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Posts Tagged ‘Fishing Season’

I managed a few days in the Snowy Mountains last week. After a long winter, the area was at last snowy in name only, the top of the Main Range the final bastion of white. Mid 20s maximums and sunshine prevailed on Lake Eucumbene and the rivers, providing more than a taste of dry fly action.

In typical early season fashion, stonefly were the predominant insect on the rivers at first, bring a few excited rises as they fluttered too close to the water (although stonefly nymphs are aquatic, adult stonefly emerge on land.) However toward the end of my trip, mayfly duns began to appear, and the dry fly fishing lifted accordingly. My mate Steve, who stayed on after I headed home, gleefully informed me that the hatches have only got better.

On Lake Eucumbene, a combination of ground not flooded since 2006 and the first really warm weather of the season, created the kind of fishing you’d expect. We normally arrived from the rivers late afternoon to find sporadic rises in any shallow bay we chose. Usually these increased (twice, spectacularly, to termites) as the sun sank lower, and continued on into the night as the trout found midges, craneflies and who knows what else.

Many of the trout were rainbows of a kilo or so – typically strong silvery Eucumbene fish that were a battle to keep out of the thistles. Seven pound tippet was a must! Mixed in was the odd brown and rainbow twice that size; all of these I caught came well after sunset.

All up the area is in great condition and as all that flooded vegetation rots, it’s hard not to see the midge fishing equaling or surpassing 2008. As for mudeye and hopper potential, I think I’ll have to schedule a return trip in a month or two.

Thredbo River

Thredbo River

Lake Eucumbene

Lake Eucumbene

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Two fantastic reviews came in from New Zealand last week, I’ve pasted them below for you to read.

“It is axiomatic that a book should never be judged by its cover. I was immediately taken by this book’s cover, as by its overall presentation. The content, then, should have disappointed but, to the contrary, it was very much a match for the cover. This is not a book with glossy photographs of trophy back-country trout. It is a series of anecdotes and gentle musings. written by an Australian fly-fishing guide, and beautifully illustrated. Some of the stories in fact relate to New Zealand, but the majority are Australian-based, with fly fishing for Victorian trout predominant. Murray cod, salmon at sea, and the game fish of the Gulf of Carpentaria also feature, as do the problems of cooking in the bush, the vagaries of the angling character, and even the comparative dangers of snakes and wasps. This book captures much of the essence of fishing. It may well become a classic.” — John England

Fishing Season is cast in the mould of old, retaining elements that produce a ‘classic’ feel, without losing contemporary appeal. The production quality is superb, with design, writing style and physical attributes creating a synergy that puts it in the classy league and therefore, likely to command a coveted position amidst the libraries of those who appreciate quality.
Bound in traditional hardback and cased with jacket, Fishing Season is beautifully tactile and much of the pleasure in reading it comes from the feel of it in your hands; from the lightly embossed, crisp burnished jacket and high-grade paper that transports the story, to the wonderfully executed thumbnail paintings used to introduce each chapter. It even smells ‘bookish’.
These elements, when combined with the refined writing, promote Fishing Season from the ranks of just another fishing book, to one with perhaps a broader appeal. While essentially a contemplative book about the fly fishing experience, I think it will pique the interest of readers who have no yearning for fishing because it has qualities that transcend the subject matter.
Philip Weigall is obviously an accomplished angler but his ability with the pen, rather than the rod, is the making of this book. He is a wordsmith who crafts a good story, unlike the natural storyteller who fluidly spins a yarn. His style is evocative but uncomplicated, and he writes with clarity and an eye for good imagery: creating a brooding atmosphere one moment, while deftly toying with a little levity in another.
Weigall quietly draws you into the story while keeping you at arm’s length, so that you are only ever a voyeur to his adventures. You are invited to sit at his campfire, but upon the log on the other side of the flames. It’s a case of, “I brought you this far, now go and find the fun on your own.”
The book, as the name would suggest, is physically divided into four obvious sections – winter, spring, summer and autumn. This is a little contrived because the structure is more just a framework on which to hang a selection of his reflective writing, but it works. It works because the stories are engaging, random and meandering, much like a tiny stream that holds promise of a trophy trout.
A slight lapse in attention to detail sees the author, in one chapter, completely switch tense, writing in the present as opposed to the past, suggesting the book is in part a compilation of previously published stories fitted to suit the structure mentioned above. While not a cardinal sin, it is one of a few small literary degrees that may separate Fishing Season from a Great Work and possible classic.
I’ve mentioned nothing of the stories because they are best revealed page by page, as a stream is discovered pool by pool.” —Daryl Crimp

Thank you John and Daryl.

