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I have never seen so many people up here. Ever. Think the last three fish farm escapes combined with the past two Eucumbene spawn runs. That will give you some indication of how busy it was.
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Despite the rain now falling there isn’t a lot of water around. Quite a few of the creeks are low, very low. Some are also clear, but without a doubt the XXXXXX is the best bet for trout opening.
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There seems to be little dispute that the spring rain we all crave is not going to eventuate, and that summer is going to be more severe than usual. ( Check this article in The Age for a dire read on the bush fire season ahead ). Much of what I’ve read, points to a strong chance that we will go into an El Nino cycle this summer, and that means that you should be adjusting your fishing trip plans for the coming season.
I know that all of the guides who work here are doing this right now.
We’ve had not much rain, and once again the short-sightedness of government, means that one of our main water storages, Lake Eildon, will start the irrigation season at a much lower level than it probably should. A lot of water has been released to the river for no tangible gain these past few months, with the result being that we will see a great season of fishing on the Goulburn this year, but what happens next season, will be wholly dependent on next year’s rain.
There is no buffer for future years when the lake when is as low as 60%.
Setting the politics of water management aside, what this means for us on the Goulburn is yet to be determined. It will most definitely mean slightly warmer water temperatures in late spring/summer, which is a good thing for the hatches and the fishing. 10-11c is the standard for the Goulburn at these times of year when the lake is higher. This year we could see 14-17c water temps. Higher than usual, but smack dab in the middle of the perfect range for trout feeding.
So far, so good.
Water releases into the river are an entirely different proposition, and it is here that I will have to bite my tongue (off) to avoid encroaching on the controversial side of the Goulburn River/Lake Eildon water management debate. While we are faced with several possible scenarios, the one most likely to play out is that the demand for irrigation will be earlier and larger than usual this spring. This could see higher river levels from late September onward.
Something that most of us would prefer to avoid.
For the fly fisher, the higher water temps should mean better hatches sooner in the season on the Goulburn. Typically we see a few rising fish in the opening days of the season, with the hatches getting sporadically better and better until they really kick in around October 1. Through October the caddis and mayfly hatches just get stronger, and sometime in the second to third week of the month, the ants show up in big numbers, as well as a whole lot of other bugs.
In other words. Things are flying by mid-October.
This year, we could see some drastic changes to this timeline. Think 1-2 weeks sooner on the aquatic insects, and 2-3 weeks on the terrestrials, if we get any real bursts of early warmth.
Either way, the Goulburn will be excellent all season long. If we don’t get rain next winter/spring, then the report written 12 months from now will be very different to this one. But for now, we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief, because the Goulburn looks great. Our view is to enjoy it while it’s good, and keep referring back to our reports for more detail and the latest information. We have seven guides in the field this season, and without the shop/property to maintain, we will be on the river even more than we usually are.
Hence, once again, we will be the only genuine source of quality information from the area.
Getting back to the report, it’s the smaller rivers that will see the most dramatic changes to previous years. These smaller, naturally flowing (i.e. unregulated) streams will undoubtedly fish much sooner than they usually do. When we go into a dry spring, as we seem to be doing, these rivers fish very early on. Back in season 2008-2009, the season of the devastating Black Saturday bushfires, we had rising fish in the Rubicon on opening day!
Of course by the time the Australian Open started in January, the river was at 24 degrees and the fishing was over.
With this year looking to be on a similar trajectory to those drought years, now is the time to begin planning your trips to the high country, and possibly bringing forward any post-Christmas trips to mid-late spring when the fishing will be at its best.
You can rest assured that the Goulburn will fish well right through the season, as historically, 60% in the lake means great water temps and plenty of water to get through the irrigation season. So the Goulburn option is always there, and of course we will boats available to fish it every day should you want to drift it. But the smaller rivers, especially those in certain catchments, should already be fishing well by next month. And October/November could be epic.
