Steve Dunn. I’ve fished with Anthony since he rescued me several years ago with a cup of flask-coffee in the middle of a blizzard on Lake Eucumbene. I was fishing a shore with the wind behind me and a snow drift on my back – whilst he sensibly sheltered in his car whilst his worms did all the hard work. I introduced him to flyfishing and he soon got the jist of it. He’s an ANSA club member, and is heavily involved in all their activities and a great organiser, and an advocate for fishing-for-all. Whenever he’s on a club trip he always gets out his fly gear and keeps me up to date with his latest obscure catch. This one caught my attention because I’ve never floundered on fly. To be truthful, most of the floundering I’ve done was in the Bristol Channel of the River Severn, wading in mud on the outgoing tide – with a spear; and scuba diving in Plymouth Sound “flatty-bashing” with a dive knife.
After two soft plastic sessions in my new favourite fishing spot, I felt confident enough to get out the fly rod. I was fishing similar conditions to a previous successful tip – the run-out tide, two hours before low water. First, I wasted half an hour chasing schools of whiting in the shallows and could not work out why none of the fish showed any interest in the fly. It wasn’t until after I gave that up and started wading out into the deeper water to the flathead spot I realised they were actually schools of mullet.
I had some difficulty getting the fly to bounce along the bottom as the current kept the fly mid water. After some experimenting, I worked out that if you cast upstream and then let out a lot of line, the current takes up the slack allowing time for the fly to get to the bottom, and then started stripping the line that had already gone downstream. It wasn’t perfect and you lose a bit of ground while you take up the slack but the first cast resulted in an immediate hookup. I’m guessing it was a small flathead, maybe 30 cm plus, but it spat the hook as I was reeling it in. The next cast was a snag so I knew the trick was working. As the current eased, the amount of slack you had to feed to get the fly on the bottom got less and less. I hooked up several times, saw a few fish chasing my fly (not sure what they were, they had the colour of flathead but looked slender), and tailor took chunks out of my fly. I did end up with an flathead and a near legal flounder. I was trying to make it three fish for the session but the action slowed down as the runout tide ran out of puff.
I might try the incoming tide next time – I’m hoping the incoming tide won’t be as fast as the outgoing tide. Or even better, find a weekend where the low tide is in the middle of the day and try an hour and a bit before and after next time. I also need to get a new fly to replace the one I was using. It was like a Crazy Charlie with a small paddle tail soft plastic. It got lost on a snag but it was getting pretty ragged from all the bites (probably the small tailor). I did switch to a white Clouser – unsure if it was the fly or the fact that the run out tide had almost run out of puff – but I had no hits on the Clouser.