Every cloud has a silver lining and last weekend work left me in Tumut, at the base of the Snowy Mountains, about 2 ½ hours drive from Canberra, on Friday afternoon. The weather forecast was for a few showers over the weekend and it was cold – about 3 Celsius, up to a top of about 20. But Friday afternoon was beautiful, with bright sunshine and no wind.
I have never traveled down here before. At this time of year, the trees form a bright tapestry of colours that brought back memories of Octobers in England. I have not experienced a real autumn for a while. I do not miss the rain or cold but the colours are fantastic.
I changed my flights home, found a motel in Tumut and decided to fish the nearby streams. First stop was the local tackle shop – to buy everything (I had not planned to fish). When I say I had not planned to fish, I do always have a packed bag of small DUO lures, soft plastics, and an old spooled up Shimano Stradic 2500, that goes everywhere – just in case. Barry from Tumut Fishing, Camping and Outdoor, on Wynyard Street, soon sorted me out. He is a helpful and friendly cove and has a full range of tackle. I ended up a few hundred dollars lighter with a nice, light 6’ NS Blackhole Trout rod, some thigh waders and few other bits and pieces. I do this quite often when I am on the road. It is my way of directly supporting regional small business. Joe Hockey should really give me some kind of regional development grant. I suppose, theoretically it would be a tax deduction, but I would have to make enough money to pay tax, from my fishing exploits, first. At present, that seems fairly unlikely.
Barry suggested the Tumut River or any of the other local streams and explained that the trout should be sitting near the fast, oxygenated water, at this time of year, looking for whatever prey comes by. When I pressed him for more specific locations he said they could be pretty much anywhere along the river. Although the local rivers were quite low they were, apparently, still deep enough to hold fish.
I had a look at the map and did a quick survey of fishing forums for any local advice. I decided to drive out of Tumut and fish in the Goobarragandra River, which is only 30 minutes away. At this time of year it is a shallow, fast running, rocky bottomed stream that pelts down a narrow valley. I wanted to fish the fast water in the upper reaches. There a number of points where you can access the water from Goobarragandra Road. I drove upstream and stopped at the first point where I could park. near the river bank. I surveyed the stream and cast a small Rapala F3 floating hard body, at some likely looking pools. I got the hang of the new rod and moved slowly upstream. The water was bracingly cold but the sun was out and the scenery was fantastic. I fished for about an hour with no luck. So I went back to the car and drove further upstream.
I stopped at an accessible stretch of river just before the trout farm. When the river got wider, I would wade in the shallows. When it was narrow, I tried to stay on the bank. I saw I couple of fish following the Rapala F3, but I could not get them to strike.
I reached an area where the stream narrowed and ran fast, against some big rocks on the far bank. I swapped to a soft plastic – a GULP 3” Minnow in the Rainbow colour. I put it on a 1/12th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I was fishing with 6lb fluorocarbon leader. It was about 4.15 pm. There was a big boulder mid-stream. As I hopped the soft plastic past it, a fish came up on the lure and I saw its tail break the surface. A few casts later, I was hopping the lure past the boulder again and this time, the fish grabbed it.
I had forgotten how ballistic trout go and I was instantly worried about the 6lb leader. Once I pulled the fish out of the main flow it was easier to control and I soon got it into the shallows, at my feet. It was a nice small brown trout between, 30 and 35cm long.
I now had only about 30 mins of good daylight. I moved further upstream to an area of very shallow fast moving water and started casting and hopping the plastic down along the bottom. The water was moving so fast that I did not need to do much. I just took up the slack after each cast and flicked the rod tip up a few times. I got snagged often but was usually able to move up stream and release the jighead from the rocks.
Just as I was about to give up, a small rainbow trout leapt out of the white water with the minnow soft plastic firmly lodged in the corner of it mouth. I landed it, took a picture of it and let it swim away.
It was the perfect end to my session and I headed back to the motel to thaw out.