The Trout Journals

NEAR JINDABYNE

The fish was rising steadily, if not predictably.

I tied on a Royal Wulff and drifted the fly over it. Nothing. A few more casts and the fish hit it with a splashy rise, but I couldn’t connect. I waited a few minutes and made another cast. Again, the fish rose to the fly, but I couldn’t set the hook. Boy, it was fast!

Perhaps another fly would set better. A Stimulator. Same thing. The fish rose to it several times, but I still wasn’t good enough to set the hook.

Try another fly – what the heck. This fish wasn’t shy; it was definitely focussed on feeding.

On went a Stu Tripney Elk Hair Caddis. And wouldn’t you know it, the first time the fish rose to it, I was on. It screamed up and down the river, painfully close to the very snags that offer it protection from predatory cormorants – and fishermen.

A lovely Snowy Mountains brown trout.

Image of brown trout

Later in the day, the weather turned. But what a view.

Backwaters

On this stretch of the river, upstream from where I caught the brown, there were a few wonderful looking backwaters. Quiet places where trout forage for food that gets washed through. John McInnes wrote about these beautiful places in “Tread Quietly”.

“Backwaters! Our noses probably wrinkle at memories of stale smelling weed, dank banks, overhanging trees and stagnant slime. But the backwaters I mean have a different character. They are still patches of water, connected easily to the main river and perhaps freshened from upstream trickles percolating through cooler deeps of gravel. For me, especially in the summer, they are favourite places which I am prepared to walk a long way to find. When I come upon one I stand or sit quietly for ten minutes or even twenty. Eventually one or two shapes pass unhurriedly by, stopping, pausing, tailing, turing and even breaking the surface to suck in a pot-pourri of waterboatmen, snails, damsel fly nymphs and other desirables.”

I didn’t get to fish these backwaters on this day. Hopefully one day I will.

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BOOK REVIEW: “DYNAMIC NYMPHING”

Dynamic Nymphing

Ever since I became interested fly fishing, I’ve been a fan of nymphing. Most people love the dry fly, but the idea that trout get most of their dietary requirements sub-surface had me focussing on nymphing from day one.

I’m still a beginner in this great sport. So the fantastic stuff in George’s book had me pouring over the detail, and even making notes.

From Pennsylvania, George Daniel was on the US Fly Fishing Team from 2006 to 2010, placing fifth at the 2006 world championship and was also the US Youth Fly Fishing Team coach in 2008 and 2009. It’s fair to say he knows a thing or two about fishing.

George’s book is one of the most in-depth references to nymph fishing I’ve come across. I’m not saying that I’ve read every fly fishing book ever published, but I’ve seen a few. The table of contents for this all-inclusive book looks like this:

  1. Dynamic Nymphing
  2. A Nymphing System
  3. Casting Weight
  4. Tight-Line Tactics
  5. Suspension Tactics
  6. Fly Patterns
  7. Fishing Pocketwater, Riffles and Runs, and Pools
  8. Nymphing the Extremes
  9. Nymphing Small Streams

Like many other fly fishing books, this one covers casting, reading water, trout biology, and other basics. Where George shines is the detail he imparts about tight line strategies and suspension approaches. The author does a great job promoting the idea that a good fly is one that is the right size, shape and colour for the conditions at hand.

And he champions the idea that good technique is more important than the “perfect” fly.

Good advice for a bloke with only a few years under his belt in this wonderful world of fly fishing.

NEW STUFF

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My new fly tying desk and lamp. The Whitetail antler is from Wisconsin. The stones are from the Tongariro. And the Ausable Bomber is from Alan Petrucci in Connecticut.

Time to get tying.

THE SILVER LINING

The past few months have been arduous. Tumultuous. Down-right tough.

We recently sold our house. On its own, that’d be stressful enough, but a poor decision by me almost ten years ago resulted in an unusual situation that hung over our heads like a dark, ominous storm cloud. I suffered more than a few sleepless nights, wondering what would happen. But thanks to Amanda, we got through it ok.

That out of the way, we were confronted by more challenges. I won’t record the minutiae detail here, as these particular hurdles were relatively trivial. Trivial, but annoying nonetheless.

And the money ball. The big one. A couple of weeks ago my position at work was made redundant.

I like to write quite a bit; I keep a personal journal in which I record lots of details about all parts of my life. But this is the first time I’ve written of my redundancy. I guess because I’ve been so busy planning my next career move, and meeting as many prospective employers as possible.

I was told by a “career transition consultant” that I’d go through ups and downs. Highs and lows. A couple of days after the event, I thought “Not me. I got this.”

But “they” were right. As time goes on, and you find yourself at home in the middle of the day, when you “should” be at work, your mind starts playing tricks on you. Could I have done something to stop it from happening? Am I not valuable? Am I not useful? You might even catch yourself thinking “Will I ever get a job again?”

So fishing took a back seat. Then, this happened.

Ben Lomond brown trout

Just last week, this beautiful brown trout came to my net on a private property near Ben Lomond in the New England region of NSW.

And even though I lost my job, Amanda has hers. We did sell our property – so there’s no mortgage to pay. There are a few job prospects. Lots of consulting opportunities that are very close to bearing fruit. And being my own boss does have its perks.

