Five day trips close to Melbourne in the lead up to the annual week away with close mates had been fickle to say the least. However arriving on the Mitta/ Bundara confluence at 8pm had us gearing up surrounded by the familiar sounds and smells of the pink granite country. Better still was all the insect activity and rising fish on the river. Twenty minutes later, three trout had been caught – a promising sign for the week ahead.
However in the true form of the season so far, it was on and off for the rest of the trip. In an average year I might catch 20 fish per day but instead I caught 20 fish for the week. Patches of warm weather would turn fish on but after 10 or 20 minutes of feeding they would suddenly go quiet again. The water wasn’t too cold, especially down low, and there was good insect activity with dun and caddis hatches most evenings.
We fished all our favourite water including the Mitta itself, smaller tributaries, other nearby streams and a few creeks up on the High Plains. The streams at lower altitude definitely fished best with barely a fish seen up on top all week.
On one stream, four two pounders were sighted actively feeding and cast to (unsuccessfully.) Yet within 15 minutes the stream was suddenly so quiet it felt devoid of fish altogether despite massive caddis hatches and mayflies floating down the bubble lanes.
Life with a young family has limited my fishing to one or two overnight trips a season and day trips squeezed in when possible. So usually our annual week away means 10 hour fishing days, madly covering kilometres of water and trying to make the most of it.
However the lack of frantic action this time had a strange effect. I found I was much more relaxed. I spent more time watching sections of water, noticing more trout and spending more time on individual fish. We all know that watching a fish selectively feeding in a still pool, working out what its feeding on (or hopefully guessing correctly!) getting into position, and presenting perfectly, then being rewarded by that strike is what it’s all about. When the fishing is good and I’m catching a a dozen or two a day I struggle to slow down and watch. This week when the pace was slower, I found much satisfaction catching challenging fish.
The weather improved during the week and after catching most fish on nymphs we started catching the majority on dry flies, especially in the evenings. The Parachute Adams was the fly of choice for all evening risers and plenty of fish could not resist the ever faithful Royal Wulff, including trout up to 5 pounds!
I think that like Max Caruso described in his earlier blog post, we all thought the fishing was much more like early October than late November. However I think there are a lot of good fish around and the lateness of the season hopefully means quality fishing will extend well into the summer months.
Also worth noting was the number of platypus in the streams. I personally saw two or three each day, the most I have ever seen up there over the years. These wonderful creatures are a great indicator of river health and it’s awesome to see so many. One good fish was caught when actively rising right beside a platypus – an interesting discussion for another time!