Winter surprise

I’ve been heading out to Lauriston Reservoir most mornings before work, or in the occasional lunch break, or evenings after finishing work. It’s 8 minutes from my door to being on the water, one of the big reasons I moved to Kyneton. Most excursions are blanks, but with the weather lately being not too windy, I’ve been venturing out to try my luck. Trips are usually short; mornings are from about 6:15 to 8:45 (light enough to see what I’m doing until I need to start work at 9), lunch is a one hour dash, and after work is usually after 4pm until dark. I’ve caught a few fish and had a few other strikes, but in total, not a lot. I’ve only seen the odd fish move.

Lauriston Reservoir

I’ve mainly been fishing the northern part of the lake. Since the water level has dropped, the weed beds are easier to see, facilitating casting along their edges. I’ve tried a few different flies: Red Buzzer under an indicator, all the varieties of bead-head Magoos, and an ugly size 12 Tom Jones-like thing I tied out of black calf tail and dark olive Antron sparkle dubbing (similar to fly below).

After work the other evening, I was lakeside by about 4:15. I watched the water a bit (and a cormorant on a half-submerged stump) and saw a faint bow-wave, which I immediately decided was probably a zephyr, but I cast to it anyway. Nothing. Even so, I continued casting, while fully expecting I might be heading home with nothing memories of the cormorant and the zephyr, and the slow fading light.

About a dozen casts in, I was giving the short, sharp strips and the line tightened.¬†Woohoo!…¬†Nope… snagged the weeds. I spent about 5 minutes moving around to get my fly free and succeeded – a small victory at least. The light was getting dimmer and I was thinking I should head home soon. Just one more cast.

And, of course, just one more cast became another dozen ‘one more casts’ and I hooked the weeds again. But this time, I couldn’t get my fly free. As I moved along the shore trying unsuccessfully to dislodge the fly, it felt like my line had tightened a little. I let out some slack, moved along the shore, and noticed the slack was taken up. Weird. I lifted my rod and the other end of my line decided it was going elsewhere. So, it seemed I’d hooked a decent fish after all, but in the absence of great speed and no acrobatics, I was resigned to having latched onto a good sized carp.

About 20 minutes in to cautiously trying to land this thing (I was only using 4X tippet), and with my arm cramping from the fight, I finally glimpsed a golden flash.

I got it closer to the shore, and at this point, I was wishing there was another fisher around to help! I was using a 15 ft leader, and I know what knots can do once in the guides of a fly rod. The fish saw me and went for the deep. It was another 15 minutes (and getting dark) before I got it close to shore again.

I had now established the fish was brown trout, which, of course, increased the anxiety level tenfold. There were a few more slow runs. The big trout had power and size, and I really didn’t want to break the 4X tippet I was using. (I could hear Philip Weigall’s voice in the back of my head, “3X tippet; never weaker.”).

Eventually, by the grace of the fishing gods, I was allowed to land the fish. The barbless hook freed itself while the fish was in the net (an unnerving discovery). I took a couple of photos of the trout, measured it (69 cm) and weighed it. Unfortunately for precise weight though, the fish easily bottomed out my 8lb scales.

My best trout on fly – and from none other than Lauriston Reservoir!

I returned the fish to the lake and watched it slowly retire to the other side of the weed bed where I had hooked it. Winter fishing had landed me the biggest trout I’ve caught in Australia and the biggest I’ve ever caught on a fly rod.