I can go fishing whenever I want to.

Postscript

I must remember that I am more fortunate and privileged than most people living on this planet. I’m not rich, not by a long shot, but I’m certainly not poor. I think of the people in the Philippines, who recently battled what must have been one of the most severe weather events they’ve ever endured. And I sit here, in my selfish state of melancholy. Many Filipinos lost their lives – they had no choice. I pray for them.

CARP-A-THON

I prepared what I thought were perfect plans for a few grandiose fishing adventures over the past month. But it wasn’t meant to be.

On the day I was scheduled to fish with Josh Hutchins at Thompson’s Creek Dam, I fell victim to a nasty virus that put me in bed for a couple of days. Following that, a trip to the East Branch of the Kiewa River in Victoria was all but rained out. I did manage to step into the river and another nearby stream, but the conditions weren’t great, and it simply wasn’t my day.

I did, however, have a bit of luck at the 10th Singleton Fly Fishing Club Carp Classic, held last weekend. Side-by-side with my fellow Club members, I did my best to remove a few fish from Lake Liddell in a couple of hours.

Lake Liddell

Pretty spot? Certainly.

Carp

Some people won’t fish for carp. It’s “beneath” them. I’m not of that ilk.

Carp are all the rage in America at the moment: Kirk Deeter has even written a book dedicated to fly fishing for the world famous rogue fish species.

All-in-all, a pretty nice Saturday morning.

AT THE MOVIES

Thanks to Singleton Fly Fishing Club, a few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of delightful hours indulging in the RISE Fly Fishing Film Festival.

RISE

From “RISE”, the annual publication produced specifically for the event:

“It’s hard for me to believe that we are in our eighth consecutive year. What started life as an obscure concept has developed into one of the premier events on the fly fishing calendar.”

Nick Reygaert, founder of the Festival, hit the nail on the head with that second sentence. My friends at the Club have been fans of Nick’s annual event for quite a few years now. For good reason, too – kicking back, chatting with fellow Club members and watching fly fishing movies sure is a good way to spend a Thursday night.

This year’s Festival included three short films and one feature movie. Of the three short shows (“Only The River Knows”, “Jungle Fish” and “Blackwater Devil’s Gold”) “Only The River Knows” got the nod from me for my personal “Best Of”. I even bought my own copy.

The producers, Peter A Christensen, Rolf Nylinder and Smatis Eskjaer, have a whimsical sense of humour; this isn’t a typical fly fishing film. Parts of the movie, shot in New Zealand, are downright magical. Other parts had me laughing out loud. They’re very clever filmmakers.

As an added bonus, there’s a worthy lesson in this film: life is about more than fly fishing. Hard to believe, I know, but true all the same.

There’s much more to say about the other films in the Festival… from pre-historic sized trout lurking in Lago Strobel, to the way fishing and tourism are helping a rural community in Guyana, and some of the biggest brown trout I’ve ever seen near Bay of Plenty in New Zealand.

I wonder what next year’s Festival will have in store for us?

ETCETERA

I’m going to ramble a little in this entry. About casting. Upcoming trips. Flies. Books.

~

Mel Krieger

Thanks to Peter Hayes and Mel Krieger (above), I’ve assembled some notes that will hopefully improve my casting, complete with a couple of practice drills. Simply put, I believe that becoming a better caster is a necessary precursor to becoming a better fisherman.

~

Josh Hutchins

I’ve just booked a trip to Thompsons Creek Dam. Josh Hutchins, above, will be my guide; he knows TCD better than the back of his hand. Another trip will take place in early October – this one to Victoria. Still sorting out the details. Then, the season starts here in my home state. Not that I’m counting, but it’s 24 days until the opener.

~

It was bound to happen. I guess most people who become obsessed with fly fishing eventually succumb to the delights of fly tying. I’m slowly amassing more feathers and fur than a millinery in the lead up to the Melbourne Cup. Sites like PlanetTrout and FrankenFly inspire me on a regular basis.

The picture below comes from PlanetTrout; it’s a CDL KF Nymph (Medium Brown Baetis) – Hughes/Variant, in size 20. I’m not sure if my eyesight and fumbling fingers are good enough to tie a size 20 fly, but I’ll be giving it a red hot go when the time is right.

CDL KF Nymph (Medium Brown Baetis) – Hughes Variant

I’ve completed quite a few basic Woolly Buggers and Pheasant Tail Nymphs and, sacre bleu, they’re starting to look as they should. I guess the old adage is right. Practice makes perfect.

~

Speaking of flies, I received a wonderful surprise in the mail the other day. Alan Petrucci’s book, “Thin Blue Lines”, arrived. That wasn’t a surprise – I was expecting it. I was, however, delighted to find enclosed in the package a beautifully tied Ausable Bomber, all the way from Alan in Connecticut.

The book is just as fantastic as I expected it to be. It’s chock-a-block full of beautiful photos, and will be taken from the shelf as often as I need encouragement.

~

Enough rambling for now, I guess. On to more productive pursuits, like scanning the interweb for cool fly fishing stuff.