Understanding Reports

About 25 years ago brother Mark and I got off the plane in Launceston and just about kissed the tarmac in gratitude at the prospect of an upcoming week at Bronte Park. We loved Bronte Lagoon in particular (still do) and it was all we could do to restrain ourselves from driving the hire car straight there. But we’d made a pact to stop off at Lake Sorell on the way, so with a little reluctance we turned left at Barren Tier instead of right, and soon arrived at what was then a showcase fishery. Sorell was unusually clear and we caught a couple of black spinner feeders along the rocky southern shore, then missed a couple more along the south-eastern marsh. Here we met another couple of flyfishers, and after chewing the fat about the last few hours’ fishing, we excused ourselves and beamed that we were “Off to Bronte!” At that their faces dropped. “Haven’t you heard?” one explained solemnly, “Bronte’s buggered. Drained it too low last summer.” His mate nodded his head in confirmation, “That’s why we’re here instead of at our Bronte shack.”

Oh dear. Mark and I tried to lift each other’s spirits on the trip down to Bronte Park, but our arguments sounded pretty hollow. Those guys had a shack at Bronte, yet they chose a tent at Sorell because the fishing was so off. It didn’t look good.

Well, to cut a long story short, their report was rubbish. Bronte Lagoon looked great and fished brilliantly for the whole week. Far from being bad, Bronte performed as well as we’d seen it perform in several trips. Tailers, polaroiding, midges, beetles… it was all happening. For whatever reason – ignorance (possibly), winding us up (unlikely), plain lack of skill (possibly) – the strangers had given us a report so bad that it could have sabotaged a brilliant week.

I think that was turning point for me. Since then I’ve paid little heed to a fishing report unless I personally know who’s giving it, and what their fishing skills are like. Then I assess it accordingly. Are they really good anglers with an objective knowledge of their water, and a context based on many years fishing? At the other extreme, are their skills so poor that their lack of success means nothing? Are they basically optimists or pessimists? Fishers who try hard, or fishers who retire for a glass of red after a couple of half-hearted hours? Do they have good eyesight or fitness? What are their networks and/or fishing companions like? (A good angler can be dragged down by the wrong company.) Are they…how can I put this politely…prone to exaggeration? Is their current success based on equipment (like a boat) which I won’t have access too? There are so many possible variables, and if you don’t know or understand what these are, how can you assess the report?

The bottom line is that there are maybe two dozen people in the world whose fishing reports I feel I could ‘take to bank.’ Surprisingly, that number isn’t made up entirely of the best flyfishers I know. Some are only average in that department, but they have excellent knowledge of a few local waters, and excellent powers of observation and analysis.  Others too are only average flyfishers, but they are also, for example, fisheries scientists whose insights into how fisheries work more than compensates for lack of technical flyfishing prowess.

One of the challenges for FlyStream is how to ensure we present honest, balanced reports to you in our blog and magazine. There’s no getting away from the fact that this information will be delivered by expert anglers with good local knowledge. So what you read may not be what you can readily replicate. But importantly, with effort, reading, watching and application, it will be achievable.

I think we’re off to a good start with Felix’s post which doesn’t hide from the fact that much of his area has had a wetter than average spring with the resulting challenges. Steve has had a good crack at Eucumbene without catching anything (yet) but he can see the fish and I read his report with optimism – I know him well and if he is hopeful, so am I! Meanwhile, it has taken Max a single trip to north-east Victoria to figure out that a lot of the negative reporting on forums and social media doesn’t reflect the reality.

Anyway, enjoy our location reports, and make up your own mind.