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Calder Migration Delivers Mixed Results

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Each year in May & June trout from Lake Eucumbene in the Snowy Mountains migrate from the depths of the lake up the river for their annual spawn run. Fish will travel many kilometres in search of suitable gravel beds for females to release their eggs which are fertilized by the males.

The contingent split into smaller groups over the trip and fished some amazing pieces of water which included the Eucumbene River, Three Mile Dam, the Thredbo River, Tantangara Reservoir & the Swampy Plain River.

The majority of fish caught were migrating Brown Trout from the lakes as well as resident Rainbow Trout and even an elusive Brook Trout.

The fishing this year was arguably harder than previous years mainly due to the lack of rain which triggers the fish to start their run. Regardless of the numbers caught this was a fantastic trip filled with comradery and a shared passion for fly fishing.

Cheers,
Simon

North Island Trip Report – Tony Mockunas

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Fellow members, I was not able to photograph all the fish as it’s not always practical to photograph the release of one when in freezing water up to your chest.

I caught about 40 fish, in excellent condition that gave great accounts of themselves and the best fight lasted 20 minutes roughly on the 8lber.

Next best was around a good 15 minutes with plenty of 10 minute battles.

All caught on Loomis Eastfork 5 weight bar one fish on 6 weight Loomis until a guide came away, and it was abandoned for the 5 weight again.

The 6 wt will be ok for repair.

If I go again I shall be taking Neoprene waders as I froze with undies on, merino long johns and 2 pairs of tracksuit pants and then the waders, that water is so cold!

I believe in releasing them mostly and keeping only a few and this is the most fish killed by me for years.

I might add that when you spot 15 fish working off a bank and take a few they are quickly replaced.

The biggest fish taken so far was by my mate at 9lb, and then he got an 8lb Rainbow yesterday as well.

We saw a lot of double figure fish in another lake but they had been worked over already prior to us arriving.

Best fish sighted by both of us was a giant Rainbow of around 15 lb and about 75cm length estimated.

I trust you are all ok.

Tony

VIC Central Highlands Report May 2017

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Whenever I’ve got a day of fishing planned the days leading up always deliver the perfect forecast – light breeze, frosty mornings and plenty of afternoon sun. When Saturday arrived the wind speed was up to 25km/h but I wasn’t going to let that deter me. I pointed the car in the direction Moorabool Reservoir and by 7am there were a number of anglers enjoying the crispy and windy conditions. I settled for a spot along the South West shore so the wind was at my back, assisting my poor casting technique. It’s at this time I remembered the wind can help an angler fool a wary trout as they’re far to wise to fall for my tricks in still conditions. Casting a wet fly beyond the weed beds it didn’t take long to feel the connection of a feisty brown and successfully land it in the net. It’s always such sweet relief landing a fish though some of my best days on the water have been fishless. Sometimes it’s the location, sometimes it’s the company you’re with and sometimes it’s just because you’re outside doing what you love.

Moorabool Reservoir began to really chop up so I headed off to Newlyn Reservoir where I was hoping to get shelter along the dam wall. This move wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped landing a small redfin but not a trout in sight. Next stop, Hepburn Lagoon. This piece of water has always intrigued me, relatively shallow compared to some of the other lakes and lots of weed beds. I arrived at the North West corner and began chatting to a bait fisherman who told me it had been quiet all morning. The water was really green so rather than tying on something bright which I’d normally do I went for a Fulling Mill Living Damsel in Olive.

Surely with the water this colour my fly would look realistic I thought to myself. As luck would have it, it did. On my first cast I started the slow retrieve working the fly through the water when I felt the strike and the unmistakeable fight a trout. Once landed I took a few customary photos and sent the 1lb brown on its way. I also received a thumbs up from the angler I was chatting too earlier which was nice.

My Hepburn duck had been broken and a new level of confidence gained. Employing the same method I worked a section of the lake and hooked up a larger brown getting closer to 2lbs. This fish put up a really great fight with lots of runs before I successfully netted it. What followed was more photo’s, more thumbs up from my new friend and a brown trout that swam away for someone else to catch.

