A peaceful river in a wilderness area is where Dr Mathew Grabovszky of Pacific Vetcare in Sawtell, NSW, catches trout with a fly he tied himself.
“While I’ve always enjoyed fishing, it was the ABC series, A River Somewhere, that got me interested in fly fishing. At that time in the mid-’90s, I was studying at The University of Sydney’s Camden campus and decided to give it a go. I became a self-taught fly fisherman on the nearby rivers. When I moved to Coffs Harbour for my first job, there were plenty of trout streams in the area and I became seriously addicted to the sport.
“Initially I was buying flies but I soon became engrossed in the art of tying your own. A lot of fisherman try to make exact imitations of insects but that’s not really necessary. I’ve found that while the general shape needs to be correct, the fly doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s all about how you present the fly to the fish.
“The other important part of fly fishing is the cast. When you first start, it feels unnatural and is the one thing that stops a lot of people progressing with the sport. If you don’t stick with it and keep practising, it’s impossible to catch fish. However, once you’ve mastered the basics of the overhead cast, it’s a very effective technique as the fish vigorously respond to their natural prey. It took me about six months to catch my first fish.
“Freshwater trout fishing is definitely my favourite. I’ve visited New Zealand quite a few times just to fish their beautiful rivers for big brown trout. There’s nothing better than walking up a remote, pristine river somewhere in New Zealand or Tasmania as you search for the perfect position. The water is clear but trout have a blind spot behind their head that you can exploit. It’s important not to go clomping around making a lot of noise on the riverbed.
“I release 98 per cent of the fish I catch. I’m mainly fishing for the wilderness experience and as a way to practise mindfulness. However, if the fight has been a tough one and the fish won’t survive after being released, I’ll cook and eat it. I don’t want to waste anything and nothing tastes better than freshly caught trout.
“One thing I’ve discovered is that wherever there is trout, anywhere in the world, it’s always a beautiful place. It might be mountainous country, alpine streams, quiet forest or beautiful wilderness. The hike to get there can be long and difficult but the experience makes it all worthwhile.”