The first round of the South Australian State titles; ‘The Ashes’ was held at Lake Toolondo over the weekend of April 27-28.
This boat-based competition was a qualifying round for the national championship, also a chance for anglers to get ranking points for selection in international competitions.
As well as the Ashes event, which is a competition between South Australia and Victoria who compete for an urn of ashes from a cane fly rod.
Twenty-eight anglers entered the event with the majority of these being from Victoria.
This was a fantastic event with 267 fish measured for the four, three-hour sessions, with an average size of 45cm and around 1.5kg. The biggest fish measured was a tie between a 54cm rainbow and a 54cm brown trout.
The most successful technique proved to be stripping Woolly Buggers on sinking lines.
Anglers set up drifts using drogues, and drifted boats towards the shore where most of the fish were hooked.
Throughout the competition I used a type 5 sinking line and the same three Woolly Buggers, in olive, pink and black.
These were tied about 1.2m apart on 0.23mm Airflo Sightfree G3.
The woollies didn’t have any weight in them apart from a brass bead. The most important factor I found to fishing the lake was finding the fish.
When you found the fish they were willing to eat.
Now I know that may sound simple, but there were definitely times when the fishing slowed and it this is when you had to make a decision to move.
Changing flies or technique on that water was not as productive as finding new water.
First and second session the fish hadn’t been hammered so much so they were willing to take a fly throughout the lake, but as the competition progressed things changed.
In the last session I made the call after fishing in amongst the boats to go and find some untouched water.
This could have gone two ways really. Not knowing the lake that well, I saw a likely looking drift a little way down the opposite bank to where all the other boats were.
This paid off as my boat partner and I boated another 10 fish to get a first and a third in the session.
The key I believe was finding the fresh (unfished) water as we both had different flies and stripping speed.
Medium to fast retrieves provided the most action with the medium strip speed having a more successful hook up rate in my opinion.
With so much timber in the Lake, I made sure each day of the competition that I had enough flies and leaders tied. This meant that I had very little, if any down time while in competition time.
South Australia took home the first place individual (Lubin Pfeiffer) but unfortunately Victoria retained the Ashes (Luke Barby) by a very slim margin 50.33 points (SA) to 55 points (VIC).
Placings were Lubin Pfeiffer (SA) 1st - Luke Barby (Vic) 2nd - Brian Hughes (Vic) 3rd.Reads: 1418