VOLUME 28, ISSUE 06. December 2021

The first night having dinner at The Blue Duck Inn, during our trip to Big River (Upper Mitta Mitta River) in May 2021.

The beautiful Murrumbidgee River on our recent trip to Long Plain in November/December 2021. David Caddies doing his dry fly thing.

 
 

Next Members Monthly Meeting

Our next Members Monthly Meeting will be held "Live" at The Ranch on the corner of Epping and Herring Roads in Marsfield/Epping, on Monday the 13th December 2021 kicking off at 6:00pm for drinks and mingling before the usual 7:00PM start. This is our Christmas sit down dinner meeting and our Guest Speaker will be our member Justin Duggan, from Sydney Fly Fishing.


Please view further down the Flyrodder for further details.

 

Next Members Monthly Fly Tying 

The Next Monthly Fly Tying Meeting will be held on the 21st February 2022.

See further details below under the Fly Tying segment.

 

President's Report

Denis Hill on the Long Plain Trip.

Dear {Contact_First_Name},

Well we finally managed to get in an event without Covid totally ruining it – we had a very successful trip to Geehi and Long Plain. We didn’t get away totally unscathed as the National Parks booking system made everyone getting together in Long Plain particularly difficult and after much drama we ended up with 13 members camped on the Long Plain Hut side and 8 in the Long Plain Horse Camp ground. Hopefully National Parks will review the booking system before we attempt our next Club camp in a National Park. I will write to them to express the Club members disappointment and frustration with the current system.

Booking dramas and a bit of rough weather aside the trip was very successful, the good rains of last year continuing into this year resulting in a lot more fish about and members reporting good numbers caught most days and a number of good sized fish amongst those landed.

I got a few good fish, but a highlight of the trip for myself and several others was catching a brook trout. I had only ever caught one brooky before and got three this trip, not large but a beautiful jewel of a fish, photos never do them justice. 



So the fishing in the Snowys looks very promising for the new year as indeed it does for the Wallerawang/Oberon area. The Committee hopes to be able to organize several events through the 2022 Summer and Autumn, we just haven’t committed as yet, choosing to wait and evaluate the situation in January – through 2021 we organized and subsequently cancelled a number of events, this time we will wait and see. But if Covid gives us half a chance we will get you out on the water to take advantage of all this water and good fish numbers. 

Despite the difficult year we have managed to keep together on Zoom, had some terrific guest speakers and finish the year in good shape with 171 members. So roll on 2022, Covid allowing it looks like some great fishing through Summer (when it finally arrives) and Autumn. So do some casting practice in those quiet moments after the Christmas festivities and I will see you on the water in 2022.

Merry Christmas

Denis Hill

President


 

From the Editor

Gavin at Smith's Lake with a nice bream.


We are now "post" Covid19, and will hold our first "live" meeting for a while at our Club Members Christmas Dinner Meeting in December.


In spite of Covid, we have provided our members with as much "virtual" activities as was possible, and some aspects we have learned from and will remain, like Zoom meetings for our monthly Committee Meetings, which worked effectively via Zoom.


Next year promises to be a much better year and we will be back to having a full calendar of activities once again, and with many new members having joined throughout the year we will have many events that they will find useful and of good value. I've already received some great feedback from some Members who have attended David Caddies Casting Practice session in December and they will find great improvements in their casting ability throughout the year.


 Now that things are settling back to normal it's time to book into some of the upcoming trips next year, like the Big River trip in March and the Mitta Mitta trip in May. Plus in January we have two local salt water social fishing trips on a Sunday, one on the 16 January and the other on the 30 January 2022. Jump on the website and check out the events there and book your spot!!


I'd like to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and look forward to catching up in 2022.


Gavin van der Wagen

Editor.

gavin@vit.com.au

 

Last Monthly Meeting and Guest Speaker Report

Martin Droz with a nice rainbow.

Our November Members Monthly ZOOM meeting guest speaker was Martin Droz from Czechoslovakia.

Martin is one of the world’s best ever fly fishing competitors and is the first ever multiple world champion (4 world championship gold medals) to guide in Australia!

Martin has been passing on his river fishing skills to Australian anglers during his brief visits to Australia over the past few years.

