Caddigat Lakes

French fish

It’s been an interesting and international week.  Working backwards I went to the Elton John concert in Canberra last night.  Awesome fun. Yellow Brick Road was one of those defining albums in my early teens and the words all came back – I even learnt some words like “it’ll take me a couple of vodka and tonics” for heaven’s sake it doesn’t sound anything like that on the album. I’m not sure, now I’ve heard the real words, I can remember what I’ve been singing for the last 35 years – but it was phonetic and sounded OK I’m sure.  What a nice man he is in real life. He and his old-crony band members leapt around like spring chooks; he told little stories and limited the “songs off the new album” to two. And he looked awesome in a sequinned turquoisey-blue jacket with “FANTASTIC” emblazoned across the back, and with the one exception of the costume malfunction when a bit of tele-tubby-tummy was temporarily exposed it was a superbly rehearsed and executed gig.  Two Croatian lads played cello, as a duet and then with the EJ band. Hearing ACDC’s Highway to Hell blasted out in screeching cello would make Jacqueline du Pré squirm I imagine but it sure got the crowd going.

Earlier in the day I did Strategy and Risk for Directors with the AICD and got into a healthy debate with (lethal) Lisa the facilitator about brainstorming.  Its complicated, but did you know that the most creative companies have centralized bathrooms? That brainstorming meetings are a terrible idea? That the color blue can help you double your creative output? If you don’t know all that then Imagine by Jonah Lehrer is a ripping yarn (if you can get past the fact he’s in a spot, well a lot actually, of bother for making up Bob Dylan quotes – well who hasn’t?).  The point is (he says) companies who have really good ideas aren’t nice to people in brainstorming sessions who keep suggesting dumb things. I’m a bit old and cynical and I like that – probably because I was never very nice to people with dumb ideas anyway.

By now you’re all asking whether I actually did any true naked-trout work this week at all, what with all that activity as well as a healthy dose of consulting for the National Marine Safety Committee. Well I did actually and spent the weekend with David – a young French man on holiday who’s fallen in love with the place and is applying to stay. A passionate hunter, diver and fisher, he’s had four casting lessons and was ready for an assault on some decent rainbows.  Very passionate and excited, as you would expect from a young man from that nation – great English but with a fantastic accent!  Anyway, I did the best I could to manage expectations; “these fish can be fussy; really good fishermen don’t always catch fish, blah blah blah”. And I took him to Snaggy Dam which is a bit coloured and where I though I could fine tune his casting and stream-craft  for the clearer lakes.  I think it was only the second or third cast and he was onto a ripper, screaming line off down to the backing – what looked like the fish of a trip, in the first fifteen minutes of a two day trip. He didn’t quite get the play the fish thing completely and held on just a little too tight and ping….. expletive etc.

Now, how do you follow that?  Well of course within another half an hour he was onto another one and this one came to the net and was duly released.  We fished hard for two full days and got fish in every session, in four of the lakes. Snaggy, Spring, Midway and Dixieland. We fished Rodney George but didn’t touch a fish; a nice brown followed the fly right to our feet at the Caddigat Lake boat ramp. The biggest fish was the last cast of the trip; a fly nailed by a rising fish as soon as it landed. A grande-finale!

The weather was kind, no rain, nice breezes, warm most of the time. A thunderstorm skirted around us on the second day and we were back in Canberra via the back road shortly after 6 pm.

Flies. A black nymph tempted a spinner riser right by the bank on Spring; some blingy-WBs were effective; and the final fish was on an unweighted firey brown nymph.

A highlight of the weekend was the day two sunrise and early morning light – simply too stunning for words.

Work again tomorrow then back to the big lake!

Tight tippets!

Caddigat tailers

Caddigat Lakes.  Julian and Steven from Victoria visited on Sunday afternoon.  Beautiful weather, with a light ripple most of the day driven by a favourable southerly.  This is always a good wind here because it makes it easy to fish the deeper water near the dam walls.  In lakes where there is so much food on the lake bed this can be the difference between catching fish – or not. Fish rose intermittently throughout the afternoon and there was a small hatch of red spinners on Spring Dam which unfortunately didn’t prompt a noticeable increase in surface activity. To their credit both Steven and Julian persevered with surface rigs, and a variety of nymphs and other wets were tried.  Overall Julian did very well with half a dozen nice fish to over 7 lb whilst Steve got off to a slow start catching one in Spring and one in Midway both of which “self-released” after all the hard work had been – done before his grand finale in Dixieland Dam.