For those looking to do something different, please check out our Guide’s Road Trip pages. We are running three and six day trips into these areas, with groups of 4-10 people. We will have a guide per pair, and we will have drift boats and 4WD’s so that we can fish anywhere we choose. We will simply visit the best area at the given time of the trip. This is a new concept that we have been kicking about for a number of years, and after a recent trial run, we are now offering it as a standard service, to be run at set/listed times, and on also demand if you have a pair or more of anglers.
I won’t go on and on about them. If you are interested in learning more, simply click the link to the page on our website.
So this season will be very different to last year. We had more water in Lake Eildon 12 months ago, plus we also had more general rainfall over the Great Divide, meaning that catchments were soaked and further rain fell through the spring. We also had a huge rainfall event in December that saw much of the state underwater for several weeks. This was a boon for the smaller rivers and the Goulburn alike; with no irrigation water needed for nearly three weeks as a result of the summer deluge.
This year looks to be very different. And I’m only able to hope that by tempting fate and stating this in written form, maybe I can tempt Mother Nature into proving me wrong and embarrassing me for being so bold as to make such a call.
I double dare you MN.
But all joking aside, it looks like we are headed for a drier and warmer than average spring, and quite possibly an El Nino summer. Our advice is simply to bring your trips forward and plan for more visits early in the season. You might just hit these smaller rivers at the time when they first start fishing, and the fishing is outstanding.
The Goulburn will fish well right through, so you can rely on it during the JAN-MAR period when all of the smaller rivers fall over. With a mix of Goulburn and smaller rivers between now and Christmas. Also worth noting is that the South Island usually has terrific summer fishing and enough rainfall when we experience El Nino events on the east coast of Australia. We do have some spots left on our NZ trips for those considering coming across at the height of the summer fishing season in Southland.
For us the approaching season looks like this:
SEPT: Goulburn + some small rivers depending on water levels and temps.
OCT-DEC: Goulburn and smaller rivers and trips to the high country
JAN-MAR: Goulburn and New Zealand South Island. Smaller rivers too low and hot.
APR-MAY: Goulburn and smaller rivers and trips to the high country
More to come in the coming week as we get closer to the season opening. Check out our Facebook page for our ‘photo countdown’ to the new season. Also, if you are a client, either past or present, please contact us for information on how you can gain access to the Member’s Area of our website where the fishing reports, articles and trip reports are written up.
All the best people and see you back out on the river soon.
Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Centre
Landline 03 5773 2513 Mobile 0418 995 611
Spring has arrived in the Goulburn valley and it couldn’t have come soon enough. The closed season can feel like an eternity when you are trapped up this way, especially given the propensity for June and July to see the valley completely fogged in. Days roll into weeks, and weeks into months during the closed season, and with precious little do up this way when the weather is bad and the trout off-limits, the arrival of September is something that brings a real sense of excitement up this way.
To further add to this elevated sense of anticipation, over the past week and a half, many of the trees along the river have begun to bud, and the daffodils around Thornton are out in full-force. This is a fantastic time with so many possibilities yet to unfold. You only need look around outside to see all the potential as the very marked shift from winter becomes visually evident.
For me I am already pondering on what might be. Will the caddis arrive early? Will the river remain low enough for caenids in November but high enough to drift? Will the cicadas and willow grubs show? There is so much to ponder, and every season is different. This, I guess, is part of the allure of fly fishing. While experience brings with it great knowledge of what may happen and how to respond to most situations that arise, obviously it allows no control of what Mother Nature may do and you just have to work around what she brings, especially early on in the season when river levels are the single most determining factor in regard to catching success.
And it’s all a guessing game for now. While we haven’t had much rain over the past few months, this is not unusual for mid-August. Most of our rain falls in the next six to ten weeks. The catchment is soaked and anything we get from here on in should pretty much just run off into the rivers and down on into the lake. Fingers are crossed that there are plenty of good falls yet to come, and we can put another 15-20% into Eildon before the draw down begins in November. But it doesn’t look likely.
