Some Simple Truths

I’ve been taking it pretty easy of late (hence the quietness of the blog for a while) – poking along doing a bit of work and keeping to myself. Looming deadlines for visa applications, upcoming trips and overseas travel can lead to spending too much time hunched in front of screens; and I’ve been actively avoiding that.

With a job taking me off to south-western NSW for a month, I put a few exploratory casts into the Edward, Niemur and Murray rivers, but the main excitement I got from this was swimming three new rivers to retrieve snagged lures. That was fine with me though – I like exploring new places and the water was warmish. I think that bait may have been the producer with conditions as they were, but there is always next time.

Back on the coast for a couple of days we got out to my old flathead haunt – the Myall River – for an afternoon of casting soft plastics. With a crew of seven, including one newborn nephew and a daft two year old one; we didn’t travel far but my spots didn’t let me down and we took home a couple of nice ones for the next day’s breakfast. Archie even happened to be sprinting past me at the time I hooked the first and so got to see his first live fish.

Back to Dubbo again and after a couple of days of trying to look like I was being productive at organisation, I grabbed the fly rod late in the afternoon and made my way out to my section of river. I had the water to myself which was even better.

With the river running very low it seemed that the flats that carp usually frequent were either dry or too shallow, leaving the fish to exist unseen in the deeper channels. As I wandered a familiar downstream run I found fish-holding spot after fish-holding spot not holding fish. At least I was out and about. I decided to test Dad’s snag (him being the only one to have found fish there) with the shrimp pattern fly I’d tied the night before. As my second attempt at fly tying; and designed on a whim; I thought it looked great but the snag held true to its name.

After testing out a far bank snag I knew from experience held yellowbelly my long distance casting had managed to mortally wound my little shrimp, so it was time to give my first tying attempt its inaugural flick. This little bucktail shrimp wasn’t quite as professional looking as its stricken comrade, but as it was the only other hook I’d brought along for the evening, on it went.

My first attempt at fly tying might be ordinary, but waving it in a fish's face proved its worth
My first attempt at fly tying might be ordinary, but waving it in a fish’s face proved its worth

Turning back upstream, I rounded a bend and there at the head of the riffle was the wagging tail of a carp. What should have been a simple matter of walking up behind the fish and placing the fly out in front of it was made more difficult by getting snagged on a stick a couple of metres behind the fish. Sneaking forward I managed to unfoul the shrimp and proceeded to make a couple more ‘practice’ casts in the broader vicinity before the fish started to meander away towards deeper water. One last offering landed just where it should – in front and a bit beyond the direction of travel. I stripped a little and the fish continued on its way… but then golden flank showed. A couple more short hops and “oh yes it’s following it now”. Continuing to walk the shrimp back I felt a slight increase in line resistance and gently lifted the rod into a curve. It was just that easy.

True to carpy behaviour the fish thought about things for a few seconds while I walked backwards and got it onto the reel; then it took off. Aiming to keep the fish from getting past me and careening off down the rapid I was standing at the head of, I kept myself in its potential downstream path. The fish responded to this by ducking under a submerged log where I couldn’t follow; with all I could do being to stick the rod in after it and gently walk backwards. The fish gradually cooperated and followed me out. Then it tangled itself around another stick which I managed to free by hand while dancing a jig over the fish between my legs. All credit to the 10lb tippet. It was all a downhill run after that and I got the fish under control.

I like knowing that at the end of the day there are always some simple truths. As technical as we want to get, there is always the reassuring fact that most of the time, putting a lure in front of a fish is the hardest part. All you’ve got to do then is pull backwards.

Wandering back along the river as the light ebbed away I heard the pretty characteristic smash of a cod hitting something on the surface – maybe I’ll find it next time.



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