A tremendous amount of rain has fallen over the past week in Victoria and in particular the west. Lakes are filling and spilling but what about the streams? To be honest, considering all the rain I seriously contemplated leaving the fishing gear behind when I headed down to the Otways on the weekend. Driving past the little country towns everything looked lush and saturated, spring is ready to burst. But as for my chances of finding a fishable stream, they were looking poor when what I initially thought was Lake Wurdiboluc (a large water storage between Geelong and Apollo Bay) turned out to be vast expanses of flooded paddocks!
As I crossed into the coastal catchments around mid afternoon, the sun started to peek through the clouds, the waves were breaking beautifully for the surfers and air temperature was a mild 18C. I drove by one of the streams and to my surprise, the flow was fast but not ridiculous, and there was a bit of water clarity. Not all is lost!
I unpacked and attended to some work matters (the real reason I was there) before I could head out for a look at around 4.30 pm. The stream I chose looked okay and was probably clearing after the deluge – something these short, steep mountain streams are quite good at (a bit like many NZ rivers). The air temperature was still mild and a few tiny duns drifted here and there.
I spent the first few minutes watching the stream for any sign of life. To my delight, here and there trout were rising inches from the banks and almost beaching themselves in their efforts. With the current, snags, weed and bankside vegetation it would be difficult to get a good presentation to these fish. I reluctantly chose to fish/search with a “loud” gold bead nymph under a dry instead.
The fishing ended up being very good. Every piece of slower water, the drop-offs, undercut banks and pools seemed to hold a trout, and they mostly responded well to the flashy nymph. Short, gentle casts and a decent drift produced a good number of fish in quick time, and apart from a few 5 to 6 inchers (great to see) the rest were all from 11 inches to a beauty which would have been around 15 inches.
The condition of all the fish was excellent and a few actually had a fat belly, something I don’t often see here. I think the flooding has been moderate, the bankside grasses are flattened but no debris. I suspect these trout have been gorging themselves on plenty of washed in terrestrial food, as well as the usual aquatic menu.
There wasn’t quite as much time as I would have liked on the water, but the little I had was of the highest quality. The resilience of these little streams continues to surprise me, as does the natural beauty of this unique part of the world.