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Carp and Eel Down Under, with Angus Reynolds

Description: This week we take a trip Down Under to talk to guide Angus Reynolds [41:21] in Australia. Angus customarily guides trout anglers, but because of the recurring drought in Australia he has been pursuing alternate species and carp are one of his major targets. I thought we could learn some techniques to try on our North American carp, which are the same species, and Angus has some interesting tips on fishing a sunken dry fly for them. He also tells some great stories about catching Murray cod and eels on a fly rod!
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Podcast Transcript:

Tom: Hi and welcome to "The Orvis Fly Fishing Podcast." This is your host Tom Rosenbauer. And this week we're going to take a trip Down Under. I was made aware of a guide in Australia who specializes in freshwater species that some of us might not have heard of or might not normally associate with Australia. Jeremy Wade of River Monsters fame told me about this guide.
His name is Angus Reynolds and he's developed some techniques for carp fishing, which I thought would be interesting to anglers in this part of the world, since they're the same carp that we fish for and they're in rivers and to a lesser degree, lakes. And so I wanted to see how he targets carp and what he does.
And along the way, we get some stories about some other interesting fish that Angus fishes for down there in Australia. The Murray Cod, which is a very interesting sounding fish and gets quite large and quite aggressive. And believe it or not, eels, eels on the fly. So if you want to learn about how to catch eels on the fly, then this is the podcast for you anyways. Angus tells some great stories and I hope you enjoy this slightly unusual podcast. But first, the Fly Box. And the Fly Box is where you ask me questions and I try to answer them. You can send me your question at That's an email address. And you could just type your question in your email or you can attach a voice file on your phone if you'd like.
And if I think the question has relevance to other listeners, I'll read it on the air. So let's start with an email from Steve from San Carlos, California. "Quick question. Can the 11 foot three weight Helios 3F blackout rod also be used as part of a trout spey rig in addition to its primary purpose as a euro nymphing rod?
I suppose the sensitivity of the tip may preclude it from casting a trout spey line properly, along with the lack of a two handed grip and maybe not. Maybe it could fish both styles. Follow up, if it could spey cast. What would be a suggested grain weight for the line."
Well, Steve, that 11 foot three weight Helios blackout rod was was designed specifically to be a euro nymphing rod where you are casting, you're kind of lobbing just the weight of some weighted flies and you've basically got just a leader or maybe a a light level fly line outside the the rod tip.
And so it's made to fling those with a special little cast. And it's also not a bad dry fly rod. I've used it with, not with the level line, but with a standard three weight floating line and it makes a nice little dry fly rod very long and delicate and it's quite interesting fishing with a dry fly. However, I don't think you're going to get it to work as a spey rod.
Generally, trout spey, we're fishing either a scandi or a Skagit line with sinking tips and the tip on that rod just won't handle it. It's a totally different rod. It's developed for a totally different purpose. So as far as grain weight is concerned, you're not going to be able to go there with a standard spey line.
There's no there's no grain weight that'll work. However, that being said, you can use two handed casts with that rod. You could do a single handed snap tee or a single handed double spey and it'll go out there. The rod roll casts pretty well. So just modifying a roll cast into a spey cast will work so you can, you could swing some small soft tackles or something like that and you would want to use the standard three weight floating line, not the euro line that doesn't have any taper to it and it will work. But as far as using it as a as a real trout spey rod, nah, it's not going to work, I'm afraid.
Here's an email from Rob. Rob from Berlin, Germany. First of all, thank you for all the content you're providing on a regular basis. Very much appreciated. With tying season right around the corner and me spending an unhealthy amount of money on jig hooks and slotted beads lately, I was wondering if you have a good take on when to use regular hooks and beads versus jig hooks and slotted beads?
Rob, you know, that a lot of the...most of the nymph patterns are really interchangeable. You can tie them on a regular hook with a regular bead. You can tie them on a jig hook with a slotted bead. They have a slightly different profile with the jig hooks because those shanks are a little bit shorter. So, you know, your long skinny nymphs like an ISO or a hex or something like that might not look so good on a jig hook and you might want to tie those on a standard hook, but I honestly use them interchangeably. Jig hooks do seem to hang up less on the bottom.
Really, any weighted fly is probably going to ride point up, but the jig hook is going to be more likely to ride point up just because of the way that that eye is oriented in relation to the weight. So, you know, if I have a really snaggy bottom where I'm losing a lot of flies, I might go to a jig hook nymph and try to keep it off the bottom.
But really, those things are interchangeable and, you know, if you're not fishing really snaggy waters, there's really no reason you have to go do those jig hooks and slotted beads. But, you know, it's a good option. And you know, if you have a favorite nymph, hare's ears and pheasant tails and things like that they you use a lot, I would tie those both ways and see which works best for you.
John: Hi, Tom. John from Duluth, Minnesota, here. And I was just curious about your thoughts and preferences when it comes to fly rods for small stream trout fishing. I do quite a bit of fishing on small streams and right now I use a relatively inexpensive seven foot three weight fiberglass fly rod. I like the feel of it. I like the slow action. The delicate presentation.
But sometimes it seems like the consistency and accuracy really isn't there in the casts all the time. And the seven foot length is a little short. I think even six more inches would be helpful. So I've been thinking about upgrading to a new rod and just wondering what your personal preferences are when it comes to small stream rods, whether you prefer fiberglass rods or more modern graphite rods, and why you prefer one over the other and just what you look for in a small stream rod.
I typically fish with size 12 to 14-inch dry flies, catching everything from 6 to 12-inch brook trout. Yeah. And just curious on what your preferences are. Thanks for the podcast and all the information that you give us.
Tom: So John, you know, you said that your shorter rod that you have now is a cheap one and you are going to get less accuracy on an inexpensive rod. But just, the better rods are designed with more precise tapers.
They're better materials. They will have less wobble when you cast or they'll track better so that the line will go where you point the tip of the rod. So you're right, accuracy is going to be a little bit of a problem. And I would suggest, since you're fishing 12 and 14 flies, size 12 and 14 flies, I might go with a with a four weight rod, you know, something around seven and a half to eight foot four weight.
Those are a little bit bigger flies. And four weight, you might, you know, especially if you're going to use a dry dropper occasionally and hang a nymph on there or you're going to use a slightly bigger fly, you might want to go to a four weight. All three materials, bamboo, glass, and graphite have their advantages.
Glass and bamboo with those shorter casts, because they will flex more on a short cast, will probably roll cast a little bit better than a graphite rod. However, times when you want to reach out or you want to fire a really tight loop under an overhanging branch, then the graphite rod is really going to shine. But it really it's very, very personal.
And I would advise you to try shorter rods in a, you know, a higher quality rod in both materials and see which feels best to you. You know, go to a fly shop or go to an Orvis store and cast the rods and cast the length that you're normally going to cast.
Maybe get down on your hands and knees and try to fire it under a tree or something and do the kind of things that you're going to do on those small streams and see which feels better for you. My personal preference for small streams is a bamboo rod, but that's not for everyone. You know, they're expensive. And you know, but they're a handmade product made out of an organic material.
And I like to know that one person has hand-built the rod I'm using. It gives me gives me a lot of pleasure, but it's not for everyone. They're expensive and glass will do very similar work for you. And then graphite has its advantages. So it's really, really very subjective and personal. And I think you need to go and cast a few and see which you like best.
This one is from Jeff. Hi, Tom. I hope you're enjoying fall and all is well in your neck of the woods. I have some questions about what I know is your favorite topic, stillwater trout angling. I live about 30 minutes from a lake here in central Pennsylvania that is stocked with both brook and rainbow trout in spring and fall.
