Big water in north-east Victoria

Somehow, I did it again, dodging the worst of the weather on yet another trip which looked, from the forecast, to be in trouble. But the storms went around us, only causing a short retreat to the car one afternoon on the Ovens, more to avoid the lightning than the rain.

Stormy skies often threatened, but we barely got wet.

Mike and I couldn’t avoid high water though. After many weeks of regular La Nina rain and storms, the streams we fished were raging; creeks like rivers and rivers like… the Tongariro. Crossing the uppermost reaches of the Buckland and Ovens was possible with great care, but trying to cross them further down the valleys would have been suicidal. Even the regulated King River tailwater was impressively powerful, a feature magnified by its deceptive clarity.

Mike cutting through on scary-big water on the lower Buckland…

The substantial silver lining, as I’ve just flagged, was the water was either clear or very clear. In flows that would make a kayaker cower, at least we knew the trout would be able to see our flies, and possibly even move for them if we could make a viable offer. In my case with the dry and nymph dropper, that meant find the seams, edges and eddies where the flies could linger, instead of shooting downriver like a jet boat. Meanwhile, Mike was cutting through the currents more efficiently with his Euro nymphing.

… and the result.

The statisticians would say that Mike’s method was mostly more effective, but every time I thought about changing, I’d see a rise or have a trout take my dry, and I’d think, ‘I’ll just fish this next pool, then I’ll change.’

The King tailwater today: don’t be fooled, this run was chest-deep in middle and un-crossable. (I tried!)

And, as Mike and I discussed this afternoon, there also comes a point on a successful trip when you don’t really need to be catching more trout than you already are. Having each of you fishing a different way, becomes an interesting comparison, not a competition.

As is often the case on the King tailwater, the trout were comparatively hard to catch, but worth the effort.

So, for anyone planning a trip up to the north-east in the near future, be prepared for big water and the need to adjust your fishing techniques accordingly. The effort will be worth it though, because the trout are abundant and in good to excellent condition. And as numerous mayfly, caddis and terrestrials show, it isn’t just the trout which have been thriving during this lush spring.

You won’t see better conditioned trout in a freestone stream than some of the fish in the north-east right now.