Ebor Trout Ready For The Fly
  |  First Published: November 2008

The tiny village of Ebor is located in the New England ranges, about 80km east of Armidale, around the same distance from Guyra and about 120km inland from Coffs Harbour. It's high country, with most of it over 1500m above sea level, and given the number of streams in the area, it makes absolutely ideal trout habitat.

Ebor trout are recognised as being some of the fastest growing trout in Australia. And considering it has had a couple of good seasons of rain, the streams in the area are chockers with hard fighting rainbows and wily, suspicious, dogged fighting brown trout.

Fish light, fish fine

Trout tackle is traditionally light because these fish are wary fellows and are inclined to just move quietly away from anything that alarms them, such as flies and fly lines slapping down on the water in a tangled heap. Light well balanced gear will also make the casting easy and the fly presentation look just right.

Arguably the best weight gear to use is 5-6wt, especially when it comes to casting in a bit of breeze and then playing a rambunctious fish that doesn't want to leave the safety of the stream. Remember that quality tackle gives quality results, which is why I have never regretted outlaying some hard earned cash for a premium rod such as my G.Loomis Metolius four piece 5wt. This gear has been carted all over the New England area as well as a lot of New Zealand's South Island streams. Matched with a Snowbee XS DPF (delicate presentation, floating) fly line the combination will handle the longest, and quite importantly the shortest, casts I wish to make and turn over both wet or dry flies with equal ease.

I make my own leaders but there is nothing wrong with tailor made jobs, opt for a tippet strength of 2-3kg and buy corresponding spools of 2-3kg tippet material for back up when the fine section of the leader has been worn off. A three turn surgeons knot or blood knot is fine for rejoining tippet.

The New England trout reel only needs to hold around 40-50m of backing; therefore you can use a quite small reel to keep things light and lively to hand.

Some early season flies

October is the month for big dun hatches on dusk and at any time just after a shower of rain. These small sail boat looking critters with their dark grey coloration are deluxe trout tucker and if a hatch is occurring some premier dry fly fishing is on the agenda.

A size 16 or 14 Iron Blue dun, same sized Royal Wulff or Adams will be fine for rising fish, while a black seal's fur or possum fur nymph (14/16wt) can also be just as deadly. Line and fly dressing is important to keep dry flies afloat and I rely on Gink for fly dressing and Mucilin for the line.

When nymph fishing, don’t dress the nymph but apply Mucilin on the leader to about 40cm from the fly. This method assures that the fly line and leader are right on the surface with the fly just within it (as a natural insect would be). The 'take' will be a tightening of the fly line, which is a cue for the angler to lift the rod and take up slack in order to set the hook.

Dry fly fishing is a bit different as the trout's head will often appear as he takes the fly, or the fly will disappear in a swirl. Either way, the idea is not to tighten on the fish until the leader draws down otherwise the fly will simply be pulled right out of the trout's mouth.

These methods of fishing require clean controlled upstream casting so the fly lands without much disturbance at all. That way it can drift naturally back down stream as the angler gathers in slack. The retrieved fly line should be kept out of the way with fingers and rod arm ever ready to move quickly to tighten as the fish takes the fly.

Wet fly fishing

This style of angling is most productive when the rises are not occurring. This is because the fish will often still be on the job even if we cannot see them. I use floating line for wet fly fishing and rub the last metre of the leader with some mud to make it sink a tad. Remember that a wet fly does not have to touch the stones to catch a fish, it simply needs to get under the surface a bit so the fish can see it.

Some reliable wet flies for New England streams include red and black Matuka, black Matuka, Mrs Simpson, Black Zonker, Olive Zonker, Woolly Bugger in black, brown or olive. It is often a good idea to mix and match the size weights used, but size 6wt or size 8wt will also be fine.

Wet fly fishing requires casting upstream or across to the far bank where a bit of cover, back eddy or similar shows promise for holding fish. The key is to strip the fly back in short sharp movements rather than allowing it to drift. The take is a sharp tug; trout take the fly as they turn which will set the hook or, if you are a bit heavy handed, ensures a quick break off.

Best times

On warm spring days trout will be actively feeding on the surface at any time the light is down. Dawn, dusk, cloudy warm days are ideal for the dry fly. When the weather is in between, wet flies can be used instead.

Seeking out areas of shade and presenting a dry fly right into it can often provoke a take from a fish that isn't obviously rising.

Gear and good ideas

Half the fun of trout fishing is enjoying the great scenery and making casts to likely spots and being rewarded when a fish claims the fly. While the deeper holes often hold the best fish, they can also move into the small water at the top or bottom of that pool to feed when the light is down.

Thigh waders are handy for cold mornings and skirting boggy ground. A landing net is important to avoid losing fish at the bank, and hook removers will assist in getting that tiny fly out from a mouth full of quite nasty teeth.

If that floating line saw a fair bit of action last year then clean it with some warm soapy water before use or it won't float to best ability. And above all, don't trust old tippet knots! They are guaranteed to break.

Obtain your NSW fishing license off the net; check out the Fisheries web site.

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