It's also designated as a big bass preserve. And the state also stocks muskie fingerlings occasionally. I've seen some reports of some fairly large trout caught there in the past. Am I correct in assuming that would suggest they're holding over fairly successfully? The lake is about 30 feet deep at its deepest point. On a recent outing there, I only caught small pan fish, but I saw some fairly prolific hatch activity that provoked some fish to feed on or near the surface.
I was unable to determine if these were trout, but they looked larger than the pan fish I caught and were mostly beyond my reach from shore. Is there any way to be certain if these are indeed trout? Is the time of year that is most productive for stream trout fishing the same as stillwater trout in the same area?
Most information about stillwater trout fishing in North America seems almost exclusively about the western half of the continent. Are there any resources that relate specifically to the East? How much overlap is there between eastern and western trout stillwater? I don't know anyone who fishes for trout in stillwater in my area much past opening day of the season. And I'm trying to understand if it's out of neglect or futility. What are your thoughts?
Well, Jeff, I don't think there's any way of telling for sure if those fish you saw rising were trout, they could have been fall fish. They could have been pan fish. They could have been smallmouth bass. A smallmouth bass, when they're rising to, you know, aquatic insects like mayflies or caddis flies can look very similar to a trout.
So I don't think there's any way of knowing that those are trout. I suspect, given the fact that that lake has a lot of predators in it and it's only 30 feet deep, which is not that deep, it probably gets too warm. And being in Pennsylvania probably gets too warm in the summertime to support trout. So perhaps those large trout were stocked as large trout or I guess they could have held over.
You know, if there's some spring seeps down on the bottom of that lake where the water's cold enough to hold trout, they could have held over, but no way really of being sure. You're right that there isn't as much information about stillwater trout fishing in the east. It's done quite frequently in ponds in the Adirondacks, in New Hampshire and Maine.
Not so much any further south of there because a lot of the still waters won't hold trout. They're not cold enough. There is a book, it's out-of-print now and I'm quite sure that was written by my good friend Jim LePage called "The Orvis Guide to Stillwater Trout Fishing." And that was really written from an eastern point of view, and it's out of print, but you may be able to find a copy.
It was a little pocket book. You may be able to find a copy on eBay or on a used bookstore somewhere. There's probably some out there somewhere. Regarding the techniques, the techniques that work in the Western United States are going to work in our stillwaters in the East, the hatches might be slightly different. And our lakes, in the east, aren't usually as productive as Western lakes because they're usually more acidic and a little bit warmer than the Western Lakes. But I think that if you get yourself a copy of Phil Rowley's book, "The Orvis Guide to Stillwater Trout Fishing," which is a brand new book and has a lot of techniques in there, I think there's a ton of techniques that Phil uses.
Phil is based in the West. He's based in Alberta, and he fishes a lot in the Rocky Mountains, both in the States and Canada. But there's a lot of stuff in there that will apply to eastern stillwater. So I would get a copy of Phil's book, and I would also watch there's a segment on the Orvis Learning Center on stillwater trout fishing that I did with Phil.
And I think you'll get some good pointers there. So good luck with it. And you're right, we need a good modern eastern stillwater trout fishing resource. And we really unfortunately don't have one right now that I know of. I ask because I recently had the butt of a fly rod come off during a fly fishing outing on this non-Orvis rod.
This issue made it possible to tighten down the reel seat or cast with the rod and it would have led to a lost outing had I not had my six year old Clearwater with me as a backup. I will say that the older Clearwater I use as a backup is still a blast to cast. Eighty percent of my gear is Orvis and I purchased another brand's mid-priced Rod when Orvis was between recon versions.
I believe the issue I experienced with the fly rod butt is simple and gluing it back on the rod will probably solve the problem and save time as opposed to sending the rod in for repair. However, I also know that I know nothing about fly rod repair. And is there a chance that I could do something stupid thinking I am fixing this seemingly minor issue, thus creating a major issue?
So if there is such thing as a reasonable do-it-yourself rod repair, give suggestions on what one should have on hand in the event a repair is needed? I suggest to listeners to always have a spare rod, but I realize a spare rod is not always feasible, especially for beginners in the sport who may be likely to have a rod issue as they figure out the sport. Just wanted to hear what your thoughts are on this. Thank you for your time.
James, yeah, there are some reasonable repairs you can do on stream, you know, reel seats and grips and things like that. Just what I would carry and what I do carry in my vehicle or when I travel is a tube of zap gel or a more viscous super glue type glue, any kind will really work and a roll of duct tape. You know it's the same that we would take with us to repair nearly anything. You can duct tape know if you have a reel seat failure you can duct tape a fly reel to a rod pretty well and fish with it all day.
And it'll be fine. You're not going to hurt anything. You may have to clean off the duct tape gunk. And, you know, if you need to glue something back like a guide or, you know, a tip top, sometimes if you break the tip of a rod, you can re-glue the tip top, get the piece out of the tip top.
If you heat that tip top up, you can then pull that piece that's left in there out with a pair of pliers and you can probably get the tip top back on the rod. It's not going to cast as well as the original rod, but you'll get through a day of fishing and, you know, just super glue that or with some hot glue or something.
Put that tip top back on and go for it. It's not going to void any warranty because you've already broken the tip anyway. So they're going to replace the tip for you on the rod. So, you know, and if a guide comes off, you could duct tape it or maybe even super glue it back into place.
If you get a fracture on a rod that's not right at the tip, there's not much you can do for a fractured rod. You might try wrapping duct tape around it, but you're probably done with that rod for the day if you fracture a rod. So that's what I would recommend. Pretty straightforward. And don't worry about about hurting anything, you know, if you got to go fishing, you got to do what you got to do. And the repair people will understand when you send the rod back that you had to make an onstream repair and they'll make it good.
Miles: Hey, Tom. A few weeks ago, I found myself in an interesting position. I was in New Hampshire fishing on a 20 acre fly fish only pond from a kayak. This pond only has brook trout and is probably lightly pressured because it requires a 10 minute hike from the parking lot.
I was at one end of the pond casting to the submerged sticks of a beaver lodge when the beaver came out and started smacking its tail. I paddled away to give it space. And it followed me for about half the length of the pond smacking every so often. I round a point to get some visual separation from the beaver.
And I found myself facing an otter perched on a tree that had fallen in the water, it was diving and resurfacing again and again, just chomping away on things that were too small for me to see. So I assume it was not trout. I was glad because this is the first wild otter actually I've ever seen. But I knew I was in a difficult fishing situation because now I've got an angry beaver at one end of the pond and a feeding otter at the other end of the pond.
How much space should I give either animal so that I can find fish that haven't been spooked? Thanks.
Tom: So, Miles, that sounds like a very cool wildlife experience. Not often that you get to see two mammals like that when you're out fishing. So I hope you appreciated it. I would stay clear of the otter. Otters are fish catching and eating machines and you know, if there's an otter around, there either aren't going to be many fish around or the fish are going to be frightened.
And fish seem to know the difference between a beaver and an otter or they learn the difference. I have a I have a beaver lodge in my backyard on a little stream I have and the trout have gotten used to the beaver swimming right through a bunch of rising trout. And even when the beaver slap their tails, the trout seem to have gotten used to it and don't even spook when they're rising in the evening.
So if you've got a choice of one or the other, go with the beaver. Beavers are vegetarians. They don't eat trout. Trout seem to figure that out pretty quickly when the beavers move in. And so don't be afraid of fishing right in amongst the beavers. The beavers are going to be annoyed. They're going to follow you around.
They're going to slap their tail because they're trying to get you away from their lodge. But they won't hurt you. They won't hurt the trout. So steer clear of the otter, fish to the beaver.
