When you are a river flyfishing addict who does not like skiing, it’s great to hang out with those who do like skiing. Because if they are happy with their snow, you can be sure of a decent, healthy river fishing season ahead. Unfortunately, my skiing friends were not happy this season. I was therefore not surprised when I arrived at Bright the day before opening to find most rivers clear, cold and unseasonably low.
The good news in that situation, is you have to put any possible reason not to go fishing aside. You can claim at home that the rivers are facing a dry year ahead, and you therefore must fish more than you normally would this early. And if that’s not enough, drop in the words ‘El Nino’ few times. If I am proved wrong, I have still handed you a solid reason to extend your fishing season. No problem, you’re welcome!
I fished the Ovens above Bright for two days after opening day and the next. The wading was ankle deep in some places, but the flow was still strong. As the water was cold from whatever snow there was, there weren’t many insects out. Compared to last year, when my notebook shows most fish were caught deep nymphing on opening, this year, more than half the numbers were on a dropper fished under a dry fly. I even got half a dozen on the dry itself. My ‘Spanish fly combo’ worked a treat. I was so happy with those flies, I could have almost kissed them. And the fish were holding in shallow water off the main current, probably soaking up rays of sun to compensate for the cold water temperatures.
I heard that the Ovens River was smashed by spinner fishers on opening day. It hadn’t impacted the quality of fishing when I sampled it two days later, but if you want serenity, it’s best to walk, cycle or drive just upstream from Bright. I went on to explore the smaller Morses Creek for a final half day and initially I thought the seriously low levels there were surely going to be problematic. But here the dropper rig proved me wrong again, and good fish came out of each run. They were all healthy and fat. Thanks to three years of La Niña flows perhaps?
I am guessing that our season this year will be more dependent on rainfall compared the last few years. It will pay to watch the rise and fall of rivers, as the rain will have a much greater relative effect on conditions due to the lack of sustained snowmelt. And of course, just as I wrote this, my skiing friend rang. She sounded almost delirious and had been skiing all weekend at Falls Creek after good snowfalls. In fact, she was taking the week off to hit the slopes around Bright to roll in the white stuff. We all have our addictions, don’t we? And maybe our fishing season won’t be so bad after all…
Only one way to find out!