With Spring upon us and a glorious day revealing itself, a mission into the hills over the weekend was an easy decision to make. Packed the two weight, some waders, a bunch of fruit and my new Simms Headwaters tech pack – How appropriate. Good cobber Yappin’ Howell rocked up to my place at sun-up, gave me a squirrel grip and we set off.
Frosty paddocks and a slightly cool breeze threatened to spoil our day, but as with most zero degree mornings in the North, the sun usually burns off the frost pretty quickly leaving a sun-filled day, chock-a-block full of vitamin D. A good dose of this stuff is just what the doctor ordered after a long, wet and wild Winter.
Not forty minutes from Launceston we arrive in the North-East. Nestled in the foothills of Mount Barrow and beyond are the headwaters of the St Patricks River and countless feeder-creeks, springs and rivulets. A vast area of rolling hills mixed with grazing pasture, Myrtle Forests, native Pepperberry, Celery Top Pines and Ferns, and of course the eyesore that is plantation forest – The culmination of money-hungry corporates and poor government policies, allowing our native forests and wildlife to be continuously destroyed in a vicious cycle of shame, enough to bring a tear to anyones eye… or is that just the remnants of 1080 poision? Sustainable forestry practices have a place in Tasmania but it’s abhorrent to think that this occurs in such an environment filled with majestically clear headwater creeks, specialty timbers and threatened wildlife (including the Tasmanian Devil and Freshwater Burrowing Crayfish).
I casually step off my soapbox and into my waders. The first glimpse of the water shows that it’s still running full from snow-melt and rain, but quite clear – Cyrstal clear in some spots and others with a hint of tannin. Sitting on the bottom was what appeared to be a nice fish. A dozen or so casts later and two dropper changes confirmed that this was not the case at all and it was indeed a common weed-fish; Not a fish at all but rather a piece of weed that wriggles in the current and looks very much like a fish – Well that’s my excuse anyway!
Most fish spotted were ‘lying doggo’ on the bottom and there were no obvious signs of feeding going on. This was compounded by the fact that none would eat our flies. I did manage to spot one little brownie hard up against a shallow bank. I clipped off my nymph leaving a brown beetle dry fly swinging in the breeze. The damn thing looked so tasty that I considered scoffing it down myself. The fish was in a tight spot with no back cast available. The only option was a bow and arrow cast, whilst leaning on an over-hanging tree I might add. The fish in question was sitting just behind a stick in the water, so getting the fly in front proved difficult, but by the tenth bow and arrow a perfect little cast delivered a beetle just to the left of this fish. He saw it, turned around and chased it downstream then slurrped it down. I’m thinking “Yeah this is awesome” but next time I’ll have to act first and then think, as I neglected to actually lift into the fish. What a tool.
With the best stretch of our first spot remaining, we emerged from the canopy of a tight Myrtle forest to discover two anglers flicking un-weighted baits. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another angler out here. We kindly asked if they had fished the lot and they unfortunately said “Yep, got two”. Despite this we still had a quick look on the way back to the car and as expected, the fish were strangely un-hunrgy! Our unexpected fishing companions continued to jump ten and fifteen metres ahead of us, spoiling any chance of success so we headed off.
Exploration was the new word of the day. We found a sweet little creek, previously un-fished by us at this section. The water was clear, the sun was warming up by this stage and we were loving life. We were sight fishing to fish and although most were spooky or not hungry, we had managed a couple of takes each. At least two of these takes looked very much like rainbow trout too, of which there is a remnant wild population around these parts. Cool. This destitation was noted in the memory bank for next time, particularly when hopper season arrives.