I had 2 hours left of fishing time when the heavens really open up. For the record a spray jacket won’t keep you dry in a downpour so I headed back to the car for more suitable attire. I was almost like a child running back to the water, eager to extract every last minute of fishing time I had left. More of the same technique followed along the North West shore, intermediate line castings into the deeper water, letting it sink and with a slow retrieve. This method along with the same fly fooled one last brown trout for the day.

Hepburn Lagoon & the Fulling Mill Living Damsel truly delivered on what was a great day out on the Victorian Central Highland Lakes

Cheers

Simon

2017 Native Fish Trip

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It was time to lead the club out on our annual native fly trip once again with our summer coming to an end. Flies were tied, leaders changed and gear checked in preparedness for the trip but our Murray Cod’s feeding habits mean that we’d need to be on the water at first light so the camping gear was also organised.

I camped by myself that night and met the two Robs at day break then went on to meet Michael so that he could follow me to our destination. I opted to teach Michael how to fly fish for the elusive Murray cod and to say this is different from trout fly fishing is an understatement, big flies, heavy leaders and stiff fly rods were the order of the day.

A few tips on casting and retrieves had Michael going through the motions but he soon understood that the timber where the cod lives is a great trap for wayward flies.
I pointed to a likely spot and instructed Michael to put his fly there and this was followed by a hit and trouty strike but no hook up. We left our cod there and fished the pool below him and revisited him a few minutes later. The hit came on queue and Michael’s strip strike hooked his first cod. A quick fight and obligatory happy snaps had the cod swimming home safely. Michael then went on to hook and land his second cod a few minutes later before we called it a day.

The two Robs were not having any luck but we did get a picture sent to us when we were having a bite to eat. A carp was spotted cast too, hooked and landed. It was a worthy fight and the stats showed it to be 76cm long and 12lb. Not a bad effort and goes to show that carp will take cod flies, even if tied on a 5/0 hook.

Michael called it a day so I spent the later part of the afternoon with the two Robs but the weather had really turned foul by then. I changed from the cod snack to the same fly with a tail to be rewarded with two hits but no hook up. This is the reason why the cod snack is my go too fly as it seldom gets short strikes.

We’d all had enough by 4.30 pm and headed back in light rain. A quick change and we were on our way for what was a 2 ½ hour in the pouring rain. I can say I slept well that night while Michael dreamt of the cod he’d landed.

Ben Le Vagueresse

Mid-Week Moorabool

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Tuesday 4th of April

Being a creature of habit my preferred local lake option is normally Lauriston or Coliban for its close proximity to home and knowledge of sheltered bays to get out of the wind. Having received some great intel from Mark & Michael (club members) and Rick Dobson (Aussie Angler Greensborough) I set the nav-man for Moorabool reservoir and it didn’t disappoint.

There’s always an air of excitement and anticipation fishing a new location, have I made the right choice? What’s it going to be like? Do I have the right flies? Am I going to be good enough to fool a fish? With those fears aside I hit the water with an intermediate line and a trusty “Ginger Mick” and began my slow retrieves.

Within the first hour I’d hooked a small rainbow only to lose it at my feet. The next few hours was spent lamenting over the one that got away as I worked my way around the south-west end of the reservoir without success. After a short lunchbreak I was back into it walking the shoreline and casting into the deeper water giving my line plenty of time to sink down. It wasn’t too long before I felt a tap, lifted the rod and waited that brief moment to assess the situation……was it a snag? was it just weed?…….no, fish on! I quickly got my rod tip high and began to put tension on the fish getting line back onto the reel. I knew it wasn’t a monster but none of that matters, it was a Tuesday, I was fishing a new spot and I had a fish on. After a short but nervous fight I netted a 1lb rainbow and was able to breathe a sigh of relief. The rest of the afternoon I watched the lake come alive with rising fish well out of casting distance and completely happy I’d ventured out to Moorabool reservoir for the first time.

Cheers
Simon Hall

Snowy Mountains and Swampy Plains River Experience

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Calder fly fishing member Andrew Martin gives us a report on the recent club weekend to the Snowy mountains.


