Wednesday, 9 July 2014
150 years ago two enterprising Tasmanians made a decision that would change the rivers, lakes and streams of our island home forever. English Trout and Salmon ova carried from the New Norfolk wharf on the shoulders of men, keen to find a place of sanctuary, freedom and sport without the watchful eye of the local gamekeeper. Our world today is very different, yet when we stand in our favourite river or stream, the current gently swirling around our waders, studded boots creating small storms under the silky surface, the landscape gently caressing our senses, we owe some of these feelings to that fateful choice so many years ago.
Contemporary fishing is a strange and wondrous pursuit, old school references being the elegant words of Scholes and Wigram, beautiful books in there own ways, yet feeling so far from the place that we find ourselves today.
Tony Ritchie spans the two worlds, and then works from people like Rob Sloane, Greg French and Daniel Hackett re align us to the modern ways. These books all paint a fascinating picture of the place we call home, yet perhaps one element is not openly discussed. Freedom, the ability to choose so many places to fish, to [...]
Thursday, 10 April 2014
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 [...]
Tuesday, 31 December 2013
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 [...]
Thursday, 28 November 2013
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 [...]
Tuesday, 29 October 2013
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.
Monday, 7 October 2013
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 [...]
Thursday, 12 September 2013
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 [...]
Friday, 23 August 2013
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 [...]
Tuesday, 13 August 2013
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,” [...]
Sunday, 21 July 2013
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’ [...]