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Rain is a game changer
  |  First Published: December 2010



Talk about persistent rain. Some rivers have not seen flash flooding during December for a very long time; that is, up until now!

Just as the temperature rises and we get consecutive days of warm weather, Huey comes along with another load of moisture. While it may seem like a set-back, it’s a good sign that water storages continue to rise and as a result, fish populations will only remain robust throughout the remainder of summer.

Remember that after the storm comes a rainbow, and at the end of that rainbow is a pot of gold. In any case, maybe the recent effects of ‘La Nina’ are nature’s compromise between appropriate river levels for anglers and increased irrigation proposals?

Rivers

Many rivers and streams continue to produce chubby fish despite the frustrations of wind and inconsistent levels. The Macquarie River has provided some great mayfly hatches on selected stretches, with fish feeding close to their weedy lairs and other sheltered spots.

While there are awesome stretches of the Mac on private land, be sure to explore the angler access points which not only contain solid fish, but should keep you entertained for some time.

Recent reports of two more access points on the Meander River come as great news. Since the damming of the river upstream of Deloraine, the river has remained constant and consistent, providing exceptional hatches and a general improvement in fish quality.

While I have yet to encounter them, I have heard reliable reports of really obese fish coming from this river. Where? Who knows – half the fun is finding out!

With school and festivities over with, it’s a good sign to see cars parked near convenient access points of the St Patricks River. A few of my favourite haunts have been occupied, but it’s never far to go before finding a suitable run. The further you explore, the less likely you are of seeing anyone else for the whole day. Most fish have been in good nick and readily chomping down dry flies.

The South Esk continues to fish well but anglers are scarce. It’s one of the longest rivers in our state, but apart from a few friendly bait anglers, I hardly see another soul.

The river has breached its banks on numerous occasions this season, but more recent floods seem hardly worthwhile. The first couple of times it occurs can provide great flood fishing, but fish must get sick of it! Once the waters subside is when the fun resumes.

A great way to see some otherwise inaccessible spots on the South Esk is to use a float-tube. I have floated a couple of sections but you need to plan well and ensure that you have an access point and a spot to get out.

It also helps if you leave a car at both points and always float with a mate. Then, willow-lined banks and deep, un-wadable sections become fishable and can really open up your options.

Grasshoppers soon on the menu

There is plenty of long grass lining the banks of all these rivers, and I’ve noted some grasshopper activity. It appears pretty low-key at the moment, but January typically produces drier, hotter conditions and if this is the case, the ‘hoppers will go nuts. This is a highly anticipated event on the rivers and fish are honed in to the spectacle.

Precise presentation almost goes out the window, so a gentle splash or plop on the water will grab the attention of trout metres away. I’ve had trout bow-wave from a distance of over 4m to engulf my offering. Generic grasshopper patterns will do the trick, but try a WMD Hopper or Patto’s Hopper for a fly that will not only catch plenty of fish but will also last several sessions over.

Stillwaters

Hunstman Lake continues to tantalise local anglers. Rains have enhanced the level and dozens of trout are still found tailing up in the shallows. Reports are that they appear to be tough but persistent anglers have found success in using a Stick Caddis. Trout are short and fat and have provided great sport for the fly fisher.

Lure anglers continue to entice their fair share, with Berkley Power Minnows bringing numerous fatties undone not far from the launching ramp.

Four Springs has remained much the same in terms of successful fishing. Early and late have provided the best sport, where timid fish are more likely to succumb to the surface fly. Daytime mayfly hatches continue to occur but it’s the spinners and their spent variety that have created the rise.

In saying this, snouts have been breaking the surface all day long during ideal, warm and overcast days. If there is little surface activity, you could do worse than to cast a Zonker or Woolly Bugger around the weed. Frogs are still on the menu and fish darting about amongst the reeds are a dead giveaway.

January should see the peak of the mudeye hatch – The nymph of a dragonfly. Mudeyes will make their way to the surface during warm evenings, swim their way to rocks, timber or reeds and hatch into the adult stage. Bruce Gibson ties a great mudeye pattern and if you slowly strip one of these on a floating line towards dusk, you should see some results. The next step is to hang on!

January is a great month for the trout angler with mayflies, caddis moths, grasshoppers, gum beetles, frogs, mudeyes, dragonflies and damselflies all creating activity, and all a real possibility leading into next month. Get stuck in.

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