Much of my time over the last few months has been taken up preparing a new online flyfishing magazine and website, FlyStream.
We finally launched yesterday, so go to http://www.flystream.com and see what you think.
This year’s organiser, Chris Ord, tells me that as with last year, Mt Baw Baw’s village will be transformed into a stage for the celebration of fly fishing in the Baw Baw region. A new twist this year is that up for grabs is a $1000 prize pool for the biggest fish caught (and released). This is a ‘measure, photograph & release’ competition and I think it’s fantastic that Baw Baw is adopting this approach to competition fishing – an example some other groups would do well to follow. Everyone from the would-be fly fisher to expert casters will be encouraged to join in all the activities happening over the weekend.
The itinerary is:
FRIDAY 15th NOVEMBER
• Attendees travel to Mount Baw Baw Village (2.5hrs from Melbourne). Event briefing. Hand out of event material including official map and ruler.
SATURDAY 16th NOVEMBER
• Catch and Release competition begins. Competitors drive to locations around Baw Baw region.
• A fish cooking masterclass will be held at Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort during the day for family members who wish to stay on mountain.
• After a day soaking up the local sights and fly fishing on the local rivers and streams, competitors venture back to Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort for presentation dinner at the Village Restaurant.
SUNDAY 17th NOVEMBER
• Casting Coaching and Competition on village casting pond
• Product prizes
• Fly tying demonstrations
• Master your skills on our purpose built pond at the resort
On mountain accommodation is available and the Village Restaurant will be open serving up its gourmet meals.
More information at: http://mountbawbaw.com.au/events/fly-fish-baw-baw/
Baw Baw Fly Fishing Festival is supported by the Baw Baw Shire, Department of Environment & Primary Industries, and the Australian Fishing Network.
Midging trout are a feature at Millbrook, and they offer some of our best sight fishing during the winter months. Usually it’s big midge (size 12 or so) that provide the action and mostly on pupa patterns like my Milly Midge.
But just for something different, this year the micro-midge have decided to explode and balling midge, not just pupa, have featured for literally months. To put that in context, prior to this season I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen trout on balling midge at Millbrook, and that’s over a period of 15 years. Why have the little midge and midge balls dominated in 2013? And are they a new trend, or a flash in the pan that will all but vanish again for the next decade? I really have no idea, but it’s fun while it lasts! (Not easy though – look closely at the number of midge on the water; all those tiny specks on the water are midge or midge balls. This is real snowflake in a blizzard fishing.)
I’m just back from a trip to Montana, and there’s way too much to report to do the place justice right now. I’ll just say that I had high expectations and they were exceeded. The people, wildlife, fish, fishing, bugs and of course the streams made quite an impression.
The worst of winter lurked out of sight through much of June, but July has so far done its best to balance the ledger. Half a metre of snow in the mountains, minus 12.2 C at Liawenee in Tasmania and not much short of that in the Snowys. Locally we’ve had plenty of wintery, rainy ‘nothing’ days, followed by periods of sharp frost and blue sky. Both types of weather have produced good fishing, though the sunny days are deceptive. Just when you think winter really isn’t so cold after all, the sun sets and almost instantly it’s as if a giant freezer door has swung open.
The last fortnight’s fishing began with a couple of days chasing estuary bream around Apollo Bay with Max. Actually PB and my brother Mark came along on that trip too, but we only caught up with them in the evenings. The salmon fishing in the surf was apparently too good to leave, and Max and I felt the same about the bream – we caught and released 30 good fish between us, the best 41 cm.
Next it was up to Tullaroop with Peter. It was one of those gorgeous calm blue days I just mentioned. The fishing wasn’t furious, but we polaroided a couple and cast to a few more that smashed the smelt (nice to see a few smelters again at last). All were good fish and I landed a matching pair of a brown and a rainbow on a Wet’s Zonker.
Then a few days ago, Jane and I took the boys to the Grampians. The weather was back to shaky at best – single figure maximums, sleet, wind and rain. Still, I managed half an hour each on Bellfield and Wartook before the family voted for somewhere less exposed. Despite the inclement conditions, both lakes looked promising. I fished one of Muz’s green Emu Buggers, which resulted in a couple of indeterminate hits at Bellfield (trout? redfin?) and a lovely brown at Wartook.
Then it was off to Boroka Lookout, some waterfalls and some wildlife watching. If you want good fishing and a happy family, the Grampians in winter are hard to beat!