The best fishing of the day was in Dixieland Dam.  The beasts were tailing in the shallows, at times 3 or 4 fish within close range casting distance.

A size 16 woolly bugger did the trick for Steven, whilst Julian did well on a small black pheasant tail with a glass bead head. But whichever fly did the trick, the fish were playful and there was no doubt when one wanted the offering with huge, pulse quickening bow waves, telegraphing their intention to grab the fly.




Tight tippets!

Danny’s crew

Danny Spellick and a group of CIT fly fishing scholars turned up at Caddigat Lakes early on Saturday morning. A convoy of small cars down a long and winding dirt track. Surprising there was only one puncture really.  Justin, Mark and Harry from the syndicate were already there with big plans for the big lake.  The breeze was intermittent north, then west, then calm but it was a cracking day with blue skies and only the odd cloud. A real Snowies spring day.  Everyone got cracking on Snaggy for a warm up session and the usual tortured cries as inexperience and enthusiasm won out over tactics and patience – and by that I mean these aren’t bream being dragged in on 5 kg braid, they’re fit fighting fish that like to be played a bit.  But it wasn’t too long before fish started coming ashore.  By lunchtime the group had spread out to a few different lakes and I spent a bit of time with Stuart on Spring Dam – most people had caught a fish by now.  Like a lot of new fly fishers Stuart had lots of questions and was quick to learn, picking up on some of the twitchy retrieve patterns that seem to bring results at Caddigat.  Before long he had two nice fish ashore one of which was over 5lb. Interesting to think this will probably be one of the biggest rainbows he’ll catch if he sticks at fly fishing for the next decade.

Meanwhile, I watched Justin, Mark and Harry setting off in the Quintrex for the top of Caddigat Lake. Justin had caught some nice fish in the main body of the lake on Friday, fishing a sinking line with a “blood sucking leech” as he “drifted” along.  Justin’s report follows: “Mark landed a couple on the sinking line with WB fishing as we made our way to the top of the dam. We then hiked up the gorge and found the waterfall.  Unfortunately, the stream was really low and the water extremely murky.  Didn’t see any sign of fish.  We then got back in the boat and promptly hooked up multiple times.  We ended up just drifting around the top end of the dam, near the rock bar, and casting WB on sinking lines.  Mark landed about half and dozen before deciding to give the poor boatman (moi!) a go.  First cast and I hooked up straight away!  Poor Harry was hooking plenty but somehow kept on inventing new ways of letting the fish throw the hook.  As lunch hour approached, we decided to head back to the boat ramp.  Harry finally managed to connect for long enough to land one.  All up we caught about a dozen (I had lost count as I was too busy handling the boat as well as the landing net!)  Interestingly, all the fish were about the same length (40cm).  They just varied from being fat to really really fat.   All fought extremely hard and gave fantastic acrobatic displays”.

Tight tippets!

Danielle at Caddigat Lakes

It’s  well known phenomenon that women catch more and bigger fish per unit of effort.  A quick trip to Caddigat Lakes last weekend for some footage for Rob Paxevanos’ WIN TV fishing report. Three blokes – Col, Andycam and yours truly – ZERO fish – and then editor in chief Danielle roped this cracker.  More evidence to support the theory!

Once again it was a fiery brown WB with a tungsten head that did the trick.  Note Col’s role in this effort was mainly to get into the picture although he did an admirable job of wrangling the fish in the shallows when it might not have been quite ready to come in. This was one time I had everything crossed having been too lazy to change the tippet from the 5 lb I’d had on for small lake rainbows earlier in the week. I usually stick with 7 lb for Caddigat – anything less often leads to disappointment!

Tight tippets

Fly Fishing and Accommodation in Adaminaby