At the last CFFA General meeting for 2016 Scott Xantholakis presented a talk and slide show about Fly Fishing Swampy Plains River, this was in preparation for our January 2017 Association trip. Swampy Plains River described as a classic trout fishers mecca just over the border of Victoria into NSW.

Nothing like early planning and a ‘ripper’ talk and slide show showing the battle of wills between a trout and fly fisher! Will the master escape artist go back to the deep or will the fly fisher, exuberant about the clear water running quickly over rocks and boulders and then into a deep dark pool, his well chosen fly presented perfectly as juicy morsel attract the cunning laziness of the trout?
A great cast and then the concentration sets in as the fly-line and tippet are behaving like a stealth aircraft under radar; hoping they remain unnoticeable to the cunning trout, hoping there’s just the nymph bobbing over rocks and the fly floating naturally catching a ride on a ripple, the fly-line swinging lightly downstream.
The trout can’t resist, it launches itself out of water like a dolphin happily showing off its ability to fly it latches onto the fly! The fish is landed; the fly fisher puts the fish back to run under its terms yet again … now that’s fly-fishing! Scott’s presentation was inspiring!

The questions started whizzing through my mind, as they do. What flies are likely to be needed! Will I need my 4, 6 and 8 weight rods, perhaps not the 8 unless the there’s carp the size of a submarine, I decided to leave the 8 weight! Scott thankfully provided a comprehensive list of flies and gear we might need! The list seemed to indicate a marathon Caddis Hatch … ha ha, surely the Swampy can’t be that good!

I think all ten of the CFFA members that were game to take on the 4 days at Khancoban, started fly tying and stocking up with all stages of the Caddis from larvae, pupa, emerger, adult and spinner. To emulate the complex transformation of the Caddis I made sure I had plenty of Stick Caddis, Sparkle Pupa, various Nymphs and a couple of Lafontaine Pupa. As far as the emerger was concerned I tied various coloured Klinkhammer’s however, my first attempt at these looked more like a something out of nuclear horror movie! I had better luck with my Elk Hair Caddis; with other fly patterns needed I succumbed to purchasing Kosciuszko Dun and Tungsten Caddis Grubbs.

Having arranged a lift with Craig and Graham we set off on the five and half hour drive. We arrived at the at the Khancoban Lakeside Caravan Park and after settling in to our well-appointed single units we set off to discover the Swampy River.

We were all struck by the beauty of the area, Khancoban nestled into a large valley, to the East was Kosciuszko National Park and to the South East Mount Kosciuszko and the Snowy Mountains, all around were treed undulating hills, a magnificent part of the Australia.

We drove down the banks of the Swampy River below the Khancoban pondage dam wall to a point where the riverbanks were accessible and a well-worn track indicated that this was a reasonable place to start fishing. A small bridge provided access from one bank to the other however, we were not game to cross the bridge incase we were sent packing by a marauding aggravated farmer!

The afternoon was very overcast hot and humid and there were no visible signs of life on or underneath the water. The river was running fast with deep drops away from the banks in places, the centre of the river showing signs of years of huge releases of water from the pondage. We fished for about three hours moving up and down the river using various flies, no fish caught in our first session and a storm was setting in … tomorrow was another day!

Saturday Morning and we all assembled for a briefing by Scott, he let us know how the Swampy Plains and other rivers and creeks were fishing. He gave us all invaluable advice and set us up with as much information as we could digest!

talk

Saturday was slightly less cloudy but hot and humid. We again revisited the Friday sessions of the Swampy but with the knowledge that if we used the Cow Bridge we’d be ok, no marauding farmer, he was cool!

The weekend fish went like this:

Andrew Martin:
Saturday morning, my first session was quite a triumph (for me) I chose a fast running spot leading into a large slow pool, however; back casts were difficult due to the large Willows behind me. I was tempted to move on but decided that I’d give my side casting and little knowledge of Italian casting a go. In the whites of the cascades I couldn’t see my Elk Hair Caddis which was leading a beaded Pheasant Tailed Nymph … (I’d also tried Caddis Grubs earlier in the morning) so I decided to change both to a sparkle Nymph under a slightly more visible size 14 Royal Wulff! So by wading precariously into waist deep and slippy flat section, I executed an ok cast to middle of the run and swinging the line I managed to hook my first Swampy trout, about a pound’ish (well maybe, like Dusan I’m not good with weights). I tried this a few times but lost one, I don’t know if it was the Nymph or the Royal Wulff it attempted to take; I also think I let the line swing too far as my Nymph was almost pulling the Wulff under; any way I was amused!

