Seeing as it's been around ten or eleven weeks since I've fished the upper Mersey River I thought today would be the ideal day to do it with light winds & overcast conditions forecast. Getting to the river where I'll be fishing is one that's as tough as it can get, it requires bushing bashing though dense scrub and steep hills. It's also an area than runs hot and cold with the trout fishing too, they're either on in big numbers or they're few and far between. I'm hoping it's going to be a day when the trout are out and about and full of aggression, I'm not fussed about the size as long as they are in big numbers over the one and a half kilometres of river I'll be fishing.
As soon as I arrived (7:05am) and parked the car in a small piece of open bush it was on with the gear and off on the long, tough trek to the river. It was 7:45 am when I reached my starting point in the river and immediately spotted a trout surface feeding in a deep wide slow flowing stretch of river. Seeing as it was still very dull here I started off using a gold #00 Aglia spinner to see if it would get the attention of a trout. After several casts in most areas of the slow flowing water there wasn't a sign of a trout interested in the spinner so it was time to go with a #0 stone fly Bug spinner. It only took three cast and retrieves with it up and across the river when when I spotted a medium size brown sitting close behind it, it wasn't all that long before it turned and moved off. With that trout not showing any signs of aggression I decided to concentrate on the faster flowing waters.
The first narrow fast water run I had a follow from a small brown but ran out of water before it had a chance to take the spinner, the second fast water was much wider and it was here I had the first trout of the day take the spinner. I spotted a nice small flat water close to a large rock on the opposite side of the river and that's where I lobbed the Bug, that's when the brown took it no sooner had the Bug hit the water. It made several runs every which way while at the same time leaping from the river, it was a good battle with this 430 gram trout for a couple of minutes until it tired and I had it in the net. No sooner had I slipped the net under it that fish tossed the spinner, thankfully I didn't continue to film it for too long before netting it. I was nearing the head water of the long stretch of medium/fast water run with the main flow running along the opposite side of the river where the bend in the river was, it certainly looked fishy to me. A long cast to the top end of it then letting the Bug spinner drift with the fast flow while at the same time twitching & lifting the rod tip with a very slow retrieve I was soon onto another trout.
This time it was a rainbow, nothing big but a real fighter in fast water and it did managed to peel a few meters of Platypus line from the reel before I had it under control. It made quite a few runs and leaps from the river as most rainbows do before I had it in close enough to slip the net under it. I really love hooking into a rainbow trout, it doesn't matter what size they are they certainly put up a great fight on light tackle. It like the brown trout tossed the spinner no sooner it was in the net, the fishing gods were giving me a helping hand again today. With two trout caught and released in the fist twenty minutes since I hopped in the river wasn't all that bad for starters, even better was they were right into the stone fly spinner. From here on it went a little down hill, I was fishing the tail end of the next fast water when I hooked a beautiful brown that was in the 700 – 800 gram range only to see it dart of after it's second solid run downstream.
I had worked that fast water for close on ten minutes without a touch or follow from a trout, I even gave the hooks a light touch up before another cast to make sure they were really sharp. While sharpening the trebles I did notice one of the fine hooks was slightly bent outwards so I got the pliers and bent it back into shape. The hook did move back quite easily and I did think about replacing the spinner with a new stone fly but didn't bother to do so. By not going to a new stone fly is what cost me that trout, the small hook that I had straightened had broken off when that trout made it's second run downstream. So there you have, when in doubt change to a new lure because if you don't one day it may cost you a trophy trout, thankfully mine wasn't a trophy trout but I was still ticked of at myself for being too slack.
It did cost me as it was a beautiful solid brown trout and a size that's not all that common in the Mersey River all that often now days. The next area of the river was a long shallow fast water one that normally gives up quite a few trout most of which are small fish that would average 280-300 grams. I did managed a couple of follows over the first fifteen meters at the tail end of the fast water with just one trout having a whack at the spinner that didn't result in a hook up. To the right of me was a narrow side water that still had a good flow to it even though it was reasonably shallow, full of water weeds and green algae. It's the same run of water I fished two weeks before the World Fly Fishing Championships when I hooked eight trout with just two staying on. These small side water are always worth flicking a lure into and should never be bypassed even if you think there's no fish in them, they do hold trout. With this side water being so narrow there was no room for the cast and drift method, it's just cast upstream and retrieve the lure at the same speed as the flow.
Once I was at the edge of it I spotted a nice bubble line on the right hand side, it was also light on water weed so that's where I cast the stone fly spinner. I retrieved the lure at the same speed as the water flow and in no time at all it was taken by a lovely well conditioned 385 gram brown. That fish made a few runs and leaps from the river and then headed into the water weeds, thankfully I eased it out of them and bought it to the net. I moved a little further upstream and cast the spinner up and to the right side again where I hooked another nice brown on the retrieve. This fish fought all the way in until I was about to go for the landing net when it gave a solid head shake a out popped the spinner.
I had reached the top end of this side water without any more hits or hook ups, it was back to the main stream again. I returned to the river and I was back into casting and drifting the spinner, it wasn't all that long before I had a hit and miss from a small brown. Then a little further up I picked up another small rainbow after a direct cast and retrieve straight ahead of me, that fish was taken in five inches of fast water. Not long after the release of that rainbow trout the cloud started breaking up and out popped the sun, something I didn't want as this meant the trout may shut down. There was still the odd bit a shade for a few minutes when the sun went behind the clouds, that's when I did have a couple of hook ups from small browns and lost both fish.
From then on the sun was out and the river was in full sun. I managed a couple of follows in a shallow wide stretch of slow flowing river that was full of water weeds & green algae before I reached the last of the fast water I was fishing today. That one hundred meters (approx) of fast water fished poorly, all that happened was one hooked and lost small trout, three follows and that was it. The full sun on the low clear water was enough to shut them down, my day in the river was done, it wasn't worth pushing on any further up the river. I was feeling pretty tired getting a little sore in the lower back, besides to reach the car I had quite a bit of bush bashing to do. That was followed with a three hundred meter walk up a steep hill that's heavy with foliage, fallen trees, branches & plenty of bracken. That in it's self is enough, so best to stop now and call it a day. Nine hook ups with just four trout caught and released was pretty disheartening, I really thought it would be a top day on the trout here today but it wasn't to be. I was well and truly done and dusted when I finally reached the car, the cold Pepsi Max and a chocolate Freddo from my esky went down well.
Adrian Webb (meppstas)
Always keep a check on the hooks
First wild trout of the day
One of two wild rainbows caught
Side water that gave up trout
Stone fly bug spinner did the job on this trout
Trout taken in the narrow weedy side water