A dash up and over the border into New South Wales from Victoria felt like an early Christmas present; one where Christmas Eve had lasted for months and the anticipation had only grown by the day. But Heath and I were there at last, borders open and on the mountain rivers.
The word from a few locals was that the upper Murray catchment streams, both large and small, were fishing well. Time to find out for ourselves. On the big tailwaters on day one, trout were deep nymphing when the sun was high, then up on top for the evening rise. Two tungsten nymphs under an indicator did the trick during the warmer hours, drifted off the riffles into deeper water: bumping the bottom waiting for a take.
On evening, in the smooth tail-outs, we found trout leaping to caddis and sipping Kossie duns. Casting dries (Parachute Adams size 10-12) or swinging flies (Sparkle Pupa and Hares Ear Nymphs size 12-14) both produced fish.
Day two was for exploring. Due to the bushfires in early 2020, then COVID, it had been a while since Heath and I had seen the smaller streams on the south-west side of the Snowy Mountains. The idea was to drop in and check out as many of these streams as we could. Most were running gin-clear and holding trout, with the exemption of the Indi which had a bit of colour after recent storms.
Lots of kilometres were racked up on foot and in the car looking for likely spots and holding pools. Both the PMX Stimulator (size 10) and Adams (size 14) did the trick. We took our time to fish the main runs but also the slower water against the banks and under logs, all the while keeping a keen eye out for that rise or trout hovering in feeding mode.
When fishing the deeper pools, if the dry flies didn’t get a take, tying a size 14-16 gold tungsten bead-head nymph off the back usually did. The key was not to walk past water but to fish it thoroughly. Behind the rock, in front of the rock. Fast water, slow water…
Up higher in the mountains the fishing was much the same: good. Following big rains a few weeks before but with water levels now returning to normal, the trout were often off to the side of riffles and in pocket water. Climbing, clambering (and sometimes falling) over logs and slippery boulders, trying that bow-and-arrow cast.
With the year that’s been, it was a pleasure to see these rivers and streams in great condition. We’ll look forward to fishing them again, and the sooner the better!