Winter Newsletter 2019
Life, Love and Fly Fishing
2019 winter news from Peter Hayes
In this Newsletter
FFI Casting Instructors Workshop – Oct 19
Beginners and Intermediate Fly Fishing Weekend – Nov
Girls Gone Fly Fishing –Apr 2020
Cressy Cane – April 2020
Nick Taransky – Cane rod making week – April 2020
The season past
Highlights from my 25th year of guided fishing and tuition
The season ahead
What will it bring?
FFI Casting Instructors Live In Workshop – 1/2 October 2018
This 2 day live in program is designed to help fly fishers that wish to become Federation of Fly Fishers International Accredited Casting Instructors (CI). In Australia there have been upwards of 250 people participate in this program over the past 10 years.
I’m guessing here, but I would think that maybe only a dozen or so of the participants have completed this accreditation because they desire to become casting instructors. Instead this formal learning process is more often seen as a course of focussed self – development.
If you truly wish to improve your fly casting skills then this is the only formal program that I can point you toward. If you have the desire, the time and inclination then by all means book your place HERE.
Beginners and Intermediate Fly Fishing Live In Weekend – 23/24 November 2019
This will be the 15th year that I have run this successful weekend course. You can come for the first day as a beginner or the second day as an Intermediate level fly fisher. Alternatively, you may choose to come for the entire weekend of learning. In this case the G & T’s are on the house as always ! Click HERE to learn more or book your weekend of fine food and great learning outcomes with like – minded people.
Girls Gone Fly Fishing Weekend – 3/4/5 April 2020
This is always a fun event and I am proud to say that the small gathering just 5 years ago has become the largest gathering of women fly fishers in the country. The event is always fully subscribed so be sure to book in as soon as you can HERE.
Cressy Cane Rod Makers Gathering – 17/18/ 19 April 2020
This wonderful event is the brainchild of Bamboo Dave Hemmings. It is in its 6th year. International guests like Jeff Wagner and Bob Clay have been past presenters and I know it’s always a challenge for Dave to make the next event better.
Well… this year we have invited not one, but two exceptional exponents of casting, fishing and cane rod making. Bill Higashi and Naoto Shibuya are both from Japan and have exceptional and varying skills. I’ve known Bill for some 10 years and he is truly one of the most gifted fly casters and fly anglers in the world.
Last year my son Lachie, Dave Hemmings, Nick Taransky and I spent a week dry fly fishing the fast flowing mountain streams of Japan with Naoto and Bill. I think Naoto is the finest river fishing dry fly angler I have ever met and what’s more, he builds the most exquisite fly rods I’ve ever seen.
After the Cane weekend event Naoto and Bill will be conducting a river dry fly fishing seminar on the Meander River. This seminar will be only open to Cressy Cane participants to attend. Book your place HERE to avoid disappointment.
Nick Taransky Cane Rod Making Weeks – 22- 26 April & 29 April – 3 May 2020
Once again Nick is running his popular week long Cane Rod Making classes. At the end of the week, under Nick’s expert tuition and guidance, you will have made a beautiful cane rod that you and future generations of your family will treasure. There will be daily personalised casting tuition with me as your personal trainer. You may even catch a fish or two in the pool and it is a given that you will be fed wonderful Tasmanian food and be loaded up constantly with G & T’s. What better way could you spend a week? Contact Nick HERE.
THE SEASON PAST
As has been the way for many years now, both Dave and I, were more or less fully booked for the season – my 25th year of guiding.
In no particular order some of the wonderful things we achieved together follow.
Last year the lodge was fully renovated and when you next visit I know that you will love the changes.
Extensive garden beds were put in by Di and during this past season we were able to reap the rewards of our efforts by harvesting our own beautiful and organically grown food. Tomatoes, pumpkins, carrots, peas, beans, lettuces, strawberries, raspberries and more graced our plates. It was nice to have clients duck outside and pick the vegetables that we would prepare and eat for dinner that evening. The fruit trees in the orchard and the Blueberries may hopefully bear fruit for us next year.
We installed a huge solar power and hot water system on the roof of the lodge last winter. During the past season I’m pleased to say that the lodge has nearly always operated in a self-sufficient manner in regards to the power requirements.
Cressy Cane was a huge event. Bob Clay from British Columbia was able to be with us for the event and to enjoy some early season tailing trout fishing too. As a group we cast the 20 or more new rods that had been made by the makers over the past year. All these rods were variations on 2 different tapers. One, a Paul Young Perfectionist and the other a Dickerson 7613. Some were single piece, others 2, 3 or even 4 pieces. Some were hollow built. Some ferules were fibreglass, others graphite and some were simply spliced.
