by Jon Novoselac

I thought about Dad and tied on a biggish deer hair sedge; I thought a bigger fly might catch the attention of a hungry fish in the fading light. For some unusual reason, the thin tippet slipped straight through the eye of the hook on my first attempt. When the light fades on days I’m lucky enough to be on a stream, I’m regularly reminded that my eyesight is slowly deteriorating.

Deer hair sedge

I walked down the bank quickly and quietly and saw a pair of ducks sitting on the near side. My approach started them and they hastily paddled their way to the far side of the creek, quacking and chuckling.

“Bloody hell. There goes my last damn chance.”

If I had a 12-guage instead of a five weight, we would have had duck for dinner.

Going through the motions, I put my line slightly upstream and to the far side, just down from where the pool widens after a narrow run. It opens up straight across from me; the current is strongest there. The swiftest water passes right beside some overhanging ti-trees.

When you watch the flow of the water, you can see that it slows as the stream gets wider. It could be as deep as two or three metres in the middle. The surface current curls around to form a little eddy right in the centre. Right where I’m standing.

No response to my fly on the far side. I try again, but it all seems fruitless. It’s depressing.

Then it happened. The rise form was clear, despite the fading light. The fish surfaced right at the downstream edge of the eddy.

With a quick flick, I put the sedge in front of the fish. And I couldn’t believe it.

The last sizable fish I hooked, on the Murrumbidgee at Bolero, tricked me. He was big. He forcefully burrowed his way to the bottom of the hole. I’m sure the conniving beast sensed my anxious tendencies – were my knots true? Would the leader or tippet snap if he shook his head? My hesitance gave him enough grace to wrap the line around a strong snag at the bottom of the pool. The fly popped and landed gently at my feet. If he had fingers he would have given me the middle one.

I wasn’t going to fall victim to that shit today. I had waited too long to catch this fish. I had lost count of the dreams I’d had about what lies at the bottom of this mysterious, dark, boulder strewn hole. The browns in this creek are more sheepish than the woolly creatures that fill the paddocks alongside it.

When I got the fish in the net I let out an honest and loud expletive. It was the biggest brown I had ever caught. A true leviathan from the small creek. A resident of this sheltered, quiet, cool spot. Too majestic to roast over a fire. Maybe Adam’s boys will catch him one day.

Right on last light (grayscale)

It’s a long walk back to the hut after fishing all day. Up and down hills. Negotiating gates in the dark. Puffing and panting as my PVC waders trap my sweat and turn them into a little portable mini-sauna.

Not today. There’s a spring in my step. Today I finally unlocked the secret to this wonderful old trout stream. I danced along the track to the hut in the moonlight.