‘Rivers, and the relationship men have established with them, have lain at the heart of the human adventure through all the centuries.’
— Robert Brittain, Rivers and man
You get up at about 8am, wander into the kitchen and head straight for the coffee machine, smiling quietly to yourself while looking out the window at what is a beautiful warm summer morning, every plant in the garden has insects hovering around and the grass has grown an inch overnight. The phone rings, a few words are exchanged, “I’m going fishing at about 9, do you need me to do anything?” “No we’re ok,” the phone call is resumed, plans are made and there is still time for another coffee, bloody hell I love summer!
There is no doubt that winter in Tasmania can be long and harsh, but when the warm weather arrives a huge change takes place with most people, an air of possibility sneaks in and you seem to be able to deal with life in a much simpler and more optimistic way. For me these feelings move directly to fishing as the hard, cold days of late winter are left behind. Some people love the early season and I won’t deny that fishing to tailers is something remarkable, but to me, when I’m skirting through the trees along the banks of the South Esk trying to find those afternoon spinner feeders, this is when fly-fishing comes into its own.
The fish themselves seem to take on the same air of optimism as they sip, slash and launch at any unsuspecting insect or well presented fly, you still work for every fish though that’s just how it is. This is also the time when you bump into more soft plastic and spin fisherman, it’s not that I don’t appreciate their choice, it just seems a little odd when you see selective feeders bombarded by lures the size of house bricks, you smile say hello and walk the extra ½ kilometre upstream.
It all just feels so comfortable; T-shirt, bag, hat, rod and waders… that’s it, into the car and off you go. Sometimes the only decision you have to make is where are you going to go? When you get to your chosen destination though the trees seem to sway gently to acknowledge you’re arrival, you can’t see the river but you can hear the pocket water from the fence, and as you move under the branches the birds are squabbling above you and every now and again you see a Swallow rise above the bank snatching a few unlucky insects from the water. As you peer through the trees and see a small fish sitting up on the left, another 20 metres further up is sipping very gently from the surface, “he’s definitely a better fish”, you confirm, then move up the tree line and without realising start to disappear from the outside world… now it’s just you and the fish.
Summer is the time in Tasmania when I just don’t want to be anywhere else, the fishing is relaxed and it feels so luxurious to stretch out on the bank and have lunch while watching the water slip by and the insects and wildlife go about their business. You move on upstream and the fish continue to cooperate, sometimes you just draw it all in and find yourself thinking of the very simple way that you live in this world and how lucky you are to live here. The sun starts to dip and you turn for home, those two small fish tucked in the bag will go well in the smoker and the thought of an icy cold beer puts a little spring in your step.
As you head towards the car and turn to take one last look, your gaze is drawn to the closest bank where a sip breaks the still surface, the tiny rings catching the last rays of the afternoon sun. Smiling you tip your hat and turn… enough now, lets go home.