There is nothing quite like the closed season, cold winter weather and epic Tour De France scenery, to make you nostalgic about previous trips to explore pristine running waters in some of Australia’s most rugged country. These thoughts are a nice escape from the everyday hustle and bustle of life in inner Sydney.
Tonight, the Tour De France contenders will tackle the highest point of this year’s race, the infamous Col Du Galibier. The majestic images of the alpine peaks that accompanied the many stage preview’s I read over lunch today, stirred my imagination and brought back strong images of our own not so impressive but equally beautiful main range in the Snowy Mountains of NSW. Which brings me to the point of this blog post, which is to recount an enjoyable week spent exploring the Gungarlin River and surrounding area, North of Jindabyne late last year. Dad and I made our most recent trip to this wonderful region back in November (2016), and since it looks unlikely that we will make it back down this year, I thought it was a good time to reminisce and document our previous journey, while I can still recall most of the finer points and the trout haven’t grown to 80cm long, 15lb monsters ;-)
With a favourable weather forecast, plenty of fresh Single O coffee beans and Dad’s carefully selected array of glass masterpieces, we set off on our trip. After two coffee stops, our usual lunch at the Lott in Cooma and a quick visit to Alpine Angler for some last minute tackle supplies (rivers are all fishing well, they inform us), we arrived at the turn off to Nimmo Rd ready for the drive into the Gungarlin River. While it doesn’t exactly hold ‘Trophy’ trout, the Gungarlin is a special little river perched up on the Snowy Plain at 1400m, where it rises in the foothills of the Munyang Range, on the Eastern side of Jagungal. This was the third time we have camped on the side of this lovely stream, and we were ready to wet our lines after a disappointing and particularly miserable outing in 2015.
While Dad was well and truly in testing mode, enjoying having a wide selection of rods to try out, I took the opposite approach. Instead, I was well and truly flying the flag for the ‘less is more” crew, bringing a single rod for our week of fishing. My weapon of choice was my trusty Epic 476 5-piece PackLight in eye catching (and thankfully fish catching) Glow Bug Orange, which Dad built for me early last year. After a quick walk down stream, the rod proved it was certainly up to the task as I soon landed my first fish of the trip, a feisty little brown who eagerly took my size 16 Royal Wulff on the third cast down (you will see a theme developing) and across a fast-flowing ripple just a few feet from the nearest bank.
After covering some likely runs and failing to get another one on the bank, I decided it was time to make my way back up stream to find Dad. He was fishing one of his favourite rods, a James Green 4/5 explorer, and he was also off to a decent start with a couple of small browns gulping down his caddis pattern. After a quick coffee and a late afternoon snack, it was time for a ‘proper’ session and hopefully a solid evening rise. We grabbed our gear, breathed in some fresh mountain air and headed off upstream. The main long pool above the bridge looked like a pot of boiling water, brimming with bubbles just before you add the pasta. There were small fish rising everywhere, but no sizeable residents could be found so we decided to keep on moving upstream in the hope of some chunkier specimens.
To be continued...
Wednesday morning saw Pete and Myself checking out what they had all been talking about the Namoi river below the dam the word was that there were some big carp in it. When we arrived at the water there where already two guy's fishing the car park section and more had already headed up stream so Pete and I head down stream we found a long broad hole with slow flowing water and only average visibility which looked great for Native fishing. We seen a few nice carp but had no luck getting them interested in our flies.
By now Pete was getting itchy feet and was keen to head back to the Dam and see if we could find some more big ones so after a early lunch we where off. On arrival at the bay that had seen all the action the day before, kayak man had already beaten us to it so we chose the next bay around so as not to disturb him. It was not long before we both found fish feeding and a couple cruising the bank as well and the first cruiser I covered that I thought had seen me as he had turned and headed out from the bank but he accelerated to grab my fly that had been placed only a meter in front of him and I was on. As I wanted to test my new prototype 8 weight Vale Creek Native Series rod I had chosen it for today and it did not disappoint handling the rampaging carp with ease that I did not think possible with an eight weight using only 6 lb tippet but I was blown away by the stopping power of this rod combined with the amazing tippet protection given buy the s glass blank.
I could hear Pete hooping and hollering from around the corner in the direction he had headed so new he was into some fish so headed round to see how he was going, he was having some fun seen lots of fish even broken a couple off and landed a couple. There where way more fish in his direction so we decided to fish together for a while and It was not long before I was covering another big carp and he was quick to take my fly once I got it in his sights and it was on for young and old as he tore off the the direction of some vegetation to my right along the bank and on this occasion my s glass could not save my six pound tippet and he did me in on the rubbish. We had a quick chat about my tippet selection while I tied a new fly on and then moved on a bit and I was not long till Pete was into a big one but it to was playing dirty to and heading into some small trees right on the edge and yes it done Pete on his twelve pound nitlon tippet. Pete went on to land 4 good sized carp for the day but had broken off or straightened the hood on seven fish all up. While I only managed only two the next fish was taken from around a tree stump and took me ten minutes to to get him to take my fly and as there where trees and stuff in all directions I had to keep him close and to my delight I manage to keep him out of all of it with my six pound tippet in tacked. After landing this fish I stood for a while watching a monster carp launching its self right out of the water only twenty meters away and another swirling on the surface only 30 meters out but had no luck covering them with a dry.