Martin provided a wonderful interactive chat that he tailored to our audience on the fly. He passed on a wealth of information and shared his knowledge on the skills and techniques that work for him, and gave us a great insight into competition fly fishing.


This is the link to the video that we recorded and saved to our Members Private YouTube Video Library. Please click on this link if you would like to check it out:


https://youtu.be/bFreLX_S1Gc


You can also view Martin's presentation, and indeed all the previous presentations on our members private video library on YouTube. To view them please click on the following link:

 https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLz7-a9GW8MBKy084XpcbwMlC0CWTllz-A  

So it's well worth your while to join the monthly meetings.


 

Next Monthly Meeting and Guest Speaker

Justin Duggan

The December 2021 Members Monthly Meeting will be held on Monday, 13th December. The meeting will be back "live" again and the first since the Covid19 restrictions have been lifted. It's our Christmas Dinner Party and, like last year, will be held at The Ranch Hotel in Marsfield on Epping Road.

The meeting will start with drinks and socialising at 6:00pm and then officially kick off at 7:00pm with our AGM, and election of our new Committee for 2021/22. Dinner will be served.

This will then be followed by our club member and guest speaker, Justin Duggan, of Sydney Fly Fishing and he will chat about his exploits up in the Weipa area west of Cape York. This promises to be another entertaining presentation by Justin.

Should you not be attending this meeting, we will be recording the presentation and then uploading it to our Club Members Private Video Library on YouTube. 

To access this library, please click on the following link:

 https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLz7-a9GW8MBKy084XpcbwMlC0CWTllz-A  

You will also be able to view all the previous meeting presentations that we have recorded, and view at your leisure.

Our Meeting is normally held on the 2nd Monday of each month, unless it is a public holiday; in which case it will be delayed a week. 

Looking forward to catching up at the meeting.

 

New Members

We had five new members join the club in November/December 2021.


We welcome Gary Coit, Christopher Moore, Anthony Bickersteth, Scott Robinson and Vorn Sweeney to our Club.


We encourage new members to join in on the many activities that we run as this is a good way to meet other club members and also to improve your fly fishing skills and most importantly to have a great time.

Looking forward to meeting you at our Monthly Members Meetings and at events throughout the coming year.

 

Last Months Casting Practice Report

Our Casting Practice sessions are back on track and live, and recommenced on Sunday, 14th November at 8:00am or 9:00am.


As usual David Caddies covered a range of skills teachings, including Roll casting and skills to prepare us for our upcoming fishing season.


Please come and join us for some practice (get the rusty casting arm moving smoothly again) before you head out for a fish. Our casting instructor David Caddies always has a well planned, prepared and thought out session to maximise the benefits that you will get out of your time by attending. And they're totally free!!!!


 

Club Monthly Casting Practice - Details and Event Schedule.



WHAT IS IT?

Members are welcome to join in with each other to practice casting at this club event. It is held monthly, on a Sunday morning at Timbrell Park, Five Dock. See future scheduled dates listed below. We encourage new members to attend as this is a great way to get involved in the club’s activities and meet other members. 

If you have any queries, contact David Caddies through the club’s website, where you will find his email address. 


An email reminder is usually sent around in the week leading up to the practice date. 

WHAT DO WE DO THERE?

David organises the sessions and will be there to make you welcome and give you something useful to practice on. Or, bring your own practice drills to do and to share. You do need to be a club member, but you don’t need to register. Just turn up. Bring your favourite rod and line – that’s all you need. A leader of 7’6” - 8’ is sufficient, but not too light. Say 8-10 pound tippet. ( ie 3X, 2X or 1X if you speak in X’s).


WHAT AND WHERE

We usually start at 8:00am, focussing on the more basic elements of casting. At 9:00am, when most members arrive, we switch to other skills practices. Any good practice session starts with the basics, so don't feel constrained by thinking you are some, or not, level of expertise or other 


VENUE: Timbrell Park, Henley Marine Drive, Five Dock. Go to the western end, just past LIvvi’s coffee kiosk and kids’ playground area on Henley Marine Drive. Opposite where Ingham Avenue intersects with Henley Marine Drive. 
TIME:   8 am for specific casting basics (all welcome). 
            9 am for usual practice session (all welcome).


