The stream fishing at this time of year has a certain poignancy and if I look back through my late autumn writings, they’re full of last casts, thoughtful reflections on the season and au revoirs. It can all seem a bit mawkish, but I can’t help it. The river fishing is winding down, and in a month or so it will close altogether. I’m just back from a trip to the upper Murray area which fits the pattern, although the company of brother Mark, master chef Max Caruso and Christopher Bassano from Tasmania blunted too much sentimentality. I haven’t laughed so much for a while, or eaten so well!
Mitta Mitta near Eskdale
In typical late autumn fashion, fog and cold slowed both fish and fishers at the beginning of each day, but by mid morning the sun was bright and the air warm enough for shirtsleeves. We started on a favourite tailwater, the Mitta Mitta, which is in great shape after a season of cold water releases from the brimming Lake Dartmouth. The flows were temporarily up a little on previous weeks at 2500 mg/day. Still, we found some Kosciusko duns and even when the trout weren’t rising, the odd one would come up for a Kossie Dun pattern or a parachute Orange Spinner, the best a fat 3 pounder to Mark. Next stop was the mighty Swampy Plains tailwater. Not for the first time, we dubbed it the Supermodel – absolutely beautiful one day, and a complete brat the next! The ever-changing flows of this strange river make it almost impossible to nail down but when it briefly relented, the trout took dries well and we caught some good ones.
The Supermodel behaving!
Meanwhile, the Indi was as reliable as autumn colour on the trees. Typically, the trout were smaller on average than those on the Swampy, and the browns were perhaps a little leaner. But they rose in the pool tails and bubble lines every day from when the sun hit the water until dark. These autumn sippers are an annual highlight for me. Neither easy nor impossibly hard, the sippers require a perfect drift, sometimes a fly change or two, and usually smaller patterns. The Ant, F-Fly and parachute spinner mostly did the trick, although Christopher had to go down to a size 20 paradun to undo one fussy patch of fish.
Sippers on the Indi
The last day came around too soon as always. The sun and warmth was replaced by a low grey sky and light rain which took some of the sting out of leaving – at least there were no sippers to farewell. Instead, a quick fish on the Nariel finished the trip. Rain and 9 C are not my favourite combination on this lovely little stream, so it wasn’t surprising that the three trout I landed took a bit of work to catch. Still, I saw another dozen or so in the crystal clear water. Some I spooked while others were in lies that were beyond me thanks to willow branches, fallen trees or undercuts. Walk slowly and look carefully on a stream like the Nariel, and you’ll soon get some appreciation of all the trout you simply can’t catch.
About now I normally throw in some melancholy line of farewell to the streams, but there’s still one trip to go this year to the Ovens River and surrounds, when I’m honoured to be helping open a rejuvenated stretch of river http://www.necma.vic.gov.au/WhatsOn/. The good-byes to season 2012/13 will have to wait until then!