Western Wander

Took a bit of a trundle a couple of weeks back, to the Western Lakes. Inconsistent weather has made it hard to score those sensational blue-sky days, but when you can only manage the big trips on weekends, you take what you can get!

We began a day-mission out to a lovely little system littered with creeks and countless nice lakes and tarns. By the time we arrived at the car park, the weather was already shaping up the day ahead. Wind and snow chilled us to the bone and a bloke (me) that initially thought he would get away with a pair of shorts and some walking boots was now sliding into breathable waders, Gore-tex jacket, gloves and beanie!

Photo: Andrew Howell

The lack of sun made it hard to spot fish – which is what we came for, and silty-bottomed lagoons stirred up by the wind only made the task more difficult. We hastily made our way out to our destination and on the way, I managed to spot a tail up against the rocks. This fish was clearly feeding on the bottom, with tail waving about saying “feed me”. The weather had already dictated my fly choice: a dry with a Stick Caddis underneath. The fish was really busy and I kept losing sight of it in the murky water, but every now and then you would catch a glimpse of the tail. I persisted with my fly in the water trying to keep my dropper in the fish’s path, hoping that it would only be a matter of time before it’s noticed. After a dozen patient casts and a bit of  “Aw c’mon… surely he saw that, he’s pretty much sniffin’ my fly”, the fish finally succumbed to the temptation and my dry fly plopped under the water, prompting me to set the hook. Yeeoow, we’re on the board.

Photo: Andrew Howell

Forty minutes and a few kilometres later we arrive at fish-able water. The sun was poking its head out from time to time, allowing our eyes to scan in small bursts of opportunity. The first couple of fish I cast to, nosed up to the dry and rejected it. I changed to the same pattern, but a tastier looking variety. I found a cruising fish, and my cast was well wide – by about two metres I’d say! The fly landing on the water was enough to raise the interest of the solid brown trout and it bow-waved over and smashed my fly – Lift! Nope – Fuck – Missed him ya dickhead!

We all managed several rejections each, but we soldiered on. I managed another take but my muppet-like reactions were too foolish for this fish. After this missed opportunity, I took the time to have a look at my fly – the hook gape was squashed in and touching the deer hair on my Red Tag. No wonder I wasn’t hooking up! I changed to another pattern, but it was high time to high-tail it back to the vehicle. My mate Nik managed to snare one, but our wander wasn’t hugely successful. The 18km round trip was still worth watching fish do their thing and the warmer months ahead should provide some exceptional sight-fishing opportunities. Fuck yeah.

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