What are they taking?

I just read Philip Weigall’s report on his recent trip to north-east Victoria and it made me wonder. As he was fishing the Howqua, King and Delatite, I was fishing the Ovens River.

On the Sunday, we found the fish to be moody. We caught several on a size 14 Stimulator and just about as many on a small weighted nymph. We also missed several more on the dry. I suspected that being a Sunday and with a few anglers about, the trout may have been acting a bit warily. Perhaps they had been fished to a few times over the past few days.

Nice water, but moody fish.

On the Monday (as Philip fished a few valleys away) we visited a different stretch of the Ovens. Whilst Philip was seeing a rise every 30 seconds and catching fish easily, our fishing was a little more challenging. There were no rises and between 10 and 11.30am, all we had to show for our efforts was a couple of slashes at the dry and nothing obvious on the trailing nymph.

As the sun worked its way to its zenith, we started to notice a little more insect activity. I had a follow, however it took maybe 10 casts before the trout finally ate the nymph. Over the next two hours, I experienced very good fishing but still had to work hard to catch the fish. Most were caught in difficult spots on a perfect, sometimes ever-so-short drift. And as I was to discover later, whilst Philip was experiencing fast dry fly action, I caught all mine on nymphs. The only similar thing that happened when comparing our fishing experiences, is both of us managed to land an oversized brown of around 16 inches amongst the many rainbows.

All on the nymph.

Same day, same weather, similar river systems, but the flies that worked could not be more different.

Had I tied on a size 14 Adams (not a go-to fly for me either at this time of the year) as Philip did, would I have had more surface action? And if I had tied on the Adams, I wouldn’t have been able to trail a nymph behind it. Would I have blanked? The pondering continues. One thing I am sure about is that next time I hit the streams, experience suggests the scenario may well be totally different!