Monthly Archives: January 2013

Long hot weekend

As the scales on the weigh-net tipped 5lbs I allowed myself a small measure of smug self satisfaction not really believing I deserved it. Emergency response experts often talk about the incident pit – the scenario where one mistake builds on another and another and before long you’ve got a disaster.  My little potential pit began because I’d only recently reorganised my tippet spools and added some 2X 3lb for some fussy small rainbows – so the 4X 6 lb was now number three in the stack, instead of the 3X 8.2 lb. My headlamp battery had gone flat after an accidental pocket turn on the night before and then I’d forgotten to change the batteries. In the failing twilight I’d tied on a leader by “feel” thinking it was the 3x when really it was the lighter 4X, then added a big brown woolly bugger because it had an enormous eye I could thread the tippet through by holding it up against the last of the light on the horizon. Then I hooked this nice brown 10 metres offshore mid way between 2 tree stumps whilst standing next to a waist high wire fence disappearing into the water.

I immediately knew there would be no ceremonious head shaking 10 minute battle to report – I would have to drag it in. Phil raced along the bank with the net whilst at the same time somewhere deep in my cerebral cortex the realisation dawned tippet stack position 3 was the lighter tippet definitely not suitable for the required heave-ho approach. For non technical readers all that means is I’d stuffed up my tippet selection, and taken a huge risk with my knots leaving me ill equipped for the challenge. All I could think of was this furious fish crashing around on the surface, and my preparation errors – so I let it run, once. It screamed off 15 metres of line and took a dive into the bottom of a swamp full of snags where it lunged and angrily shook its head. With Phil and net in position I started a steady retrieve letting the rod absorb the lunges and praying the woolly would stick.  With typical mastery Phil netted the fish on just the second attempt – the first no doubt my inept attempt to guide it in.  Less than three minutes and it was all over – it should have been a disaster but the little collection of Solomon Islands fish gods sitting at home in the office must have been aligned in accordance with the instructions.

Over a 3 day weekend where the mercury regularly spent its days in the 30’s we fished Tantangara, the Murrumbidgee downstream of the dam, and Lake Eucumbene in the evenings.  On Tantangara we had little success. A light easterly meant we could Polaroid the eastern shore in the early morning but we got there a bit late and probably made the wrong choice of banks to hunt. By the time we found a few good fish – including one monster – the clouds and light were stopping us seeing them properly.  We fished the western shore but the water was over 23 degrees and the fish just didn’t come out to play – just the odd tempting rise way out in the lake.  The Murrumbidgee gave us some nice fish, browns and rainbows. Further downstream the fish were plentiful and small. Nearer the dam wall bigger and plentiful. There were masses of dragon flies and damsel flies all along the banks and plenty of hoppers on the banks.  One evening I struggled on Eucumbene but Phil did well. Another we both got onto fish; as well as the 5 lb brown I caught, I got smashed up by another, and Phil hooked a monster that just simply came off mid fight as well as landing a mix of rainbows and browns.

Already you can sense the days shortening and it’s starting to cool.  Another few weeks and Caddigat Lakes will fire again and then it’ll be this year’s early Easter upon us.  Just 4 weeks until I leave for NZ with Corrigan and 12 days of travel and fish so if you’re friendly with any of the NZ weather gods have a quiet word please.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fly of the week for the lakes is any mid size mud-eye pattern, or unweighted WB and WW fished from dusk until after dark in the surface film short jerky retrieves and move a bit of water with the fly. Size 12 or 14 green nymph for earlier on in the lakes.  For the ‘bidgee hopper patterns, clinkhammers – fish big, high and dry and as Phil said “don’t think how small a tippet can I get away with, but rather how big a tippet can I get away with”. Sage words on more than a couple of occasions this weekend when 2 or 3 lb fish would have nailed us in the undercut or weed were it not for 8lb tippet.

 

Tight tippets all!

Steve

Fin Clipping at Gaden hatchery

Each year the Government hatchery at Jindabyne tops up Lake Eucumbene with rainbow trout fingerlings. A portion of those fingerlings are anaesthetised and fin clipped by volunteers as part of a program to monitor the success of the fish stocking – 2013 fingerlings are minus the right pectoral fin so look out for fish swimming clockwise next year.  This year’s Jindabyne hatchery fin clipping event attracted a good crowd of volunteers – so good it was all over in a day.  Not only that DPI fisheries were proudly sporting their new high tech wire tagging machine (literally out of the box the night before) that inserts a micro tag in the snout of a 50mm fingerling. Top science.

The fin clipped trout can be visibly seen by the technicians electro fishing the spawning run, whilst the wire tag can be detected with the aid of a hand held machine. Both help to monitor the contribution of stocked fish to the total population, as well as age and growth rates.

Tight Tippets

Steve

Murrumbidgee – rain forest fishing

In the recent heatwave I spent a morning with James, Mike, Frank and Christian fishing the Murrumbidgee downstream of Tantangara Reservoir in some lush rainforest where the tea trees accounted for as many flies as the fish.

The water was warm so wet wading was the order of the day, and bank fishing was pretty much out of the question in the dense forest. The fish were holding in the deeper sections of water, and next to the fast water. On a 2 weight rod everything gives a good fight and the first rainbow of the day was no exception as it ripped off downstream.It had come up for the dry but when the Wulff became visible well above the water we realised it had been caught on the nymph. The foul-hook explained the turbo charged performance. But they all count and a healthy brown a few casts later proved it wasn’t a fluke.

