Only open 12-4pm?

Perfect trout weather, great stream flows and a season where fishing pressure has been disrupted by lockdowns… I thought that might herald easy fishing on the north-east streams over the past few days. Not the case; the fishing was good, but I had to work hard for a result.

The hoppers are pretty much everywhere now. The weather was sunny and in the mid-20s. The water feels as cool as late spring to wet wade. Yet aside from the hoppers (which from my perspective this season, it seems the trout have kept ignoring) there was surprisingly little insect activity. Just a few snowflake caddis here and there, and the odd dun. Over two days, I only saw two fish rise.

Strong, cool flows, and yet…

The fishing was a bit weird. The morning sessions were fishless. Nothing caught, nothing seen. Spooked a couple holding tight against the banks and that was it. The evening session on the first day was equally uninspiring. Perhaps we had been following someone, perhaps the stretches we visited had been heavily fished the past few days. The angler activity on the streams – when permitted! – has sometimes seemed greater, with fishers having reduced location options due to the on and off travel bans.

For all that, I had good fishing both days… but only between 12noon and 4pm, and specifically in the canopied stretches higher up.

Caught during opening hours.

This was a bit confusing. It didn’t seem autumnal enough for the trout to be waiting for the afternoon sun and warmth to switch them on (and there was no afternoon increase in insect activity in any case). And if cool temperatures were an issue, it was strange that most activity was found higher up and in the shade.

Anyway, during the early afternoon ‘opening’, lots of trout of many year classes came to hand. A good mix of browns and rainbows, and lots of snappy little fish which will be next year’s prizes.

See you next season (I hope)!

To further add to the slightly mysterious fishing, the lack of polaroided fish was literally blown out of the water when I peered over a substantial log jam and into the tail the long pool above. I sighted over 30 trout happily swimming, feeding, and appearing to chase each other. I just enjoyed the view and decided not to put a cast amongst the throng.

The country fare is as good as ever.

Other highlights of the trip included simply being in north-east Victoria. The people are so great, the countryside is stunning, and the food, wine and beer are always good. After an extremely tough year for local hospitality businesses, they’re still smiling and serving up the best: breweries producing innovative beers such as a fusion of lime and ginger; and eateries serving up meat platters which were as much a mountain to climb as some of the steep walks out of the river.

After a day on the water.

All up, a delightful trip – even if the trout were only open for business between 12 and 4pm.