Sa wat dii kraaap. It’s been a bit quiet at iheartthefly HQ of late, mainly as I’ve been in Thailand with the cheese and kisses for a couple of weeks. I took a charter for a day out whilst in Koh Samui and although it was very cheap ($50 including pick up and drop off from my resort), there was little action. A few people on the charter were feeling too crook so we went inside and caught some smaller fish including, fingermark bream, ‘croakers’ and sweetlip. My heaviest outfit which is an eight weight, is a two-piece and not really suited to travelling so ‘when in Rome’ – use squid. I wanted to get a good photo of a sweet lip that old mate caught so I asked a pommy called Tommy to hold it up for the camera. I failed to mention that the fish may have razor-sharp gill rakers so the fish eventually flapped about and sliced his thumb open. Sorry about that Tommy. At least I could call him Tom Thumb.
On my return into Australia, I had a day up my sleeve to become re-acquainted with the fly rod. I thought it would be rude not to spend the day all by myself in the wilderness with no-one trying to sell me a suit, give me a 100baht ‘massage’ or offer me a taxi taxi. (I was gutted that they didn’t have ‘tuk tuks’ – taxi taxi doesn’t really have the same ring to it).
So there I was, at a car park in the Nineteen Lagoons with map in hand. In a total burst of spontaneity I decided to walk in the complete opposite direction that I had planned. A man with no plan – cool. Unlike my previous wander out West, the sun was shining and there was only wispy cloud on the horizon. After a little huffing and puffing I reached the first water. I sighted three fish in a small back-water and managed a refusal from the first with the other two fleeing.
I wandered over another ridge to another water. This is what I’m talking about – Shallow, silty bottomed lagoons where the cruising trout stick out like dogs balls. Well, they normally do, but that cloud was giving me grief. I had spotted a couple but they also spotted me and buggered off. This unfortunate process repeated several times over when finally, I managed to spot one that was cruising away from me. I crouched down and cast a parachute emerger in its path which was accepted eagerly. After a quick tussle my leader popped! Arrggghh.
I gained composure and kept wandering through the system which comprised of many little lagoons, a few larger lakes and lots of little gutters connecting them. On my way up to a larger headwater lake, I spooked a nice fish in a little pond that you would normally just walk past. Recent rains had obviously sent fish out in search of food and this one, like many others I suppose, had become stuck. I checked the next couple of ponds and whaddya know, here’s a fish happily rising away, oblivious to my selfish desire to hunt it down. The fish cruised its way up the pond before settling next to a shadowed bank. I could still see the rings coming out from the bank so the fish must have been on the chew. My fly landed just outside of the fish and was inhaled by the hungry brown trout. The fish seemed to fight ok in the small water provided but when releasing it, I noticed that it had quite a rigid bend in its back. The fish took quite a while to be revived, but eventually swam off to hide under a native heath bush.
I checked out one last lake before heading off and this one was placed in the memory bank for later. It had limited, if any inflows, a steepish outflow and contained some rather deep holes, providing ideal habitat for limited recruitment but enough water for fish to survive several years of dry weather. This type of water would often be referred to down here as Trophy Water. I walked around the whole lake and only saw one fish – It wasn’t huge by any means, but I’ve got the feeling that there may be a few leviathans kicking around at some stage.
About 18kms later I arrived back at the car. Sunburnt, parched and sore. No doubt I would have been much sorer had I not landed that fish. I’ll add a couple of photos when I get a chance!