There are days when the camera does all the work for you. Tight tippets all!

 

Storm fever

 

At around 6 pm we heard the first ABC 666 Canberra severe storm warning for Weston (our home suburb) so logged onto the Bureau website to check out the details.  Not one storm cell but two – the other headed for Adaminaby (our fishing cottage). We’d watched the build up all day and neighbour Jan reported over the fence that she’d driven through a storm on the way back from Jindabyne.  There wasn’t much I could do about Weston but I wandered around the garden at Adaminaby picking up various bits of post festive season detritus, the odd plastic chair and table – anything that could blow away or into a vehicle. A few tins sheets on the roof started to rattle but there wasn’t much I could do about that given my aversion (if not allergy) to ladders and heights.

The good bit was the temperature dropped 10 degrees in as many minutes so we snatched the chance to let the dog out for a cool off, and the cat too on his lead.  We sat on the front porch steps watching the build up and the first few giant rain drops but then nothing.  It skirted right around Adaminaby to the north and headed east for Canberra.  Might get a fish in after all!

And that I did. I love these humid buggy nights.  Kelpie Briggsy wasn’t at all put off by the weather and was waiting by the back door of the Pajero as soon as I put my boots on. As I drove up Chalker Street I saw a white cloud poking out from the black clouds to the north so drove to the fire station to take a snap – there were all the SES guys and girls waiting for their call to action – good on ya.

I headed for Yens Bay for a fisherman’s hour but there were too many fisher folk there for my liking so I headed for the point looking towards Old Adaminaby and squeezed into a bay next to a couple of lure fisherman.  It was 8 o-clock and nothing worthy rose for an hour, so I took sunset pictures. The reds and greys merging in a narrow strip of blue, the calming waters reflecting far more than the iPhone does justice to.

Then a moth grabbed hold of my fly line at about the same time as some more optimistic sounding gloops were audible and rises and splashes visible. The next forty five minutes was a lot more fun and all browns too. The chubby fella at the bottom of the page swallowed the fly so deep I’m afraid I couldn’t get it out without harm  – so he was pacified and went to neighbour Jan – but despite my thoughts that they were hitting moths (or even mud-eyes) the fish turned out to be full of brown beetles (not brown snails as I said on my regular 2SM HiTide slot the following morning morning – well what do you expect at five to six).

I could have stayed out a lot longer but the phone rang and well, it was nearly 10 and I’d said an hour, and it was Crissy’s last night before heading home and back to being a law partner again;  stowing her Huck Finn check shirts (and custom length pieces of straw) until Easter. As I walked away from the bank the lighting flashed over Namadgee National Park Canberra 50 kilometres to the west and the fish glooped and slurped their appreciation in such a taunting manner even Briggsy looked at me in the torch light and then back to the water as if to say “are you crazy”?

 

Tight tippets!

 

 

Providence – attack of the killer caddis!

I like to invent things and often find the best time for that kind of thinking is when fishing. It’s just so relaxing letting the day slip away from you, planning tomorrow, letting the hard drive slowly reboot.  My best ideas come and all the bad stuff evaporates.  Unfortunately, by the time I get home I’m so relaxed (tired) I quickly fall asleep – and by the time I wake up it’s like most of my dreams – the great ideas and inventions have mostly gone.

Not so my invention (out of mother necessity) over the last few nights fishing at Providence.  They started slowly but then as the wind died they came on more and more until I was covered in them, up my nose, in my ears, down my shirt and of course in my mouth – hence the patent caddis-mouth-sieve.  Seriously though, I’ve never seen as many caddis. Clouds of the little fellas so I thought I’d refresh my knowledge.

Firstly, where I grew up in Cornwall we called them sedge.  Second, they’re not moths even though I often call them moths, they’re actually a fly, just very closely related to moths – as close as you can get apparently without actually being one.

There lifecycle is four stages.  Egg, larva, pupa and adult.  In reverse, what we see on the lakeside are adults either mating in swarms on the lake edge, or laying their eggs (which they do skating across the surface). We can see the adults emerging from their pupa form, drying their wings for a minute or two before taking off. Or we see the tiny skinny sticks (up to 2 cm long) swimming along with the current.  The sticks are homes to the caddis larvae or grub, a tiny creamy brown or green grub surrounded by its home made of small particles of sand or leaves.  The trout love to eat every stage but most often are taken on stick caddis patterns because they’re there most of the time.

If you’re fishing an emerging pupa pattern then use the surface film; it’s not quite dry fly fishing –  you want the fly in the surface film, not on it, with a greased up leader to keep it there, and you can use a slow retrieve. But my favourite is just the plain old stick caddis tied on a size 12 or 14 long shank hook – Hayes Stick Caddis with a green grub lightly singed or marked with a black marker right on the end – fished static, moved then paused – BANG!

Last thing. I ran the bug net through the water near the bank at Providence and found all sorts of goodies.  At far left is one of the caddis grubs I took out of its stick.  If anyone knows what the curly hard casings (above and below the fly) are let me know please.  Tight Tippets!