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Last weekend I enjoyed my maiden Tassie fishing trip for the new season, finally managing to combine a book event (at Fullers in Hobart) and some media engagements with a cast or two. The first thing I must mention is the quantity of water. In nearly 3 decades of visits to Tasmania, I’ve never seen so much of the stuff running down the creeks and rivers, or simply lying in the fields. Normally dry gullies looked like spring creeks; depressions in paddocks reminded me of trout lakes. In the previously drought ravaged south-east, the Coal and Jordan rivers were breaking their banks. Further north, water was pouring into lakes Crescent and Sorell and they are almost full – something I doubted I’d ever see again. The Cowpaddock at Arthurs, which could have served as exactly that last season, is a major body of water once again, extending right back beyond Buchanan Creek.

The fishing was ultimately very good, although so much water posed its own challenges. Most rivers were simply too high to bother with. Even floodwater feeders were basically out, with sustained high levels mostly flushing all the terrestrial food (and thus the drawcard for edge-feeding trout) weeks ago. Many lakes posed a similar problem, having already filled and spilled.

In the end, two lakes stood out. At Penstock, we found galaxiid feeders on the western shore on a grey, gale-blown evening. If the trout saw a green Emu Woolly Bugger in the slightly murky water (Penstock is over-full and spilling powerfully), they grabbed it. After dropping two good fish (I blame frozen fingers!) I landed a well conditioned buck rainbow of 5 pounds.

The highlight though was a visit to Lake Echo – a favourite water of mine that was desperately low last season. While still not full, I can report Echo is now several vertical metres higher than when I last fished it. Another bit of good news is the recently opened Large Bay access road, which makes boat trailer and conventional car access possible most of the way to the northern end of the lake, opening up many hundreds of hectares of effectively ‘new’ water. With the water still rising over new ground, the trout were making the most of the flooded bounty, busily searching the classic grassy shores, as well as the steeper shores among the trees and rocks. While it was possible to pick up the odd fish blind searching, sunny skies made for very good polaroiding and any fish covered took a small inert Woolly Bugger confidently. Two of us ended up with about a dozen browns either side of the 1 kg mark between us, and I lost a much bigger rainbow in the sticks – a long story which I’ll expand on some time!

Overall, Tassie this season looks to me like turning on some of the best fishing – river and lake – for a very long time. Trout stocks have survived in almost all the drought-affected waters, not to mention those that have fared pretty well anyway over the last few years. Already the fish are slapping on condition and size, and once the weather begins to settle, the fishing in all the major waters (not to mention several we’d almost forgotten about) will be superb. If you haven’t planned a trip to Tassie for 09/10, you really should.

Lake Echo

Lake Echo

Lake Echo

Lake Echo

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Aussie Angler Book Launch

Aussie Angler Book Launch


Photograph compliments of David Grisold

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Thanks to everyone who came out this weekend to meet me at Aussie Angler; your support is appreciated. After a very successful signing at the Greensborough store, this video appeared on the ‘Net – I thought I’d share it with you all. If you missed the signing, you can come along to Compleat Flyfisher in the Melbourne CBD (Flinders Lane) on August 14 at 12pm or Hook Up Bait & Tackle in Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs (Ferntree Gully) on August 22 at 10am. I’ll also be in Tasmania at the Tasmanian Trout Expo in Cressy at the end of the month and will be talking at Fullers Bookshop in Hobart on September 13 at 2pm. You can visit my publisher’s Events page for more info.

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Just letting you know there have been  some photos added to the Gallery page and  Tahnee has kindly updated the Fishing Season page with reviews, including one from Freshwater Fishing magazine:
“… The book contains 26 stories that vary from a tantalising four pages to more substantial offerings of about three times that size. This is a book to read and enjoy while you are relaxing, perhaps with a glass of red, although it’s so easy to become lost in Philip’s imagery that the latter can frequently be forgotten …”

Read the rest here

And on the publisher’s site, you can find listings for upcoming events in Victoria and Tasmania.

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A few years ago, Muz Wilson gave me some of his Emu Woolly Buggers to try. They worked, and as happens with successful flies owned by flyfishers who forget to re-order, their numbers were soon depleted. Eventually I was down to one survivor – a large green one that had caught trout from Lake Jindabyne to Woods Lake. I became careful about when I used that fly, saving it for those tough days or hours when I felt I needed something special. Such a day occurred about 12 months ago fishing with Felix at Millbrook Lakes. The weather was cold and grey, hardly a fish moved, and yet it took only half a dozen casts to hook this rainbow.

2008_0606rainbow0025

Then yesterday I visited Lake Wartook with mate Max. Things got off to a reasonable start, but by early afternoon the action had slowed. I seriously contemplated a lunch break, but instead decided to try one more spot on the eastern shore. Without too much thought, I clipped off a black midge pupa which hadn’t been touched for an hour or so, and reached into the fly box for the Emu Bugger. First cast, and the best trout I’ve ever caught at Wartook inhaled it.

2009_0616Wartook0023
So, either this particular green Emu Woolly Bugger has been infused with some secret essence Muz is working on, or it’s looking very much like a lucky fly. And now I’m faced with a dilemma. Do I push my luck (something I’m intensely wary of doing when flyfishing) and keep using it? Or do I retire this magic fly to a glass frame above my desk? Meanwhile, it’s about time I gave Muz a call to see if he has any green emu left.

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