SUNDAY DATES FOR 2022

We will provide dates for 2022 in the next edition of The Flyrodder


So come and give it a try, as there is so much to be gained  by attending these sessions. And they are Free!!!

 

Last Months Fly Tying Meeting Report

On Monday, 15th November 2021, our Fly Tying Guru Dave Wilson provided another Master Class during his Zoom presentation and chat for our Monthly Fly Tying Event.

Dave's topic was on the "Ways with Materials" and provided a wonderful insight on how to source fly tying materials from various avenues and substitutions. It keeps on coming back to the seven fly tying patterns that cover most of our skills required for tying just about anything, plus all the materials required.

Here’s the link for the Dave's presentation, it’s also been added to the playlist:

https://youtu.be/BT7x7dX4Mno


You can also view this video presentation, plus all the previous one's on our Members Private Video Library on YouTube. To view them please click on the following link:

 https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLz7-a9GW8MBKy084XpcbwMlC0CWTllz-A

  
Happy Viewing as we have some wonderful information in this library!


 

Next Monthly Fly Tying Meeting

Our next Monthly Fly Tying Meeting is scheduled for Monday, 21st February 2022.

We are hoping this can be a live event back at the Henley Community Centre.

Once we can confirm the fly tying details, we will advise members per a special email communication.


 
 

Geehi and Long Plain Camping Trip Report


Long Plain - A newbie gives Euro nymphing a bash.

Following my first ever flyfishing trip to the Big River last May (reported in the June 2021 Flyrodder), I was keen to get back on the river as soon as possible, but a pesky little virus wrecked those plans for some time. When Grant Flawith, my fishing buddy from Big River, suggested we make a four-day trip to the Goobragandra and Long Plain starting the day we were out of lockdown at the beginning of November, I didn’t hesitate. This trip would also serve as a practice run for the club’s trip to Long Plain at the end of November.

Over the trip we fished the Goob, Micalong Creek, Eucumbene River, Tantangara Creek and the Yarrangobilly with some success. On day 3, Grant suggested I try his spare Euro nymphing rod. With a few tips from the guru, I was soon getting a rough idea of the basics and even started catching a few fish. I particularly enjoyed that Euro nymphing made fishing in tight water and windy conditions a lot easier and that the depth of the nymph could be constantly altered to suit the changes in the river. I also found I was spending more time in the water instead of retrieving flies from bushes and untangling or retying rigs. As a result, and I’m sure to the horror of many, I decided to buy my first Euro rod in time for the club trip later in the month.

So on to the club trip at Long Plain. I arrived on Sunday Nov 28 after Grant and many of the other lads had already been on the river (and sheltering from some horrendous weather) for several days. On my first day we fished the Eucumbene upstream from Sawyers and I decided to initiate my new nymphing rod. The river was still running quite hard after all the rain, and to my complete surprise, my second cast hooked a little rainbow at the edge of the stream just a few metres from my feet. This set the scene for a truly wonderful day and week to follow. On my first day, I couldn’t believe that I landed 12 fish, mostly wrigglers and squirmers of 12 to 15cm, but two rainbows, each of 40cm and a gorgeous brown of about 25cm also saw the net.

Grant lost count of his haul but he landed at least 20 fish that day. We also both lost plenty more. Some pools were giving up two or three fish, and we were astonished at the aggression and fight of even the wrigglers. We were both using a two-nymph rig with at least one nymph having an orange tungsten bead and pink tail. All our nymphs had barbless jig hooks. Of note was that nearly all our fish were caught on the lower nymph; this pattern was seen all week.

Over the 5 days we fished the Euc at Sawyers three times (why wouldn’t you!), Denison, and downstream from Kiandra, including through the incredible canyon area. I personally landed 45 fish in these 5 days and dropped many more. Although most of my fish were wrigglers, many were between 25 and 40cm. I also had two heartbreaking bust-offs by fish that I estimate were at least 50cm. I clearly have a lot to learn about playing big fish on light gear! Grant showed his greatly superior experience and skills and outfished me by at least 50% each day. He even landed two fish on one cast, with both nymphs eagerly gobbled.

We were both amazed that despite being so heavily fished, the Euc is still so productive. On the day we fished below Kiandra, we decided to use dries on conventional rods but we only saw a few fish rise and even fewer take our flies. After a few hours we decided to convert to dry droppers. Our catch rate immediately improved, and I finished with eight for the day, seven on the nymph. Grant lost count at about 15 from memory.

