Eventually, the work day ends and you kick yourself in the arse once again.
Not that I need any arse-kicking incentive, as the thought of wading up a river on a warm sunny afternoon is more than enough to whet my appetite. It was still and the insects were buzzing. I made my way to the Macquarie River, all the while smashing thousands of butterflies, grasshoppers, moths and bugs into the front of my car. Why they decide to hang out on a bitumen road I will never know. The amount of cabbage moths in particular was astounding. I guess-timate that I saw tens of thousands, but I will admit that not one was on the river – nor have I witnessed a trout hammer one. I wonder if they are regular trout tucker?
The river was low but clear and the faster riffles were just loud enough to surpass the hum of the insects. Dragonflies in the dozens dipped in the water while wayward ‘hoppers kamikazied themselves into the drink. I had been prospecting likely lies and trying to spot where I could for some time but nothing, no interest. In fact, no trout. None spooked, none sighted, none pricked or missed. I was beginning to think that this stretch was void of life when I finally spooked a tiny little brown trout, which gave me a glimmer of hope. I began fishing a deeper bubble line with purpose, almost convincing myself that a fish would be stupid not to take up station there. After covering all the water available I had one more cast with a dry, balls-deep up into the tiny waterfall. The fly drifted for a few metres but the fly line, however, had wrapped around a rock causing a very un-natural drag on the fly. I stripped it quickly across the surface in attempt to wind in and head further upstream. An almighty bow-wave ensued and giant jaws snapped at the fly like it was the only meal available! Stunned, I missed the lot. In fact, it took me a few moments to collect my jaw from the ground and re-discover reality.
I had a few more casts in the area but failed to produce any reaction, so sat down and looked for something big and ugly in the box. While searching for a hideous beast, I noticed a dragonfly caught in the surface film, struggling to free its wings from the sticky substance. I stood up to get a good view of the expected drama and then noticed a massive shape underneath the insect. It was wary of the dragonfly and followed it for several metres before bowing down to its desire for a feed and hastily inhaling the meal. This was a good fish, and looked to be a brown of maybe 5lb. Shaky and unable to find something suitable in an appropriate time frame, I tied on a deer hair red tag. First cast grabbed the fish’s attention and it followed – it had a good look and followed some more. It almost nosed my fly and then followed even more…. nope, no commitment! I waited a few moments for the fish to work back upstream and cast again. This time it didn’t move but a smaller 2lb model darted out and grabbed my fly, which I subsequently dropped. I thought to myself… “Come on mate, you’re being a bit of a dick” in the hope that I could regain some sort of talent. I changed flies a few times, stripped them, drifted them and drowned them – but the fish was clearly sulking now.
Further up, I still had not seen any more fish… maybe this section only holds larger specimens? I began blind-drifting dries down a fast-water bubble line when a shape appeared from the depths and accepted my offering. I lifted into some power and solid head shakes. I saw some colour and noticed it was a rainbow! WTF? The fish sped upstream and then down, jumped a few times and the 3lb specimen eventually slid up onto the shore. Relieved, I took a few pictorials and released the bow back into the bubble line.
Soon after I hooked and dropped a similar sized rainbow from the same run. I recall catching a small rainbow a few years back near Woolmers Estate which I called for a fish-farm escapee, but I was surprised to see at least two (no doubt more) substantially larger ‘bows at my current location!
Anyhow, it’s always good to mix it up a bit with an unexpected species. I’ll be back for that big brown.