Is an email from Anthony from south eastern Australia. We got a lot of Australia. We got a lot of Australia content in this week's podcast. I write from sunny Australia. Where we are experiencing one of the wettest openings of the trout season. Isn't it ironic that our friends in the States are battling low flows and warm water conditions that are usually the normal for us Aussie fly fishers. As the rain belts down, I am currently listening to your back guest episode with John McMillan. There's a lot of solid wisdom in the interview about how to care for heat stressed fisheries.
Like many, I've learned the art of contact nymphing over the past few seasons and found it simply enjoyable. Like people say, these methods are truly deadly even on our small streams here in eastern Australia. I guess the challenge of perfecting a new method has renewed my 35-year love of fly fishing. Contact nymphing and the need for a COVID project have also renewed my practice in fly tying. Experiments with perdigon frenchies using resins tying with extreme minimalist profiles and tungsten weight.
I love tying and using little unweighted weights with CDC. Guess I've also recaught the fly tying virus well and truly, my question is about the current widespread adoption of UV materials, threads and resins. They certainly help us make pretty funky looking flies. Check out the patterns posted on the Facebook group perdigon mania truly works of art.
Maybe the modern surrealist style of fly tying , but does UV really work when it comes to catching trout? What about other species? I read the odd comment that trout see well in the UV spectrum. I guess the theory is that UV materials could invoke and eat out of a trout hanging lazily deep in the water column where visual light is low.
Seemingly, I've had some great success with a UV hotspot, orange collar tied on a different perdigons hairs ears and pheasant tails. What I call my Vegemite perdigon. Was it really success? Maybe it's just that I did a better job on my drip depth management or strike detection on that occasion, maybe the age old pheasant tail nymph would have done just as well.
My skills on the water are so up and down. This is hardly scientific data about UV materials. So what do you say, Tom? UV material, science or art fad or here to stay, a must have or just another way for material merchants to glean us out of the more coin dollars. All the best, Tom. keep the dream alive and with the great work you do with Orvis and your podcast.
Simply outstanding. Or as we say in Australia, bonds a job mate.
So a little bit of clarification here, Anthony. First of all, UV resins are not added to a fly to be a fish attractant. UV resins are a replacement for head cement or in the old days some of us still do it this way, we would use five minute or 30 minute epoxy to coat flies.
And you had to rotate the fly in your vise or in a mechanical rotator because the resin would run and drip and it wouldn't look good. So but the UV resins that we use are simply for strengthening a fly or adding some shine to it easily without having to really turn the fly.
You can just rotate the vise and hit it with a UV light and that will cure the resin. So it's a UV curing resin and it's merely for convenience. It has nothing to do with the UV attractive. Now, regarding UV attractants, everything that I know about trout, everything I've read about trout is that they see in the UV spectrum only when they're very tiny, young of the year fish and they lose that UV, that ability to see ultraviolet light when they get to be adult trout.
Now, birds, on the other hand, birds could see in the UV spectrum, but we're not fly fishing for birds. And there may be other fish that can see in the UV spectrum, but as far as trout are concerned, as far as I know, they can't see in the UV spectrum. And any way it would just be another color, right?
It wouldn't be anything specially attractive. And we don't do we really know whether the stuff they eat has colors in the UV spectrum? I guess we don't know that. So I don't buy the whole UV material philosophy. Now there are some really nice materials that just have really nice colors that are supposedly UV reflective and it may be just that they're really nice materials and not the fact that they're UV reflective, but as you said, we're never going to be able to prove this one way or the other because there's way too many variables involved in fishing for trout.
So I don't I don't know of any way that we're going to be able to prove it. That being said, hot spots on nymphs seem to add some attraction to trout. I don't think they have to be UV, but they could be fluorescent, which is a little bit brighter or they could be just an orange or a green or a white hot spot.
And those hot spots do seem to be effective. Why they're effective? I don't know. Certainly. No, underwater nymphs have hot spots on them. But it must call attention to that fly in the water. And that's why I trout take them. So there are there are times when when those hot spots are definitely, definitely effective when you're tying nymphs. I don't think it has anything to do with UV. I think it's just the bright color. But anyways, that's my theory. Anybody want to disprove it, let me know.
Here's an email from Ian from Yorkshire in the UK. Question. The whole idea of public water in the USA completely blows my mind. Can you give a brief reason history why the rivers are public? Does this mean one can literally fish any river? I wish this were the case in the UK. I pay around £700 a year to have the privilege, inverted commerce, to fish two stretches of river which are about 10 miles long.
I can afford this now, but this was the main reason I put off fly fishing for so long. Plus, not to mention the dead man's shoes. I had to wait two years. I had to wait two years to join both clubs. So Ian, not all rivers are totally public in the U.S. We have vast areas of public land in the U.S. where you can fish any river you want.
There's a lot, particularly in the western United States, there's a lot of public land. But the idea of access to a river in the states is really varies state by state. And we have 50 different states. So the background is that when states were admitted to the Union of the United States, one of the stipulations was that the waters of the state would be held in trust for the people and by the state.
And those waters were waters that were either used for commerce or navigable. The problem is that states have different definitions of what is navigable and what is not navigable, and that varies from state to state to state. There is a document in the Orvis Learning Center under resources from backcountry hunters and anglers, which gives the access laws in each of the 50 states.
And so if you really want to dig into this, you can read about it. And and also in the news, there are lots of court cases, one recently in New Mexico and one that's ongoing in Colorado that have dealt with this issue of public access on rivers. But it's quite complicated.
But really, yes, we have a lot more public and accessible water in the States than you do in the UK. And for the most part there, most of the trout streams that you hear about or read about in the States you can access without paying any special fee. So we are very, very lucky in this country to have the resource that we do, to have the public lands, and to have the landowners that allow the public access to the river. So we are very lucky. And I hope that someday you get to visit the States and see the wonderful resources that we have.
Here's an email from Ryan, a Fly Fisher who happens to Euro Nymph sometimes. Your voice fills my truck speakers while in route to almost every fishing trip, and I listen to the fly box in my AirPods on the way to work every week.
I'm 37 and Fly Fish 60 plus days a year. To myself and many others, you are the voice of Orvis, an American outdoor institution, and one that I am very loyal to. This is contextually important. On a few episodes over the summer and most recently, along with Austin Boswell, you suggested Euro nymphing is, B, so successful it is harmful to fish populations compared to other methods.
And, B, those of us that enjoy tight lining are only interested in numbers. Somehow a dry fly bobber nymphing stripping streamers are more classic romantic sporting and upholding conservation. A chubby chernobyl is a fine red wine. While a perdigon is an Irish car bomb, an [inaudible 00:32:50] is caviar and a prince nymph on an indicator is a tuna melt.
This not only alienates those of us who have learned the technique, but it smells a lot like the old white guy attitude you have actively fought to shed. Two summers fast. Two summers past. I fish with an Orvis endorsed guide who shared your sentiments. I told him I don't enjoy throwing Bobbers. He proceeded to hand me a nine foot five weight with three nymphs and the biggest airlock made.
Yes, I caught fish, but did not feel like he thought of me as a fellow Fly Fisher. The following day I had the privilege of taking the back seat in the drift boat of Chip Swanson, 2019 Orvis Guide to the Year. I told him I preferred to tightline out of the boat. He not only said go for it, but we shared techniques, ideas, knots, fly selection ideas.
And when passing by another guide down the river who asked if I was indeed euro nymphing from a drift boat. He said, yep, and he's slaying it. You cannot imagine how much that meant to hear, especially after the experience a day before. He even let me keep my peach margaritas in his cooler with minimal harassment. I think yourself Austin and the unnamed guide above can work to be more inclusive of all techniques.
Just because I take a bobber off does not mean I don't know when to call it a day or how to cast or I'm somehow less of a fly fisher. I'll put on a number 22 BWO with a four weight or throw a sculpt zilla with an eight weight and absolutely rope fish too, responsibly. We all share a passion for the outdoors fishing and protecting our resources.