On the way back to Sydney, we also fished the Gungarlin. Grant had warned me that although it was a beautiful river, his previous efforts there had been unremarkable. We needn’t have worried. After a slowish first hour, we started to catch some lovely fish. I finished up with 11 trout for the day, seven of which were between 25 and 35cm. I was busted off by another donkey – a fat brown with a hook jaw that took off for New Zealand. I honestly don’t know how I could possibly have stopped it on 6lb tippet. I also didn’t think that fish of this size were in the rivers at this time of the year. Grant had another great day, and again, most of his fish were in the 25 to 40cm range. He even picked up another double. I was also chased by a small brown snake while wading in the river, but that’s another story… 

Of course, the trip was about much more than the fishing. Each evening was spent with the other lads enjoying a brew or three around the fire, watching for satellites and aliens and sharing stories, jokes, port and chocolate. I was again amazed and delighted at the camaraderie and friendliness of the entire group, and their willingness to welcome a newbie like me. So thanks to everyone involved for an incredible trip, with special thanks to Grant for again helping me so much, including teaching me how to catch a fly rod ;) .   I can’t wait for the next trip!

Rob Cummins




Geehi Week Report

By

Graham Partington

There were about twenty Flyrodders who put their names down for the week in the Geehi campground, but many were deterred by the forecast of bad weather. Only those with iron determination actually turned up. The men of steel were, Steve Peach, Graham Partington, Bruce Auty, Garry Bickford, Brian Horton, David Blackwell, Allan McGrath and Phil Burton.

As it turned out, just as last year, the risk of bad weather was overrated. The rivers were up, but not that much, and with one exception (described later) remained eminently fishable throughout the week. There was rain, but you expect that in the mountains, and only on Saturday and Wednesday was there really heavy rain. We were able to enjoy sitting round the campfire every night bar one.

Sunday, when a deluge was forecast, dawned bright and clear and was a beautiful sunny day. The good weather continued and by Tuesday I was complaining that it was too hot. The moral of this tale is that it is unwise to rely too much on weather forecasts for specific locations in the Snowys. The BOM forecasts are probably based on readings from the BOM station at Thredbo and the actual weather can vary widely from mountain location to mountain location. On the Thursday, for example, at Geehi and Khancoban there were some showers, but it was a mild day, whereas reports from the campers at Long Plain were of extreme misery, very heavy rain, freezing cold and very strong winds. 

The Swampy was at its highest on the Saturday, not too high, but running fast. I was keen to try out my skills in spey casting using my new TFO Drift rod. The rod, by switching components, can be varied from a nine foot fly rod through a ten or eleven foot dark arts (euro nymphing) rod and finally to a twelve foot double handed micro spey rod. One of the key points in any spey casting is setting the anchor. This was a challenge in the fast water as the anchor kept running away. The river was streaming by so fast that by the time I made the forward cast the anchor was already well downstream. This did not entirely stop me fishing across and down, but it could not be called a great success. Meanwhile Steve and Brian who had started at the junction pool (where the Swampy and Geehi meet) and fished up the Geehi had a successful day both in quantity and size of fish caught. 

It would be fair to say that the upper Swampy (above Khancoban) was not fishing well and pickings were slim. However, the lower Swampy (below Khancoban) gave up some nice fish and the Murray at Grassy Flats fished well. In a short stretch of water, Brian caught four or five good fish, mostly euro nymphing, and I missed seven solid takes on the dry fly. The latter mainly because, in very unsporting fashion, the trout were mostly hitting the fly just when I was focussed on mending the line. 

After the days fishing on Tuesday afternoon, we sat overlooking the Swampy as it flowed through the campsite. We were enjoying preprandial drinks and bemoaning the poor fishing in the upper Swampy. Phil Burton has arrived that afternoon and having finished setting up his campsite, rigged his rod and started to fish directly in front of where we sat. As we commiserated on the lack fish, Phil caught four fish in a period of fifteen or twenty minutes. Was this supreme mastery of the fly fishing art or a harbinger of improved catches all round? Sadly, it proved to be the peak of the fishing on the upper Swampy.

