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Autumn 2014

Journal

Tassie trout 150 years

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Tassie trout – 150 years

Can we look forward to another 150 years?

Researching one’s Tasmanian family history over more than 170 years throws up some confusing information but there is no confusion about the history of brown trout in Tasmania.

One hundred and fifty years ago next month, on May 4, 1864 to be precise, the first of a mere 300 fish which had been painstakingly transported as ova from the UK, began hatching at the now famous Salmon Ponds near Hobart. A day later Atlantic salmon that had made the same journey began hatching.

The anniversary of the event is unlikely to attract anything but praise from fly fisherman.

But the introduction of trout to Tasmanian waterways, after many painstaking efforts, is an achievement which historians or naturalists might argue led to different schools of thought about the merit of the acclimatisation movement which gripped colonial Australia in the mid-19th century.

Focussing on what they missed from the Old Country, acclimatisation societies set out to bring in animals and plants and with no great knowledge of genetics, assumed the introduced species would gradually adapt to the new environment.

Few today would dispute the damage caused by rabbits, foxes, deer and carp which were introduced for “sport”. Occasionally one even [...]

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December

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

St Pats

I always find the time leading up to Christmas gets a little too frantic, work’s busy, kids are busy, partners are busy, it all seems just a bit too consuming. The fishing  at this time of year is some of the season’s best, good water flows, excellent hatches and lots of fat healthy fish. Getting on to the water is the real challenge, days of blue skies and soft fluffy clouds do their best to lure us  from tasks that have to be done, a sort of resentment may even creep in as gentle breezes lift the greenery in passing waves and tug at some inner level of consciousness, urging us to down tools and follow this bidding call. A loss of confidence may even overtake us, as all around the word is passed of so many good fish, and for some it seems, endless summer days.

The fishing is late this year, the rain seems unending as we patiently wait for everything to steady. Muddy flows and high water persist, even the fish “up top” are being less than co operative as high water levels keep them out of the shallows. One of our favourite rivers in Northern Tasmania is [...]

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Belief

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Paul at Penstock

What happens to us? One minute you feel like you’re flying along, making the right fly choices, catching a few fish, casting solidly, generally speaking doing pretty well. The following week you find yourself standing on the bank of your favourite stream and things just don’t feel quite right, you don’t seem able to choose a fly let alone find a fish and the one cast that you’ve made has left your favourite emerger firmly embedded in a tree high above. What’s happening? What’s changed? This is one of those times in a fisherman’s life when you have to ask yourself… am I going to think this through or am I just going to blunder on?

From what I have read and when speaking with other fisherman, it would seem that just about everyone at some point has been through the same thing, those times when you just can’t find that place in your brain that will help put it all together, maybe this a plateau? Whatever it is, finding something or someone to help get us through this is our next step. Some people find it with the help of a friend, a lot of people head to the local [...]

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By The Lake, Tasmania

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

By The Lake

This little film popped up last year on Vimeo and, deservedly so, stole every anglers heart that watched it. It’s so beautifully filmed it feels like falling into a dream. We never tire of watching By The Lake, Tasmania.

 

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Lost in translation

Monday, 7 October 2013

Lost in translation

I don’t think it will ever change – that bewildered look on the face of a person of a non-fishing persuasion, when you talk to them about your successful day on the water.

You’re still pretty psyched up and itching to share some of the detail, yet no matter how hard you try it always winds up with something along the lines of what my beloved wife would say: “That’s enough babe, it’s all starting to sound like clicks and whistles to me” – but shit, you just want to get it out; clicks and whistles or not, it was an amazing day.

And again, how many times have you sat quietly at night, reading one of your favourite authors – their stories of amazing hatches of green drakes, western stoneflies, red spinners or pale morning duns – and you can almost feel the air moving and humming, tiny wings catching the light, selective fish gently breaking the surface film… And all the while your feet are warmly perched on the ottoman. Try to explain that to the punter and you may have some trouble.

I don’t know how to adequately express the feelings we all have about fishing, yet at some point [...]

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What makes a fly fisherman?

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Mr Crabtree Goes Fishing

At first sight this may seem like an easy question to answer.

The challenge of outwitting a fish.  A passion for eating fish. A love of the outdoors. A desire to get away from it all.

While those are the obvious reasons, I reckon there are some subliminal influences-the catalysts, if you like, that firm your resolve to get up in the cold grey pre-dawn light and exercise your arm for hours in pursuit of a very elusive quarry.

It’s not hard to recall the many influences that brought about my conversion from an everyday kid to a fisherman and later still, into a fly fisherman.