All right, Ryan. Well, my apologies for disparaging any form of fly fishing, and I've had to make this apology before. Sometimes I let my opinion of certain methods show through on the podcast. And, well, you guys are here for my opinion sometimes, so. But I shouldn't disparage any type of fishing. And I also sometimes euro nymph.
It's a very, very effective way. And it's fun in its own right. And I do it. I'm not very good at it, but I do it and I do it proudly. And so I apologize if I have offended anyone with what I said. I didn't go back and listen to the podcast, but I can imagine what I said.
Now, that being said, there are euro nymphers and I have fished with them and a couple of them are friends of mine who not only count fish, but they get to 20 and then they want to get to 30. And I remember fishing with one friend who desperately tried to get to 50 trout in one day of floating Missouri River.
I do think that's excessive. And and I've seen it. I've seen it often enough where euro nymphers will section a stream off into a grid pattern and try to cover every single piece of the bottom with their euro nymphs. And they catch a lot of fish. And, you know, you can do the same thing, almost the same thing with dry flies and streamers and nymphs.
But you're probably not going to rack up those kind of numbers with any other kind of fishing. So I do take exception to euro nymphers who are counting fish and are trying to get to those high numbers. I don't think that's what we're most of us are there on a trout stream to do.
And yes, I believe all methods of fly fishing are fun and valid, whether it's [inaudible 00:36:40] bobber, fishing, streamer fishing, whatever. And and I promise you, I'm going to be more careful about disparaging different methods of fishing in the future, sometimes I get carried away. So I hope I have reassured your faith in the podcast and I'll try to do better in the future.
Hi, Tom. Just listening to your most recent episode of the podcast and a caller on the Fly Box mentioned about fishing for cutthroat and brown trout, where all the cutthroat were hitting the dry fly and all of the browns, were grabbing the dropper. And I just want to share similar experience between different species feeding on different patterns. While it wasn't a situation like the caller last week with the surface and below surface flies, it just reminded me of a time I was fishing the Sable River up in the Adirondacks and I had a large stone fly kind of pats rubber leg pattern with the prince nymphs, maybe a size 16 dropped off the end of that big stone fly.
And I caught a lot of fish that day. And every single brown, took a big stone fly and every single rainbow took that little prince nymph. So different species will definitely key in on different patterns. I just had another thought here for all the anglers out in the Great Lakes area here, starting to fish for salmon and steelhead and everything.
I just want to give a piece of advice. Unless you're keeping the fish to just when you get your pictures, keep the fish low to the water. A lot of times I see guys pick the fish up for those glory shots and with big hands they start spurting eggs. And I think it just puts a lot of extra stress on the fish.
I also want to mention that in your episode with the chapter president from UVM for the Fly Fishing Club, that you went to ESF and I'm a stumpy myself and I just thought that was pretty cool. Thanks for everything you do and thanks for the podcast. Ryan, that is very true and that's a great observation. I've seen that.
I've seen that as well with different species. And so it's always a great idea to try to fish two flies if you can. Sometimes a dry and a nymph. I know, especially with rivers that have cutthroats and rainbows and browns, that the dry fly with it and a dry dropper rig is going to take mostly cutthroats and the nymphs will probably take the other species.
I mean, that can change from day to day, but it definitely is true. And also, thank you for your advice or your public service on keeping those fish lower to the water at Great Lakes. Still, there's no reason to lift those fish up high over your head to take a picture of them. So that's a that's a great point to make.
And yes, I am a stumpy. For those of you who don't know what a stumpy is, a stumpy is a nickname for someone who graduated from the New York State College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and they called us Stumpy on the Syracuse University campus for obvious reasons. All right. That is the fly box for this week. Let's go talk to Angus Down Under in Australia.
Here we go. We are recording. Well, my guest today is Angus Reynolds from Australia. And I became aware of Angus through a mutual acquaintance of ours, Jeremy Wade, who did the River Monsters TV show who who Angus has fished with and I have done a couple of podcasts I think with and he said that you would make a great interview because you chase some alternative species, carp and other things down there.
And I thought us North American listeners could probably benefit from some of the techniques you use.
Angus: Main focus is trout. We've got a really good trout fishery down here, which is sort of off the radar and things are pretty hot with that at the moment because we've got so much water around, not to rub it in, but we've actually just come out of an extensive drought, which was grueling and sound similar to what you guys are dealing with out that way.
And and so yeah, there were times there where I was pushing into other species, including carp, to get a more rich experience rather than chasing some pretty badly drought affected trout. But yeah, if there's a question, there's a full time guide. And, and, and they're pretty obsessed with everything around it.
Tom: Well, I'm glad to hear that you guys are getting water.
I just finished a book called, "The Big Thirst," which talks about how Australia was solving some of its dire water problems. Fascinating book and so I'm really glad to hear that. Are you are officially out of drought or are you still in pretty tough shape.
Angus: Now, well and truly out we've had we've had three good years now.
One was just, I suppose, a much wetter year than we'd been getting. And then we're now in our second La Nina. And so it's very wet. We're getting record flooding. I mean there's places in Australia that are still in drought and they're drought areas. But yeah and it's quite typical of Australis, it's such an arid country, but places along the eastern seaboard are just overflowing. And if anything it's the opposite problem now, yeah, it's gone from savage droughts into the worst bushfires that we've had.
And, and now it's just incredible how much water's around. And to give you a bit of hope, I mean, you're probably well know, but just seeing the power of nature to recover from these things and I was sitting there thinking that things would never recover, looking at the state they were in and and they as good as ever.
Tom: Oh, that's good to hear.
Angus: There's hope.
Tom: We just can't seem to catch a break. It's either feast or famine with water, isn't it? These days in the world?
Angus: Yeah. Yeah. Erratic weather patterns.
Tom: Yeah. So let's talk about let's talk about some of the techniques that you've developed for carp and you know, how you fish and what you look for, what kind of flies, how you move the fly, the whole the whole thing.
Angus: Yeah, sure. I mean, as with all of it, most likely that and most probable that a lot of these things have been done in many ways and forms in other places. But I suppose carp fly fishing when I started fly fishing for carp was quite a new thing as far as I was aware. And, and there were definitely some abstract techniques that I started using to fool those clever guys.
Here we've got, I hear a lot on on podcast and videos and say a lot of obviously with over in America a lot of it seems to be ponds and lakes and and that sort of thing. I started off carp fishing in slow, low land rivers and, and quite smaller low land rivers. Yeah. And, yeah, slow moving often with no flow or very little flow.
And, and I find that the, I actually haven't done a lot of impoundment carp fishing, but the rivers were slow enough to be similar in ways and they do behave similarly. But there are some characteristics of difference in the terrain and and what you can use to hide yourself and that sort of thing. So I suppose, yeah, like I started off with carp fishing at quite a young age in early school and that sort of stuff we would use, we'd bait fish for them with corn.
And that was just so much fun. I would clean up with that and it was all lucked up. It was pretty interesting. And but then I started thinking, oh, these guys are you could see them that they were chasing things and they were actively feeding and, and as I started to get more into flies I started thinking, oh, they'd surely go for a lot of these things.
And I started looking into what they were feeding on. And and as it resonates through just about everyone who talks about, about carp fishing. You've got your damsel flies and your small crayfish and things like that. So it was about imitating those and finding a lot of good success with with, with the, with the damsel nymphs and the wooly buggers.
And I was definitely finding more success with unweighted and I think that's a lot to do with the waters I was fishing were quite murky and they had maybe a foot of visibility at best. So you were able to still sort of keep it in that top foot of visibility and see what was going on, which is quite, quite important.
