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Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Centre

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Christmas on the Goulburn

Well another Christmas has come and gone and all I can say is good riddance! Eating too much, purchasing presents, sitting in peak hour are all highly overrated and I for one am glad that it is at least twelve months until the next time around.

Christmas does have some interesting traditions and in our establishment there is one that stands head and shoulders above all others. That is the Christmas Day fishing expedition. David with the first fish of the drift David and I always have Christmas with the family the week before and then have the day itself off, with not a soul on the river! About as good as it gets considering that the fishing is pretty damn good at this time of the year. This year we had a houseguest and so we did not head up into the hills, instead we dragged the raft out for a drift down the Goulburn.

Planning on a 6.30 am start was all well and good but we didn't hit the water until after 8am. A combination of good conversation and beer the previous night delaying our start time! The river was relatively low at around 2,000-2,500 Meg and so we fished a section that cannot be accessed by the bank to avoid running into anyone. Setting out it was heartening to see that the water had cleared over the previous few days and we had reasonable clarity to about three and half feet down.

The first few backwaters did not have rising fish in them, which was very unusual for this time of day and year. Usually there is a good morning midge hatch, which when coupled with the spent insects from the previous evening, results in a riser in most good spots down the river. But this trip proved to be the exception to the rule.

Sitting on a favoured backwater no more than 300 metres from where we started we found our first fish. Not a subtle riser tucked away in the corner but an aggressively active fish chasing minnows around in deep water. Within fifteen minutes there were four fish crashing in along the edges on both sides of the river. They were moving fast and were very hard to target. It seemed as though the fly was always in the wrong place. Every fish we found would eventually stop feeding, obviously running into the raft as they refused to sit in one spot and worked the backwater over hunting the minnows. We decided on a new tack.Jim with a nice brown that delicately took the hopper

Drifting on downstream we agreed that sitting in close to a backwater with working fish and casting to it was not working. About a half a dozen fish and none hooked seemed to prove this up. So we decided to drift and fish in along the banks blind with a BMS style pattern. It only took five minutes before David had his first fish on. A brown of about three quarters of a pound that smashed the fly on the second strip back from the bank. The method was worked out.

After an hour of fishing this way we went back to the dry fly to try and bring them up. A set of rings could be seen coming out from under a shaded, overhanging bank and it was Jim's turn. A good cast and a few seconds later the hopper was taken with the most delicate rise imaginable. The fish had taken our new cicada pattern on its first outing on the Goulburn. After a dogged fight a nice, healthy river brown was photographed and released.

Now it would be nice to be writing the logical conclusion to this morning of fishing. That is I was up next and landed a beautiful brown on the dry but it was not to happen. I had two fish have a look at my fly. The first was after a long drift in a backwater. I picked up to recast and a fish came flying up off the bottom to nail the fly but before I could react the fly was in the air. And it was a 2lb fish as well. The second was while reeling the line in! There is no justice in this sportAntony sneaking into a photo of Jim's fish! and I was not going to get my Christmas present.

But Jim was set up on another great bit of water and again his cicada/hopper was nailed off the top. This time the fish stayed real deep and did not show for at least five minutes. These are the moments you live for. Those few moments when you are not sure exactly what it is that you have hooked. The fish eventually tired and was netted, photographed and released. I managed to sneak in the frame, as it was the only way that I was going to get into a photo with a fish that day!

So that was Christmas morning here on the Goulburn. Not spectacular but a lot of fun and another chapter in our new tradition of Christmas. I guess I just have to be a better boy next year in hope that I will actually catch a fish. Maybe consistently updating the reports every Monday and Friday will help.



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