On the Ovens In April – Part 1

It was time for my families annual camping holiday to Bright. I’d been looking forward to this week for a little while now. The fly fishing, exploring, hiking, coffee’s, book reading, and family time – basically catching up on the things that get shoved to the side in busyness of life. It was the week before Easter which meant that daylight savings had unfortunately finished, the days and nights were getting slightly cooler, and there had been some serious rainfall in the weeks prior to our trip. My ‘fishy-senses’ were telling me that this would make for some great fishing by the time we arrived. The rivers should be cleared and running higher then the flow we had last year – which seemed to be pretty low – and the preceding rains should have also stimulated some insect activity. That’s what I was hoping anyway!

We arrived on Sunday afternoon and began to set up what unfolded – quite literally… have you seen the size of some of those camper trailers – to be a mammoth campsite. With eight people and three dogs – one of which was a very naughty puppy – we were well and truly packed into our two adjacent campsites. Monday morning rolled around and I was fairly eager to get on the Oven’s and see how the flow was and if the fish were willing to take dries still. As we hopped out of the car to check the conditions of the river, my suspicions were spot on! The river was definitely higher then last year and it was crystal clear! I was keen!

It didn’t take long to spot the first rising fish which was up in a run just in front of the bridge we entered at. I was on the river with my brother in law – Dan – who was still learning the ropes. I decided to take this cast as there were some obstacles overhead, in front, and behind to navigate – that seems to be the case for plenty of Aussie rivers. I put a couple casts up towards the sporadically rising fish but both casts were about half a meter short – give me a break, my radar hadn’t quite switched on yet! I shot one up a bit higher right in the middle of the run – mostly to prove that I could still cast half decently – and bang!! My stimulator barley had a chance to hit the water before it was met with the fate of a fishy mouth. I felt my rod load up with a couple of violent thumps through my fly line and it was gone. Well… at least my second suspicion was confirmed. They were still willing to rise to dries… with gusto I might add!

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As we stumbled and slipped up river, we began to get the impression that we would have to prospect our casts rather then wait for fish to move. They seemed to be holding in the middle section of the runs more often than not and weren’t rising until a decent size dry was presented to it. It wasn’t to long before I’d landed a couple of healthy pan sized rainbows. Dan had also managed to tempt a couple of rainbows to smack his dry but they didn’t quite stick. Landing a fish today would be Dan’s first fish on fly, so I was fairly eager to get him on the board on the first day of the trip.

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We continued upstream with a few more takes and drops and a couple more landed, but still the monkey wasn’t off Dan’s back. We stealthy approached a pristine run that had decent depth to it and had no casting obstructions. I knew there would be at least one fish in there and it was a matter of getting a few good casts along the likely looking spots. Dan’s casting was looking really quite good. Dan asked if he should put a cast into the middle of the run with some extra distance and I thought that was a pretty good option at this stage. He lobbed his line up to the head of the run where his dry and nymph flicked beyond the fly line beautifully. We watched intently expecting a take at any moment – sure enough, his dry bobs under and I shout strike!! Danny pulls back on his line but there’s no tension yet, little did Dan know that the fish had cottoned on to our plans, but not before he had sipped down a little gold-head flashy nymph that was in fact attached to some fluorocarbon. I saw up in the run a chunky rainbow darting back downstream towards Dan’s ankles and urged him to keep stripping. After multiple strips and much confusion, he was on. His first fish, and it was bigger then all the ones I had caught beforehand. We promptly netted the bow, took some snaps and released him back to grow some more for next season. Nice one Dan! A great story for his first fish on fly!

Neither of us bagged out that day but it was a great day on the river! I’d landed half a dozen healthy rainbows with plenty of kick, and Dan had managed his first fish on fly. Day one down in what seemed to be a blink of an eye, but I was really excited to explore some different sections of the beautiful Oven’s river in the days to come!

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