And so I was doing a lot of fly fishing with with the small streamers and most of the time it was successful and very unpressured. Not not many people fished the carp over here or certainly didn't. So I was finding that it was quite easy to find some really interesting grounds to fish for them where they weren't pressured.
Yeah. And so I started moving towards a field with it. And I suppose a lot of it was to do with the drought. The trout fishing got quite uninspiring. You know, there was still trout around even towards the end of the drought, but they were sort of in withdrawal mode. They were really hunkering down to survive.
So it wasn't something that I was interested in doing so hiking, big hikes, getting that same experience that I love from the trout fishing and hiking to remote areas to find beautiful locations and wild locations to chase these fish. And I found I found quite a lot of places where carp are happily living in freestone areas and so you've got a lot of clarity there and that was true wild experience.
But yeah so I suppose when it got down to it, there was the obvious ways that I'd found to fish for them. The, the damsel nymphs and weighted wooly buggers and they were great success. But I developed a few other methods which I found possibly even more interesting to fish for them.
Tom: Tell us about them.
Now, you say that, you know, I think you think that a lot of our our fishing here is in lakes and reservoirs, but we have lots of carp in the lower reaches of our famous trout streams. You know, everything from the Delaware, to the Madison to the Missouri, you know, the waters start to warm up and get a little slower.
We do have a lot of that. And I don't think I don't think it's a very heavily utilized resource. I think that people don't realize how interesting the fishing can be when they get below trout water, downstream of trout water. So these methods will probably apply to American fishing conditions.
Angus: Yeah. No, that's good. And I mean, they're so good at distributing themselves and they'll show up just about anywhere. Yeah. And so. Yeah, yeah. And I could only imagine that you've got some great rivers and streams over there, so great. So, I say you know, just get out and have a look through those waterways because they're so interesting to fish and and really other than eating quality, I mean, what are you really missing fishing for carp as opposed to fishing for trout?
And to bring me to probably the first technique that I like using for carp fishing will just appeal more to the treehouses, I think. And so so I was there one day at this freestone river not far from my hometown. And and I was observing them and they scooting around in this big bass eddy.
And there was a hornet fall. There was a lot of hornets on the surface. Now, they were quite clearly sort of sharking around below the surface, but not coming up and eating them. And I was able to get those sort of fish on streamers, but they weren't totally zoned in on it. And then I was watching a little bit more and I was seeing that they were feeding not far below the surface.
And and what I was realizing was that they were feeding on hornets that had actually been pulled under by the same water running past the eddy. And so they were eating the ones that were below the surface but not on the surface itself. And so, why? I'm not sure. Maybe it was an easier target.
Maybe they didn't need to expose my energy. Maybe. Maybe the drowned ones were to them deemed dead and not alive, where they might get stung. I'm not too sure. But they were. That's where they were feeding on them. So I actually had these flies that I got given by a fella in town and they were really popping flies. They were horribly colored and some mass producing, but they were a bumblebee, sort of hornet looking thing. And being a sort of disposable fly, I thought, I'll throw these in and and it was without gank and throwing it out onto the surface and just letting it sort of swirl around.
And then just as it were with the natural ones that get in the same and it would sink down and I noticed them just fire in at it. So it was really interesting how often and even fish after fish, which I often don't find a thing with carp of I've actually come to learn or hear a theory that when they get stressed they emit a pheromone through their through their glands and in amongst their scales, which alert other fish that they're stressed so it can shut them down, whether or not that's 100% accurate it's just something I've heard.
But I have noticed it's hard to get one fish in that same area after you've got the first one. In this case, I was able to get multiple fish out of that and so [inaudible 00:53:51] . And then and it was something that I started using a lot more and I found with carp one of the most successful tactics is to set a trap, so locate a shoal of fish moving around and pick their bait and set a trap really early and so I find that this is good with a sinking drive like technique because you can cast it out, let it sit there, not disturb it.
And then when you notice them coming, just draw it, draw it, draw it, it'll soak in water and then you can get it to sink right in front of them. And that slow drop seems to be something that I've found really successful.
Tom: So when you say set a trap, you mean kind of watching which way the shoal or the school of fish is moving and then trying to get well out ahead of them and wait for them.
So to avoid casting in their field of vision and I think when you've got a bit of wind around and things dropping out of the trees, it masks a bit of that but I find that when it's still days and I love fishing on still days, they just really feed onto it. And even the ones that are not being fished to, they're just wary, you know.
You know, they're so, so wary and so smart and you know, when they spook, they don't necessarily spook off like a trout. They sort of it's almost like they look up at you and go, I know you're there and I'm not going to eat anything now.
Tom: I've seen that. I've seen that.
Angus: Yes, I noticed it going right past your feet but they're just not going to eat anything that you throw at them.
Tom: Angus, what length leaders do you use for carp to try to avoid spooking them?
Angus: What I consider to be quite long leaders. So, you know, trout grade, trout-length leaders using the 13, 14, 15 foot leaders and I generally have a taper. And then a nine or 12 foot taper and then I'll extend a long back section of that and generally a sort of 3x so that counts a liter of that, yeah.
Tom: And what's the entire length of your leader from your fly line to your fly then, when you're fishing?
Angus: Yeah. I think generally I go from about a 15 foot.
Tom: Yeah. Okay.
Angus: Yeah. I used to fish them quite short thinking...see carp had a reputation in Australia for being stupid or dumb and they've actually got a pretty crass name in Australia as I'm sure there's the same over your way.
And so the dumb thing, I definitely figured out quickly that that wasn't true. And, yeah. And starting to use a long leader was definitely a major revelation to success.
Tom: And so what other techniques have you developed besides the kind of sinking drive flier, the almost suspended fly.
Angus: Yeah, I guess I like trying things outside the box and another thing to do is setting the trap so to speak. So, you know, avoiding drawing line in the fish's field of view. Because a lot of the times you have that situation where you might have one, two, three, maybe even four foot of visibility in the water and then but, you know, another three or four feet or even another two feet below that which you can't see.
And down there, there's going to be snags and who knows what that'll foul up your line. And so in implementing that sinking dry technique I suppose is probably where it came from. I've tried using what successfully used a lot of times is a is a rig where it's a small dry fly as a dropper about a foot in front of a light or unweighted damsel nymph.
So I can toss that out into the zone knowing that the fish are going to come through that bait and that's going to keep it up in the top part of the column. And then as the fish are coming, start drawing it. And again, the dry flies are going to take on water and sink and become out of the equation, more so.
But it's allowed me to keep that trap set floating above the snags. And then when the time's right, start drawing that. And that'll bring that through at the right time into the fish's fading zone. That's a handy one.
Tom: Yeah, that's interesting, because all of my carp fishing buddies use relatively heavily weighted fly because they want the fly on the bottom.
Right? They want to get it on the bottom in front of the carp. And I've gone to using more on weighted flies as well. And just, yeah, you have to wait a little bit longer for it to sink. But I think I've had better luck with the lightly weighted or unweighted flies than the heavy sinking flies. They spook the fish too.
Angus: Yeah. Yeah. I find so and the movement's less attractive to them, I think generally. And it may not be that it's lazy so much, but they have a sort of lazy feel to them. Where, if it's not right in their little window, you know, and it seems to be about 30 centimeters so to speak, in the metric system.
But, you know, it's quite a small window where it's if you don't get it right, then they don't seem too interested in...and that fast fall of a of a heavier weighted fly, I find that it doesn't seem to work all that much for me. There's been situations where I've managed to hook fish on on heavier flies and no doubt it works in places. I find more impairments is where it has worked.
And even with quite large baitfish and crayfish patterns and things like that, maybe they're used to chasing a prey in that way, you know, they're trying to ambush a preyfish that's out on the bait or something. But I think in the rivers they're used to things flowing around and coming right to them and less on edge because they're in a more natural environment, maybe.
