After the well documented spring downpours, the first thing I noticed about the Grampians when we arrived for Cup Weekend was how green and lush the Australian bush looked. The second more important feature was high water levels, which friend Phil Reynolds and I hoped would bring some big cruisers into the banks. By the time we hit Lake Fyans on Saturday after the trip up from Melbourne it was about 5pm, but there was still plenty of kick left in the sun. Scores of dragonflies and mosquitos buzzed furiously near the edge of the water and mudeye shucks on rocks confirmed there was plenty of food available for the trout.
After about 45 minutes of searching with a small green/ gold Woolly Bugger and getting frustrated with the algae catching on it, I saw a very nice rainbow leap clear of the water within range further down the bank. That convinced me to tie on a dry with a Pheasant Tail Nymph underneath in the hope of setting a trap for a cruising fish along the wall. After only 5- 10 minutes my dry drifted through some shadows and I lost sight of it. Tentatively I lifted the rod and felt a slow steady pull. Yep. Fish on! The slow steady pull became an angry head shake and slap on the surface as a huge brown showed its displeasure at having a fraudulent nymph lodged in its mouth. What followed was an uneven tug of war between a very strong fish and a nervous angler. At one point Phil did ask whether I was actually trying to play the fish or just take it for a walk! Given it dragged me 50 metres along the shore it was a fair sledge! Finally after numerous lunges and deep dives Phil slid his net under the fish. We took a couple of quick snaps and released this 5½lb beauty back into the water.
My biggest fish for 2016, by some distance.
Half an hour later the same set-up did the trick on a lovely 3½lb rainbow which showed all the aerobatics this species is famous for. A fantastic start to the weekend.
Whilst Saturday was a glorious day, Sunday was the opposite. Phil ventured to Lake Bellfield although I didn’t get that far. Despite the downpours and wind Phil found some relatively sheltered bays to fish (where he only had to lean 45 degrees into the wind) and whilst some bait fishos had managed a small redfin, the trout were scarce – although the water did look good. On Monday we went back to Fyans, and in bright sunshine we managed one more rainbow of 3lb, again on a Pheasant Tail Nymph. At various stages we also observed a number of boats trolling along the other side of the tree line in what looked like good water, but besides a nice redfin caught by a nearby bank angler, we didn’t see any other fish landed.
One interesting aspect of the trip was the fish were in excellent condition – what were stockies 12 months ago are now 3lb plus thumpers, so a pretty impressive growth rate. While some patience is required, the fish are there.