PHOTO: Matt Butler
September is a time when our Southern Lakes come alive. Following winter spawning activity the browns have returned to the lake shores and are feeding avidly around the lake margin as springtime conditions bring everything to life.
This year, following a very warm, mild winter, these browns are present in big numbers, and are in cracking condition too... If you're not out there amongst them, you should be, and here are a few tips to get you started...
- Find the food: look for flats with a nearby drop off supporting lush weedbeds, rocky structure or chironomid filled sandflats. The closer to a rivermouth the better.
- Do nothing: these fish are cruising, so let them come to you. Spend time watching and locating fish. Wading around in search will spook more fish than you will catch. Remember that these browns are territorial so will usually repeat their beat - if you don't have a good shot, let him cruise by and be better prepared for his return.
- Fish when the sun's at its highest: watch the entire lakebed come alive. These fish arent always easy to see so put things in your favour. While they can be caught blind on overcast days, or when using a high backdrop to break the glare they're a little bit more tricky on a calm, blue topper so need to be targeted... Plus you cant beat the rush of clearly watching these guys accelerate towards your fly.
- Give 'em meat: Brown bullies play a huge part in these fish' diet, so Mrs Simpsons, Mr Glisters and Little Buggers are worth their inclusion in your flypatch. Damsels, snails and chironomids too are local favourites and if you're lucky you may even find them looking to the top.
- Don't overfish it: these fish are patrolling for food, and after winter spawning are pretty hungry. A single pull, lifting your fly from the lakebed will be more than enough for these fish to engage. Over enthusiastic stripping will often result in suspicious fish, follows and refusals.
Bonus tip: use the right gear. My favouite rod for these often short casts is a smooth, medium actioned, 5wt G2. (The new Airflo Creek Series rods would excel here also). Long casts and high line speed is not often needed here. This is close quarters combat... A sixth sense slow intermediate (0.5 ips sink rate), or clear camo fast inter (1.5 ips sinkrate) will anull line shadow and surface disturbance on the retrieve, or if you opt for a floating line, a long leader or 10' intermediate polyleader is a decided advantage.