Tom: Maybe, yeah. And you can fish a lightly weighted fly or unweighted fly slower too, which is, you know, you really have to fish a weighted fly quicker and sometimes that doesn't work.
Angus: Yeah, yeah. See, like one of the best ways I find with the, with the smaller streamers it's, I sort of think of it...
I haven't got a name for it or anything, but it's like a jealous overtake sort of so. So I'll see the fish, it'll be facing more or less towards me and I'll cast it over the fish and then bring it back past it as though it's overtaking it in its closer proximity. And you just see it sort of look at it and go, Oh no you don't.
And then it'll zone in on it and start hunting it down, almost like they get competitive or something with this little thing overtaking them.
Tom: Interesting, interesting.
Angus: That last waspy pattern just going slightly quicker than they are.
Tom: Yeah. You got me thinking that maybe I should try some other kinds of sinking terrestrials like ants and grasshoppers and things like that might work for carp as well.
Angus: Yeah. Yeah. I think if you've got something in the area, one thing that I heard that was really interesting, there's a couple in Victoria a few hours south of here and they really changed my opinion on carp. I suppose that I probably held more of that kind of crass outlook on them because over here people are like, oh, catch a carp, drag it up on the bank and let it die and that sort of thing.
I mean, I like sort of gave them due diligence and put them out quickly but you see some horrible treatment and things like that. And anyway, Tony Doyle, she's a doctorate in invasive species. And so carps were the numero uno for her. And over dinner one night with them, guiding with them.
And and over dinner, I said, oh, you must hate them. You must love putting them out of their misery or something like that. And and she sort of took a bit of a stand to talking about her love for them and how complex and interesting they are. And and put it to me in an interesting way.
You know, I remember saying that, you know, they they didn't bring themselves here. We brought them here. And they just an amazing, intelligent creature that's doing a really good job of living where it's living. And I just found that a really interesting sort of thing. But one of the points that well, I was thinking of trying to think whether it was...I don't want to quote too much, I just know that she is probably the smartest carp person I know.
But I've heard somewhere that carp are sort of selectively agricultural or so in a way where they'll be in a system feeding on whatever they're feeding on. And they might really, for instance, like it like a damsel nymph but they realize that that damsel nymph is getting lower in population in the water so they'll turn to feeding on something else to let that population bounce back.
It might be that it's crayfish or whatever. It's just an interesting thing which I suppose involves a bit more research. But yeah, I found that a really interesting thing. So they found that where they, where they get very selective on what they're feeding on, if you can pick what it is that they're tuned into, which I mean it's obvious with all fishing but with the carp.
And so you might say that there's a lot of beetles falling out of the trees in that area, and then that would be your option for the sinking terrestrial.
Tom: Yeah. How do you determine what a carp is feeding on or how do you guess? Because I assume you're not. You're not killing them and cutting them open to see what they've been eating.
How do you, when you see a carp in the water?
Angus: Yeah, just observation. And and, you know, there was that story I was talking about earlier with the hornets and even that took a surprisingly long time for me to cut on to what was going on. I guess, you know, I quite often carry a little bug net just a lot of times I've got it stashed in the bag so just scooping through the water.
You know, if the water's up and there's sort of flooded margins, I'm always sort of keen to try a worm just looking at the water and even the ways that they feed, you know, that you might see a carp sort of cruising along and then all of a sudden that makes a splash to dash towards something. Then you can pick whether it's going to be something that has a bit of pace to it.
And you might try like a, you know, swimming nymph or your damsels and that sort of thing. But then, if it's sort of just mooching along and maybe turning its head slightly and opening its mouth, then maybe it is sitting. Well, you'd assume that it's just feeding on something that's sort of suspended in the column.
But yeah, just general observations, you know, looking in the edges. If there's a bit of flow, like I say, a lot of the time it's lizards, but it's the same in lakes. Looking what's washed up on the on the edges and push that to the edges where maybe it's just out of reach of where they can get to to feed.
It might be too shallow or just not where they're focusing and just seeing what's around there.
Tom: Do you ever do you ever encounter carp eating clams and mussels?
Angus: We have got a few little freshwater mussels and things and bivalves and that sort of stuff. But I've never done it.
But I imagine that they would with the way they feed.
Tom: Yeah, I'm just wondering how to imitate them. Because I've seen it, I've seen it and you know.
Angus: Oh, really?
Tom: Yeah, I've tried cutting all the legs off a crab fly and just letting it sit on bottom and it hasn't worked so far.
Angus: Might be ones for the bait, bait fishing I mean.
Tom: Yeah, and you mentioned worm.
Do you use use worm flies for carp.
Angus: Yes. Yep. Especially when the edges have been flooded a bit.
Tom: Yeah. What kind of patterns do you use and how do you fish them?
Angus: Just again. Again, the unweighted, the San Juan style jelly worms and things. I tie a few fuchsia worms. Well, sort of tied off a bit just behind the head, make a little bit of a temporal, a loop in the body tied off again halfway through and then another one further down towards the bend.
So it's got this sort of s-bendy shape down. And I find that one's probably the best, probably better than the jelly worm in ways. I mean the jelly worm feel pretty realistic to the fish. And it definitely works. But [inaudible 01:08:36] style. And so the technique of fishing them it'll be watching them again as either a big one fallin in and seeing them when they've sort of got a bit of movement to deal with as well and just throwing it in and trying to float it past them and you'll see them turn and and grab it.
And I mean, everyone talks about the importance of the stock, whether it's bad habit or not. I often find the list strikes really good too.
I'll really make sure of it each time. I mean, the amount of times I've been totally surprised that there was actually a fish on the end.
Tom: That's interesting. So you found that the so-called trout strike works as well?
Angus: Yeah. Yeah. Longer distances and pulling weights, definitely more inclined to the stripset just so that it's still in the game a little bit.
But I find that they're quite easy to set a hook on if they've got it in their mouth.
Tom: Yeah, yeah. Angus, when you see a bunch of carp in a, you know, a back eddy or in the river or in a lake, what kind of behavior do you look for to find the takers? You know, do you understand what I mean, because you can go through a lot of carp and they're just not eating.
I find when they're cruising, when they're moving, they're very difficult to take. What do you look for to find an eater, find one that's going to take your fly?
Angus: Yeah. Okay. So I suppose I never discredit any carp. If I walk up and I see a carp, I'll have a go at it. But then you definitely do find those and probably more often than not you find them where they're just really disinterested.
So, and then and then among the school and the same day, the same fish, same water, there'll be some that are just not paying any attention and there might be one that just seems to lance at it. But I find that the ones that seem to be quite obvious and moving at quite a slow pace and they, you know, whether they're grazing on the bottom or changing direction, quite a lot of them are moving at a slow pace.
But I find if they're moving quickly, I don't really bother with it.
Tom: Yeah. Has anything worked when they're moving quickly? Found anything? That'll interest... No? Damn. I was hoping you had the answer.
Angus: Who knows what happens down deeper, but because I've actually pulled up quite a few, just pulling flies through, you know, down, down, deeper, particularly in some of the lakes around the snowy mountains here and just stripping where there's fishing for yellow belly, which is a funny looking perch we've got over here or even trout and stripping through the lower section of the column where I can't see.
And a few times it's come up tight with a carp on it. You don't know what they're doing down there, because I'm usually pulling those quite erratically.
Tom: So you do try it. You do try blind fishing sometimes because it's I've always found it very difficult if you don't if you can't see the carp.
Yeah. Tell us about your techniques. If you know there's some carp, let's say there's a big mud and you know, they're feeding somewhere in that area. But you can't you see the individual fish.
Angus: A good giveaway is a carp mud because it assumes that that's them foraging and yeah like stripping through the larger, larger mud and things, you know, that there's going to be a congregation of fish getting up to whatever they're getting up to down there.