It’s been hard to watch the river at such high levels at this time of the year. It was high when I left for Montana back in early July, and still up now. It’s still up now! This is not good, and with the way they wasted water through the back half of last season, it remains to be seen where things end up at the end of spring. Lake Eildon is at 60% as of today, when it should be closer to 70-75% based on how it was looking mid-way through last summer.
It’s funny that since the last drought, people have gone back to living as they did before. Same with the bush fires up this way. I guess this is simply human nature and we all assume it can’t be as bad as it was before, but it’s hard to believe that our water managers can fall into this same trap. Especially given how bad things got in the 2003-2008 period.
Leaving that politically charged issue aside, the writing is on the wall for a drier than usual spring which will see the lake finish up under 70% and a very different spring to what we’ve seen in recent years.
Already we are making plans to visit many of the small streams in the north east, and we are offering a range of new trips there. Check out the Guide’s Road Trip and the, as yet to be listed, Backcountry Trips, for more information. This is a direct reaction to how we see the coming months panning out. Some catchments are already receiving significantly less rain than even we are getting, and there will be interesting opportunities arising there in less than a month’s time.
We tend to avoid these areas until at least November in a typical year. This should illustrate just how different to last season we see the approaching one panning out.
The other side to this is what will the Goulburn do, and to be honest, it’s anyone’s guess. It’s been high of late, but was scaled back a few days ago, and all things being equal, it will be low and clear on opening day. More on that on Thursday week. We would expect that it will be low through September and if the spring rain ends as soon as some at BOM predict, we will see earlier than usual water releases from Lake Eildon into the Goulburn River.
Once again though this is just a guess. And not even the folks at GMW can predict what will happen with any degree of accuracy. The key will be to check these reports as often as you can, and even more importantly, phone me directly on 0418 995 611 for the very latest updates.
As you undoubtedly know, we no longer have a physical store. You can still get all your local flies online from David at www.theflyshop.com.au and we will run a local drop off / pick up mobile service in the Thornton – Alexandra area from out the back of our trucks. But there will no longer be a physical store.
So staying in touch with us either online or on the phone, will be important should you need info on how the rivers up this way are fishing.
If you are a client of ours, either past or present, please contact us to learn more about how you can also access this information.
There will be a much more detailed report published here on the evening of Thursday 30th August as a prelude to Opening Day on Saturday 1st. We will take photos of most of the rivers and include a comprehensive overview of what to expect, including flies to use and maybe some other places to fish without all the crowds.
This season we have a heap of new trip offers and we have an interesting mix of staff. Bo and I are available every day. David Pickering is now retired but will be available from time to time. Geoff Hall has put his hat back in the ring and will be available on arrangement. It’s terrific to be able to offer his services, as he is a very experienced guide and a lot of fun on the water. The usual suspects in Cameron Parker and John Kruska will be available, with Lachlan Manning and Chad Sayer also doing some solid stints for us.
This is the best that our guiding team has ever looked and we have a huge range of experience among that group.
If you want to learn more about the year ahead and the trips we will offer, visit our News and Offers page that can be accessed from the top navigation panel of this website.
Lastly, a huge thank you to all who’ve supported us over the past 24 years. We are all very excited to be moving into the next phase of our lives with GVFFC, and not having to man that shop and mow lawns is a big part of it. We now have a lot more spare time to guide and to run special trips like The Guide’s Road trip. We will also have a lot more time to assist you with any of your fly fishing needs, both on and off the water.
We’ve been very fortunate to work in this industry for the amount of time that we have, meeting so many interesting people and developing friendships that have lasted decades. While things have changed a lot in the past few months with the sale of our property, we will continue to offer all of the same personalised services that we have done in the past, for many years to come.
Again, watch this space for a detailed pre-season update on Thursday 30th August, and good luck with your trip planning for the coming fishing season.
We are always here to help.
Antony and the GVFFC team.
To read more, become a Member by clicking the links at the top of this page, or book a trip with us to receive a complimentary 12 month Membership.