For me, trout stream opening in Victoria is more about a pleasant addition to the fishing menu, than a sense of being let off the leash. I struggle to think of a Victorian stream which I consider to be at its best in early spring, so it usually takes a few days if not a few weeks after the first Saturday in September, before I have my own stream opening.
As often happens early season, yesterday’s stream visit was a last-minute detour on the way to a lake or two: up here in the central highlands, streams tend to be overshadowed by much more notable lake fishing. I was with my 12 year old Sean, who, I suspect, wasn’t quite sure why we were going to sacrifice lake time for a session on a section of stream which, I admitted, might not even hold a trout. (As with many marginal creeks and rivers, local stream trout populations are often restricted to patches of suitable habitat, and these can move around depending on conditions over the previous year or two.)
Fortunately, I picked a viable section first try. It was a cold, grey, intermittently wet day, and the incessant wind didn’t help Sean’s casting in tight spots after a winter on wide-open lakes. However, I soon surprised both of us by catching a fat, healthy-as-can-be little brown in a shallow run.
Over the next couple of hours, we missed a few more fish (all on nymphs) and even landed a slightly bigger brownie. The highlight was a trout rising steadily to size 16 duns in one of the only corners of the stream which wasn’t being blasted by wind. Sean succeeded in making about a dozen casts with three different flies before the rises eventually stopped. Twice, I watched the trout nose his Adams emerger without taking it; more like a hard-fished-to New Zealand 5 pounder than a 12-inch brown which may never have seen a fly. Still, on the walk back to the car, Sean agreed that he’d fished pretty well and that the riser was the highlight – even if Dad could have done a better job choosing flies!
On the face of it, those couple of hours were an unspectacular start to stream season, but they also reminded me – and Sean – that there is just something about streams. I can’t wait for a mild day, a ‘proper’ trout stream, and flowing water being the main event; not just a detour.