I recently (9 September 2017) went to the Goulburn River for the first time with a new fishing buddy called Tim Nash — a fantastic fisherman and author of the wonderful flyfishingvictoria.com. As a fly fishing nut who’s lived here for nearly seven years, it’s kind of strange I’ve never visited the Goulburn before because it’s one of Victoria’s most popular trout fishing rivers. When Tim asked why not, I couldn’t give him a straight answer. Anyway, he happily shrugged his shoulders and promptly showed me exactly what I’d been missing out on for all these years. After enjoying a full day and seven fish to hand I can verify that it’s an awesome river and I’ll be back soon! Here’s why…
It’s so close to Melbourne
I’m talking a 90 minute drive. Now, this kind of breezy travel is both a blessing and a curse because while the river is accessible it’s often busy with other keen anglers. On my trip, I was initially quite disheartened to see so many other folks fishing because I thought it would wreck my chances of a catch. As it turned out, I discovered there’s enough room for everyone especially if you’re prepared to walk a long way downstream to avoid the crowds. Tim also said not to stress because many anglers just don’t know how to fish the water well so there would be plenty of trout for us. They turned out to be wise words. However, if you really do prefer your own company, then I’d recommend going mid-week or heading somewhere more remote.
It’s a very pretty drive
Once you get beyond the suburbs, the vista turns into rolling paddocks and vineyards before you hit heavenly Healesville. I recommend stopping here and grabbing a sausage roll at Mocca and Lime — tastes like something my Nana bakes and she’s a savage cook. As you drive through Healesville, the road starts climbing and winding as you enter the ‘Black Spur’. Maybe it’s the tall, dead-straight mountain ash trees, the eerie morning mists, or the emerald colour of the ‘Spur’, something about this section of the Yarra Ranges makes my soul smile everytime I drive through it. When you make it to the other side, the land opens up into farming pasture and scattered state forests. Soak it in.
It’s home to big trout
I knew it was going to be a good day when we stalked a section of bank and saw a massive brown trout near a big snag. I soon learnt that seeing is one thing, catching is another! Both Tim and I tried our luck with various fly patterns before he nonchalantly cruised off into the deep — check out a video of the monster brown here. So, we pushed on and headed to another more open section of water with a classic pool and run structure. Tim totally surprise himself by hooking up to a nice fish on the first cast in a shallow gravelly area. The shock stopped him from setting the hook properly and it swam off. Note: do not overlook those shallow, gravelly pockets of water below pools. My fishing mentor Scott McPherson taught me this years ago and I’ve landed beauties because of his sage advice. In these areas, the change from deep to shallow forces a large volume of water to flow faster and dislodge nymphs and other trout food from the river bed. This means trout will often find themselves a nice spot in the current to pick off their lunch. So, the next time you’re tempted to walk over shallow gravelly riffles to more promising looking pools chuck a few lines in first.
It’s near other awesome outdoor stuff
The Cathedral Ranges are just a stone’s throw from the Goulburn River and are home to some sweet bush walks for all abilities. This is a great option if you’ve got folks in your group who prefer lacing up their hiking rather than wading boots. And if you want to make a weekend of it, then pack the tent and camp at Kendalls B campground in the Rubicon State Forest. It’s a lovely spot that’s right next to the Rubicon River in eucalypt forest with some awesome 4WD tracks nearby. Note: it gets pretty packed on public holidays so rock up early to get a good spot or head elsewhere if you’re after more peace and quiet.
It’s so close to great wine
A cool vino after a balmy day on the water is a joy second to catching a prize fish. And with the Yarra Valley just down the road from the Goulburn River you’re spoilt for choice! My top picks are Oakridge, Giant Steps and Dominique Portet, and I’ll either pack a bottle in the Esky or pop in for a quick tasting on the way home. I’m currently in love with the Portet NV Sparkling Rose — pure glee in a glass, it’s my new summertime go to.
So, if you’re looking to flee the Big Smoke and get into nature then there’s plenty of inspiration just a short drive away.