The Honey Hole

After most fishing trips, I get several calls from friends wanting a report. I am usually on my way home, and the cheerful banter offers a nice respite from what can sometimes be a monotonous drive along relentlessly straight highways past shiny, heavily-laden semitrailers.

As I recounted this particular fishing report, my friend exclaimed, “Ah! Sounds like a honey hole!”

The February 2021 trip had been good – as was the case for much of the season. Most stretches of the river in question fished well, and better than it would normally at this time of year, when the sun is at its hottest and the rivers can flow low and a bit warm.

After several tortuously long Covid lockdowns in 2020, it felt so good to be back out and free.

Well, we are back into another even more torturous long lockdown and I wish I was writing about a fresh trip, but alas, it seems it will be a few weeks yet before us Melbournians can travel to our favourite destinations.

So as my mind wanders and my body aches to pick up a fly rod, I am writing retrospectively.

During this February trip, the usual banter ensued between my fishing buddy and I. “Where do you think we should fish, just above the pine plantation?” “Yes, that sounds good.” “Or what about above the bridge where those bigger fish were last April?” “Okay, let’s go there…” “Or what about ……?

This conversation usually goes on for several minutes and the beat we end up fishing is often different to the ones discussed. This toing and froing is standard banter with all my fishing mates, part of the process I guess. However, aside from the ‘where to’ discussion, on this trip, every time we drove past a particular bridge/access point I would say, “I need to go fish downstream from there sometime.”

Eventually, the time came to fish the spot I was anxious to get to. My friend dropped me off, calling out, “See you in an hour back at the bridge.”

On the walk down.

I walked downstream 500 metres. All I was interested in was the Honey Hole. You see, I always catch a few in the Honey Hole, which in effect is a massive log-jam, the sort of log-jam a beaver would be proud of. The quantity of sticks, debris, foam, jetsam, and flotsam that gathers along it could almost be walked across. Then, just below the massive log jam is a hole the size of a family swimming pool, with another large log just below it, forming a perfect trout hole. What piqued my interest, is what I had seen in the pool directly above the Honey Hole the season before. Many, many trout were swimming a beat and then disappearing into the log jam and mess of debris. On that occasion, I was rushing to meet my friend back at the car so I walked by, but I knew I must go back.

And back I went! I stood behind the large downstream log and cast into the hole. Immediately a chunky rainbow took my dry. And then another, and another. Mission accomplished I thought. But then… maybe it was my imagination? I thought I could see the odd flash deep under the top log.

Honey Hole rainbow.

I tied on a nymph below my dry and started casting the rig almost into the top log, allowing the nymph to sink as close as possible into the mysterious abyss below it. Lo and behold, a nice brown took the nymph, followed a few casts later by two more good browns and another rainbow. All in all, I caught 7 fish without moving one step!

I figured all those trout roaming in the pool above the log jam, were cruising in and out of all that debris and cover for an easy feed, and then getting pushed out by the next wave of trout doing the same thing. In this instance, it seemed my theory was correct.

Brown on the nymph. Did it cruise down from above?

Back at the car, I told my friend (who had also caught a few thankfully!) what had happened. “Aha!” he smiled, “Now it makes sense why you were so insistent on fishing down there.”

I have another theory about my Honey Hole. As soon as I can, as soon as we are able to travel again, I will head back to the Honey Hole on dusk, and maybe catch a few more. But I reckon a couple of big browns live in there, stoically dominating the depths; centurions guarding the Honey Hole below. Perhaps one of these bruisers, which I have vividly manifested in my mind, will make my tortuous Covid wait all worthwhile.