Sun after the storm at Tullaroop

I’m not exactly sure why I like Tullaroop Reservoir as much as I do. Harsh diary analysis shows that it’s a steady performer rather than a standout. In the thirty-odd years I’ve fished it, Tullaroop has produced it’s share of ‘where are the bloody fish?’ days, to counterbalance the occasions when the trout were particularly big, prolific, or (rarely) both. It’s the latter occasions I find easiest to remember of course; a fact of human psychology that, among other things, can make the good old days seem better than they actually were. (So if you’re under thirty and reading this, take heart.)

Tullaroop almost seems to fish better in perfect weather.

Anyway, after 5 straight days of seriously cold, wet, gloomy weather, I needed some sunshine as much as a fish, and with Tullaroop being north of the Divide where the cloud is usually scarcer than at home, it doubly beckoned. Sure enough, I arrived this morning to find the lake framed by a flawless blue sky, with hardly a breath of wind. Some smaller, shallower lakes seem to need cloud and wind to fish their best, but not Tullaroop – here you can have bluebird conditions and good fishing; at least once the cooler water of late autumn arrives.  

First trout of the day.

Days like this can provide good polaroiding at Tullaroop (see our feature in the upcoming Winter issue of FlyStream) but I’d only walked a few minutes from the car when a steep point, dropping into weed and then very deep water, suggested a couple of blind casts were in order. Second cast of the day, I let the Magoo settle for 20 seconds before beginning a slow figure-8 retrieve. Sometimes, when fishing like this, takes show as no more than a gentle lifting of the line bridge. However today there was sudden savage pull; a shock down the line as a nice brown evidently tried to kill my fly.

All the trout were in good condition – obviously the season has agreed with them!

With a trout so soon, it was tempting to repeat the successful approach, but after ten more minutes of blind searching, an even steeper bank ahead beckoned for some serious polaroiding. I walked the first hundred metres without seeing anything, but the view was good despite the odd annoying slick of algae and foam, so I was happy to persist. Just as well: a minute later I saw a good fish, cruising purposefully just 2 metres out. From high on the bank I cut down well ahead of its likely path and changed to a smaller Olive Woolly Bugger by the time the trout reappeared; fainter at water level, but obvious enough as a moving shape.

Polaroiding from the high banks.

In fact not one trout, but two. Both charged the Woolly almost to my feet, but neither actually ate it. I lost sight of the fish for a few more minutes before a swirl gave them away. Again I raced ahead, this time letting the Woolly settle. I watched as the vague shape of only one trout came over to the fly, and then lifted on the white flash of mouth – a silvery 4 pounder this time.

There’s one!

Satisfied I was spotting enough fish to concentrate on polaroiding alone, I changed to a Scintilla Stick Caddis 2 feet beneath a little white indicator. Half an hour later, I saw another 4 pound brown. With the indicator, it was much easier to set a trap and I led the fish by a good 10 metres, happy to stand still and wait. The white synthetic gently vanished, I lifted, and several leaps later, I had that trout too.

Trout and vitamin D – perfect!

A few hours had passed in a flash and I was nearly out of time, but on the walk back to the car with inferior light, I changed to the Magoo once more, giving myself a few minutes deep searching off a point I hadn’t fished earlier. The third cast brought a solid pull, but for some reason, the unseen trout didn’t stick. Oh well, I could hardly complain. Three good trout landed, two missed chances – and a decent dose of vitamin D.