The Caddis Hatches during the evening were something to behold, Scott’s emphasis on caddis was well and truly understood now! Seeing the Hatch with thousands of white Caddis appear as if from nowhere and then the steady appearance of trout rising and launching out of the river was just a wonderful experience! Taking complete advantage of the Trout gorging themselves was great entertainment, I chose a grey Klink Hammer with a Sparkle Pupa underneath and managed to get a couple of nice one pounders (or half Kilo)!

sunset-swampy

Sunday morning was spent on Nariel Creek with Graham and Craig. This is a really picturesque Creek with trees either side river running quickly over boulders and rock beds and steadily flowing down the Nariel valley its source somewhere up around Tom Groggin.
We fished up stream from a bridge with easy access and within 200 metres of the bridge I caught a small rainbow in a deep pool using a #14 Royal Wulff and again a Pheasant Tailed Nymph, it was the Nymph that was taken!
Shortly after Graham arrived saying he’d not caught or even seen anything and no sooner this said, he cast slightly up stream into a deep hole and he was smashed by a Rainbow about one and a half pounds, very fat for its length; he was not the runt of the litter and was not going into Grahams net easily!

I walked further up stream to where a large deep pool followed by 3 other smaller pools fed a long shallow run over pebbles and rocks, to my absolute surprise there were lots (hundreds) of fingerling trout all less than a half pound, this had to be the sign of a healthy river; I didn’t fish again that morning as I just watched the little fellas go about their business and thought that next year will be awesome!

Craig McKenzie:
The Swampy and the surrounding area also inspired Craig “how great is this” his comment was when we arrived. Craig had an exciting but frustrating Saturday trying his best to entice the trout with his selection of flies however, he had no luck but the emergence of the Caddis hatch also confirmed the reason for his Fly Fishing! Sunday for Craig was a better day he managed 3 very reasonable size Trout his comments to me: “Just got the 3 and lost one. 2 fish from the same spot upstream from where you were mainly fishing. Last spot before the access ran out. 1 on olive/black size 14 nymph, the other on light brown/ grey elk hair caddis.
The best one was the last- downstream of bridge just before the rapids where Graham got a bag load. Just on darkness- last cast- Size 14- no nymph- Royal Wulff. 1.5- 2 pds. Best trout I have caught”.

Graham Lorrimer:
Grahams fly-fishing expertise was well and truly on show! His quiet, cool calm and collect approach enabled him at one time in the evening hatch to catch 3 trout out of 3 casts making his total haul about nine in the evening session!
Sunday was no different, Graham again gave us a great deal of pleasure seeing and hearing about his great efforts.

Dusan Ivanovic:
Dusan also had a frustrating but exciting Saturday and being the life of the party kept us amused after a big day and late night fish followed by “quiet reflection of the day” over dinner and a drink!

dus-trout-2

Dusan’s comments (from his Facebook report):
“I had been warned prior to the trip by Philip Weigall, that a lot of things had to go right for us (water temp, water level) in order for our trip to be successful. But by day 4, we had worked out both the time to be on the water, and flies to be using to ensure a successful day of fishing would be concluded with smiling faces back at the caravan park.

We also managed a day on the Upper Swampy, near the intersection of the Swampy and Geehi River. Wow is the only way I can describe it, with plenty of fish moving around to entice any angler, and damn they were hard to catch. We managed a couple of fish each by the end of the day, but we were not to fussed, as fishing this beautiful stretch of water brought a sense of satisfaction, and conclusion that another water had been tread, fished and enjoyed.

By day 4, each member concluded their fish tally in double figures. There were no monster fish caught (I did get broken off by a nice 3lb fish on the last night, blame the 6x tippet) but each fish that was caught was successfully released.