But as I said, it's more of a bycatch thing where I've found them like that. Yeah, that's a good pointer, is mud.
Tom: Do you strips slowly when you or quickly when you when you find that kind of situation where you can't see the fish?
Angus: Yes. Yeah. So slowly, slowly is the more appropriate technique, I reckon.
But yeah, as I said, I've had have come up on some quite fast stripping techniques as well.
Tom: So you got to try everything.
Angus: Not something I generally target.
Tom: Yeah. Yeah. It's a lot more fun when you can see them. Yeah. Any particular time of day that you like?
Angus: Yeah just daytime really...
Tom: So you can see them.
Angus: Yeah, exactly, any time in the day.
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I mean, I don't think I've ever caught a carp that might have unless it might have been back in the in the corn bait fishing days. But I think being able to see the fish is such an important aspect. And I also don't have a lot of night time with that species. So you don't find that.
Tom: So you don't find that the first light early in the morning or last light in the evening isn't any better than during the day?
Angus: No, no. I find them. Yeah, I find them. Yeah. They're probably ... the better times are the day really. But I mean more when it's dark, I don't bother with. Because, yeah, the first light's really good.
And, and the last night really good as well. Definitely, notably.
But then also middle of the day can be just as good, too. [inaudible 01:14:47] the place I go, like nobody's fishing. And particularly not targeting trout, carp that go through there. We don't have bow fishing here. They didn't use it for a little bit but not sure what's happened with the bow fishing phenomenon, here.
Tom: Yeah, well, it's good that you don't have much of it because you do find here in the States where there's a lot of bow fishing, the carp obviously are a lot spookier because people are shooting arrows at them.
So yeah, I mean finding finding a spot where carp haven't been pressured one way or the other is definitely, you know, we're always exploring, looking for new places where nobody else knows about. Nobody's been bow fishing, you know, where there's a concentration of carp there. Those are definitely easier to catch, for sure.
Angus: Yeah, yeah. It's so much fun.
Make me want to go kind of fishing. I haven't done it in quite a while because the trapped fishing's been cycling. But yeah, definitely, definitely. These conversations got me thinking about going out in the next couple of days.
Tom: Yeah, and our season is pretty much over. How about seasonally? Do you have much of a winter there? Warmer months.
Angus: We do. Yeah. We get a yeah definitely around where I am where I've focused 99.9% of my fishing, it's four seasons, four distinct seasons. And, the warmer months are definitely a lot more active.
Tom: What what are secrets or what are some tips for catching carp, say, in the in the fall or spring when the water's colder. Because they're still around. Right. They're still around and feeding.
Angus: Yeah. I mean, I just use the same techniques. Just the same sort of techniques, probably more streamer base sort of stuff. And, yeah. I mean, I haven't really got time to think about the different seasons of them. I just find that they slow down a little bit.
Tom: Okay. And probably you have to look harder for them. Probably not as shallow. So you have you have some other interesting fish that you fish for there as alternatives to try. You want to talk a little bit about some of the other things you chase?
Angus: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I suppose the first one that really sticks out and it's an incredible fish.
I'm not sure if you've heard of Murray Cod before.
Tom: I have heard of them from Jeremy, yeah.
Angus: Right. Yeah. Well, so, yeah, that's how I met Jeremy. Was doing an episode on the Murray Cod called Outback Based and they're really good fish to chase on flies. They're an ambush predator.
So just to clear up, their called a Murray Cod. They're not a cod. Australia's just really good at looking at a fish and going, oh, it kind of looks like a cod, we'll call it a cod. They're not very original with naming a fish, which is kind of funny because we've got one of the most incredible sort of indigenous populations here with the Aboriginals and they've got these amazing names.
So there's a big resurgence in renaming Murray Cod, Goodoo, which was the traditional name for them. And all the names sound so cool. So it's funny when we've got that Australian bass and it's not a bass, it's a perchial. Australian salmon and again it's like a perch like family, but it's really, for me it's a bit of a stretch to think about how they got salmon.
But so yeah. Murray Cod, incredible species. Very exciting massive ambush predator. They'll get up to 150 centimeters long and weigh ridiculous weights that are 40-50 kilos. They just become these massive barrels. And, they're generally going to be sitting around snag piles and under logs. They do cruise a bit but they'll find a hide and they'll wait for something to come pass.
And they'll ambush the prey. And when one of the fish in the biggest scale hit it is a serious force. And using really large [inaudible 01:19:28] and massive, massive gauge, SL12s and that sort of thing. And that initial hit is just it's so strong and you've got to set the hook hard. They've got these big bony plated jaws like that have got rows and rows and rows of small razor sharp teeth.
And then the skin is so tough that you can strip set hard into one and it'll still reject the hook. When they get into that sort of 80 centimeter plus size, they're very robust fish. I can hear inside. I'm standing outside my house and I could hear footsteps rummaging around. And that's my housemates/best mate Jimmie Barwick and he started cod fishing a year ago.
He's moved to cold waters quite recently and I've never seen anyone become such a mad scientist in my life. Dedicated his life to them. He's gone out and bought a boat and set it up with live scope and side scan. And he pioneered a very tough lake in the area. And it's called Browning, but it's known as Lake Disappointment because your conventional fishermen are going out there and happy with one fish every three days.
And Jimmy just nailed it on fly and he's getting you know, made a plus fish on fly, which is pretty amazing stuff. But, now, I came home for winter. I went away to get a hernia surgery done and I came down after it recovered and I opened the door. And he's sitting in there with head torch on inside tying special flies and he's looking all giddy and jabbering about trying and it's awesome every night he's out right through the night you know 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and then goes to work the next day.
So that's the sort of thing it really yeah. It really draws people in and so they're amazing fish and such a pursuit.
Tom: What kind of habitat do you find Murray Cod in?
Angus: They're more so inclined towards those lowland rivers. So we've got some really big river systems, maybe not by American standards, but they're big river systems that flow from the mountainous areas generally.
So there's, their called the Murray called the Murray Darling Basin. The Darling flows from up in southern parts of Queensland and flows down, sort of on the inland side of the Great Dividing Range, down towards Adelaide in the south of Australia. And then we've got the Murrumbidgee which starts up in the Snowy Mountains and does a big spiral around, it heads east for a little bit, but then flow around past Canberra, our capital city, and then out towards the Murray Darling Basin and joins up with that out there.
And then the Murray starts a bit south of here, a few hours south of here again in the Snowy Mountains towards Kosi Island and that flows out and joins up to this system. So they're all through that system. They're in the western flowing rivers and there's a lot of tributaries that join that. And so that'll be more congregated towards the slower lowland parts of that water.
But there's a sort of subspecies called trout cod, which they don't grow as big, but they're more fast cold water species. And they're faster fish, too. They live in faster water, they usually fitter and but also a very interesting thing almost impossible to tell the difference between both and another really good sport fish.
Tom: And do you have to use wire for them? Do you have to use wire leader for them.
Angus: No, you get some pretty bad shaping on the on the leader but it's not really a done thing. It's, you know, 25 to 40 pound fluid carbon depending on, you know, some systems, you know...oh, you assume you hope they're not going to have anything to nasty if you're using that lighter end of the scale.
But then if you know you're in for a shot with [inaudible 01:23:53] and then you are putting on 40-pound fluid carbon.
Tom: And what weight rod do you use for those? You use a ten or a 12.
Angus: I like an eight, but a ten is good. Yeah, their flight is very short lived, so they'll feed aggressively and they'll pull in that and they'll try and get into a snag.
