The spawn run at the Snowy Mountains in NSW is over for another year. With plenty of rain, plenty of fish and plenty of anglers whether they be beginners or experienced in pursuit of catching trout.
For me, I only managed to get up to the Snowy Mountains once this year but it is yet another fishing memory that will be etched in my mind forever.
I have caught trout on a spin rod outfit in previous years but this year I wanted to challenge myself and also improve my fly fishing skills.
When I received an email from Joshua Hutchins Aussie Fly Fisher and Juan Luis Del Carmen from Advanced Fly Fishing School partnering up and running The Next Steps Fly Fishing course over the weekend at the Eucumbene River I was excited. With only limited places I quickly contacted a fellow female angler, Amber Johnstone Gygi to see if she was keen to join me. This was an affirmative so we booked in quick smart.
After a Friday night meet and greet we sorted out who wanted to get up early and go for some free time fishing. To me this was the greatest part because all though it was free time Joshua and Juan came with us to give us tips on the water of how to fish it best.
I learnt a lot this morning and although my casting was rusty and I was falling short of where I needed the fly rig to land I could wade out a little further to reach the edge of the rapid I was casting down.
Watching my strike indicator and waiting for it to disappear under the surface helped me block out the numbness in my toes and hands from the cold conditions. Next minute the indicator had disappeared, my line pulled tight and I was hooked up to a 2lb brown trout. Yelling out up stream to Josh “aaahhh, what do I do next? I have got one on?” He quickly came running back downstream with his net and by this stage my adrenalin had kicked in. I was anxious and shaking as this was to be my first wild brown trout on fly. Josh had successfully talked me through the fight and it was landed safely in the net. To say I was on cloud nine would be an understatement.
It was then a full day of learning from casting clinics and video taken, stream craft on the water, fly tying, DVD’s and way too much food before the next “free time fishing”
Greeted with -8 at Adaminaby on the Sunday morning I was lucky enough that Josh had brought his wife’s Patagonia waders up, so rather than wearing my rubber waders, which were quite slippery on the river rocks, I was able to try some proper boots and wader combo. I must admit, although I am still unsteady on my feet, I had a lot more confidence and grip crossing the river and my toes were a lot warmer – thanks Anna.
We fished a few areas on the way up river, I hooked a small one but it got off down the rapid. One of the other fellow members had also hooked a small one. It was then our group moved areas and we were confronted with quite a good stretch of river where we could all spread out but still see each other fishing. We all watched Rosco catch three nice browns and were keen to catch our own. Doug being a gentleman gave me first pick of where I wanted to fish. As I was a little in front of him I decided to fish the section just up a little in front of me and he could stay where he was standing.
I was confronted with a raging rapid in front of me but on the other side of the river the water flow slowed down as it branched around a big boulder and ran down past a couple tuffits of grass along the edge of main rapid. It took me a couple of goes before I could even get my line out to make some sort of cast. I was determined as ever to make my fly rig land to the edge of the boulder for a nice drift down the edge of the main rapid and past this tuffit of grass. I was excited when I landed a cast in the exact spot I was aiming. Drifting through for nothing. Next cast again I landed it in the same spot.
Before I knew it my fly line was taking off with speed down the rapids. I am sure the boys’ ears are still ringing as I am yelling out some profanities as this fish was ripping my line off down stream. I am trying to follow it as quick as I can but I had some biggish boulders to climb back over under the water and was also trying to concentrate on keeping tension. What had made it worse was my drag had frozen over so it wasn’t working so every time I took my hand off the reel it would literally free spool. It was such a hectic moment.
The whole time Joshua Hutchins was coaching me on using the angles of the fly rod to control the fish, slow it down and hopefully the opportunity to land it. Next minute this fish was heading back upstream against the rapids so I just stayed put. It finally started to tire and back downstream it headed. I angled the rod as Josh explained and before I knew it all I could see was this beautiful orange slab turn and be secured in the net.
The reality set in, I still have to pinch myself that this whole experience was real. I was shaking like a leaf as I was admiring the beauty of this fish that I had just captured.
Joshua took some photos and then I got to release this buck. After release I was able to watch the fish rest next to a boulder for what felt like minutes but was probably only seconds before taking off upstream.
I then packed up my rod and watched the others fish on in the hope to see them have their turn to tussle with a trout. I didn’t need to catch another fish. This is the biggest brown trout I have ever caught and to be on a fly rod with a fly I have tied and twisted leader I have tied has hooked me even further into my fly-fishing journey.
The day didn’t stop there as we went back to headquarters for another full afternoon of learning. It has left me a bug to get back out with the fly rod as often as I can. Whatever level you are at, all I can say is you never stop learning and the Next Steps is a great platform for this.