Day 3 seen me choosing to fish My eight weight Vale Creek Native Series again and although I covered some nice big cruising carp and some big muddying ones as well all I could manage was 3 hook ups all ending in pulled hooks it was not my day. Pete fished hard with both of us being on five fish each and on his way back to the boat he got lucky with a short but very fat carp taking his fly and this made it 6 to Pete and Five to me. While the fishing was hard with the rubbish from the dam rising all along the bank coupled with the algae making it difficult to find the fish and cover them it was made up for with Pete's good company and very strong fish when you did hook up.
Till next time happy fishing
Tuesday morning good mate Peter Hanrahan and myself headed to Keepit dam to see if we could catch some of the strong carp we had heard of up there. We arrived at twelve o'clock after a five hour run with Pete's boat in tow to a dam that was now at 97 percent after being at 7 percent and it had not been at this lever for 6 years so there was heaps of debris around the edges as well as lots of algae and only 200 mm of clarity into the water, we new straight away fishing was going to be tough.
After a quick lunch we rigged up our rods Pete went with his Stalker 7 weight while I was keen to put a bend in my Vale Creek built Seele 886 rapid that had been built for a while and features in our reviews section but I had not yet fished. I was running a 406 fly line with cutthroat big bug leader tippet was 6 pound maxima ultra green, yes that is light for big carp water but I no my glass rods have great shock absorbing tippet protection so all should be good. We launched the boat loaded our gear and we where off in search of some big strong carp, on bank one we both only seen 1 carp each and it was very shallow and had lots of grass and rubbish in the water so we moved across the lake to the next bay to see what we could find. When we came into the bay it looked very muddy for about 4 meters out and both of us thought it must be wave action that had caused this mud cloud so Pete headed around the point to clearer water and I took my time to check out the bay more carefully and it was not long before I realised that it was mud from lots of carp muddying in the bay. Even being able to see fish it was not going to be easy going with the mud, weed and decaying grass it was very tough going even frustrating at times.
I did manage two from this bay both of them giving me a quick introduction to my backing the biggest went 10.8 lb on Pete's scales. Around the point I go to see how Pete was going and the water was clearer but Pete was having a hard time as well only landing one nice fat carp, I seen one as we where walking back to the boat and after covering it a couple of times I was hooked up solid to another solid Keepit dam carp, so that was 3 fish for close to 30 pound of carp all with 6 lb tippet so yes my glass rods do give great tippet protection. We where both tied so back to camp for a good shower and tea was in order and a beer or two, then a big sleep day two was going to be big.
Fish number 1 on my Seele built buy Vale Creek Rodworks 10.8 lbs
Having been a very we start to the trout season it was great to get out on some water that was at a fish-able height and clear enough to fish. Today I used my Vale Creek built James Green explorer rod,at 7 foot 9 inch this rod makes a great all round stream rod, although rated as a 4/5 I like it with a 3 weight line as well so I teamed it up with my VCR 321 reel and 406 Weight Forward fly line and 68 inch cutthroat leader tipped with 3 lb maxima ultra green tippet.
This little hen brown fell victim to a nicely presented geehi beetle place about 2 foot off the bank in a small pocket of slower running water see picture below. I was fishing a short line slowly up the bank no more than 6 foot of line at any time. The fish was back in the water in less than 60 seconds.
Thanks and happy fishing from the VCR crew
Hi - the next rod off the building bench is the second in our native series. The ten weight Murray Cod rod and wow, this is a very powerful rod! I will have loads of fun testing this on some big cod come December 1 when our cod season re opens. This rod is a very tough and durable build featuring REC recoil stripping guides x 3 and rec snakes, topped off with a snake brand over sized loop tip. I have also used my very own VCR up locking reel seat and river red gum insert and fighting butt. This is going to be one fun rod to fish.
Welcome to my first VCR blog post and thanks for checking in @ Vale creek rod works.
After building many fly rods for trout and carp fishing and having an interest in fly fishing for native Australian freshwater species like Golden Perch and Murray Cod, to name a couple I will target, I put a lot of thought into the rod I wanted for the water I wanted to target these species on. I decided a length of 7 foot 10 inches would be a suitable length. Next step was who would I get to roll my new blanks? After much research I decided to contact Mike McFarland from the McFarland rod company, a master blank roller from America, to see if he was interested in the project. After discussing the project we decided to do a couple of prototype blanks to begin with. My research suggested I would need a ten weight to cast the big cod flies and a 8 weight would work as general purpose rod weight... so this is where I started. Material for the blanks would be black S-Glass un-sanded traditional looking blanks in three piece with spigot ferrules.
Below are some pictures of the first of our native series prototypes to be known as Magura which is the aboriginal word for fish. This is the eight weight featuring snake brand guides and tip with Rosewood insert and fighting butt and of course, our own Vale Creek up locking reel seat.
My name is Mick Warren and with a passion for fly fishing and a life spent making parts in our Machine shop I decided to start building my own fly rods in 2011. I had been taught how to wrap guides and build reel seats when I was in my teens, now I am crafting beautiful fly rods.