Central Highlands Victoria – First trout of 2014

Yesterday I had a few spare hours so Peter and I headed up the road to Newlyn Reservoir. All the central highlands lakes can get a bit warm for good fishing over January and February. But after a string of mild days and with full cloud cover bolstered by a cool south-westerly, conditions looked promising. We pulled up beside the wall to find another friend, Sam, just leaving. Sam confirmed we weren’t wasting our time – that morning he’d seen plenty of fish moving on duns and smelt, landing one on an emerger and busting off a big fish.

Peter waiting to ambush a smelter that kept hitting the shadows at Newlyn.

Peter waiting to ambush a smelter that kept hitting the shadows at Newlyn.

Peter and I started seeing the odd trout straight away, but the most activity occurred right along the western shore. It would be exaggerating to describe the action as a full blown rise, but every few minutes a fish moved – some on a trickle of duns, some leaping for dragons and damsels, and some smelting. We then collectively missed about 10 fish between us. I’d like to offer the excuse was that a few of these were littlies just pecking at the fly, but others were clearly better fish. I’ve noted before that trout don’t have fingers – if you feel anything through the line, they’ve put the fly in their mouths, and if they’ve done that… Well, I think Peter and I must take some blame for the poor conversion rate!

First of the season at Newlyn yesterday.

First of the season at Newlyn yesterday.

Eventually we hooked up properly, and we were off the mark for 2014. Newlyn is looking a picture with very clear water, little weed to contend with and the level holding only a foot or so below full. Scintilla Stick Caddis and Green BMS were the best flies, although I suspect that if the cloud hadn’t burned off mid-session, mayfly patterns would’ve done well. Incidentally we called in briefly to Hepburn and although it was too bright by then for much hope of action, it was nice to note that the water is beginning to clear, with a metre or so of visibility on the lee shore at least. On the way home we ducked in for a quick fish at Millbrook Lakes to do a bit of research for some guiding I have coming up next week – things are looking pretty good there too!

A bonus Millbrook rainbow on the way home.

A bonus Millbrook rainbow on the way home.

By the way, I forgot to mention in my upper Murray report a few days back that the north-east is absolutely teeming with small hoppers – most I’ve seen for years. Some are just starting to get mobile enough to end up on the water, so if you head up that way, make sure you carry plenty of imitations. The Commonwealth Hopper in the current issue of FlyStream magazine https://flystream.com/magviewer/?id=FS_01 is essential equipment.