Life is busy at present – mostly good busy, but busy nevertheless. Fishing opportunities flash up like Friday flight sales on my email, and then they’re gone again. So, when at least passable weather and free time line up, I grab the opportunity. Maybe it’s just a couple of hours at Moorabool Reservoir or another nearby lake, or if I’m lucky, perhaps an overnight trip somewhere a bit further way.
One challenge with spontaneous trips, is finding someone to join you at such short notice. I tried this time, but one potential fishing buddy was working, one had a long-planned dinner engagement (which would have been a shaky excuse had he not pointed out that the previous two dinners had been COVID-cancelled), and two mates were on their own fishing trips. “Come and join us!” both offered generously, but scarred from my recently-failed Snowy Mountains mission, the thought of the extra couple of hours of solo driving was too much. So I headed to the mid Goulburn streams on my own.
I really enjoy fishing with a friend for all the reasons most readers would be familiar with – I wouldn’t have called four fellow flyfishers one by one if I didn’t! And yet, there were some appealing elements of my afternoon and following morning spent fishing alone.
First, there were a couple of spots I fished which I might not have ‘risked’ if I had company. One downstream section I’d never actually tried before – blackberries, plus a huge and messy logjam, have always encouraged fishing upstream instead. The other section I’d fished so long ago, I couldn’t clearly remember the details, which had me wondering if that was because they weren’t worth remembering. Anyway, it turned out both were good if not great, and it was fun to round a bend and not really know what lay ahead.
The second advantage was the total flexibility regarding time and space. My fishing mates and I are quite firm about meet-up times: when we split up to fish separate stretches, there’s an understanding that we’ll catch up again at the car or bridge or whatever at a certain time, give or take a few minutes. (One reason we get along so well after all this time, is we agree about not leaving one or other waiting for an hour and unable to fish.) But of course, on your own, you get to take all the time you like.
As the storms brewed on the first afternoon, the trout seemed to switch up a gear, and the good browns which I hardly see on this particular stream, were suddenly the only fish in town. They scoffed big Stimulators like silly little rainbows – which interestingly, were now nowhere to be found. But (and it’s a big but) these brownies required great care to fish up; much as I recently described here. And care takes time.
Water scanned for likely lies (some hidden from view until I was almost upon them), casts plotted and executed without haste and sometimes taking a few goes to get right; awkward spots wriggled into… The upshot was, if my mate had been waiting at the bridge, I wouldn’t have had the time to fish like this.
When the first fat drops finally splatted on the water I was, by luck, close to the car and I could get out before I got too wet. I was so satisfied with the session, I decided I could afford to retreat to my accommodation and maybe head out for the evening rise somewhere else if the storms cleared. They did and I did; again with the sort of flexibility you can easily manage on your own.
The next morning, a commitment at home was brought forward (told you I was busy) so my morning fish was reduced to a couple of hours. Had I been fishing with a mate, I would have felt guilty cutting short our time on the water. As it was, I was fine with it, figuring the previous afternoon’s action was a fair trade for losing time on day two. And guess what? Despite (or maybe even because of) the stream being more discoloured than on day one, the good browns were out and about again, and I even caught the best two of the trip.
Fishing with mates is great, and next time I’m going, I’ll try to find someone to go with me. But if it turns out I need to go solo, that will be okay too.