Don’t worry, go fishing

The complexities around natural disasters, the related fear & worry; and reality versus fake news, will be a subject for another time. Meanwhile, Max and I just lined up some matching days off and went fishing in north-east Victoria. Simple as that.

We started on the King in search of cod. The river looked lovely: crystal clear and a good flow. However, as sometimes happens when you’re lugging an 8 weight rod and 6 inch flies on a mixed fishery, all we encountered were a couple of very nice trout.

The King – should’ve brought the trout rod!

Next, we took a detour over the gap and into the Rose River valley. The Rose itself was typically low for late summer, and quite clear with a trickling flow joining the pools. I spent a few minutes on one pool and managed to catch a rising 11 inch brownie on a small Royal Wulff, before we left the Rose trout in peace. It’s on the list for autumn though, assuming flows pick up.

Trouty pool on the Rose.

About halfway down the Rose valley, signs of the Abbeyard Fire began to appear on the hills. By the Dandongadale River junction, the burnt ground was right by the roadside.

The green is coming back already in parts of the fire zone.

The Dandongadale itself had some colour; however, the combined Rose/ Dandongadale flow was still clear enough to push a noticeable plume of clearer water into the extremely dirty Buffalo River.

The Rose just above the Buffalo junction.

Below the buffering influence of the lake, the Buffalo was discoloured, yet with sufficient clarity to contemplate another cod fish and to perhaps restore our cod fishing dignity! Instead, we pushed on to Bright and the ‘soft’ option of Ovens River trout.

As reported by Mike a couple of weeks ago, the Ovens is in great shape above the Buckland junction. We found it cool, clear and with a healthy flow for late summer; no doubt it’s benefiting from the frequent storms of the last fortnight. The trout were plentiful but challenging to catch. A small dark nymph under a Wulff seemed to get more takes, but in the end I went for the Wulff alone because it was easier to present the single dry into the tight nooks and crannies where I often find the best Ovens fish.

The Ovens looking – and fishing – well.

It worked, sort of. I caught two very nice rainbows and a ripper brown, but I also missed what would have been the fish of the trip when I fluked an almost impossible undercut drift. The big brown took the fly beautifully and I thought I waited long enough before lifting, but the hook pulled 3 seconds later. That evening at the Alpine Hotel, over a magnificent lamb roast for me and parma for Max, we worked through a list of memorable fish losses over recent years. I think it’s healthy to talk about it.

One of the consolation fish.

The next morning we had a quick and unremarkable session on the Ovens for a few more ‘stream-sized’ trout. Well, unremarkable except for the huge dark shape which hovered briefly under Max’s fly. He assumed it must have been a platypus… but why would a platypus look at an artificial fly?

Then it was over to the Kiewa, flowing as clear and strong as a flyfisher’s dream. Despite its perfect looks, we assumed the Kiewa trout would take a bit more work to undo than their relatively cooperative cousins on the Ovens. Sure enough, after catching only one fish on a hopper-like Stimi along a seemingly perfect bank, I changed to deep nymphing and worked hard for a couple of nice browns.

Happiness is a Kiewa brown.

Max persevered with the Stimi and a little PTN off the back, and was eventually rewarded when a 3 pound (at least) brown came up under the dry, then took the nymph. I arrived in time to see Max’s buckled rod straining to pull the fish out from the willow log it had just swum under. And he did pull it out somehow. Relief, applause… and then the bloody thing dived back under the log. This time, the pressure to lever the brownie out pulled the hook. The only consolation was, we both agreed there was nothing else Max could have done.

A few minutes after I took this pic, Max hooked the brown which dived under the log he’s casting towards.

So, Max had his own memorable fishing experience to add to the list we’ll be discussing years from now. In fairness, on the long drive back down the Hume, we did concede we’d had some fishy wins over the last year or so and that the best antidote to a big fish loss, or nearly any other worry or disappointment in life, is to just go fishing.