The odd success on Melbourne’s Station Pier with flathead. Chasing snapper off Mornington in a clinker built inboard motor boat or grass whiting and gurnard in Westernport Bay. Discovering the art of building rods-from Rangoon cane surf rods to split cane fly rods – under the tutelage of a master rod maker. And, reading what I have only recently discovered is the most popular fishing book the world has yet seen, under the bed covers in a cold greater London winter.

Bernard Venables wrote Mr. Crabtree Goes Fishing in the late 1940s. Adapted from a regular cartoon strip that [...]

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Thanks to a fisherman

Friday, 23 August 2013

Uncle Rex in his beloved boat

I only learned about Uncle Rex’s war time experiences some time after he had fostered my love of fishing with short but memorable journeys to country that largely still remains remote to all but bushwalkers and fisherman.

There’s no doubt that returning to the country of Tasmania’s highland lakes and central plateau did much to help heal the wounds of war for Able Seaman Pullen – a sunken ship, comrades lost, endless days of heat and thirst, encircled by sharks on a raft in the Timor Sea.

If he did not say so, I am sure Uncle Rex certainly thought it – the country of the highlandlakes and central plateau is good for the soul.

And, as time has passed I have embraced that country and the passion that took him there.

Uncle, you taught me to love that time, in the minutes before sunrise, when the mist sits gently on the highland lakes.

I learned the thrill of chasing those elusive trout when, even in the borrowed oilskins over two shirts, a sweater, a vest and two pairs of sox in rubber waders, the morning sun could do little to warm my inner core.

You showed me the joy of being remote when we were [...]

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Undies for a brown

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Undies for a brown

For some people, getting out of bed is a challenge, regardless of what the day might hold in store. Even serious fly fisherman can be affected by this ailment – the need to stay wrapped beneath the covers, with 3 lb. browns taking a Red Tag at every bend in the stream of dreams.

Sometimes you catch more fish that way than a whole day in chilling water with barely a hip flask to fend off the despondency that results from no rises anywhere.

Not that I was looking for any excuse when I pulled the covers over my head, rolled over and was vaguely aware that the suspension of the camper-van, definitely not a luxurious Winnebago, was in need for some care.

Somewhere in the back of my still comatose mind a voice was calling to me with some urgency. My fishing buddy Roeland.

More than once I told him to go back to sleep. But it was to no avail. He kept calling. So it was that I woke, nursing a head somewhat befuddled by just one or two beverages the night before, beside this reed-encircled lake barely a hundred metres inland from an isolated beachfront on Tasmania’s north east coast.

“Go there,” [...]

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Fly selection

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Fly selection

A subject very close to the heart of every fly fisherman: all those boxes jammed with fur and feather, most deemed indispensable, some close to sacred, and always a few secret weapons.

How the hell we all end up with so many different and varied patterns for fishing the same water is beyond me, yet every time you talk to another fisherman, you discover another selection. This never ruffles anyone’s feathers; everybody is entitled to their own choice. One of the most generous gestures in fly fishing is when someone offers you a different fly to try on your favourite water. Sometimes it simply slips to the bottom of the bag; yet others seem like a revelation… you gently roll it in your hand, you can feel the connection – this fly will catch a fish, as simple as that.

Selection in the early years is a pretty hit-and-miss affair. This stage is by far the largest mental hurdle: so many choices, so many sizes and always that niggling feeling that you may have got it wrong. Time and experience is supposed to cure all this, but I’m not so convinced. How many fisherman have been humbled by the ‘untouchables’ [...]

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New boots

Sunday, 31 March 2013

New boots

I’m just going to put it out there.

I love my wading boots. Battered, broken, resurrected, and nearly killed again; they’ve been with me now for so many years that we’re like old friends, both a little haggard, both definitely showing our age and – according to my beloved wife – both about due for replacement.

Most of the other fisherman I talk to about my boots don’t seem to feel the same way, and generally give me a ‘Are you out of your freaking mind?’ kind of look. “What about a favourite rod?” they ask me. Sure, I love my rod – but take away the boots and I can’t bloody go anywhere.

Funnily enough, the boots I’m talking about didn’t get off to a very welcome start. They came home in their Simms-branded box, wrapped in crisp white tissue paper, the packaging blazoned with ‘Bozeman, Montana’. The guy in the fly shop had been very helpful, and there’s no doubt they were the boots I wanted…

What did come as a surprise, however, was that on further inspection the boots turned out to have been made in China. Of course, I realise that Simms obviously moved a lot of product offshore years [...]

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