I’d kept telling myself it’s early season, lots of time to get out for my first stream fish. In reality, it was nearly mid-October, the streams in Victoria have been open for almost 6 weeks, and it felt like everyone else had been out except for me. Time to do something about that!
With my daughter Elsa, and friends Cale and Riley, we left Melbourne on Friday morning. No hurry though, the rain was torrential. I fully expected that this weekend away for my first stream outing, would be a wipeout. Surely the streams around Mansfield would be in flood?
Miraculously, this region somehow dodged a lot of the rain. Even so, the rivers were very high and a little discoloured; so on Friday evening, rather than fish, I decided to focus on some cooking, while dosing up on paracetamol to try and quell an untimely cold I seemed to have picked up.
We had a lovely dinner, a hearty dish of pappardelle with cauliflower cooked down in olive oil, garlic, chilli and lots of anchovies. My friend Matt’s beautiful log cabin and the roaring fire created the perfect ambiance on the eve of my first stream session for the season.
We woke on Saturday morning to a mild sunny day. Our chosen stream had subsided a bit and clarity was good. A double nymph indicator rig was the order of the day: heavy size 10 beaded nymph with a smaller claret beaded nymph trailing. It was all about getting the flies down in the fast water.
While most of the river was way too fast to wade or fish, there were always a few pockets of slower water here and there. Water which in these conditions, you could almost guarantee will hold fish; usually several. These are the little feeding havens where trout can sit comfortably, without expending too much energy and pick at nymphs and other food being washed down the river.
We only fished two runs, and both had sections of that perfect buffered water I was looking for. Elsa hooked up on her third cast, a brown close to 1½ pounds. Unfortunately, I was too slow with my net and the current too fast. No matter, she was soon into another and another and another. She had barely moved. The fish were congregated as expected in the sweet spot.
We moved to the next run and tried the faster water with not much success, so we decided to bee line it to the slower water just upstream. Again, the trout were concentrated in those somewhat gentler currents. For the next 30 minutes, we landed several good browns and rainbows. All were in good condition and surprisingly, the browns outnumbered the ‘bows 3 to1.
Despite the great fishing, soon after I called it for lunch, and we headed back to the cabin for some of Elsa’s delicious sandwiches. Cale and Riley turned up at the same time. They had fished higher up in even more difficult water, but had also managed several good trout.
The possible bad weather and my untimely cold nearly put an end to this trip. However, as I’ve learned over the years, nothing is certain, forecasts are just educated predictions, and being out in the mountain air was the pick-me-up I needed.
The rivers are looking great. Fish numbers seem to be good and size seems to be up as well. As expected after three very wet years, the fishing, despite current difficult conditions, is great. Imagine what the rest of the season is going to be like as spring progresses and rivers start to settle!
That evening, with darkness encroaching on the beautiful hills rolling off Mt Buller, we sat at the table to enjoy Matt’s famous venison and pork sausages which he had made during the day. Family, good friends, great food and wine… and really good fishing. What a perfect weekend!