Goulburn River – Forget the Forecast

Weather can play a major role in some angling decisions. However with storms forecast and a sultry sky, I decided to head to my favourite river anyway – the mighty Goulburn. I’ve never really let weather predictions impact on my choice to go fishing or not.

I arrived at McMartin’s Lane mid morning, confident of finding a fish or two. To my delight, I’d discovered that Lake Eildon releases into the Goulburn had increased to 2000 ML/d – a decent flow, but still pools-and-runs level. Kitted up with some nymphs and an array of emergers I’d tied the previous night (good, consistent Goulburn patterns) I was soon peering into some backwaters on my way to the first gravel run. Almost  instantly, a couple of very healthy trout came into view as they patrolled these food-rich areas, but just as quickly, they ventured on and out of casting range. I waited for them to return, but no luck. Time to move on.

Looking good.

Looking good.

As I approached the gravel run, I noticed an angler drifting a dry fly to a small fish rising to caddis. I waited for him to finish his drift before asking if I could hop over him to the next run. He politely insisted that I did and after a brief chat, I was in position to try my own luck. A bit of river etiquette certainly goes a long way!!

Since the river was up and over new ground with stronger currents, I chose a tandem rig of tungsten bead-head Pheasant Tail Nymphs teamed with an NZ indicator. The adjustable indicator, set at full leader depth, disappeared mid-drift and I lifted my rod into a hard fighting Goulburn brown of around a pound and a half. After a quick photo and release, I continued to nymph the same run for three more similar trout. A very satisfying start!

Another nice Goulburn brown on the PTN.

Another nice Goulburn brown on the PTN.

It was now time for a break and a bite to eat. I checked the weather app on my phone, and as forecast, the storms were looming. I moved up to the next run just as the rain started falling, soon joined by strong gusts of wind. Leaves started blowing onto the water, which had me wondering if the trout might respond by taking terrestrials hitting surface? However, it seemed the fish remained intent on subsurface dining! Sticking to the nymphs, I was averaging a take every third cast. Several more trout came to the net right up until the heavens opened and down came torrential rain.


The fish instantly switched off, so I took cover back at the car and reassessed the conditions I would be facing back on the river. Should I go home? Should I wait it out and see what happens? I rang close friend and fellow trout hunter Ashley Allen who loves the Goulburn, for some advice and reassurance. Ash’s words echoed my sentiment as he said, “What have you got to lose? Forget the forecast!”

So with confidence rejuvenated and the rain easing, I set off once again, this time rigged with a trusted caddis emerger.

Lengthening shadows.

Clouds breaking up on evening.

As evening approached, the clouds were breaking up and the rain reduced to a drizzle. In no time, the fish started rising hard and I suspected my caddis pattern would be spot on. It was! Each cast presented resulted in a fish taking it with out hesitation. After an only an hour had passed, I’d caught and released more trout than I could remember. What a day!

Rainbow on the caddis emerger.

A chunky Goulburn rainbow.

As darkness fell, I walked back to my car, tired and wet, but with a sense of accomplishment. I realised just how easy it would have been to pull the pin and give up before the real show began. Another great flyfishing lesson handed out, thanks to the mighty Goulburn.