Warming Up on the Mountain Streams

Never a season renowned for its stability, this spring has been one of the most erratic I can recall. Last weekend it snowed on the mountains of north-east Victoria (an almost weekly occurrence since the ski season ended), then yesterday was one of the hottest November days in the region on record. This has been the spring rollercoaster for me on the north-east streams – full length waders and beanies one day, wet wading and broad brims the next.

Warm enough to wet wade, but high enough to make crossing difficult.

Still, even erratic patterns tend to have overall trends and gradually, cumulatively, the trend in temperature and of course daylight hours has been up. This might help explain why recently, duns still hatched in bulk on the Goulburn on days more reminiscent of the dead of winter than mere weeks before summer.

Drifting caddis this big have to be a good sign!

And so finally, when I fished the natural streams in the Goulburn catchment earlier this week, I felt for the first time this season that something had changed. It’s hard to explain, but previously, the streams had seemed somewhat lifeless. Of course the trout were there, and of course they could be caught.

The water might still be a bit high and coloured, but the trout are up and about and starting to look tubby!

But this time, the rivers and creeks were lighting up. The cicadas were beginning their chorus, caddis bounced, duns drifted, damsels danced and the willy wagtails darted out over the water every few minutes. Yes, the levels were about a foot too high and there was more than a tinge of high flow colour. However, there was a rise here and there, and even though less than half the trout I caught took the dry, I no longer felt I was trying to goad the fish into taking.

They’re even coming up for the dry.

I don’t mean to suggest that every day in the mountains from now on will be stream fishing heaven, however I will now be heading out each time hoping for it, and that’s a good place to be.