Dull overcast conditions and a gusty South Westerly helped me make the easy decision to fish the lower Mersey River this morning mainly because I knew it would be reasonably sheltered from the winds. It wasn't an early start either because the air temp was only eight degrees when I left home, so there was no rush to get in the river. I was on the river bank by 9:05 am and spotted several trout on the rise plus a few small jumpers as well. As always the first lure of choice was a Mepps spinner, the #0 Stone Fly Bug was what went for starters as it's the lure that's done a great job on several trips lately. I spotted a trout on the rise close to the opposite river bank so that's where the first cast headed.
On the retrieve a bow wave appeared behind the spinner as a nice size brown moved in on it and that's as far as it went, it just sat around 20mms off the tail end of the Stone Fly before turning and moving off. Several cast and retrieves back into the same area the same thing happened, that trout showed no sign of aggression toward the Bug spinner. I tried several different spinners such as the black Aglia Mouche Noire, Furia and Black fury, even threw several different hard body lures around the area, still no takers. I moved down along the river bank some five or so meters and flicked a small rainbow pattern hard body out to the center of the river and in no time at all it was taken hard and fast, it was fish on. A nice solid brown had snapped up the little hard body and did all it could to toss it by making several leaps from the river before tiring and I slipped the net under it. It seemed like I had been casting the lures around for ages but it had only taken thirteen minutes to catch the first trout, a well conditioned trout that went 545 grams.
Seeing the area on the river bank wasn't all that long it was time to cross the river and head on down stream then work my way back up the river. By the time I had crossed the river headed downstream, crossed back over the river once more and was ready to start fishing again it was 9:45 am. I had a few casts around with the small hard body lure without a single follow from a trout so it was back to the Stone Fly Bug spinner again. Follow after follow on it without a single hit, so changed to a black Aglia Mouche Noire, same thing, a couple of follows but not takers. The trout were in long slow flowing water but just not in the mood, after an hour since catching my first trout I was getting a little ticked off. As I moved into a shallow fast water I decided to try something different from what I've been using and that was to go for a small #00 White Miller Bug spinner. The second cast up and to the left hand side of the river it was soon taken by a small brown, at last I had my second trout of the day caught and landed at 10:35am. It made me wonder why the hell I never thought of giving it a go early on in the spin session, I reckon I had become a little over confident with the Stone Fly & black Aglia Mouche spinners.
A few cast and drifts in the same shallow fast water all I could manage was a follow from a small brown, it was time for another change of lure. After going through my little lure box I picked out a well used old gold #00 Aglia Mouche Noire, one that was just about past it's use by date actually. I reckon it has already caught around 50 or so trout in it's day, but I had nothing to lose and gold (as does copper) does work well on the trout on dull overcast days. It didn't wasn't all that long before I had a small rainbow trout snap it up on the cast and drift in the medium/fast flowing shallow water. The next cast a small brown took it, this little old Mepps Mouche Noire was on fire with two trout caught in quick time, why didn't I go for gold early on in the spin session. I did a short video clip showing how well worn this little spinner was and that the only way it would be retired was if the treble hook broke off, well that's exactly what happened on a hook up one minute later. A small trout took it and made a couple of leaps from the river and tossed the spinner on the third leap. On checking the spinner I found one of the hooks was missing on the treble hook, I certainly put a curse on that little gold spinner. With the little Aglia Mouche now retired I shuffled through the rest of my little gold Aglia spinners and found another old and well worn lure, one that has caught a lot of trout in the small tannin streams.
That's the lure that I used to replace the other old gold spinner. The good thing with using the older used lures is that the blade is not as shiny as a new one so there's not a bright reflection from the blade to put the trout off. Brand new lures with shiny blades in clear water can and does put a trout off, I often rub my sharpening stone across the spinner blade to take the shine off for that very reason. Five of the first cast and drifts with the lure I had three hook ups and lost every fish, even though they were little trout I wasn't all that impressed. I decided to bypass the following four hundred meters of slow flowing waist deep water and head straight into the fast water runs. After a long walk though high grass and then some bush bashing I was back to the river but not quite where I wanted to be. I was some fifty meters short of the fast water, while I was standing at the edge of the four feet high river bank I flicked the little gold Aglia out to the centre of the river, no sooner had it lobbed in the water it was taken by a medium size brown. That took me by surprise as I wasn't even expecting to catch a fish there, but that's trout fishing for you. After the released of that trout I thought it would be easier to lower myself into the waist deep water and slowly fish my way up to the fast water rather than go bush bashing again.
I didn't see a trout in the ten minutes it took to reached the faster flowing water, it was here I was expecting to pick up a few trout to make the effort all worth while. This area I was about to fish always gave up several browns & rainbows once upon a time but over the past couple of seasons it's rarely fished all that well. The water some fifteen meters below the head water didn't reward me with anything, I never had a follow from a trout at all. I moved myself into the rocky fast head water, it was here I had my first hit, just a small brown that tossed the spinner in quick time. Another few casts up and across this fast water then letting the gold Aglia drift with the flow it was taken by a small/medium size brown. It was a aggressive trout that gave me a run for the money, in the end I came out the winner, a quick photo and the 315 gram brown was on it's way.
It was onto the next fast/medium shallow stretch of water, here I had quite a bit of fun picking up three rainbows and two browns from seven hook ups. They were all well conditioned small to medium size fish that fought like crazy in the fast water. With ten trout caught all up I was feeling a lot better than I had earlier on during the spin session. I had reached the end of the fast water and thought it was time to call it a day because I was starting to feel a little sore after nearly three and a half hours in the river. Around three hundred meters further up the river is another decent run of fast water, it meant I'd have to do a lot of bush bashing to get to it and I just wasn't feeling up to pushing myself to get there. I thought it best to leave it for another day, maybe on a cool overcast day would be best. I had a few casts into the slow flowing water as I was making my way to the river bank and was lucky enough to catch and release two more small/medium size browns.
My spin session finished dead on 12:45pm, then all I had to do was make the long walk back to the car through waist high grass for a kilometre or so, cross over the river then walk through another four hundred meters of high grass to reach the car.
Adrian Webb (meppstas)
Mersey River brown trout
Mersey River brown trout
Mersey River rainbow trout