It’s become a cliché, but I can’t think of a better heading for this little story. What if I’d listened to all the gloomy reports coming from the Snowys and declined Steve’s invitation to join him for a few days fishing? What if I’d headed up, but fished with a defeated spirit? Just gone through the motions instead of fishing as if I believed I was about to catch a trout on every cast? There is no way when we pulled up beside the Murrumbidgee on Monday that I would have methodically changed my tippet to a fresh length of ‘what if?’ 8 pound and tested the knot. No way I would have bothered, half an hour later, to carefully fish up the smaller anabranch instead of dismissing it and going straight to the main run. No way I would have persisted with purposeful short casts and good drifts, staying low and out of sight behind the tea tree; right up until the final 2 metres where the water couldn’t be more than a hand span deep.
I had no idea a 5 pounder was sitting there – I rarely see the biggest fish on Australian rivers where the water clarity and cover tend to hide them well. But enough beauties spooked over the years (as well as a few successes) have left me with a default setting that expects anything. When a gentle rise sucked in the size 12 Stimulator, I was ready. When I lifted and the little run exploded as if a brick had been thrown in, I wasn’t! But at least I had that good tippet and my big net on my back. Once I settled down, I was able to keep the adrenalin in check for enough of the next ten minutes that I didn’t make any big mistakes.
The moment when that beautiful fish was safely in the net made the whole trip; but even without it, Steve and I were already having a ball. As his blog post shows, we fished lots of waters for lots of great moments. Easy fishing? Only sometimes. Hard, depressing or uninspiring fishing? Not once.