Having never fished the opening weekend of the trout stream season, I was nervous that the rivers might be lined with cars and anglers desperate for a fix after a long cold winter. I’d also heard that the Fisheries had stocked the Goulburn with big fish in time for trout opening, so I decided a smaller stream might mean fewer anglers.
So it turned out, and I was delighted to be the only car to pull up at the spot I had in mind. Then I stepped out of car and noticed two things: it was only 5 degrees, and the thunderous roar was the river, and not an overhead aircraft!
Although the river was indeed running very hard, I was excited to be back on flowing water after a couple of unsuccessful visits to lakes during the closed season. I also noticed some work had been done along this stretch, and a new sign was up explaining the link between good habitat and preserving good fishing. This work, which I understand is part funded from our fishing licences, is to be applauded.
As the river was fast and full, I imagined trout in great condition feeding in the recently-swamped grassy edges. The tricky part was going to be getting across the strong current to those edges! I found a suitable entry point and after a season-opening tangle in the tree behind me, I found a lively fish on my third cast. In fact it was so lively, I pulled too hard in the rapids and released it prematurely. Still, it was a promising start and suggested the nymph was going to be the way to go in the cold water.
Two hours later after, some near tumbles and swims, I stopped for a sandwich and to reassess why I had only touched one other trout. I deduced that I’d been trying to fish the river like it was a gentle autumn stream a few months earlier: covering all the water, using long casts and expecting gentle sippers to rise to the dry. I realised this was a mistake and I would need to do a bit more walking and searching for the less swift parts of the river that were going to be more likely to hold fish – and be fishable.
The results were immediate. I found a slower stretch and worked up the side of the pool I would normally have ignored in favour of the deeper main channel. Second cast, a lovely brown gulped down the nymph and this time, with a bit more patience, I got it to the net.
A few casts later a small rainbow came in from the shallows and grabbed the dry. What a bonus with the water temperature so cold! As I worked up the river over the next hour, I caught three more rainbows and browns before my time ran out and I hit the road.
It was a lovely return to the streams and I cannot wait for the weather to warm up and bring out more surface activity – although with the amount of snowmelt expected over the next few months, we may need to brush up on our fast-flowing river techniques.