Goldilocks Goulburn

Travelling from the cold, windswept, rain-lashed Grampians at the end of last week, to the gentle warmth of the Goulburn at the beginning of this week, has been like travelling to another country. As our Forum contributors have been reporting lately, the river has been fishing well, and a text from JD on the weekend suggesting I really should get up there, had me doing just that on Monday.

Goldilocks level and weather.

JD describes the spring sweet spot, when the Goulburn is just the right height under just the right weather, as Goldilocks Season, and that’s what it was like. With the river at 1200 ML/d, you can wade a lot of it and cover a lot of water, yet it’s still strong enough to be a big river with plenty of interesting runs, glides and currents. And with the not too hot/ not too cold weather, the hatches are in full swing.

Looking for clues on the car – is that what they’re eating?

Duns, spinners, caddis… For an irregular Goulburn fisher like me, it all makes for a bit of a guessing game as to which of the many insects the trout are keyed in on at any given time. A size 14 Rusty Dun worked sometimes, a dark brown size 12 foam-headed emerger worked for a while on evening, a size 14 red parachute spinner was okay but not perfect right on twilight… When the Goulburn is like this, I’m often catching more trout than I usually do, while simultaneously wondering if I really have the right fly?

While all this is going on, the backdrop – always pretty – is just beautiful. The paddocks are lush green, the acacias are flowering, the frogs are trying to out-croak each other and the birdsong is nonstop. This is the season of plenty for aquatic and terrestrial life alike.

Even more beautiful than usual.

And the trout, which some days you can doubt are even there, show themselves in reassuring numbers. Mostly not especially big (although there are a few of those as well, like the one that chased my foam emerger which I missed on the strike), but in fine condition. And wild fish remain abundant – sharp-finned and distinctive; by far the majority of my catch.

They mightn’t always be big, but they’re lovely fish.

After trying for 15 minutes for a particularly difficult trout on Monday evening, JD chuckled that the Goulburn can be a cruel river sometimes. And he’s right, but from time to time, it can be very kind too.