22 Jun 2006

Harcourt & my first trout on fly

Harcourt Reservoir. Also known as Barkers Creek Reservoir. Constructed in the late 1800's to supply water to nearby orchards and recently undergone major dam-wall reconstruction. So what is the significance? Lets go gack a few years. August 1991 - bleak, bitterly cold day and I was there, only my second outing with the fly rod. I was clad in a pair of Hornes thigh waders (my first pair of waders) freezing my shins standing in the icy water, concentrating on casting. I was casting about 40 feet reasonably well. I remember thinking, "concentrate, concentrate!". I made sure I stopped the rod at 10 and then at 2, (like I'd been told) watching the line sail overhead, loop unfurling and leader opening out to gently plip the fly down. Every now and again, I'd stuff it up - badly. No worries, keep at it, mate. Gradually, I began to creep into new line. This made me feel good, knowing that bit by bit, I was casting a little further each time.
The water level was the highest it had ever been. The pin rushes were well inundated and the small spill near Schoolhouse Bay was flowing hard. As I slowly retrieved the olive Hamils Killer, I watched the water, willing a fish to show itself. None did. My hands were beginning to get numb as the freezing southerly threatened to slice right through me.
A jolt! A hit! Instigator's, I lifted the rod and my left hand pulled the fly line tight. The rod tip dipped immediately and a boil appeared some 20 feet in front of me. I was on, man, I was on! And bugger me if it was not a bloody good fish, too! I could feel the fish's surging power through the rod as it made off with line. In seconds, all the loose fly line was taken up and I could play it off the reel. Yar-hooo! What a rush! Then, after a another run, he headed straight for the pin bush in front of me... Oh no! He swam around it, grating the leader against the sharp edged grass. Thats when it all stopped. No movement. 'What do I do now?' I thought. I lifted the rod slowly higher and lightly applied a little pressure. Nothing. A slight boil appeared to well up from a under the bush. He was still there. I relaxed the pressure and stepped forward. The water was close to the rim of my wader tops. I needed to get closer. I edged my way forward, aware that the icy water was very close to entering my waders. I was reaching forward as far as I could, stretching out my arm as far as I could without overbalancing. I raised the rod a little to try and loosen the leader when I felt the first razor-like slice of cold water slither down the indide of my thigh. My breath drew in involuntarily. I raised myself up on my tip-toes but it was too late. One wader was inundated, the other was filling rapidly. Next step forward reminded me I was a man, as my nether regions got wet! With 'the boys' frozen, a wet butt, I waded out to the bush. Lifting the rod again, I applied some more tension and suddenly the line shot forward and headed for the middle of the lake! As I let the drag slow the fish down for me, it turned and boiled under the surface. I swung the rod sideways, pressuring the fish to turn toward me. It resisted and arked out wide. Gradually I gained line. Not having a net, I back up towards the bank. The trout was not very happy about being guided towards the shallow water and make a couple of runs but to no avail. I soon had the flapping fish firmly in my hands! What a battle! What a prize! I dispatched the fish quickly. Nowadays I'd have released him.
I lay on my back and raised my legs up to empty my swamped waders. Looking up, I saw another fly fisherman walking towards me. We had a chat and he commended me on my effort. We chatted about this lake and its fish. Well, he spoke and I eagerly listened, that is. I took in all his tips and comments, the chill in my legs going unnoticed. He mentioned Newlyns and that it was fishing well at that moment... but that is another story... (and you know, I still have that fly in the box!)

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