Well it appears that the bitterly cold hand of winter has finally departed and the long, quiet and almost meditative nights of tying flies in front of the fire have come to an end. Our attention is now diverted from reading about amazing piscatorial exploits to actually getting out there and putting all these theories into practice. Sometimes things go as planned, other times we wonder if we should have pressed sleep on that alarm blasting at 2:45am telling us to drag our weary bodies from their deep slumber and walk up a mountain.
The first few trips this year were uneventful to say the least. The first day resulted in waste deep snow which took me over an hour to cover 400m. I turned around not even sighting the lakes. The following week a friend and I trudged the same path and this time we made it to our destination. It was a glorious day to be back stalking the Western Lakes once again but with all the water still frozen solid, we were forced to just explore and take in the view for the day.
Fast forward 2 weeks and yet another trip was on the cards, once again the headlamp was switched on and my little world of vision was all I knew for the next hour and a half until I approached the waters edge in the hope of seeing a fin slicing through the delicate surface of a cold and glassy shoreline. It was not to be, I fished hard all day covering many kilometres but was finally rewarded late in the day with 2 lovely spirited browns that jumped on a wooly bugger dragged over the stony bottom. It was nice to open the account for the year but after hearing reports from close mates about the action that was being experienced on the other side of the plateau I knew I needed to change my plan.
The forecast looked amazing this weekend so we loaded up the bikes and pedalled our way in before stashing them in the bushes and donning the waders. We may or may not have got a little lost on the way in with the sun yet to peer its friendly face over the horizon. It was looking good with all the recent snow melt contributing to the water levels spilling into all the back waters and ditches. The frog noise was very promising as we knew that unfortunately these little guys were on the menu. We approached the lagoon and saw a nice bow wave making its way through the swampy water. I rolled a fur fly out in front of the commotion and the fish charged at and engulfed the offering. A few minutes later I beached a very healthy and still quite dark western lakes brown. It went 5lb and was a great start to the morning. We found plenty more fish cruising the shallows but I’m guessing due to the now bright and warming sunlight they became a little more cautious and weren’t so easy to fool.
On we walked to the next water spotting the odd fish lying doggo in the shallows with the only sign of their presence being either a cloud of silt from their departure or much the same result if a fly was presented therefore disturbing their slumber.
It was quite a while before we finally snagged another fish, this time after repeated casts with a small stick caddis another cracker was brought to the net. It was looking like it was going to be another tough day so we sat down, boiled a cup of tea and had a spell. The early start took its toll on us and I think we nodded off a number of times basking in the balmy conditions.
After our nanna naps we got organised and headed back around the opposite shore from which we came. I indicated to Phil a possible disturbance in the shallows. We approached cautiously to see a number of fish purposely moving through the shallowest of water. In broad daylight there were 3lb fish hunting in the shallows with the majority of their backs out of the water searching for frogs.
We took a fish each. I waited for mine to show again and slapped the fur fly about a metre in front of it and the fish charged over, engulfed the fly and upon feeling the tension, realised his mistake. After a short battle the fly was removed, the fish admired and then carefully released. The scene that followed was what we all dream of. We spotted maybe a dozen fish in 60 metres of shoreline each of them throwing themselves and any well placed fly. I left a couple of flies in the fish’s face, pricked a few and landed 3 beautiful fish in 30 minutes. Phil had a couple not hookup despite obvious takes and then had a beauty stay connected after an aggressive take in the shallows.
One fish I won’t forget charged into about 2 inches of water pursuing what he thought to be a tasty frog. The water parted as he surged into the shallows but upon setting the hook I felt that disappointing pop as the hook failed to find purchase. It was one of the coolest things I’ve seen.
With the day getting late we decided we had better start making our way back as we had quite a lot of ground to cover before reaching the bikes. The weather had turned on a day that we are rarely blessed with out west and the fish had certainly not disappointed. It’s days like these that keep us returning to this stunning part of the world and also why my legs are so bloody sore today.