World Wide Fishing!

The Best Trout Stream in the World

By Ken Self, Melbourne, Australia

One thing I've learned about anglers is they are an opinionated lot and fly anglers are the most opinionated of them all. "You've got to have a 5 weight rod" (or 4 or 6), "Use a weight forward line" (or a double taper), "Tie your own leader", "Use this fly", "Tie it with this knot", "Fish it like this" etc etc etc. Well I reckon I'm now past the novice stage and think I'm entitled to have some opinions of my own. So I'm going to tell you what I think is the best trout stream in the world.

When I started fly fishing seriously about two years ago I had read stories about the chalk streams of England, the steelhead waters of North America and the pristine rivers of New Zealand. So naturally I sought out the nearest blue ribbon stream to practise the craft which in my case is the mighty Goulburn River in Victoria, Australia. The Goulburn is a tailrace fishery with abundant large wild brown trout. There are good hatches throughout the season especially during spring and autumn. But during the hot summer months it stands alone with irrigation water releases keeping the water cold and clear and the backwaters full. Despite air temperatures that can rise above 40 degrees C (100 deg F) the water stays around the 13 degree C (55 deg F) mark. Add to that the hopper and beetle falls and you have some magnificent fishing. The Goulburn is 2 hours drive from Melbourne, Australia - a city of 3 million. Many regard it as one of the premier trout streams in Australia and a world class fishery. So you think I'm going to declare it to be the Best Trout Stream in the World? Wrong.

A few months ago I was introduced to the King Parrot Creek. "The Parrot," as it is affectionately known, is a small tributary of the Goulburn, rising in the hills north of Melbourne and joining it well below the tailrace section. In its upper reaches it is not much more than 20 feet at its widest and apart from a few pools it is only about shin deep. It has a smallish population of wild brown trout with a one pounder being a monster, so catch and release is essential. There is no hatch to speak of and in a really hot summer the water temperature can reach levels that can put a trout right off his food. This is the 'Best Trout Stream in the World.'

The Best Trout Stream in the World

When I arrive at the Parrot I only have to walk a couple of hundred metres downstream from my car to the start of my regular beat. The Goulburn, like many other streams, is so popular you have to walk at least a kilometre or two just to avoid the crowds. At the Parrot it is rare to encounter another angler of any discipline. It's great to feel as if you have the stream all to yourself.

So is the Parrot the best trout stream in the world because it is so uncrowded? Well, that's one reason, but there's more . . .

Navigating the Parrot is pretty easy. Being fairly shallow there is little danger of getting dunked. The deepest part I've seen was just over waist deep and that was when it was in flood. With the low flow and with the warm Aussie climate it's pretty easy to wet wade the Parrot with comfort. No need for neoprene waders or thermal clothing here. Just a pair of shorts and sandshoes will generally do.

So is the Parrot the best trout stream in the world because it is so navigable? Well, that's one reason, but there's more . . .

You don't need to be a champion caster to fish the Parrot. A big cast is when you have ten feet of line past the tip. Any more would take you well past the far bank or, more likely, wrap your line around either the trees and bushes behind or the ones in front. More often than not its just a flick of the wrist to pop the fly under the overhanging branches.

So is the Parrot the best trout stream in the world because it doesn't require big casts? Well, that's one reason, but there's more . . .

Even though there are no great clouds of mayfly or caddis hanging over the Parrot the trout will generally take any well presented non-descript like a Geehi Beetle, Red Tag, Royal Wulff or Royal Coachman. And if they are not cooperating on the surface they will normally take a small brown nymph fished upstream. No need to carry lots of fly patterns, sampling nets and magnifying glasses to match the hatch. Just a few simple patterns with a few spares to feed the trees.

So is the Parrot the best trout stream in the world because the fish will take any reasonably presented fly? Well, that's one reason, but there's more . . .

Even though the trout in the Parrot will take just about anything, getting a good drift is not an easy task. Low overhanging ti-trees and wattle trees provide great cover for the trout but make a straight upstream cast a near impossibility. Roll casts with a horizontal rod, back handed curve casts and delicate little flicks across stream are the order of the day. The trick is to get a few feet of drag free drift to take the fly under the branches before the current variations across the stream induce drag. Wouldn't be half as much fun if it was a walk in the park.

