My mind was set, I had some small jobs to do in the morning, I’ll swing past the roof rack place and pick up the padding I forgot to get when I had the racks installed and straight to the river by mid afternoon. The plan was sound until I arrived at the RMS and the line was all but out the door, that’s right school holidays. 30 or so minutes later I emerged with out hassle and heading to load up the kayak.
This was going to be first trip out this season in the kayak as I had recently sold my old car in move to downsize, and reduce costs. I miss not the go everywhere Camry, but it was sensible going to the newer car and just putting roof racks on it. I also made a very tough decision that I would only take my fly rod with me this trip. It was a difficult choice to make, as being the first trip in the kayak to my favoured location for the season and I was going to be, what I saw as at a disadvantage due to my experience with fly rod. I won’t lie when I was sorting my gear I packed a separate bag for my spin stuff. Upon walking out the door I forced myself to leave it on the lounge.
I arrived at the river around 1530, the light was still bright and the day had been very warm. My heart sunk a little when I pulled up to see another car parked that had roof racks on and a sticker of a bass stuck to the rear window. As I was unloading I pondered if I was going to go upstream or downstream, and where was the likely place the other individual had headed. Deciding upon heading downstream as the terrain was a little more open and would allow for a little more ease in fly casting I set off. The water was still up from the big rains a few weeks back, some of the portages I was able to navigate without getting out of the yak.
I was unsure what to expect fly-casting from a yak; I am still relatively new to the whole fly-fishing scene and probably struggle to cast much more than 30-40ft on grass. Today however everything seemed to slot into place, all the visits to the local park with fly rod in hand had paid off. Although my technique was still lacking, I was managing to cast well and land the fly reasonably gently and somewhat accurately. I could feel the rod loading well on the back cast as well, even though I was not watching my back cast as vigilantly as I would normally.
I pulled up at the end of a long sunken log, and launched several casts parallel up its length. I had a foam popper fly I had bought tied on, and was retrieving with short sharp strips; this was because I found it difficult to do long strips while in the kayak. Around 15ft away on a pause there was a subtle eruption from the water, where my fly just happened to be. I grabbed tight onto the fly line and stuck, the fish was on. The first had intentions of returning to its home under the log, and tried valiantly to do so on multiple occasions. My intentions were different; I was trying to persuade it to come out into open waters where I could easily get a hold of the leader. The fight was like nothing I had ever experienced before; it felt like truest form of angling. After some contortion of my rod arm I landed the fish. I do believe I may have even let out a little yelp of joy. The difficult part was taking the all too important selfie. With one hand I set up the Camera, jamming it in between the rod holder and kayak and set the timer. Note to self, I really need to devise a better way to take pictures in future. After some minor discomfort I promptly got the little fella back into the water. It suckled on my thumb for a moment and shot off back under the log.
I fished on with a heighten enthusiasm; I was very pleased with my efforts of the day. I received several more strikes, however I didn’t get the hook set. I also nearly landed another species on this afternoon. While fishing an overhanging dead tree, a little water dragon launched itself from a good 3 meters high right onto my fly. Being clumsy with the situation I couldn’t get the fly away from him fast enough, he took hold of it and gave it a good chew before spitting it out. I am thankful for the weed guards as I assume they stopped the hook from setting in its mouth. Last thing I wanted to deal with is a water dragon tangling up my fly line. That wasn’t the last of the wild life I would see on the trip, floating along I happened to look next to me on the relatively close rocky bank to see a meter long brown snake sunning itself in the last rays of the day. I opted against attempting to take a picture of the creature as its proximity was concerning, I swiftly paddled away.
I returned to my launch spot, and loaded my car. One thing I do enjoy about fly-fishing is the minimalist amount of gear needed. Box of flies, replacement leader, scissors, forceps, a rod, reel and some other odds I like to carry and I am ready to go. It also all fits into a small dry bag!