Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

Dana Stors Lamb was a New York investment banker, conservationist and author. His angling stories are renown for his poetic, lyrical style. He published nine titles in the 1960s-70s, mostly angling stories about pursuing Atlantic Salmon in New England, Quebec and the Canadian Maritimes. One of my favorite stories headlines the volume Not Far From The River (1967). Entitled “The Odd Salmon”, Dana laments a summer where salmon were scarce on the Miramichi, Magaguadavic, Nashwaak and Restigouche rivers in Quebec. A farmer on the river Nashwaak filled with anglers says,“There’s nothing in the river now.” Dana comments, “But surely there is something or they wouldn’t fish”. The farmer, while whacking the buttocks of a cow, “Oh well, they do get the odd salmon now and then.” At the tidal head of the Restigouche, anglers in boats plied the waters and Dana wondered to a local, “they must be there”. The local observer replied: “Of course they are there. They have to be, but all they ever take down here is sometimes the odd salmon.” Back along the Maine coast, Dana encountered a group of southern anglers extremely frustrated over the lack of salmon and crowded rivers. As Dana left the little Maine village, he wondered, “whether anyone [in the frustrated group] among the hundreds along the river bank would latch on to that famous fish so often talked about; so seldom seen; the so much sought but tough to kill the ‘odd salmon’.”

I had the same thoughts as I ventured out to Warren Reservoir in the foothills west of Adelaide, South Australia. We were on the first leg of our month long trip to Australia. We’d spend a few days west of Adelaide visiting the Barossa Valley wine region waiting for our train journey on “The Ghan” from Adelaide to Alice Springs. Warren Reservoir is one of several water supply reservoirs over a century old that have recently, within the last four years, been turned into recreational fisheries. Stocked with Golden Perch, Silver Perch and Murray Cod, the fishery has proved popular with locals. Luckily for me, Warren Reservoir wasn’t far from our B&B and was right along the road on the way to the Barossa Valley.

I suspected it would be doubly difficult to tangle with the “Odd Cod, Perch or Yellowbelly” in an unfamiliar reservoir, let alone trying to connect with a completely unfamiliar species. The reservoir wouldn’t be at full pool, so there would be ample room to roam along the shoreline. My plan was to search the water with Clousers on a sink tip as both Yellowbelly and Murray Cod are piscivores. From a few YouTube videos I watched, Golden Perch or Yellowbelly were readily hooked with small fire tiger diving crankbaits—something I could replicate with the Clouser. The trick I surmised was getting the fly in front of willing fish.

As it turned out on the day, a cool, windy day confronted me when I arrived at the reservoir. There was sufficient shoreline space for some decent distance in casting, but the water was somewhat murky. It was good to start casting again after the long winter layoff in Bozeman. I plied the waters along a deeper shoreline for about two hours losing a few flies to snags and to the backdrop of thick eucalyptus shrubs and trees. But eventually, I did connect with that seldom seen “odd” fish. Unfortunately, the three odd fish I tangled with were no match for the eight weight and in fact they weren’t even any of the three species the reservoir was targeted for. My “odd perch” were Redfins (Perca fluviatilis), an introduced European perch that is considered invasive in Australia as they prey on the fry of Australian native species. They were introduced into Australia in the 1860s and now occupy waters throughout southern Australia. Although they are indeed a sporting quarry for the angler as they can reach weights up to five pounds, they have seriously impacted a number of Australian species.

But my Redfins were nothing to write home about (other than this post). Fishing conditions at Warren on the day weren’t ideal and the few shore anglers I talked with (most using baits) hadn’t connected with anything either. But, I did catch a few of those “famous fish so often talked about; so seldom seen; the so much sought but tough to kill the ‘odd salmon perch’.”

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