For those who enjoy the feisty trout in our mountains, it is fantastic to see high, cold flows on our alpine streams which will go on to lessen any impacts from the upcoming summer heat. Even so, it’s testing to have to wait for ‘normal’ fishing conditions. Like kids before Christmas, the anticipation is overwhelming. Spring is in control and it doesn’t show any signs of letting up.
Last week, after a rare few days of little rain, our mountain streams started to settle – approaching levels where fishing would be possible. But the prediction of heavy rain over Grand Final Weekend meant the likelihood of increased flows, and again having to wait for more convivial fishing conditions. The Friday holiday presented a small window to check out some local streams, so Scott and I bolted into the hills.
The Howqua was as clear as clear, and flowing high. While we tried to fish a few areas, finding water both shallow and slow enough to get a fly anywhere near the bottom was challenging. Scott raised interest from a small trout which continually followed his heavily-weighted Woolly Bugger, but didn’t eat. Although the Howqua was in magnificent shape for a trout to live in, to avoid resorting to more weight and associated awkward casting, we went looking for other waters.
Over to the Delatite, and things were slightly better for fishing. This stream also featured high, clear flows, but in its upper reaches, its smaller size and structure provided pocket water where flies and fish had more chance of interacting!
Sure enough, fishing soft hackled wets through some of the boulders and quiet pockets caught trout. However, not long into the session, the humid conditions and impending rain sparked a termite hatch. With the air becoming thicker and thicker with dark-coloured termites, Scott took the plunge and tied on a dry. He met with instant success, and when he soon landed another trout, I was convinced to tie on the dry too.
Fishing rushing pocket water with dry fly is a fast action pursuit. The fly has only seconds of drift, you’re reaching out as far as you can to keep most of the line off the water and prevent drag. The splash of the rise is explosive, but often unsuccessful as the fish miss the fly. However, it seems the trout are accustomed to missing drifting prey in this fast-current environment, so rather than being spooked, subsequent casts often provoke another response.
The most successful fly was Scott’s ‘mangled dun’. The termites were dark, not orange, and the fly Scott used was a winged dark grey mayfly, which he modified on-site, splaying out the wings to mimic the termites floating on the water. While the trout were not large, they were fit and game fighters in the fast water. Most were rainbows, with one stunningly-marked brown. The trout are in great condition and obviously thriving in the high spring flows.
Our afternoon’s fishing was shortened as the rain started to fall. More rain followed us all the way home, and increased in intensity across the weekend. This has postponed settled and fishable conditions once again. Darn!
Still, it has clearly been a great spring for the trout themselves in our mountain streams. For the angler though, spring has been a teaser, only offering small windows when the streams are fishable. Just when conditions start to settle for fishing, La Nina weather comes back into play and says, “Not yet!” I can’t help wondering how long before summer finally steps in and says, “Okay spring, you’ve had your go, now move on… I’ve got this”.