Most years my stream fishing is well and truly over before June and I’ve settled into the lakes. On the Queen’s Birthday Weekend just gone though, I split the difference. Andrew and I decided to squeeze in a trip we never quite got around to high season, and headed over to central Gippsland. This wasn’t going to be a dedicated fishing trip, but more a check-up on some fine fly waters we hadn’t visited in a while.We started on the Macalister River above Licola. The June day was fairly cold and grey, but the river looked a picture, flowing strongly and very clear. A bit of indicator nymphing turned up two good takes and I spooked another fish, but nothing landed. Next we drove to the nearby Wellington River. This little stream was lower than its big cousin and about as clear as I’ve ever seen it. Again we had to settle for a couple of misses before the night raced into the narrow valley, and a meal at the Tinambla Pub became the sensible option.
After Evolve, I headed over to Bright. Some months ago, the North-east CMA’s Andrew Briggs invited me to help open the Ovens River Fish Habitat Enhancement Project near this township. After some delays due to the Harrietville Fire, we finally went ahead last Saturday. Around 100 people turned up for the opening and despite thick frost at first, it turned into a beautiful blue sky day. I spoke about the importance of projects like these for better fishing, not to mention the good environmental outcomes. I also gave a quick flyfishing demonstration in which no fish were harmed!
The project takes in 2.5 km of river, well accessed by paths and vehicle tracks. Funded by recreational fishing licence fees, it incorporates a number of elements including willow and blackberry removal as well as native species revegetation. There are also lots of informative signs explaining the project and the fishing benefits. However the key feature is the strategic placement of structure, both logs and boulders. Coincidentally I’d fished this stretch several times prior to the project, and the change to this previously quite featureless water is remarkable. While the resulting habitat variability, cover and velocity refuges will undoubtedly benefit the local trout and blackfish populations, trout cod are already well established further down the Ovens and it’s hoped this project may encourage their return to this part of the river.
Gin-Clear’s Nick Reygaert is cementing a reputation for capturing flyfishing footage – and footage of flyfishing target species – that most of us once assumed was unobtainable. While watching his latest production, ‘Predator’, it took a mental effort to simply enjoy the ride and not continually ask myself ‘how the heck did he film that?’
Narrated by Greg French, ‘Predator’ follows the pattern of Nick’s previous film ‘Hatch’ and travels the globe in search of extraordinary flyfishing events. The saltwater sequences are spectacular, two standouts being a great hammerhead shark pursuing and ultimately catching a reef shark, and Nick himself achieving the apparently impossible and landing a huge Samson fish from a rocky islet. The former would be quite at home headlining a BBC wildlife documentary; while the latter would sit well in a flyfishing hall of fame!
But I’m ultimately a trouty, and it’s the trout segments I found most fascinating. The footage of trout chasing baitfish in Southland estuaries was by far the best I’ve seen of ‘smelting’ activity – both educational and inspirational. Japanese taimen, spring creek dun feeders and damselfly leapers all add to the banquet. Watch this DVD first for the entertainment, then watch it more carefully a second time for the angling insights.
Running time 50 minutes. For more information visit http://gin-clear.com/
Hope that got your attention! Fly Fish Australia is raising funds to help cover some of the costs our Tasmanian team members face to compete in the upcoming World Championships in Norway. The price of competing at this level runs into many thousands of dollars per team member. (While lots of other countries enter a paid professional team in international fly fishing competition, the Australian team consists of amateurs.)
Fortunately, thanks to the generosity of Tasmania’s Inland Fisheries Service a lifetime Tasmanian fishing licence will be auctioned as part of the fundraising campaign. This is the first time ever that such a licence has been offered. So, if you like the idea of buying a Tassie licence that lasts a lifetime, email Craig Carey at email@example.com and make a bid. Bids can also be made at:
The Fun and Fund Raising Evening for the Tasmanian members of the 2013 Australian Fly Fishing Team
Location: The Happy Chef, William St, Longford.
When: 1 June 2013, commencing 6.30pm.
Cost: $25 pp includes Hors d’oeuvres for the evening and a donation to
the team members.
RSVP: To Micra Accident Repair Centre, phone (03) 6398 1444 business hours or
email firstname.lastname@example.org by 18th May for catering purposes.
Many other items will be up for auction on the night.
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!
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.
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.
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!