For me, and many others, it was terrific to find out just how much we liked the softer modulus Madaki Japanese cane material. There is something smooth and sensual, yet powerful about this cane. My feeling is that I never want to use a dry fly river rod that is NOT made from this cane!
We were also Lucky to have Bill Lark with us again. As always Bill did his best to educate us and fill us with a variety of rare and special whiskies.
Bob Clay and Bill Lark
Cressy Cane Group – 2019
Whilst I was guiding Bob (he couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw big brown trout tailing in just inches of water, their entire backs exposed) my partner Di managed to catch her first fish on a dry fly completely unassisted. It was a milestone for her marked by much whooping and hollering. I bet you can all still recall your very first fish on a fly. I can and it was 43 years ago!
Di releasing her first unguided, self- caught, fish
In November Mike Stevens ran Tasmania’s first ever Fly Fishing Expo at Clarendon House on the banks of the South Esk River. The neighbouring property was once owned by Sir James Arndell Youl who was responsible for the introduction to Tasmania of Brown trout way back in 1864.
Two international guests were Scott Bartschi who is the Scott Fly Rod Company rod designer and our long time and dear friend, Simon Gawesworth from Rio line fame. We had some wonderful and late nights at the Lodge eating Pizzas, drinking too much and staying up around the casting pool far too late.
Simon Gawesworth in action
G&T’s are always complimentary at my lodge
In mid-October my son Lachie phoned me and suggested we catch up in the highlands for a fish together. We walked the 45 minutes into Flora and Odell where I had first fished when I was his age. Lachie had never been there before. I don’t remember how many we caught but it was plenty. The skies were blue and the winds were light but it was still very fresh. The polaroiding was sensational and all but one fish looked up and ate our dry flies. Lachie had his new Self/Taransky made cane rod bent double on many fish that day. I was a proud Dad – the Grasshopper has become Master.
Lachie, his cane rod that he made and a fish of many that day
The outstanding fly for the season was a Purple Hayes. I’ve been using this fly predominately for a couple of seasons now and I’m pleased to say that I have introduced many others to its effectiveness. Lachie generously tied me a dozen and a half as a Christmas present and I can assure you I only tied them on for people I really liked, and even then, only onto thick and strong tippet. We caught some cracking fish with these wonderful flies. I implore you to give them a try on river or lake.
The Purple Hayes’
The Red Spinner mayfly fishing was as good as I’ve ever had it for about a month. I went to the same water each day for almost the entire month and never got tired of chasing the sipping and jumping Red Spinner feeders. It was dry fly sight fishing to die for. I love Red Spinners so much I named my boat ‘The Red Spinner’!
The Red Spinner and my new guiding car.
Some exceptional catches during the Spinner fishing were by near 90 year old Colin Morrison and a magnificent brace of trout was caught by Hamish Hughes and John Permewan. I’ll never forget those two trout.
Colin Morrison- at nearly 90 there’s no stopping him.
The Central Highlands caught fire in January along with much of southern Tasmania too. Smoke covered most of the plateau and many roads were closed. Many of us nearly lost our shacks. Fishing access was severely restricted in the highlands for many weeks. If there was anything good to come from the fires, it was that the fish living in the restricted areas got a break from angling pressure. The wildlife suffered greatly. Very sadly, I had to dispatch a Wallaby that was badly burnt with my pipe wrench. There must have been literally thousands of animals like him suffering out there.
The Highlands of Tasmania literally burnt to the ground this past summer
Grasshopper time eventually came and we enjoyed some terrific fishing on the rivers as expected, and believe it or not, on some lakes. A lake caught fish had a stomach so absolutely chock a block full of hoppers that I decided to take them home in my sandwich container and count them. Guess how many Grasshoppers a 3 ½ pound brown trout can eat in an afternoon? Read on to find out.
How many Hoppers fit in the stomach of a trout ?
Annie Skarratt fished with me again late in the season. On one wonderful afternoon Annie rose 3 monsters to her dry fly. She caught 2 and the largest was likely 7 pounds. It is truly world class to be able to catch a 7 pound wild brown trout in just 18 inches of crystal clear water, on a dry fly.
Annie Skarratt and a western lakes brown trout
The 5th Girls Gone Fly Fishing weekend was held in April and for this weekend we had an International guest, Heather Hodson. Heather is a prominent female fly fisher from the USA and it was terrific to be able to have her input into this important event.
