I bit the bullet and bought a cheap back up rod for those times when the Sage might be out of action as it is now. I took it out for a few hours excited to see the comparison between builds. Actually it's not half bad, a little flimsy feeling and the leader that came with the rod is a joke apart from that, the rod is pretty good. But still no trout. The lack of trout might also have something to do with the condition of the river at the moment. In January we had floods that have really devastated the river's health. It's immediately obvious how furious the river would have been during the floods, with river junk of trees and branches sitting up high well 30 meters from the current water level, quite frightening to be honest. Sand and rocks now spread on the banks and the water is still very turbid. It may take a few years for this amazing river to fully recover. Nature has a way of fighting back and I'm sure the water will clear up when we have a few weeks without rain. I drove the Jeep down a rough fire access track littered with huge mud puddles (thank goodness for 4WD). The Jeep now needs a good wash! The track started to wind with a big S bend and there it was, the remains of the ford that in the height of summer is normally crossable in a 4 wheeler but now looks worse for ware with huge chucks washed away. The river still not letting up with some rain last week it was still gushing over the ford and quite high too. I found a safe park and started gearing up, mindful of any noises in the grass as I had already spotted two Copperhead snakes on the drive in. On the heavy duty wader's go. Not only are they great in the river but they reduce the chance of snake bites getting through the PVC. Even on a hot day I prefer to wear them rather than die a painful slow death!
My hand shock lightly with excitement as I tie a double blood knot for the sliding emerger tippet. I finish the knot in no time. If finally mastered that knot after plenty of fumbling on previous trips, it finally sunk in, and it's an easy knot. With my Brady fishing bag over my shoulder and my flies ready I head straight for the river. What greets me is a light brown river full of silt and muck from upstream. The history of gold mining has left us with a lot of unstable soils and they change the dynamics of the river with a good drop of rain. I wonder how anythings survives in water like this, but sure enough I spot a few rising trout. All of them smarter than my fishing techniques. Not even a strike. But I didn't really get too despondent, I was alone in the bush on a river that not many locals know exist. My own private river.
As I meander along the river looking for an access point to cast I spot many dog tracks in the sand, but no human tracks with them. There are wild dogs in this area, mostly cattle dogs that somehow leave the farm to hunt in packs. There is plenty of food around for them with sheep farms the dominant farmed meat. I get a small chill and wish I had a back mounted shotgun with me. I remind myself that dogs can't climb trees. A few years ago I came close to a wild dog on the river, we locked eyes it sniffed the air and we parted ways. The shaggy beast is in my mind every time I go to that area, I wonder if I'll bump into him again.
I continued to walk upstream coming across one stunning pondage after another, thinking to myself they'd be great places for a fish when river calms down. In my mind I'm already setting aside an afternoon session for the following weekend. For now this trip is over, it's time to hike back to the Jeep. I still haven't caught a fish with a fly rod, but every time I go out I come home feeling settled and happy. Especially when I come home via a pub for a single fresh cold pint of yellow whip.