A trout fishing hike of a lifetime

The following is a trout fishing adventure yarn from three Eurobodalla Shire Council workers that was written for the council newsletter – they have kindly allowed us to publish it on the Fish Files – so enjoy!!

In April Dave Moran, Evan Jardine and Paul Martin ventured into the South West of Kosciusko National Park for a well-planned “trout hike of a lifetime”.

As we all know plans are not often executed to the letter and it was a combination of factors that turned the trip into a cycle of adversity, acceptance and overcoming.

After weeks of planning, lunchtime tactical meetings and the countless hours Evan spent at the fly-tying vice, the boys were presented with a seven day outlook that reflected the monsoon season in North Queensland. Not only was it going to rain, it was going bucket down for most of the five day adventure.

After much soul searching, nay saying, sitting, waiting and wishing the boys decided to brave the elements and head up the mountains under a revised plan.

 Rather than night hike into the first of the Alpine huts they planned to visit, the boys chose to leave for the mountains on the Friday morning and, with the assistance of a Bemboka pie and café latte, were primed and ready to put comfort aside and focus on the fishing.

Even Evan, who had flagged a burgeoning illness as a potential set back was in high spirits. After the obligatory stop at Alpine Angler in Cooma, the boys headed to the National Park. At this stage there was merely drizzle falling however it would intensify.

By the time the boys reached the Eucumbene River at Providence Portal the rain was so heavy that Evans’ windscreen wipers were rendered pointless and there was no choice but to pull in and seek “emergency shelter” in Delaneys Hut.

The Shire’s “Bear Grylls”, Paul Martin managed to get a wet timber fire going and in no time the boys were sitting in comfort, preparing for an afternoon fish.

The rain broke for most of the afternoon which allowed a fish in the swollen Eucumbene River and the beginning of “Treble-gate” which still haunts Paul today.

Dave insisted on Paul selecting one of his hard-body fishing lures that looked like it had not only caught dozens of fish but had also been taken to with a metal file.

A precision cast by Paul landed the ailing hard-body into a perfect cove in the creek and the lure was engulfed!

As the trophy trout porpoised out of the water, it took a glimpse of Paul and spat the treble hook as if to say, “no thanks”.

After the initial remonstration of disappointment and cycle of grief that followed 2014’s “one that got away story” prize winner, a causal analysis was carried out.

The outcome of the investigation was the blunt treble hooks that Dave had neglected to replace over the years. The rain returned and the boys retired to Delaney’s hut where they camped the night.

The boys woke to another day of rain and decided to venture, anyway to the point where they started the hike. With pack weights that would be considered an OHS disaster in the workplace, Dave, Evan and Paul headed on a 10 kilometre journey to their river of choice.

About 300 metres into the trek, Evan’s illness, which had threatened all trip to derail the mission, started to rear its ugly head, making the 10km leg to the river seem like 100.

They stopped for a fish and collected two pan-sized rainbow trout to cook when they reached camp.

By time they reached the next hut which they would camp Evan, who had trooped on despite significant abdominal discomfort, had no choice but to curl up in bed for an early night.

Dave and Paul stayed up, discussing the merits of $800 hiking jackets and $15 per serve freeze dried meals against a humble camp risotto with some wealthy hikers from Sydney.

The boys had a great night having also exchanged some hiking and fishing tips and great stories from pervious expeditions.

In the morning, the day broke to blue sky appearing gradually through a thick alpine fog. It was time for some real fishing and the boys packed up their gear and headed back down to the river that they crossed the day before.

A total of 18 trout were caught by the boys that morning, with three fish kept for a cook-up in the final hut later.

By some kind of miracle Dave managed to go all morning with the one fishing lure that he hadn’t left in Evan’s car back at the start point and it paid off with his humble rooster tail spinner tempting 11 fish.

The boys set off on their return hike which would see them camp overnight at an old corrugated iron cattleman’s hut.

Along the way, Evan tested his fly-fishing skill in a creek that would be no wider than one metre across and, in a small pool caught two brown trout in consecutive casts.

When they arrived at the hut, Paul Martin disappeared, as if to match Evan’s narrow water success and managed to catch another six trout in another of the many narrow streams they discovered on their journey.

The trip had ended well, after the most disastrous of starts and, during the easy, 1.5km downhill hike back to the car the next morning the boys resolved to return in November and complete the sections of the hike that were in the original plan.


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