As an alternative to the lower Swampy, David had success fishing Khancoban Creek, and some of us tried fishing the Khancoban impoundment. Brian had the unusual distinction of catching a nice fish in the swimming pool at the boat ramp. For those not familiar with the boat ramp and its park, it is a very beautiful, and when we were there, peaceful spot. A great spot for a beer and a barbeque after a day’s fishing, or just for a period of quiet contemplation.

The week went by quickly and pleasantly, then suddenly Thursday and Friday had arrived.  Across these two days the campers departed, some to Tumut, some to Long Plain. How they fared in these locations is a tale for others to tell.


An Earlier Account

by Christopher Williams

We arrived mid afternoon Tuesday 16th. The Swampy looked like the Colorado. The ford was closed and well above waist height in places to circumvent a safe walk across. The gate on the other side of the river was closed.

Over three days the five of us ( I had three mates join us some of the time) covered as much water as we could from Keebles Hut to the ford,ford to the bridge, water accessed from the Geehi Horse camp,Forbes Hut, The Geehi/Swampy junction and finally the water around the Bogong Creek bridge.

Did not see or spook a fish.

We  had great fun mixing up the flies,weights and sytems.   

Met three other blokes who had had a similar experience. However, one caught a fish in the pool below the camp ground ford.

Also managed a few casts at the Tom Groggin camp and horse camp with a trout spey. Did see one fish.

The Swampy at the TSR was running at 83/78/70 cubmetsecs over the three days. Spent some time on the boat ramp side late arvo. 

By Friday afternoon the water had dropped enough to wade the ford in tandem

Although there were plenty of bank side holding places for fish, we were clearly not good enough 

We packed up quite heavy rain on Saturday morning and headed home.

Hopefully, the weather improves and the water drops much more quickly over the next week

Smile

Christopher



To view our Gallery of trip photos, please click on this link below:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/WXD1En3a9wvtQrUR8


 
 

Big River Trip in March 2022

Following on from our inaugural trip to Big River in May 2021, our 2nd trip will be held in March 2022 12-19 when the weather will provide more favourable and comfortable fishing conditions.

We will be basing ourselves at “The Willows” and also have accommodation at The Blue Duck Inn, where lunch and Dinner is also available. 

Big River, is the Mitta Mitta River above Lake Dartmouth and above Anglers Rest.

The trip commences on Saturday, 12th March 2022 and we are out on Saturday, 19th March 2022, so 7 nights all up. Accommodation cost is $525 per person for the week. 

The Willows is located about 8 minutes from the Blue Duck Inn, and is fully self-contained. They do breakfast and this can be pre-arranged. Else you take all your provisions. The Blue Duck Inn has a good restaurant and is open for Dinner and Lunch, and don’t open for breakfast.  

Anglers Rest is some 726Kms and an 8.5 hour drive from Sydney, Forestville exactly.

It is also 30 Kms from Omeo, should you need to buy some supplies.

Should you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to email me.

Regards,

Gavin van der Wagen

gavin@vit.com.au



 
 

Mitta Mitta River Trip in May 2022

Our annual trip to the Mitta Mitta is on again for 2022, now for the 9th year running. It will be in on the Saturday, 14th May and out Saturday, the 21st May 2022; so 7 nights all up at $320.

 
We will be staying at the “Pink House” which is just a stones throw from the Mitta Mitta Pub and Bistro; and in fact the mighty Snowy Creek; and also on a farm property just 5 minutes away. So just a short trip to quench your thirst or dine at their fabulous and reasonable Bistro.

 
You can take your own food and drinks, or you can eat at the Mitta Mitta Pub or a combination. Many members eat only at the pub. 
 
Further up the road, about 30 K’s, there is also a good pub at Eskdale (which you pass through) and also an IGA and fuel. Mitta Mitta has a very small general store and fuel.
 
The local dairy farmers allow us to fish on their properties, so we have access to many spots without competition!
 
There are many river options to fish, including the Mitta Mitta, Snowy Creek (runs right past the pub and caravan park), Lightning Creek, Wills Creek, Little Snowy Creek (near Eskdale) etc.
 
It’s about a 7 hour drive and 646 kilometres away.
 
I will provide more information to the attendees as required and then prior to the trip.

Should you have any questions then please don't hesitate to contact me on gavin@vit.com.au.