Girls Gone Fly Fishing
I managed to have Easter off and Di and I camped on the East Coast at the Freycinet Peninsular. On Good Friday we fished together and on a remote beach I proposed to her.
I penned the following words to convey the message to family and friends. Let me share them here.
‘The skies over the Freycinet Peninsular were cloudless and the seas were calm.
Sea eagles whirled in the warm thermals above us as the sooty oystercatchers shepherded us down the coastline towards Hazards Beach. This is Di’s favourite beach in all the world.
Together we caught 20 big squid, then as many Flathead and a cracking Silver Morwong. The Morwong will be dressed with garden herbs and spices then wrapped in foil for cooking over the coals for our dinner.
On Hazards Beach in a love heart etched in the sand with a piece of driftwood I knelt in tears.
The Killicrankie diamond ring I held in outstretched arms sparkled like the waves that caressed the beach at my feet.
And then, I asked.
She said YES.
The future will be history one day and I can’t wait for it. I am a lucky man’.
She said YES !
The season unfortunately ended on a more sombre note with the passing of our great friend Don Urquhart. John Philbrick very recently joined Don too. Many of you would have come to know, respect and adore these two legendary fly fishers from their time at the Lodge. Both of them touched my life in important ways and their influences have partly made me the man I am today. I was lucky to have them like me, and I am very sad that they are gone. For me the lesson is clear and both John and Don lived it in spades. Enjoy every moment of your life while you are able. Live for today. We are a long time dead.
Lester Walton in the bow with our friend John Philbrick in the stern
Don Urquhart with his beloved Whiting – Don was a wonderful influence in my life.
My winter break has been a week of work in Perth, Western Australia where I ran some private and group casting lessons. It was great to get back to Perth where many years ago I did much tuition. After Perth Di and I spent a week on Christmas Island. Our Christmas Island, not the Pacific Ocean island. It was like living a week in a Sir David Attenborough documentary. The birdlife was something to behold and the red land crabs that migrate en mass once a year were a spectacle. Robber Crabs as big as Sherrin footballs walked the roadways and forest floors.
Then to Cocos Keeling Island for the final three weeks. I had fished this remarkable territory of Australia last year with Mike Stevens, his son Hamish and Randall Trethewie and couldn’t wait to get back with Di. Cocos has such an interesting history.
It was a constant 27 degrees every day we were there except one when it was 26! We snorkelled a lot and fished plenty. With the use of a friends boat we explored every inch of the vast lagoon. A highlight was camping in our tent on a remote palm covered and deserted island.
The flats on Cocos are extensive and whilst the bonefish are fewer than on the Pacific Christmas Island they are larger and they tail more often in only inches of water.
We caught heaps and Di is now hooked on saltwater fly fishing. Look out for an article on my blog about this trip shortly.
Next year I am considering hosting a group or two to Cocos. Drop me an email if you are interested in coming along.
An average Cocos Bonefish
Di and her monster GT
THE SEASON AHEAD
Bamboo Dave Hemmings is having a season, or more, off guiding. Dave has guided with me since 2004. That’s 15 years! Boy we have had some fun working together in that time.
Bamboo Dave – one of my greatest friends.
I know that many of you will really miss Dave but I assure you it will be nothing compared to how much I will miss him.
Bamboos future plans involve much cane rod making and hanging out with his fantastic grandchildren.
For me, the coming season is nearly fully booked. There are just a few gaps that I know will fill. There has been some great fishing in the lowland lakes so far- maybe global warming is bringing the seasons forward? The Hydro man on the radio this morning said that a year ago the storages were at just 25 % and today they stand at 45%. This will be good for the fish and the fishing.
The World Fly Fishing Championships will be held in Tasmania in December. It will be a great time to be around and exposed to the greatest anglers in the world. It interests me to see what sort of methods, and flies, the winning anglers will
use. Nearly every time there is a World Championship the visiting teams give the locals a hiding and show them there is a different and better way to skin the cat.
We have the Italian Fly Fishing Team staying at the lodge for the practice week leading up to the event.
As I write I am waiting for the paint to dry on the first of 3 boats that I will finish building this winter. The 4.5 m boat shown will be a 21st birthday present for my son Lachie. The other two will be new Drift boats. One I will keep for use in the business the other I will sell.
4.5 m boat in progress
Until we next fish
PS: 236 grasshoppers fit in the stomach of a 3 ½ pound brown trout