Our last day of fishing was concluded on the Nariel Creek. Fishing at Nankervis Bridge was pretty tricky, with the bright day, warm water, and very spooky fish. We still managed to bag a few, including a nice 2lb fish that was sitting in a very deep pool on a size 12 Royal Wulf”.

Dusans report on Facebook is great and expresses just how well the trip went.

dusan-trout

Wayne Jeffs:
Wayne had taken advantage of the weekend to take his wife on short holiday and arrived a few days earlier than the rest of us.
On arrival Wayne proudly showed us a picture of his first swampy Trout a nice 2 pounder caught just below the pondage dam wall. Wayne’s luck continued throughout the rest of the trip with nice looking trout caught.

gates

John Fischer:
John like Dusan and Craig had a frustrating Saturday. Sunday however, broke the drought while trying his hand on the Upper Swampy with Travis. Despite a bit of dunking he caught a nice one and a half pounder.

smaller-stream

Travis Fischer:
On Saturday afternoon I saw Travis about 500m downstream of the Cow Bridge and his comment “I’m a bit pissed off lost three just over there”, he was pointing to a wide deep run which was perfect for what we later found to be a great Caddis Hatch section of the river. Travis tried this area later in the evening and had better luck than his earlier session.

old-bridge

Brian Thompson:
Brian fished with Dusan during the weekend however, I’m not sure how to explain Brian’s efforts other than to say there were not many moves as far as trout fishing was concerned he hadn’t tried, including being chest deep in a hole standing on a rock hooked up to a two pounder as holiday swimmers were waving to him as they swam by; surely can’t get better than that!

brian-trout

At one point on Saturday afternoon I was having a lot of trouble with my leader not unfolding, I put it down to the way I’d made it up of different weight tippet. Brian helped me out showing me his leader style and formulae using maxima brown tippet, he gave me one to try and I had no trouble at all the rest of the weekend.

Mark Hobbs:
Like Brian, Mark fished all weekend with great stories to tell of those fish caught and lost, Marks comments:
“I fished the swampy in the morning hooking a fish on black F Fly smashing 6lb tippet!  Upper Murray – a couple of fish on a Pilchard, then fished Upper Swampy a beautiful river, after numerous fly changes the Pilchard came out on top missed a few on Black F Fly! Back to the Swampy swinging Plichard and Caddis Pupa managed to get 5 fish on Pilchard none on Caddis; then later that night fished again, swung a Pilchard a couple more times before changing to a dry when the fish were up on top, putting on a Bobs Bits for a couple of fish and losing a few! Then to the Iron Blue Dun, well did it perform, fish after fish! I managed about 16 for the day missing quite a few, then Sunday went to the Nariel nice little creek, got 1 out of there seen another about 2lb but spooked him. I had Brad with me he managed 8 fish for weekend one being about 2lb out of upper swampy all up we both managed 25 fish landed for the weekend. WE WILL BE BACK THERE FOR SURE!” 

Don Houston
Don spent a lot of his time exploring the area and between his time fishing and touring he fished many more areas than most of us. The great Snowy Mountains scenery topped off his weekend.

There are no more words to explain how well this trip went other than to say many thanks to the people that made the weekend so memorable.

Scott Xantholakis of Wilderness Fly Fishing, Irene and Joe owners of the Khancoban Lake View Caravan Park and the CFFA members who shared the experience.

Andrew Martin.

PETER MORSE PRESENTATION

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Fly fishing legend Peter Morse has most generously agreed to give a presentation at our July 13 General Meeting.

Just in case you’ve not read any fly fishing magazines for the past 40 years here’s a quick run down on “Morsie”.

Peter Morse, fly fisherman, writer and photographer is also a Master Casting Instructor (MCI) with the International Federation of Fly Fishers, is a brand ambassador for Sage rods, Rio fly lines, and JM Gillies. He has been fly fishing for 40 years and has fished many corners of the world, racking up a tally of 306 species on fly in fresh and saltwater. He is a widely experienced and respected teacher of many different aspects of the complex sport of fly fishing and fly casting. A regular contributor to a variety of magazines including FlyLife, he is also a front man for television and DVD productions specializing in fly fishing.

