|article: the trout opening- what to expect by bruce smith
Dated: 10 August, 2009
|There will be some nice trout to catch|
The Trout Opening- What to Expect
What fly fisherman doesn’t enjoy the start to the new season on our rivers?
Before the start there’s the build up of anticipation for the opening day ahead with the preparation of ones gear. Out from the winter resting place comes the fly line to be meticulously clean, reels are oiled, new leaders are tied. Then you open up the fly boxes only to find how depleted they are, and it’s quickly to the fly tying bench.
My wife soon knows the opening isn’t to far away with all my frantic movements around the house.
Soon the alarm sounds in the early hours after a night of tossing and turning in bed, and quickly I’m into the car driving down the highway.
Every time I go fly-fishing I totally enjoy the drive to the river, but more so on an occasion like this. For what I love to see is the birth of a new day and in most cases this occurs as I’m driving through the Tallarook Valley witnessing the mist on the hills that are covered in lush green grass, sparkling in the morning dew.
If your lucky you’ll be the first to arrive at your destination and even more so if the weather conditions are on your side. But tell me, who doesn’t also love the walk along the river? Smelling the fresh scented air, hearing the sound of water on rock, and sighting the Mayfly on the rivers surface followed by the surface rings of a river trout.
That wild spotted fish maybe seen gliding through the water sipping down a dun, or maybe a spinner with such regularity that in your mind you know that the trout is sure to take your fly.
Into position you settle starting the cast with a bit of nervousness, the final presentation is given, you watch the imitation float down to the trout and in your mind you marvel at how natural your fly looks. Then to top off the great day so far, a trout ascends to the fly engulfing it without hesitation.
At once you feel the power of a wild river trout leaping into the air and surging down deep. Soon the trout is in your hands displaying many vivid colours and markings, to beautiful to kill, and the last thing you feel is the withering movement of the trout’s body as it returns back to its watery world.
What could be better then that on opening day? All trout fishing states have an opening day, they differ in dates, but they’re all open within the wonderful season of spring.
Let me now discuss my favourite waters, and what to expect on the opening day within the states that I fly fish.
NEW SOUTH WALES
A closed season only applies to the rivers in New South Wales and they re-open at the start of October long weekend.
Fishing Rivers of note include the Swampy Plains River, the Indi River, Nariel Creek to name a few, but for me the Monaro district contains some fantastic river fly-fishing.
Rivers like the McLaughlin, Kybeyan, Bombala, Badja and Kydra; all contain wild river trout with a rich aquatic and terrestrial insect life.
Brown and Rainbow’s within most of these rivers range in size from 1.2 kg to 2kg, but on many occasions I’ve sighted trout a lot bigger then that!
There are a few streams like the McLaughlin and the Kybeyan that are Blue ribbon waters having a bag limit of two trout a day.
The main insect that appears on these rivers in big numbers is the beautiful mayfly
in all of its stages being the emerging nymph, dun, spinner and spent spinner. Appearing around late October, peaking through November then tapering off around early December.
Two species of mayfly are prevalent being the Atalophlebia Australis (the orange spinner) and Atalophlebia Albiterminata (the black spinner).
Fly patterns that I recommend to imitate these mayflies in all their stages are for the emerging nymph a size 12 brown seals fur nymph lightly treated with floatant. For the dun stage try a size 14 Highland dun or March brown and for the spinner you only need one fly (and I know I rave on about it all the time) the Macquaire Red.
Other insects that come on in smaller numbers are Damsel nymphs throughout the day and on evening very small adult midge, necessitating a size 18 Griffith’s Nat.
Another favourite of mine is the Sparkle midge. This Sparkle Midge can be adapted into all stages of its life cycle just by clipping different sections of the fly. Cutting the tail off creates an adult midge, cutting the hackle down to a small head creates a midge pupa, and more.
I’d like to again mention the Swampy Plains River at the base of the snowy Mountains. This is a gem of a tailrace and within the opening season it brings on many insect hatches like the mayfly, caddis, midges, and more, but it’s the good old terrestrial beetles that fall into the river in big numbers that the trout absolutely love! Trout attaining weights of 3 and 4 pound in regularity will feed on these beetles like the tee tree, jewel, Carab amongst many.
These beetles will either float on the surface requiring dry fly patterns or they become sunken requiring your pattern to be made of materials that absorb water. The best fly imitations I’ve found are Red tags, coch-bondu’s in both wet and dry. Deer hair Tee tree beetle and the black wet chenille beetle.
So there you have it, New South Wales a destination not to ignore.
Tasmania is heaven on earth, especially at springtime when the orange mayfly spinners are about on the lowland rivers. The trout season here starts in August with a bag limit of 12 trout a day and a size limit of 32 cm. .
If one is to choose the tranquil towns of Cressy or Campbell Town as there base, then 75% of the rivers are only half an hour’s drive away. What a drive it is to through some of the best scenery of rich and lush farmland paddocks, areas looking like English country lanes and magnificent pockets of the natural sclerophyll bush.
Every time I travel there I have the rivers to myself that are different from the Mainland Rivers because they’re rain fed and not influenced by man made structures.
My favourites are the Macquarie River, Break-o-day, St-Paul’s River, Lake River, St-Patrick’s River and the Liffey, these are my favourites, but there are many more.
