Small stream, small fish, hard work and great memories

by Russell Gray

The late February weather was forecast to be warm and settled. There had been little rain for the fortnight so a trip to a trout stream seemed a good idea.

My fancy turns to one of those beautifully clean, rippling small rivers with bushy banks and tall timber to provide plenty of shade. I consulted Greg French's "Tasmanian Trout Waters" and chose the Weld River in the South near the Junction with the Huon and note that Rainbows are reported abound.

A quick visit to the tackle shop for a few more lures, just in case there are better colours or I lose too many of the several hundred I already have. Who needs justification when it comes to buying tackle?

The access notes in "Tasmanian Trout Waters" refer to 15 to 20 minute scrub bash to the river from Glovers Bluff. I park my van at this landmark in the heat of the afternoon and immediately the March flies set upon me in the thousands. By the time my gear is ready my van is thick with them and I reckon they are debating whether to eat me here or carry me away somewhere for a meal of their leisure.

From the top of the bluff I can see glimpses of the river below but I am much daunted by the steeples of the decent. The best way seems to be to follow the toe of the bluff but I soon run into thick scrub and start bashing downhill through chest high bush. Progress is slow, a sort of step and lurch downhill, at least I can't fall, the scrub is too thick for that. My socks are soon full of grass seeds and shirt soaked with sweat. The thought of the return journey grows more unpleasant with every metre downhill.

Eventually the bottom is reached where I cross a nearly dry sedgy area, dotted with a few black boggy patches miss a footing and step back into one of these about calf deep. Now my socks are full of black mud as well as the prickly seeds. Then another 60 metres of thick Tea tree, cutting grass and tall trees and the river is reached. At last I sling of my back pack and drink a gallon of river water, wring out my socks and shirt and try to rig my spinning gear. But its no use, my eyes are full of running sweat and my glasses too steamed up to be able to see to tie a lure to the fine line. Patience is the only course and eventually I cool off sufficiently to see what I'm doing. It is nearly an hour since I left the van but finally I ease into the river and begin casting.

The fish are here just as the book said. Rainbows and Browns in equal and abundant numbers, not big - pan size though and I have a great hour and a half hooking and releasing several. The Rainbows put up a spectacular struggle, racing downstream with the current, leaping out of the water and tearing in zig zags. I decide I know when a Rainbow is hooked even when all that is seen is a silver streak before the hooks are dislodged and the line goes slack.

Where the river is too deep to wade I have a clamber out over numerous logs and scrub bash to the next shallow section. Some of the riverside bush is truly impenetrable - at best it is very difficult, rod and reel getting snagged constantly. Wading is good though, the rocky bed providing sure foot holds and the crystal water making it easy to see the bottom.

Casting requires a good deal of risk, several times my lures end up hanging from bushes or over a log but only one is lost forever. Sometimes a trout would strike the lure within a second or so of it hitting the water and there are many times a fish would follow the lure a foot behind, darting away when it catches sight of me or the lure reaches the rod tip.

With the climb up to my van and the necessity of reaching it before dark nagging away at my brain I reluctantly leave at the best hour. This time I go straight up the bluff where there is no thick scrub but the slope is about one in one and same rock scrambling required at the top. Hellishly hard work but better than forcing up the way I had come down.

I camped overnight and did it all again next morning. The trout were just as numerous. Even when the sun got high and the ay bright they could be found in the deeply shaded water overhung by kept a half a dozen, released lots, lost heaps and had a truly memorable time. The second return was doubly hard, I picked the thickest and sharpest patch of Tea tree and sword grass to crash through, all laced with the fallen trees for good measure. The bluff combined with temperature of 30 degrees requires many rests before the top.

Back at my van I recover and reflect on the days events with complete satisfaction and contentment. The physical challenge has been met, a magnificent wilderness river visited and trout caught to boot. Who could want more?

During the drive home over the next few days I relieve the adventures but come to the conclusion that the access is just to difficult and probably a bit dangerous as well, particularly for a solo trip.

But recall is a wonderful thing. Gradually the bites and stings, cuts and scratches and hardness of the climbs are being pushed further to the rear of ones memory. What is to the forefront and more enduring and powerful is the curve of the rod, the silver streaks in the crystal water and the simple fact of just being there. Next year I'll be back.

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