Vic high water update

October has finished with record rainfall across large parts of Victoria, and the last couple of weeks have provided the sort of fishing experiences which could best be described as unusual!

BOM’s October rainfall chart is striking.

On the lakes, ultra-high levels have pushed back into the trees on many waters. The trout couldn’t be happier, with vast amounts of flushed food, beetles and ants dropping from the leaves, and minnows swarming in the shallows. For us flyfishers though, we need to have a plan to find water (and the casting skills) to at least get the fly into places where the trout are a chance to find it.

Back in the trees – wade carefully, and watch your step!

Keep in mind that every open pocket is a possibility. Move quietly and watch carefully.

A Bellfield rainbow from the very edge of the flooded forest.

On the rivers, the high water challenge is mainly about finding the ‘soft’ currents: edges or downstream from obstructions, where the trout have some respite from the current. It has been amazing to remind myself how little actual space (or depth) is needed, and how busily the trout are feeding amongst all the bits and pieces tumbling through the (often discoloured) water column. The fish really are very good at this!

A likely edge on a massive Rubicon is worth plenty of drifts.

My top tip would be to use a fly the trout can find, like Craig’s Pineapple Express or a Squirmy Worm. Be thorough with every good spot – the trout are moving around busily, and there’s a lot of food and junk competing for attention with your fly. Often, it’s taking me at least half a dozen drifts through a few square metres of water, to finally get a take.

Reward for being thorough and changing fly weight.

Correctly weighting your fly for a given spot is also important. For that really shallow edge, you want no more than 2mm of tungsten bead, but in that 1 to 1.5 metre deep slot, 4mm isn’t out of the question. The trick is to have your fly near the bottom, but not snagging, so regular fly weight changes are worth the effort.

A very high Goulburn. You could drown a road train in the main river, but it’s still possible to catch a nice brownie from a small patch of softer water behind a flooded sapling.

As an alternative to the presently brim-full ‘standard’ streams, you can always seek out headwaters, creeks or even drains, with a small enough catchment to have dropped back to a semblance of normal during the brief breaks in the rain. (These waters rise and fall much more quickly than streams lower down the system.)

Scott hooked into a decent rainbow on a tiny creek that would barely be worth a look in a normal spring.

And as we’ve mentioned in previous articles, streams which were too marginal to bother with for many years, are likely to be back as solid options, further increasing the little water list.

Even a Steavo in semi-flood still has its likely ‘soft spots.’

This fishing in high and sometimes discoloured water takes some getting used to. However, when you’re hooking into good trout regularly, it’s surprising how easily the drumming rain or roar of rapids just fades into background…