These rivers hold good numbers of wild Brown Trout that range in size from ¾ of a pound to two pound, but four and five pounders aren’t uncommon.
Any river that have trout that range from small to big show that it’s in a healthy condition with a natural recruitment, which is a sure sign of a wild trout river.
Again like on the New South Wales Rivers the first insect to appear in any number is the mayfly, with the main species being Atalophlebia Australis, the Orange spinner.
As soon as you step out of the car orange spinners land on you, like bush flies on a hot summers day, but instead of brushing them away, I marvel at their beauty.
On a few of the rivers like the Break-o-day smaller black and orange Caenis spinners accumulate also bringing trout to the rise.
Flies to use for these Caenis mayfly are the above-mentioned emerging nymph, but in a size 16 and for a dun imitation try a size 16 Para dun, and for the spinner tie on a size 16 Macquaire red.
At this same time of the year I’ve also notice on the evening good hatches of the snowflake Caddis. The number of trout that feed on them at this time isn’t spectacular, but it occurs and some nice trout can be had.
I’ve found the good old Elk hair Caddis in size 14 or my developed pattern the Creel Caddis work best, but after a day of fly-fishing the gentleman’s hours to the Mayfly, fishing till dark can take the polish off.
The trout season on Victorian Rivers starts on the first weekend of September and it’s a well looked forward to event, and it’s about time too, because for the last 25 years or so the rivers had been left open throughout the spawning season and there is no doubt in my mind that the fishing deteriorated. Mindless people pitch forking trout on there redds, scooping them up with nets; just devastating acts.
Now with a closed season the fishing has improved with trout in the rivers gaining size and more trout are populating the river. Survey results by the fisheries on the Goulburn river have proved that the trout fishing has improved since the
Re-introduction of the closed season (Interim assessment of the mid Goulburn River 1997)
Sure I’m not naïve to the fact that the poaching doesn’t still occur, but it’s been definitely reduced.
Like the other states there are many rivers within Victoria and the most popular rivers are within the Northeast area. Rivers like the Mitta Mitta, Goulburn and it’s feeder streams, the Yarra River, the rivers of the western districts like Mount Emu Creek, Jim Crow Creek, the list could go on forever.
My favourite destination (as if you didn’t already know) is the Goulburn. From the start of the season the river is still flowing at its winter level of 150 mega litres and like the end of the season this is the best time to fly fish the river.
The reason for this is due to the rivers insects hatching in large numbers (especially the mayfly) and coinciding with the warmer weather.
At 150 mega litres the river in most spots is clear having a mirror surface that can be challenging to presentation of the dry fly. This makes the fishing a little harder but, great for the experience. Things become a little easier as the season continues with the demand for irrigation increasing the water flow. When it reaches 1000 mega litres it’s in my opinion the best time to fly fish the river because it removes the hard presentation conditions, creating more flowing water and streamcraft character to the river.
What the fly fishermen can expect on this river is wild brown and Rainbow Trout from three quarters of a pound, to one and a half pound, with some big ones amongst them. Also to be expected at this time, are the mayflies, but differing to the other states by way of size. The main species is from the family of Baetis and also Caenis. These mayflies are very small with the Baetis sized at a 16 hook and the Caenis smaller again to a size 20.
Fly patterns mentioned before imitate these mayflies like the seals fur nymph, duns, spinners and spent spinners, but all need to be tied smaller.
I also like to have a number of different colours to my Para duns, and it’s this Para dun that really works well on the Goulburn. Tied with the hackle in the horizontal position it drifts to the trout with it’s wing upright 9 times out of ten.
If weather conditions don’t suit the later adult stages of the mayfly try a weighted nymph like a gold bead head, or a copper wired Pheasant Tail Nymph.
Caddis also hit the scene at this time of the year and as mentioned before the Elk hair and the Creel Caddis do the job nicely
Not many people realise, that smelt exists in the Goulburn especially throughout the early spring and you’d be surprised in the large numbers that can be found.
Found mainly along the edges and in the backwaters, trout hunt these big mouthfuls with tenacity. My most successful smelt pattern is the Bag fly in a size 8, worked through the water quickly with the sparkling gold tinsel attracting trout from afar.
Another fly that works well within the opening springtime is the Damsel nymph, which is the larval stage of the adult fluorescent blue Damselfly.
A normal size 10 green nymph will do the job, but there something about the mono eyed damsel nymph with its wavy marabou tail that really attracts the trout.
If fished within the slower edges and small backwater some great fishing action can be had.
Another river in Victoria that needs to be targeted is the Mitta Mitta River at the start of the season. It contains the mayfly like on the Goulburn River but added to that is the big Kosciusko dun. A species of mayfly that is big, around a size 10 hook and is easily seen on those twilight evening. This mayfly from the family of Coloburiscidae hatches roughly within the spring and the first two stages the emerging nymph and dun are the ones to be imitated.
My preference is a hair wing pattern for the dun with a bone coloured body and a normal size 10 black seals fur nymph. This big mayfly can hatch at any time of the day but the last few hours of light see the biggest numbers. So as said before don’t ignore these beautiful Rivers.
Well that's simple, go grab your fly gear, jump in the car and head (make sure it’s opening day) straight for a river and experience one of the best fly-fishing seasons there is.
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