Mixed Bag

It’s been an interesting few weeks here on Victoria’s south-west coast. First of all, the weather has been anything but normal. Mild days, let alone warm ones, have been rare. The one warmish evening we had a few weeks ago saw an increase in insect activity, and we experienced delightful fishing to trout looking up. Aside from that, it has been cold, windy and wintery, day in day out. Yet whilst our beloved north-east Victoria has apparently been copping a drenching, here in what is normally ‘rain central’, we have largely missed out.

Quite low, and very clear.

I prefer the streams in the Otways to be up a bit up and a little discoloured; this seems to render our spotted friends less spooky. In contrast, what we have had is relatively low and crystal clear flows. However contrary to my usual expectations, the trout have been feeding robustly anyway and have offered some magic sight fishing – a bit like a miniature version of the sort of fishing we do in NZ. Is there anything more satisfying than polaroiding a good-sized trout actively feeding, casting slightly above it and then that slow motion move towards the fly, opening its mouth to take, and then connecting with a well-timed strike?

Dun hatches have helped keep the trout active.

The other factor that’s had the trout’s guard down, is the decent and consistent dun hatches. Good dry fly fishing, with excellent nymphing as well. Most fish caught have been typically small stream trout, but there have been a few surprises and bust-offs. The bust-offs have been from larger trout in impossibly tight snaggy spots (feeling a bit scarred by this!). But whilst I have been outwitted by these bigger trout, my fishing companions have caught some memorable and rare prizes.

A superb sea runner was a delight to see (see Philip Weigall’s recent report). They do exist! Sleek, muscular and silvery.

On the same day, my daughter Elsa caught a magnificent grayling while fishing for trout; a super fish measuring close to 30cm. (Grayling are a protected species and it was carefully released.)

What a grayling!

To top it off, a few days ago her partner Cale, whist trying to replicate Philip’s sea runner feat, caught a chunky black bream on a black Woolly Bugger. The remarkable aspect of this catch is that the bream was caught way upriver in trout water.

A bream in trout water.

Throw in a friendly koala wanting to climb up my leg for a cuddle, spotting the famed and rare giant Otway snail, a few snakes, and seeing a wallaby struggle and nearly drown while stuck between us, a deep pool, and an impossibly high bank (he made it eventually), it has made for a memorable and unusual few weeks in the Otways.

My first sighting of the rare and carnivorous snail found only in the Otways,