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Plenty of chances to try your hand at fly fishing in Canberra

This column receives many requests from readers who want to learn to fly fish, often triggered by reports of quality trout or other fish being taken by anglers in the Canberra-Monaro region or at the coast. Luckily there are many opportunities to learn the gentle art locally.

One of the most popular offers is from the Canberra Anglers Association, which runs free fly fishing classes in September each year, on three Sundays prior to the opening of the trout season.

Secretary Lyall Crawford on 0400969313 can provide details. On the commercial side, Peter Walsh at Rainbow Springs Fly Fishing School (0428622412) provides a complete package of teaching which includes all-day tuition plus an opportunity to test new-found fly fishing skills on double-figure trout in two stocked lakes on his property at Wamboin. Peter is a superb teacher and the course is popular so bookings are essential.

Chris McKechnie (0407518380) also runs an in-house teaching programme at Nimmitabel, with day classes or home-stay weekends, and offers the choice of two stocked lakes for new-chum anglers to have their first try at a brown or rainbow trout.

Local angler and certified casting instructor from the International Federation of Fly Fishers Nathan Walker (0425852144) offers lessons seven days a week in Canberra. His half or one hour teaching sessions after work, on local ovals or lakeshores are particularly popular with people otherwise short of time.

Australian champion fly caster Peter Hayes (0409944699) visits Canberra each year to teach anglers individually or in groups and always attracts a crowd who want to see one of the world's best fly casters in action.


Finally, a local tackle store, Pratt's Tackle Box (62517733) offers free fly casting tuition each Saturday afternoon at 2pm at Belconnen. All gear is provided but bookings are essential.

Most anglers have learned enough to catch a fish after one or two lessons but more tuition is required for those who wish to progress to a higher level of skill. Most fly anglers are male but increasing numbers of women are taking up the sport. Instructors report that they usually are easy to teach and soon present as capable and elegant casters. Their further participation should be encouraged.

Googong still providing

Golden perch, redfin and Murray cod are all responding well to lures at Googong. Sam Hancox, who landed a massive 128cm Murray cod in the reservoir three weeks ago, returned this week and landed a 76cm cod plus three golden perch around 60cm. Other anglers similarly report landing moderate-sized cod and good-sized goldens on lures, mostly spinnerbaits, large deep divers, Jackalls, other bibless minnows and Burrinjuck Specials. Some extra large redfin have been caught by dropping lures down12-15 metres and jigging them back to the surface. The reservoir is full and the water clear, which makes it ideal for lure fishing. The surrounds of the lake also are delightfully clean and anglers can help keep it that way by taking all of their rubbish home with them.

Local lakes

Despite recent thunderstorms most of the local lakes have remained clear enough for lure fishing and some reasonable sized golden perch and occasional Murray cod have been taken. Tuggeranong has been the best location for the goldens and Burley Griffin for cod.

Best fishing has been from late afternoon to early evening. Bait fishers using scrub worms and yabbies also have fared reasonably well but hordes of small redfin have been a problem. One group recently fished for redfin at the Carillon Tower in Burley Griffin and left them still biting after landing about 200 fish. The largest fish was 32cm.