So is the Parrot the best trout stream in the world because it is challenging? Well, that's one reason but there's more . . .

The Parrot is a shallow stream, so when a trout takes the fly you can normally see it all happening before your eyes. It gets the adrenalin going when you see a trout come up to inspect the fly and, if you've done everything right, to then take it. On one occasion I landed the fly amidst a tangle of coiled tippet and I swear I saw the trout come up and untangle the line to get to the fly. At times like these you've got to be patient and control the nerves to avoid striking too early.

So is the Parrot the best trout stream in the world because of the thrill of being able to see the trout take the fly? Well, that's one reason, but there's more . . .

On my first trip to the Parrot I caught six trout in less than ideal conditions - the creek was in flood and very turbid. That was my best day's fishing ever up till then. I have never been skunked on the Parrot and will normally get up to half a dozen takes in a couple of hours fishing. Now at this stage of my progress I still manage to miss or drop a high percentage of those takes - I believe Long Distance Release is the technical term - but at least I'm getting plenty of action.

So is the Parrot the best trout stream in the world because it is so productive? Well, that's one reason but there's more . . .

The trout in the Parrot are all wild browns even though they are not native to this country. It was last stocked in 1969 and the Goulburn which provides the big spawners was last stocked in 1981. Whenever I catch a trout in the Parrot, I like to photograph it as they have such beautiful colouring. They have a shiny golden brown back with dark black spots. Along their sides are bright red spots with a clearly defined white ring around them. Makes it easy to see why they are called brown trout.

So is the Parrot the best trout stream in the world because the trout are all wild and beautifully coloured? Well, that's one reason, but there's more . . .

The Parrot is the nearest trout stream to where I live - only 50 minutes drive away. I can drive up there and get in a couple of hours fishing and return home in just one morning or an afternoon. That's really important to someone who works fulltime in the city and has a young family. In my first year of fly fishing the Goulburn, I spent a lot of time driving and not much time fishing. Two hours each way makes four hours return then add in a few hours fishing to make it worthwhile and there's a whole day gone. In my situation it's really hard to give up a whole day on a weekend, so I was lucky to go fishing once a month, if that. On the other hand, I can fish the Parrot nearly every weekend. As a learner I need all the practice I can get and clocking up hours on the water sure beats flogging the back yard. Fishing the same beat every week gives me a benchmark that lets me gauge my improvement - number of takes, number of missed strikes, number of snagged flies. I'm certain my presentation, streamcraft and striking ability have all improved. Many of the trout are like old friends. I have learnt where they normally take up position and where I can expect them to take the fly - although they can still surprise me. When I see them come up to inspect the fly, I feel like saying "G'day, how's it going?" before getting down to the serious business of trying to fool them into taking the fly. Some of them I've caught up to five times over. When they don't show up at all it's not just disappointing; I even start to worry that someone else has caught and kept them. It's a real relief when they are back on the job the following week.

That's why the Parrot is the 'Best Trout Stream in the World'.

The best trout stream doesn't have to have the most fish or the biggest fish. Just like the best tackle shop doesn't have to have a full range of all the latest gear in stock. As long as it has the tackle you want, is easily accessible and provides good, friendly service. Of course I like to fish the blue ribbon streams once in a while for a bit of variety and to go after some trophy fish. But the Parrot is always there to be fished even if I don't have a lot of spare time. And having all those other reasons means it is still a lot of fun. ~ Ken Self

More Fly Fishing Down Under:

Fly Fishing New Zealand
The Art of New Zealand Flying Fishing
Arthur's Lake, Tasmania
Trout-Tracking in New Zealand
Flyfishing Taupo (New Zealand) Streams & Rivers
Stalking the Large Trout of Australia
Fly Fishing the Northern Territory
Olympic Bass
The Best Trout Stream in the World
Ruakituri River, New Zealand
Matching the Hatch
A Guide to 'Cracking' the Mystery of the Mataura

Fly fishing in the Mitta Mitta Valley of NE Victoria, Australia
Bream on the Fly - Australia
A Very Rough Guide to Fishing New Zealand

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