring and start of summer might have affected the grasshoppers especially. Yet even they have begun to appear in useful numbers in the last week or so, and I’ve finally caught some good fish which came up to hopper patterns with the confidence of trout which knew what they were looking for.

This fish was clearly on the lookout for hoppers, and there were plenty of real ones falling in off the adjacent steep banks.

It hasn’t all been dry fly and I guess that makes sense too. With the abundance of caddis larvae and mayfly nymphs, the trout can be forgiven for spending a lot of time focussed subsurface. A lesson for me so far in summer 2022/23, is there needs to a decent, convenient offer of food on top to get the trout looking up. A number of times, even when it’s ‘felt’ like dry fly, only a nymph has worked.

While it often feels like a dry should work, sometimes it has to be nymphs – not that we’re complaining too loudly!

Another cool feature of this summer, is how many flyfishers are enjoying success. Sometimes, when I write or talk about good fishing, I sense scepticism from anglers who are missing out. Not this summer, when positive reports are flowing in from far and wide.

How long this fishing will last is of course hard to predict with any certainty. However, I can say that the fundamentals are firmly in place, and they will be difficult to shift in the short term at the very least.