Profile pic

Favorite Knot: Bimini twist, double blood.

Special Rigging Techniques: Learn a few knots very well and be prepared to change your rig. If we aren’t confident in our knot tying ability we won’t make the changes that might make the difference between an OK day and an outstanding day.

Best Fly Fishing Tip: Become the best caster you can possibly be. Understand water flow and how it affects the movement of food and the predators.

Top 10 favourite fish:

    Barramundi.
    Bonefish.
    Trout.
    Permit.
    Billfish.
    Saratoga.
    Trevally (golden trevally and GT’s in particular).
    Queenfish (but they need to be over a meter long).
    Tuna (all).
    Narrow barred mackerel.

Parting thoughts: No one has ever been able to give me a single disadvantage from the consequences of becoming a better caster.

In this presentation, Morsie will talking about his fly fishing experiences and what they’ve taught him about catching more fish. He will explain how he applies lessons learned from catching all kinds of fish to new fishing situations.

The talk will be accompanied by a slide show and will last approximately one hour followed by a Q&A session.

Date: Wednesday, July 13
Time: 7:45pm

A must not miss presentation for all fly anglers. All welcome!

Profile pic 2

NATIVE TRIP ROUND UP – MAY 2016

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My surgeon’s reassuring words (give your foot hell) finally meant that I could organise the CFFA’s second native trip.

Following the postponement of our proposed speaker, due to work commitments, I presented at the CFFA’s April general meeting on native fly fishing – specifically Golden Perch and Murray Cod. I covered land and water based techniques, flies and outfits as well as the next native trip venue. This was followed up by our raffle – a box of native flies which was won by Rob Rowe.

A couple of keen club members put their hands up for the overnight trip – you guessed it, Robert Rowe and Robert Buttler.
The drive to our spot took a little over two hours, camp was set up and we were on the water by 11am.

DSCF5095

My familiarity with the spot helped as the first fishing session was well under way. I arrived at a spot where I had previously caught a cod and told Rob Lowe where to place his fly. Right on queue, the cod didn’t disappoint us and took the fly on the drop and was promptly landed. The fly taken was the “cod Snack” as tied at last year’s fly tying lessons.

All was quiet for the afternoon when Rob Rowe hooked and landed a small cod on the surface popper just on dusk. This fly was also tied at our tying lessons last year.

We had a rest and something to eat when we returned to camp and decided to call it a day. We spend an hour or two talking about the day’s events and were amazed by the quantity of midge that our lights attracted. This was followed by coughing and spluttering as we proceeded to inhale said midge hatch.

DSCF5103

The night brought a huge storm to our small camp with wild winds, torrential rain without forgetting the thunder and lightning. Our camp held together and the storm abated by 2 am.
We were up before sun up and used our torches to find our way to the river. Things were again quiet until Robert Buttler landed a cod on the cod snack. I followed up when I hooked a good cod on the Cod Snack in front of the Roberts but lost it soon after. This cod also took the fly on the drop.

mms_img-867648964

We decided to return to Camp at 9am and pack up as the heavens looked nasty. A change of spots and we were fly fishing again. Rob Rowe hooked and landed another cod on the Cod Snack and I managed to miss a couple to wrap up the trip.

mms_img-1997362911

This trip was very successful as far as Murray Cod are concerned as they are known as the fish of a thousand casts and they lived up to this on this trip. The aim of the trip was to introduce members to native fly fishing and this was definitely achieved. I was very pleased with the ongoing success of both the Cod Snack and the Surface Popper and now can’t wait until our next native fly fishing trip.

Tight lines,
Ben.

Harcourt – Club Trip Report – April 2016

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Members of the CFFA and the Bendigo Fly Fishing Club joined forces for an assault on the notoriously difficult body of water, commonly know as Harcourt Reservoir.

The water levels were high and clarity was good, however the cloudy skies soon gave way to a bright sunny day. Great for working on your tan, but not the best for Victorian lake fishing.

