Why do we continue to fly fish despite the effort, planning and money that is required to make a trip happen? Why not just go camping, or to a hotel or to a beach? Well… I’m glad you asked! I’d argue that there are few primitive experiences that are lacking in our modernized, motorized, materialized, sanitized and scheduled lives that can be fulfilled through fly fishing.
If I asked you to choose 5 activities that would improve you as a human being and build your character in a positive way, my guess is that you wouldn’t select fly fishing – despite your passion for the sport! However, I would argue that fly fishing is capable of exactly that!
I feel like plenty of rivers are simple to fish… but definitely not easy! What I mean by this is, when you crack the code for a particular river – whether that be an effective fly pattern, discovering where the fish are holding, or what rig/depth you should fish for a given time – the fishing is simple or for lack of a better description… straight forward! Just continue with what you know and slowly learn more about the nuances of each river.
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!
We advanced beyond the bridge to where the river forked in two. Nat made his way up the left fork and I prospected the right side. As I cast my way upstream, I saw a boulder that was half submerged and would have provided slack water for a big lazy trout, looking for an easy meal.
It was about mid April of 2011 and my folks thought we should go away for a few nights of camping near the Goulburn river in Victoria for my first practice on the water. The river was flowing a bit higher then usual but it didn’t deter me from giving it my best. I won’t lie, it was a challenging and frustrating trip. My dad and I spotted numerous fish but came up empty handed at the end of the trip. Looking back on it, the reason no fish were landed was mostly due to inexperience on rivers. Rigs that weren’t 100% right (depth wise), sloppy casting, and probably not getting my fly in the right spot a lot of the time. It was a great time nonetheless. I still have a vivid memory, of waking up in my tent on my birthday – which happened to be whilst we were away – unzipping my tent to be greeted by the banks of the Goulburn river with the sun rising and fog slowly dissipating up from the river into the sky. It was incredible and one of my favourite birthdays!
Being beckoned only by what we saw, read, and watched about New Zealand fly fishing – we began to construct an idealist picture of what our trip would pan out like. Blue bird skies, a puff of wind at our backs allowing some extra casting distance, and maybe… just maybe, a spotted, glistening double figure brown each – amongst many other fish landed of course.
Whilst boiling the kettle in our little cabin, we pulled out the maps and decided that we’ll give one of the nearby streams a go for the afternoon. We skulled our weak instant coffees and eagerly pilled into the Sunny to find this little stream and see what it had to offer. It was probably about 1pm by the time we found a place to get in and got our gear organized. This particular stream – or river by Australian standards – was about 2 – 3 meters wide with slightly discoloured water and didymo riddled throughout the farmland section that we found ourselves in.