Kind regards,

Gavin van der Wagen




 
 

Buy, Sell and Swap

There is no Buy Sell, Swap this month as it's our Christmas Dinner Meeting.

 

Sydney Fly Rodders Facebook Pages

We run two SFRC pages, one is our public page and it posts events and activities of the club. It also shares posts from other pages like CAS, DPI on things relevant to the places and areas that we fish.


I post some fly tying every now and then and share links to events I find that might be of interest to followers. This page is a little like our Web page, it showcases the club to attract members and provides details of club events. It has about 450 people following the page and any post will be seen by between 180 and 240 people.


We added another page. This is reserved for members only and cannot be seen by anyone outside of the group. You will need to send a request to join. Any member can post on this page and it is a great opportunity for members to put up a post or two about anything fly fishing. I would like to encourage members to use this page to post fishing reports or photos of flies that you tied. Being connected to other members you can ask for some casting or gear advice, or organise a short trip when you suddenly have some spare time.


There are also hundreds of other groups; bream on fly, carp on fly, bass, trout....areas like alpine trout, Sydney Kayak Fishing....fly tying groups, buy sell swap fly gear pages and individuals like Aussie Flyfisher, Sydney Flyfishing to check out. 


Phil Burton
philipburton@bigpond.com

 

Sydney Flyrodders Instagram Page


The Sydney Fly Rodders are now on Instagram. Many thanks to our Member Maddie Chew Lee, who offered to set us up and apply her significant experience with marketing and communications in particular within the social media space. 

Please follow the site and add your comments, and lets grow this platform for the club. It will also attract new members to the club.

Below is a snapshot of the site. We aim to sync (in particular look and feel) the Instagram account with our Facebook account and also our new Website, which I talk more about in the preceding section.

 

Sydney Fly Rodders WhatsApp Group

We have an Exclusive Group on WhatsApp for our Members, which is a great way to communicate informally and to share ideas, seek advice and also to plan and seek interest for impromptu/planned fishing trips.


I can highly recommend this to members. We have arranged a number of trips now from a weekends bass fishing through to a casual and social Sunday morning or afternoons fishing at Narrabeen Lake or Hen & Chickens Bay etc. And there could even be a BBQ thrown in for a social get together afterwards. This will happen on most if not all occasions.


Should you wish to be included in this group, then please email me to request your inclusion, quoting your mobile number which is required to link you into the Group. You will need to download the WhatsApp first if you haven't already done so.


Please contact me for inclusion.


Gavin van der Wagen

Editor, Flyrodder

gavin@vit.com.au

 

Snippets of Information

Steve Peach's first FFA (Fly Fish Australia) Competition Report 

On the first weekend in November I fished my first FFA (Fly Fish Australia) competition at Buckenderra, Lake Eucumbene. The FFA comps are used to select the Australian fly fishing team to represent us at the world championships and the commonwealth games. This was a NSW state round, which qualifies anglers to fish the national titles, although there are other anglers that come from out of state and compete also. There are different types of comps which cover lake fishing loch style (from a drifting boat), lake fishing shore based, and river fishing. This one was a loch style comp, and it was totally new to me as I have never fished loch style before, although I have done some shore based lake fishing, so as you can imagine there was a bit of a learning curve.

I didn't know anyone when I arrived on Friday, but I saw another angler set up with his tent, so I pulled up in the car and asked him if he was here for the comp. He said he was and as I didn't know anyone, he invited me to come and set up camp with him. Turns out he was from Victoria, a very experienced comp angler who has represented Australia, and is currently on the Australian Masters team (for over 50's). A very talented angler and a good human being too.

There were 2 other new anglers in the comp apart from myself, out of a field of 24, with a range of skill levels from competent through to several current and former internationals. The 2 real heavyweights in the field were current Australian team members, both great anglers and nice guys too. Their consistent success is remarkable and drives home the point that while luck certainly plays a part in any one session, the great anglers rise to the top over the course of a season.

I had bought a lake rod, various lines, and a drogue for the boat months before the comp with the intention of practicing ahead of time and working out how to drift properly. Then of course Covid struck, and we all know what happened there. I was unable to get out on the water and at the first session I had never even put my drogue in the water, let alone figured out how to set it up. It had been about 15 years since I last fished lake Eucumbene, so I really didn't know the water at all. Fortunately, I had an experienced older angler as my boat partner for the first session, and he helped me set the drogue up and suggested a location for us to start. It was the same general area that I had in mind so that worked out well, it was good to know that I was roughly in the ballpark! But he was a local and knew it well, exactly where all the underwater fence lines and weed beds were.

