Small stream seduction
  |  First Published: November 2013

I usually start hitting a few small streams around my local area as soon as the kids start counting the days until Christmas.

Small stream fishing is the most intimate, personal approach there is to flyfishing.

Every bend, riffle, log and stone of a creek is quickly learnt even if you fish it only a few times. While the fish are better measured in centimetres rather than inches, on light gear it really is the most beautiful and relaxing times in a fly fishers season.

Cormorant issue

Last season, cormorants stripped out small streams that were once very highly populated with small trout in Tasmanian and Victorian waters. While this was a bad thing for that period, I believe it will have a positive effect on small creeks in the seasons to follow as brown trout are one of the most robust species of fish.

Trout will soon repopulate these creeks from main river systems that they flow into, or what was left by these predatory birds.

So with the smaller population of fish this year, and bigger proportion of food per fish, we may just find ourselves catching pounders out of that stream that once only held tiny fish, so don’t be too quick to get down about it, as great fishing could follow!

You can bet the stream levels will be going down now to summertime levels, which gets the eager red speckled residents keen to feed from the surface.

Caddis, mayfly and other hatches can all be present in November even on the tiniest streams and the fishing can be a lot like a larger river, except for the fish and stream size.

Don’t bother rigging up like a professional with all your bulky gear, as tight small streams and excess bulky gear don’t mix. This is really fly fishing stripped back to the bare minimum, just carry some tippet, a dozen or so dry flies, and if the weather has been pretty good leave the waders at home and opt for thermal bottoms and gaiters, as you rarely have to wade over knee deep in most tiny waters.

Many small creeks are tight for casting room and have a lot of overhanging trees, so it pays to downsize your fly rod to a four-weight or smaller, and try to get that rod length down to as short as possible – 6’6” is a good length.

Clearwater creek trout are quite spooky normally, so get down low, present gently and be careful when wading to not be too heavy footed. If your bow waves precede you upstream, then you will most likely spook anything within casting range.

There are some great small streams around Tasmania and Victoria, and they really would number in the thousands. Most are driven over, rarely fished enough and just waiting for an enjoyable day to be had.

I cut my teeth as a young fly fisher on north west Tasmanian streams such as the Dasher and Minnow rivers, Mole, Lobster, western and Redwater creeks in the Mersey/Meander catchment areas of northern Tasmania, as well as the Gawler and Wilmot rivers in the Forth/ Leven areas.

Some legendary small streams exist in the north east of Tasmania as well.

The small creeks that flow into Lake Eildon are awesome too – and don’t get bogged down by the big named streams – look for the smaller headwaters.

All these streams range from muddy bottomed paddock runnels, to tea coloured, stony bottomed forested creeks. There really are no hotspots any better than others to justify travelling excessive distances out of your region, so look local if you can.

If there’s a large river near you then it will most likely have small feeder creeks just waiting for a keen angler and they too will soon become special to you.


The best flies I have always found are attractor flies such as small Royal Wulffs, but any functional dry fly down sized to around a size 16 will rarely drift down a likely riffle untouched,

Small duns, spinners, beetles, Geehi Beetle and Guide’s Tags are good choices. If you chose you can run a small nymph dropper also to cover both bases, but November is a pretty reliable month for the dry fly in small streams.

Train the kids

If your ever going to break in your young ones on the art of flyfishing, small streams are one of the best places to take them along to. These waters are easy to walk along and mostly shallow for young anglers to be at your side to be mentored.

You may have to sacrifice the easy open sections for their limited casting ability, but all they have to do is lay a straight line upstream in an untouched riffle, and that first take from a little creek trout can spark a passion that will stay with them a lifetime.

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