Christmas on the
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
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 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.
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 sport
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.