Tullaroop, the Grampians and a small stream surprise

The last few days of fishing could be described as flood-dodging or at the very least, trying to use the overabundance of water to advantage! With flood watches and flood warnings across most western Victorian catchments, at a minimum that seemed to rule out any stream fishing. However flyfishing is full of surprises – more about that later.

First stop was Tullaroop Reservoir on Saturday with Peter and David. The numerous flooded creeks in the catchment we crossed en route running the colour of milky tea, weren’t a promising sign. However by sticking to Tullaroop’s north-western bays, we could avoid the slick of muddy water pushing along the eastern shore from the south. The fishing was almost right, with three big smelters sighted and clear, rising water flushing out numerous beetles, worms and caterpillars. I suspect evening would have been idyllic if we’d been able to stay.

Tullaroop looked magnificent, but notice the plume of dirty water David is casting towards.

Tullaroop looked magnificent, but notice the plume of dirty water David is casting towards.

After some commitments of the non-fishing kind on Sunday morning, Max joined me and we arrived at Lake Fyans mid-afternoon. By now the rain clouds were building again over the Grampians to the west and everything felt a bit still and ominous. The lake looked nice at 70%, carrying a bit of colour but not too much. It wasn’t cold and the breeze was a gentle northerly. And yet something wasn’t quite right. Not much bird song or insect life; few signs of fish besides the odd lazy ‘oncer’ out wide. Right on dark, minutes before the first spots of rain began to fall, I finally hooked a 2½lb brown on a black Emu Bugger, a fish I could hear but not see somewhere behind a gap in the bulrushes.

Lake Fyans before the rain - pretty, but quiet.

Lake Fyans before the rain – pretty, but quiet.

Then yesterday, on a whim, we left the lakes briefly and took a detour to look at a couple of streams. The first was too high and discoloured, but the second looked fishable… maybe. Once on the water, it seemed we’d been optimistic. The little stream had spilled onto the bankside grass and many stretches were simply too turbulent to tackle. But here and there, the water slowed somewhat and it was while nymphing one such spot that a nice brown came up and considered the indicator. With the air temperature down to 7 C, I hadn’t even considered the dry fly. But Max mentioned he’d seen a few duns, so I changed to a size 12 parachute Adams and bush-bashed through to the next fishable run.

Over the banks but still fishable... maybe?

Over the banks but still fishable… maybe?

After several careful searching casts for nothing, I was just contemplating changing back to the nymph when a big shape glided up under the Adams and sucked it in. I was so surprised I avoided my usual early season snap strike, and instead hooked the fish perfectly. A 2 pound brown, and the best I’ve seen, let alone landed on that water in decades of admittedly short, infrequent visits. (Maybe I need to take that stream more seriously.) To add the perfect finish, on the way back to the car I fooled the 1 pounder which had looked at my indicator earlier.

The unexpected trout - my first stream fish of the new season, and on the dry too!

The unexpected trout – my first stream fish of the new season, and on the dry too!

A while later we arrived at a brimming Lake Wartook, shrouded in steady rain. Max soon caught a small rainbow and as if to atone for my good fortune on the stream, I missed two decent browns. The first rushed my fly just as it caught on a drifting reed, and the second slammed the green Emu Bugger in a gap between to tree skeletons. I had enough time for a victory shout to Max, and then the trout rolled and was gone. We fished on for another half hour, but with the rain getting heavier and night closing in, we began the long walk back to the car, a sandwich and a very welcome coffee.

Max cuts a lonely figure on a rainy, deserted Lake Wartook.

Max cuts a stoic figure on a rainy, deserted Lake Wartook.