These are the Good 'Ole Days
James came in a while ago.
He'd caught a few small fish but wanted to improve his
skills. James is young, he is still at uni, first year
I think. I took him to the Goulburn to show him how
to find fish, how to see them, how to confine his casting
to a known fish rather than casting randomly and hoping
for the best.
We had a great day. The
great man-god in the sky was really kind to us. Each
time I explained about how fish take up station or how
fish boil to emergers or cruise a beat around a backwater,
one would turn up right on cue and perform perfectly.
James was gob smacked. I was being cute, playing the
perfect guide, predicting, instructing and demonstrating.
James stepped up to the plate and started hitting homers.
The first exercise was
upstream nymphing under an indicator fly, a sliding
stimulator. No joy. I pushed him hard making him cast
longer for longer drifts and line mend to prevent drag.
We worked over a delicious patch on a big slow corner.
The water was knee deep, rippling over the freestone
bottom. He had never fished this way before and I am
in his ear, bossing him around, making him do everything
right to ensure that he would pick up a fish. Twenty
minutes on and we had not drawn a scale, not a sausage,
nought, nil, nothing!
Moving upstream and leaving
the glide behind I decided the best thing to do was
look for classic positions, and sit and wait until a
fish revealed itself. 'Five minutes' I said and on four
minutes fifty the fish rose! Right on the current seam
in a strong reverse. We only had to wait for him. James
cast as the fish settled into rising several times.
He rose and took the fly but James struck too soon,
just rolling him over as he came off.
The next bank was the same.
We stood and watched and sure enough a riser moved beside
a weed entangled snag. 'Wait' I said. He will come to
us. Soon he rose again, closer and then again right
under us. He swung around and propped right on station.
'I can see him!' said James.
Sure enough a fish of about a pound rose right under
his rod tip. We could count the spots on his back as
he slid to the top to take an emerger in the film. To
attempt to cast now would surely spook him, even the
slightest movement would. Soon he rose further up and
taking a chance James got his fly in position on the
water. Sure enough the fish returned on his beat sliding
up and scoffing a tiny dun right beside his fly. James
was blown away by this intimate encounter and seconds
later the fish was back gulping down his size 16 Klinkhammer
The look on his face was
enough. Triumph. A fat pounder was admired and released.
"Just before we leave put one up by the weed draped
snag". Up went the Klinkhammer a few inches short.
Up it went again to be greeted by a nice black snout.
James struck tight into a 2 pounder that carted him
downstream peeling line off the reel. Soon he was to
learn the awful truth of what happens when a fish gets
downstream and starts to thrash. They parted company.
James was in danger of
dragging his bottom jaw through the mud, it had fallen
so far. I was trying to contain myself. I couldn't have
scripted the last hour better if I had tried. This beats
a few small fish in the Murrindndi. Walking back to
the car I suggested that we revisit the first fish he
rolled over. He didn't need encouragement. This time
I sat back. It was all James. He walked up and waited
screening himself in the trees at the reverse end of
the backwater. The timing was perfect. Within a few
minutes the fish rose against the bank in the bubble
line. James covered him with his first cast unfazed
by the high bank and willow tree obstructing his back
cast. Down the bubble line came the Klinkhammer. He
rose to take the semi-submerged emerger with the tiniest
of dimples. When James struck he lifted high and held
the fish out of the snags. Blood red spots with white
halos adorned his golden flank. The mottled brown spots
giving way to the black of his back. As James held him
face into the current to allow him to recover. He didn't
need much, flicking his tail rapidly as he slid into
This beats uni lectures
any day. Been there done that. Who wants to be an accountant?
Bugger the business studies, James was on fire. Rolling
down the road we dissected each encounter. I hammered
home the lessons; I took each point and set it in stone.
I sounded like I knew it all, its best to keep this
illusion, James will learn the hard way soon enough.
Slipping in behind the
island we set up for the evening rise. As the sun's
rays lengthened across the water the first few duns
arrived. James was a keen observer; no doubt I had a
firm grasp by now. Leading him would be no trouble.
A size 14 Bushy's Emerger in grey was the perfect match.
No casting was allowed
while we waited for the first fish to rise. It didn't
take long. In the middle of the run we saw a head and
back appear just ahead of the reflection of a tree trunk
in the water. This fix gave him the bearing to aim his
fly. Two casts later the head and back emerged to gulp
the fly down and a chunky pound and a half rainbow cartwheeled
all over the run. This time when he got downstream and
started to thrash the rod came over to the side to turn
his head and angle him back into the current. Twice
he head to do this before the fish came to heel and
after being quickly released regained his freedom. I
am sure the quick release was hurried on by the second
fish that was chomping away at duns with a loud splashy
whack of a rise.
Yes he landed that one
It was black dark as we
stumbled back across the paddock to the car. James was
back. He called in at the shop. He revisited the scene
of his success and caught another one off the high bank
again. This time all by himself.. More lectures skipped.
Mick met James out on the river last night. They struck
up a conversation. James as ked if he could tag along
and watch, no problem, he watched Mick take a couple
of small risers. "There's one!" said Mick
"Have a go at him". James stepped up and took
him nicely, only small but taken with confidence and
"These were the good
ole days" James will say in ten years time. "I
remember when I first started fly fishing I met these
two old timers who showed me how to fish the Goulburn.
There were fish everywhere. We used to get five or six
a day". By this time James will be married with
two kids, a mortgage and a partnership in an accounting
firm. I should also mention the family Labrador that
tends to slobber.
James will look up from
his computer and gaze out the window. A small nostalgic
pain will grip him "I remember that old bastard
warned me, he told me these are the good old days".