Trip Report GOULBURN River 9-11 MAR 13
A spell of record breaking hot weather for March resulted in low water levels, few fish and plenty of Cormorants at the clubs traditional March long weekend destination of Kevington where we usually stay at Skipworth reserve. Delete Skipworth, insert Kendal A and the March trip was on.
Kendal A is a picturesque camping area just outside Thornton, on the banks of the upper Rubicon River. It has plenty of shade, long drops, and fire places and is well grassed and flat, a great spot to pitch or tent or take the camper.
The Recon Session
Ian Lowe and John Kruska took advantage of their status as retirees and headed up on Thursday to peg a spot and do a little fishing before the crowds arrived. I had a similar plan but couldn't get away until Friday morning, arriving at Kendal A I was surprised to see the number of campers already set up. Undeterred we unpacked the club trailer, put up the club sign and tents and headed off for a fish.
John concentrated on the stretch in front of the camp while Ian & I headed off further down stream. It didn't take long before we polaroided two fish actively working a pool. Seeing fish and catching them, unfortunately, don't necessarily follow each other! Slightly disappointed we continued our walk in the afternoon heat.
Satisfied we'd given ourselves enough water for a few hours fishing we dropped into the Rubicon and began searching for our quarry. Things were a little quiet to begin with only the odd smallish fish coming to hand until Ian began to fish a deeper pool with a good run coming in. A nice sized rainbow surrendered after a short battle.
As the afternoon shadows lengthened and the temperature dropped the fish seemed to get more active, there wasn't an obvious hatch but fish rose to our stimulators and hit them pretty hard. Unfortunately there was evidence the Cormorants were hitting these smallish fish as the photo below shows with the fish missing scales and scratches on its back and shoulder.
With Cormorants being a native bird and trout an introduced species I guess there is little imperative for the authorities to do any thing about this predation by the 'Shags'.
A few more members arrived Friday evening in preparation for the rest of the weekend or in some cases a day trip. John Kruska spoiled us with an excellent kangaroo hot pot and after a libation or two around the camp fire it was into the sack.
Patrick Thomson and I elected for an early start, while the rest of the crew caught up on some Zs. Arriving at the car park of our chosen location we were somewhat surprised to find a car already there. A quick peek in the back revealed a fly rod tube but walking down stream we didn't see anyone so assumed the other angler headed straight up stream. We had the chosen section of stream to ourselves.
It wasn't long before we saw the tell tale rings of rising fish on the glassy surface. A cast into the current line and my fly disappeared in a boil, the fight lasted a micro second as the strong fish ran me straight into a bank side snag before I could put the brakes on, bugger, not the start I'd hoped for.
As the morning warmed up we could see and almost hear the plop as willow grubs began to fall from the trees and splash onto the water like heavy rain drops. The fish were into them with gusto, eagerly devouring each offering almost before the poor grubs curled into their helpless horse shoe shape on the waters surface. The challenge was to get a cast in under the willows as the fish took up station close the bank directly under the overhang branches.
Persistence has its rewards, after a refusal by a reasonable fish my simple green foam offering got hammered as it drifted no more than a foot from the bank. The strong steady pulses put a deep curve into my 4wt and indicated a good fish was hooked. Suddenly the small branches and bank side vegetation seemed to encroach further into the stream, growing in size immensely and offering refuge and a chance of escape as the fish continued to lunge for freedom.
Eventually, the brown's head came to the surface as it began tier. Deftly netted by Patrick the scale was pulled down to 2 lb, the tape revealed a personal best aussie river fish of 49cm.
We continued on, searching for overhanging willows dropping grubs. Both the bright green and yellow foam grub patterns proved effective, however the fish would on occasion refuse both offerings.
While Patrick and I were having success, Glen Cox and Peter Young were working another stretch of river. Glen adopted for a slightly different approach and fished a lightly weighted grub pattern with very good results, bagging a 45cm fish in the 2lb range.
As Patrick and I were packing up John Kruska and Darren Percy rolled into the car park with grins as wide as the river, "How did you go"?...How did you go?, neither team wanting to reveal too much straight up..."Alright", "Us too" were the responses, "Tell you about it back at camp"..."Cool"... no long bank side exchange of secrets that afternoon!
Back at camp, tongues loosened by a couple of cold beers, it turned out that John & Darren had had a cracker afternoon up in the hills, accounting for nearly 20 fish, some in the 30cm range which is great for skinny water. Frank and Alf had also got onto fish with a "brooky" in the creel. Chris Dabal and Dominic Bono got onto a few as well, how ever Dominc's Tenkara session proved a little more difficult to capture fish than the recent fishing media on the style would have you believe. Keep an eye out for Dominic and his Japanese style outfit around the club pool it is certainly an interesting method of fly fishing.
Another early start...8am is early isn't it... had Frank, Alf and I back out with grub patterns at the ready, and after a slowish start the fish were back on the grubs too. I tried to get some video of a large extremely active fish gorging on them in close to the bank under a willow, but in my excitement I kept moving the damn camera...there is a brief snippet on the club computer if you'd like to have a look.
As the day warmed up the fish and grubs got more active, some really nice fish in the 40+cm bracket came to the net.
Frank was unlucky to have the hook pull a really nice fish right at his feet. However Alf adopted a gently gently approach and grassed a ripper brown of 42cm. Another angler with a PB fish for the trip, this time the video was better, check the clip on the club web site.
We were spoiled at dinner time on Sunday night when Dominic served up an old family recipe of home made sausage & lamb cutlets with a rich tomato sauce and pasta. A nice glass of red and the fire coals aglow, things couldn't have been better!
As Ian, John, Merv Landy and I expected, by Monday the fish were a little more wary of horse shoe shaped pieces of bright green foam than they had been earlier in the weekend! Undeterred we tried our lucky anyway.
Ian managed to temp a couple but didn't convert the hook ups to netted fish, and a hook buried in his leg summed up his luck for the day. With our supply of grub patterns all but exhausted, John Kruska and I fashioned an example from bright green strike indicator. The bank side tying session work and John hooked a reasonable fish from a small run. With the camp still to be packed up, and the prospect of battling long weekend traffic on the trip home we pulled stumps early and called it a day.
For a trip that was a "back up plan" Kendal A proved to be far better than expected. With 40 fish recorded on catch cards, a number of 40+cm/2lb beauties and two members with PB river fish, the weekend was a real success. Hopefully we have a few more like it before the end of this season, hope to see you there, tight lines.