But then after that sort of second or third attempt, they kind of just like the sound and is fine, but they can't just lie over and come in for a belly rub. But yeah, the heavier weight, I'll definitely enjoy a sort of [inaudible 01:22:10] if it's going to be a long day of casting. And it's one of those fish of a thousand casts and you're throwing around big game changes in those really big slides. So it's more for carrying the big flies than fighting the fish.
Tom: Okay. Okay. Well, that sounds very interesting. It sounds like you've got quite the fishery there. In addition to trout.
Angus: Yeah, definitely. Like, I mean, trout, are an entirely introduced species here, as is New Zealand and but they are the bread and butter for the guide. It's what everyone wants to chase and there's good reasons for that. They're really nice to chase and we've got some really good trout fishing here but but the Murray Cod fly fishing is becoming a bit bigger phenomenon and then and then we're sort of, I feel 15, 20 years behind you guys on fly fishing, maybe even more.
But we're only just starting to diversify and appreciate ... that's wrong to say we're just starting to. But, you know, people are really just starting in bigger numbers, cutting onto our diverse estuaries and we've got some really diverse estuary species. And, you know, so for the freshwater you've got know for the natives which which are a really good focus. You've got silver perch, golden perch, which are the yellow belly, their funny looking fish. We've got, you know, there's even like smaller eels and that sort of stuff.
You know up in the, in the northern areas you've got the mangrove jacks and the sooty country and the more freshwater going to be sort of tied up. My brain has gone off thinking about all the crazy species we've got.
Tom: Have you caught eels on a fly?
Angus: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Tom: No kidding.
Angus: Yeah, that came about. It's a funny story.
Tom: Yeah, tell me. You got to tell me the story. You know? Yeah. Thanks for bringing it up. Jeremy must have dubbed that in. He loves eels. See so I had a client, he has a property quite a way up north and it's got trout streams on it but they couldn't figure out why the top sort of section had a really good little trout fishery on it so that the kilometers and kilometers of streams down below the waterfalls were void.
And I thought that's interesting because it's yeah, it's a beautiful area and things. And so anyway, he flew me out there and I paid me for a week just to get in a month and suss out what was going on. And I sort of did laps and got to know the system quite well and I fished every little bit of the bottom sections.
And it looked so good and trouty, but nothing, nothing was there. And, then so I thought it must be Trout Cod or Murray Cod are in here aiding the fish as they come there on the waterfall. And so I get up to with the eight weight and I had a rainbow trout game changer. Actually, the first one was a bend back.
So like a light horseman pattern. It was just a GT fly really. And, so put that through there's this waterfall that drops down and I was thinking there's going to be trout caught in here or a Murray Cod or an Eastern Cod or something like that. And, it was I cast up towards this waterfall. And I was stripping it back and really anticipating one of these big cod to hit it or a cod of any size, really. It doesn't take a big cod to clean up a trout.
And then, whop, this thing hit and it was so ferocious and I was eyes lit up because I was like, I sort of prefer there to be a really cod fishery than a trout fishery in ways. And I was fighting this thing. And then I see it come up and roll on the surface and it was this must have been five, six foot eel rolling over the fly.
I start out wrestling the thing in and still really excited. It was just cool to hook something and I get it in and I made the huge mistake of putting it in my knife net and then and the leader was covered in this thick film. And I don't know they've got to use that material for something in science because you cannot get that off and it is so slippery and it stinks. There must be some application for it or when launching ships off the dock or something.
But so anyways and then yeah. Another three or four came out of that, that pool before I decided I had enough of the entangling eels and yeah. I'm sure there's still bits of that eel slime on my net to this day.
Tom: Well, I don't think I know of anybody... I don't think I've ever heard of anybody catching an eel on a fly. That's pretty cool.
Angus: Yeah. I mean, I thought it was just a phenomenon because they were raved up from all these, you know, freshly released rainbow trout, you know, falling off the waterfall into their mouth. But yeah. And maybe that had a lot to do with that. Maybe places where they're used to chasing prey like that. You've got a good shot at it.
But yeah, I've actually managed to catch them in a few other locations. But with the discovery of the eel thing, the issue there. I did a bit more research into eels and I've developed a massive love for them, a huge fascination with them. They're such an incredible species and I could go on about that for days.
Tom: Now, have you had any clients book an eel trip yet?
Angus: No, no, no. I'd love that, though. That'd be a fun be a fun trip to run. They can bring their own their own net though.
Tom: Well, you never know. It could be a new thing. It could be a new thing. Going to Australia for an eel trip.
Angus: Yeah. Well and actually I took Jeremy, you know, Jeremy explained to me that fly fishing is not really, you know, he said it was quite elite and exclusive in the UK and I thought, well if it's elite and exclusive to Jeremy Wade, it must be pretty full on. He had a very lovely fly fishing because he did the maritime stuff on fly and did a great job of it. And he said he loved fly fishing because he did the Murray Cod stuff on fly and did a great job of it. And so I said, look, it's a mass year in New Zealand coming up and, and it's totally going to be pretty good. So if you want, we can go and fish it. And I'll give you the heads up and you know, nothing commercial just a, just a boys trip. And he's like, yeah, yeah, no problem.
Anyway so I called him later on and told him that these are the dates we're going to go and do. We're going to do a semi-Wellington over there and, you know, nothing fancy. We're going to be sleeping in the backcountry or rolling out a sleeping bag on top of clothes and that sort of stuff. And he was good with that.
So we took off over there in pursuit of a a big trout for him. And I remember one time Sam and I was skulking along thinking Jeremy was, you know, right over our shoulder, and we found this really nice big brown. And, all right, Jeremy you know get out your line and get ready for this fish, and we're sort of talking it through.
And then we turn around and he was about 40 meters back down the river with his arm halfway up this bank, and he was in there chasing an eel. He just totally lost interest in the trout fishing, so he was trying to hand catch these eel.
Tom: Oh, my God. They bite, don't they?
Angus: Yeah. Yeah.
Tom: Well, Angus, this has been fun. And I want to I want to thank you for the great stories and for sharing some of your techniques that I'm sure people can use for carp fishing here in North America. And it's really interesting to hear about some of the things you chase in fresh water there in Australia so appreciate that.
Angus: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, I can go on for days about it all but but yeah, I mean that's a brief overview on the incredible stuff we've got going on here.
And I mean, if any of those techniques work for anyone over there, I'll be happy to hear that it's worked and, and yeah, definitely give it a go because the sinking dry is my favorite way to fish for them.
Tom: I'm going to try that next season. I'm definitely going to try that. Now, if people want to get hold of you, do you have a website?
Yeah, it's So, H-A-U-L fly fishing dot com. And and on Instagram @HaulFlyFishing and so yeah it's a it's a pretty new thing. I've only just started up I was subcontracting for a long while there, but then I've just started up the legitimate business of my own.
So yeah, if you look that up and get in touch with any questions or just have you have a yearn about what's going on and things, happy to do that. So yeah.
Tom: And if any of you listeners want to catch your first eel on a fly, you know where to go. It could be a static, it could be a status thing like permit. You never know.
Angus: Definitely. I know you got some good, good longfin eels over there, too.
Tom: Yeah, yeah. I don't know if our eels will take a fly.
Angus: Let's get it going.
Tom: Yeah, we'll have to try that.
Angus: The oldest book of eel fishing.
Tom: Yeah. Right. Find an author for that. All right, Angus.
Well, I want to thank you for sharing your time, and it's been a pleasure talking to you. And I hope to go eel fishing with you someday.
Angus: Yeah definitely will. We'll have a chat, Tom.
Tom: Okay. Sounds good.
Angus: Thanks, Tom.
Tom: Okay. Thanks very much, Angus. Thanks for listening to the Orvis Fly Fishing Podcast with Tom Rosenbaum. You can be a part of the show, have a question or comment, send it to us at HYPERLINK "" in the body of an email or as a voice attachment. You can find more free fishing tips and