Plenty to cast a fly at
  |  First Published: November 2013

The opening of the trout season in October is an important time for the Canberra-Monaro trout fisheries.

During the closed season anglers take the opportunity to service rods and reels, replace worn lines, repair waders, check the status of lifejackets, restock fly and lure boxes and generally start the season in a refreshed and ready mode. Then it’s time to greet old friends and revel in the joy of simply being outdoors after a long cold Winter.

It’s usually a productive time to fish, too. The streams are mostly full from rain and snowmelt, the browns and rainbows have all finished spawning and are hungry for food to put on condition. This is the ideal time to chase a trout.

There has been a surge of interest in fly fishing in recent times, partly because we have put a lot of effort into publicising it and teaching newcomers the gentle art of fur, feathers and the wand, and partly because a lot more fish than usual have been available in the big mountain lakes and Canberra-Monaro streams.

All has improved since the big drought finished several years ago.

We also had a visit from Tasmanian Peter Hayes, a champion fly caster, teacher and ball of energy. In six days he conducted eight fully-subscribed fly casting clinics and gave two talks to the ACT Fly Fishers and at The Anglers Art.

It was invigorating to see how well local fishers, even seasoned veterans who have seen it all before, responded to his enthusiasm for fly fishing and he is welcome back anytime.

The Canberra Anglers Association also was busy. They stage free fly casting classes for the public on the lawns of Old Parliament House on the three Sundays prior to the opening of the season. Each year there is a big crowd of newcomers and it is particularly pleasing to see the numbers of women and children, taking up the sport. A pat on the back to all of them.

We also had the annual Rise Fly Fishing Film Festival before the opening. This is the eighth year this worldwide enterprise has come to Canberra and they screened four wonderful films designed to do one thing – get you excited about fly fishing.

If you see an ad for the festival in your part of the world, move heaven and earth to get there –you will appreciate it.


In previous columns we have detailed some of the funny stories about the involvement pets animals with fly rods and fly-tying equipment. There was the dog that chewed up a $1000 Loomis rod, a horse which chewed the end off a Hardy fly rod, two cats that bit through new $100 fly lines, the dog that ate $300 worth of tying material and died, and a lovers’ tiff because the boyfriend wanted to shave his girlfriend’s cat to make fur flies.

More recently comes news of the cat which has been surreptitiously stealing items of fly-tying material and hiding them, to the bewilderment of the poor fly-tier. For months he was convinced things were going missing and found out only when he had to shift a malfunctioning refrigerator. Behind the fridge were all of his missing materials, planted there for whatever reason by his innocent-looking moggy.

I also recently heard or a chap’s mother, searching for a bit of string to hang Christmas cards on, who cut several metres off his prized fly line, because ‘there was such a lot of it’. Feel free to send me more.


An interesting competition is being staged in Canberra. It’s round two of the Redfin of Origin competition, in which anglers from the north side of Canberra fishing in Lake Ginninderra, are pitted against those from the south side, fishing in Lake Tuggeranong.

Only redfin are involved and its a fun competition with some great cash and tackle prizes. The idea is to measure and photograph each fish caught, then the pics are sent to the competition headquarters.

Apart from the prizes the winners win bragging rights for their suburb and enjoy a bit of competitive fun.


Lake Burley Griffin, that is. Robert Coulson made an interesting catch in the lake recently, a brown trout of about a kilo in perfect condition, caught on a locally-made Noxious micro spinnerbait while fishing for redfin.

Burley Griffin in past years was a superb trout fishery but that declined because of water quality and other issues and trout have not been seen for many years.

This fish probably originated from the upper Queanbeyan River, where there is a breeding population of trout, and travelled 50km-60km down through Googong Reservoir and Queanbeyan to get to Burley Griffin.


The Murray cod season closure until December 1 always presents a problem. It is to enable fish to spawn in peace but during this period they are so silly and so active they are likely to jump on any bait, lure or fly that comes near them.

That means anglers fishing legitimately for other species are more than likely to catch a cod. How then do you minimise your chances of catching one and staying within the spirit of the closure?

That’s hard to answer but I guess it would help if anglers deliberately refrained from fishing in known cod hot spots. Avoiding the use of super-large lures, deep-divers and spinnerbaits also might help, as might avoiding the use of the cod’s favourite baits, shrimps, yabbies and bardi grubs.

Further suggestions would be welcomed.


For our specialist carp fishing mates, the boilies we mentioned last month that are being manufactured in Canberra have been an outstanding success.

Anglers report that many small and large carp have been caught on them and the only decision to make is to whether to choose garlic, corn, aniseed, chocolate, strawberry, coconut or other flavours available.


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