Well, the first Fly Fish Baw Baw weekend was quite an event. The village itself is situated on a rolling snowgum plateau that drops away nearly 1500 metres into the valleys below. It was always going to be a beautiful spot for a flyfishing get together. But what would the weather do? And would anyone turn up?
The answers turned out to be fine and sunny (the weather gods clearly approved), and lots. From the moment Rick Dobson began his Friday night presentation on how and where to fish the area to a crowd that wouldn’t fit in the room, things were looking good. By Sunday evening as the last casts were made on the purpose-built casting ponds, a couple of hundred people at least must have come up the mountain to experience all things flyfishing (and some pretty fine hospitality and food from the crew at Baw Baw).
Fly casting in the sky
One of the great things about Baw Baw, in addition to its proximity to many fine flyfishing streams, is how family-friendly it is. With stacks of good accommodation in a pretty setting, cafes and restuarants, easy pedestrian access everywhere, wildlife and activities like bike riding and bushwalks, Jane and my two little boys loved the place and didn’t want to leave. They even found a patch of snow on the south side of the summit for a little tobogan ride and snow balls.
Bike riding on a mountain top
And the fishing? Everyone who went out had a ball. The local streams were still a tad high with a tinge of colour, but the air was warm and with plenty of stonefly, mayfly and other insect life about, the trout were playing the game. I did best with a #12 Muz Wilson Messy Wulff and a #14 Cadillac Nymph about 2 ft beneath, with takes split about 50/50 between the nymph and dry. Big generalist dries like Stimulators caught fish for others. I found the secret was to fish short and slow in the little seams and pockets that gave the fish a break from the rushing current. Fast drift, nothing happened; slow and the trout fought over the flies, sometimes literally. I watched two trout go for Steve Dunn’s flies at the same time, one to the nymph and one to the dry!
Rainbow from the slopes of Baw Baw.
The Thomson, Tanjil (both branches), Toorongo, Loch and Latrobe rivers all produced plenty of browns and rainbows in the 20 – 30 cm range, with some bigger fish encountered on the Aberfeldy. New Zealand based guest speaker for the event, Mike Davis, was beaming after his Saturday out on the mountain streams with Rick Dobson – and Mike’s someone who spends most of his time on some of the best rivers in the world.
Gorgeous pocket water on the West Tanjil River.
It’s very easy for people to be cautious or even downright cynical about an event like this which is being run for the first time. So it’s a credit to those who got behind it from early on and gave 100% support. Just some of those who deserve special mention are:
- Peter Morse, ably supported by Andrew Connell, who put in a huge effort with the casting instruction.
- Rick Dobson for his Friday night talk and general help and donations.
- Mike Davis for great presentations and pictures.
- All the fly tiers: Rob Meade, Mick Hall, Chris Beech and Mark Scheimer
- Scott Macpherson, who came a long way for the event and pitched in with casting and fly tying.
- Andrew Summers from Mayfly who brought along a fine range of goodies for people to admire and who was supportive of the weekend from early on.
- Al McBurnie who also travelled a long way and was a great representative for NSW Fisheries.
- Nick Reygaert who provided his Rise Film Festival films to raise money for Evolve www.evolve.org.au (an auction at the Saturday night dinner also raised plenty for this great cause.)
- Julia Menzies from Fisheries Victoria who was just fantastic to work with organising the weekend and who kept things going smoothly right through it.
- Grant Seamer from Baw Baw, who together with his ever-cheerful colleagues, couldn’t have been more accommodating and helpful. And even I could tell that the food was simply brilliant.
- Anthony Hurst, Travis Dowling and John Douglas from Fisheries – we shouldn’t underestimate how fortunate we are to have senior Fisheries people giving an event like this their wholehearted support.
- Likewise Government representatives Bill Sykes and Gary Blackwood.
- Steve Dunn who was the perfect MC and another force for good in organising the weekend.
And thanks also to everyone who simply turned up. Events like these aren’t just about enjoying a good weekend (although that was easy to do!) They also have a pretty important roll to play in supporting our beloved sport – flyfishing – in all sorts of obvious and not so obvious ways.
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