Classic Hatches

What a hatch, what a hatch! – Marvellous effort that…. (Must be said in true Richie Benaud style). The Australians may be struggling in the cricket but luckily we have fishing to keep us entertained. I set off after work last week after work and met my cobber Andy at Four Springs for a late-arvo / evening session. I arrived earlier than the olde Crappin’ Fowl so hastily rigged up before wandering down to the water to see what’s up. I found a few red spinner mayfly in the air but no duns in the water. I took my camera along the reeds and found stacks of damselflies doing their thing. Closer inspection revealed masses of mini-mayflies or caenids (kay-nids or see-nids depending on who you listen to) stuck in the cobwebs. It was pretty cool to see but with neither the mayflies, damselflies or caenids actually on the water, I pitcured a grubby old man with soiled flannie and a rollie hanging out of his mouth saying “ya shoulda been here earlier”.

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Yappin’ rocked up and we floated his tin-dish and chugged along at five knots to where we could set a likely wind-assisted drift. It wasn’t long before we were flicking away with a couple of dries waiting for some rising fish. Too distracted by conversation we soon noted some tiny critters on the water. At first I thought the caenids were in force but we scooped them up and bonza – ANTS! Soon, tens of thousands of tiny little flying ants lined the surface, their wings sticking in the surface film like glue. How many trout do you think we saw feeding on them? None. Not one single fish. Around twenty blind casts after along came the gum beetles, then the soldier beetles, then some much larger flying ants which could have been sugar ants. Even some isolated mayfly were about. No fish to be seen – Maybe we should have been there earlier!

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Finally, the sun began to dip behind the hills and the lake was a smorgasbord of food. It was one of those moments where the stage was set and the artists we ready for action – we just needed some bastard to turn the power on. Then a rise – Our necks immediately swung around 120 degrees in unison, a direct response from the audible splash still resonating in our ear drums. We fired up the leccy and headed toward the fish. Then we saw a back, then another. There were a few fish starting to work in a small wind-slick. We backed the leccy off as we seemed to be in the spot. Yep – There’s one! Nope – he’s over there, now he’s heading the other way, no he’s coming towards us, he’s in front of the boat – SPLASH! Spooked. The fish were moving fast and with so much food available, their path was difficult to predict. Andy was attempting to get a fly in front of an erractic fish and I sat my fly away from us in the slick while I waited for a fish to suck his fly down. There was a slurrp alright, on my fly! I turned around and lifted, felt some weight then a subsequent weightlessness. Busted off. Apart from visually missing the eat, I was disappointed about losing two fresh flies I had tied the night before, but gutted most of all about not knowing which one the fish took!! Guess I better tie more of both.

Given the amount of food and lack of light, you would think the fish would be all over the lake by now but we still only saw the odd patch of fish and they seemed to be only up for a few minutes before disappearing. It was just a matter of time before I spotted one within range and encouraged Andy to have a lash, considering I stuffed mine up. It took a few casts to get seen but the fish casually noticed the fly and accepted. Fish on, finally! It was a solid specimen and we were both pretty stoked.

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It was getting dark so we decided to crank the electric motor up to full noise while on the way back to the boat ramp while trying to spot the odd fish. I managed a chance at one fish that ate my fly next to the boat but I missed it – Maybe I struck too early again – Gonna have to nip that nasty little habit in the bud before New Zealand! As we loaded the boat still spinning out on the variety of insect hatches, caddis moth in their hundreds began swarming overhead. What a classic hatch.

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