Those who arrived early reported seeing moving trout, but by the offical starting time of 9am all signs of trutta were null.

That said, working hard – fish were caught, sledges were made and a great sausage feast was consumed.

All in all, a grand day out.

harcourt-groupharcourt-rob-fish

harcourt-ben-fish

The Great Saltwater Fly Fishing Adventure to Sunday Island

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Sunday Island, privately owned, a jetty close on 500 metres in length, channels and back creeks, mythically one kilo flathead used as bait, the promise of kingfish, king snapper and King Island whiting, not to mention the odd manta ray and gummy shark. The lure was irresistible but for this weekend, it was only Clouser flies and eight weight or above reels (you can judge a fly fisherman by the size of his tackle). And so with the promise of angling glory and what was a unique opportunity to be a Neighbour to Kylie Minogue, I went from simply being diifish @bigpond.com support crew to one of the magnificent ten club members who battled the traffic on Friday to rendezvous at Port Albert in South Gippsland. There on dusk we embarked with countless luggage and fishing equipment on board the crayfish trawler SS Yimbala bound for the Sunday Island tent city and bunkhouse accommodation, guests of Calder identity Val Zelenbaba, a committeeman of the Para Park Co-operative, the guardians of the island and protectors of the endangered hog deer.

A late arrival that night meant a sluggish start the next morning, however the tides favoured us and so we broke into two groups, one led by Stephan, the other by Mick and headed cross country to the southern side of the island in a mini-bus commandeered by Val, intending to fish the various deep channels for mullet, flathead and salmon. A couple of casts in Stephan caught a small flathead but retired soon after with a broken rod tip, Louis netted another smallish flathead and Dianne, after hooking a small mullet, was forced to crawl to shore, caught up in some particularly viscous mud. There were a couple of other solid strikes for Neil and Brian but nothing to show for the effort, so we trudged back to the meeting point and headed home to camp for lunch, only slightly cheered by the competitive knowledge that Mick’s group had been even less successful.

dianne-salmon

As the muggy heat set in most of us enjoyed an afternoon siesta, but hardy individuals like Brian, Rob and Mick tried fishing off the jetty and although unconfirmed, apparently caught and released a couple of undersized specimens. Rob, our spey caster, even managed to catch a reasonable salmon while setting up for the ‘D’. However that elusive kingfish that had so excited Dusan last year, remained undetected and disdainful of any Surf candy flies. Still there was always tomorrow, in the meantime there was the evening barbecue hosted by Val to look forward to, venison sausages (the hog deer need the occasional culling), steaks and marinated chicken, even some flathead fillets provided by Mick’s son who took his cabin cruiser and bait fished offshore. A most enjoyable balmy night was extended somewhat when Val supplied a taste of home-made rakia (no that is not Balkan for rocket fuel, it was actually incredibly smooth and moreish, much to the eventual remorse of certain unnamed club members. Its medicinal qualities did however help to deaden Rob’s persistent toothache).

salmon-fly
After an even more tardy start the next morning, the group, now combined, again, went to the backwater channels at low tide and by all reports were much more successful, apparently releasing larger salmon, flathead and mullet, the catches generally shared around amongst those present. I can only say apparently because shamefully I loaded up a surf rod (refer to previous tackle references) and bait fished with squid off the jetty for undersized flathead. A pity I was using a 6 lb breaking strain trout fishing line because the first decent strike I had, the line snapped immediately. I’m sure it was Dusan’s legendary kingfish, the only consolation, at least it will still be waiting for him next year.

Light and Spey Loop

And so the great adventure wound to an end, the Calder Fly Fishing Association expeditionary force packed up and motored back to Port Albert. We may not have hooked any monsters but the environment was pristine, the fly lines unfettered and the camaraderie great. The island is sprinkled with dog-sized hog deer peering above the grasslands and scores of swans dot the foreshore. Val and his colleagues were fantastic hosts and it was a weekend that was not only special but relaxing. If the trip is on offer again next year, I totally recommend club members avail themselves of the opportunity to be part of this Sunday Island saltwater fly fishing experience.

Graham Cooper (diifish @ bigpond support crew).