We headed to the back of a bay that had been wind-blown for the last few days and started fishing a team of 3 unweighted nymphs very slowly over the shallow weedy margins. Within half an hour I came up tight on a beautiful rainbow of about 3 pounds and got him to the boat - phew! As the sun got up the fish moved off a little deeper, so I switched over to a weighted point fly (a bead headed green damsel) and got another decent rainbow. As the morning went on, I switched out the floating line for an intermediate and picked up 2 more fish down a little deeper. On returning to the ramp at the end of the 3hr session I was surprised to find that only one other angler had caught 4 fish, and I was in 2nd place!

For session 2 my boat partner and I again targeted the slightly deeper flats, figuring that with the sun high and the weather warming, the fish would no longer be up in the shallows, but wouldn’t have moved far away from the feeding zone. I caught another 4 fish placing 2nd for the session, and at the end of day 1, having placed 2nd twice, I was in first place overall. Needless to say I got a few curious looks at the meeting and AGM that evening! But everyone was very friendly, the competitive part of it was light-hearted, not negative in any way – more like having a little fun competition with your mates, pretty relaxed.

For day 2 I started the session with a Scottish guy who had been a guide over in the UK, experienced angler and a nice bloke. We again nymphed the shallows to start with and I got 2 nice fish, including a cracking 49cm brown. 

Later on as the sun got higher we moved deeper, I was still nymphing but didn't get any more. My boat partner got 3 decent fish stripping woolly buggers over the deeper flats. So I placed 6th for round 3, and I was still in first place overall, although the field was closing in on my lead a bit! Only one more 3 hour afternoon session to go, if I could keep it up I was looking good!

So for session 4 I had an older Victorian angler as my boat partner, a really lovely bloke and pretty experienced. The wind had changed direction, the sun kept poking out and then disappearing, so we were trying to figure out how the fish might be responding. I figured that the weather front with a change in barometer and the reasonable amount of sun would probably put the fish down, so I went to a sinking line and stripping woolly buggers, as it had worked in the previous session. Well it didn't work this time. 

Halfway through the session we were scratching our heads, when we started seeing good numbers of adult damsel flies buzzing around the boat. So I changed back over to a hover line, unweighted nymphs and a bead headed damsel nymph on the point and we went back into the shallow soaks at the end of the bay. I hooked a reasonable fish for a few seconds and then it inexplicably threw the hook - bugger! The wind kept changing direction and made our drifts difficult, but I eventually hooked into another good rainbow of around 3lb. The fish was going hard as they all did, but then suddenly it turned and ran towards the boat, jumping, and spat out the hook in mid-air before I was able to get tension on the line. Arrgh!

We tried another bay and again found active fish, but we ran out of time and I ended the session with a blank. The way the scoring system works is based firstly on placing points, so you get placing points for each round and the angler at the end with the lowest placing number is the winner. They also record fish points which is based on the measured length of each fish. My place points for session 4, because I drew a blank, meant that I got 24 place points along with several other anglers - so having a blank session is very costly.

I ended up in 6th place overall, 2nd place in terms of fish points but they don't count unless there's a tie in placing points...I had 10 fish in total for the comp, the winner got 13. Because of my placing I qualified for next years national titles which is great! I’m certainly not unhappy with that result! You could say I was a bit unlucky that I dropped 2 fish in the last session, but I bet there wasn’t any angler in the comp who didn’t drop fish at some point – it just happens. C’est la vie!

So overall my experience of the comp was great, I really enjoyed it. I met some great people, fished with some good anglers, learned quite a bit, and I was overall happy with how I fished. The competitive side of it I found didn't really get to me at all, I was just happy to relax and fish so I didn't find it stressful, I actually wasn't really focussed on where I placed, I just fished. Everyone was generally very friendly, helpful, and willing to share information. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who wants to really learn and upskill quickly, I can't think of a better way to become a more competent angler. It's pretty damn addictive, I'll definitely be back for more!


The End