Sitting in the car driving North to Sydney, we'd just done another little strike mission to fish the Tumut River. We were hardly even an hour on the road home and all we could think about were those bastards (actually a very lovely bloke called Angus from Aussie Fly Fisher) floating past us in his drift boat catching rainbows faster than our windshield was catching bugs.
It all started after finishing our coffee and B&E. We drove towards Blowering dam wall and crossed the river and began wading up the banks where ever we could gain access. We had done okay for the weekend.. probably 10 or so between us. Even though we'd landed some fun size fish, nothing could stop us thinking about those drift boats, picking fish out of the water while we picked thorns out of our waders.
So we got to googling on our car ride home.. now while we can't give away our American contact, we had managed to purchase a drift boat in the 4.5 hours drive back to Sydney, and let me tell you, we hot damn love it! We were of course freaking out about telling our girlfriends which is another story.
Months later, the boat had arrived and we drove out to Botany early one Saturday morning to pick it up from FedEx. By then we'd already ordered the aluminium piping to make the frame and we got to work that day. Andy on the grinder and myself drinking beers, it was a real team effort. We'd ordered some powder coated joiners, stole a weight for the anchor from my girlfriends home gym and everything was looking pretty gravy by mid afternoon. The hardest pieces to find were the highly recommended NRS oar mounts. NRS being Northwest River Supplies who own and operate rafting gear in the States. We'd found a set from our buddy in Montana, then had them sent to a relative in New York who happened to be on a flight back for Christmas, we were pulling strings! We also snagged the last pair of two part oars in Australia.
We chucked the boat in the car, drove up to Manly Dam in Sydney to find out if she floated and by god... did she! The maiden voyage had us sending some popper flies into the weeds and pulling up some fun little bass. The juice was worth the squeeze!
The following weekend we headed back down to Tumut, with no rafting experience or knowledge, except some YouTube nerds teaching us about port and starboard. We're not going to lie, we hit a few trees, did a few 360's, 540's and 1080's at first, but there's always going to be teething problems right? By lunch time we'd hooked up a few fish from the banks we now had access to.. but we really wanted to land one in the boat.
The following day, after a cold beer and pizza that night from Tumut River Brewing Co we were back at it. We'd hit the first few bends like Skaifey hits Bathurst. The river flowing high and fast, we had our indicators up close to the fly line to get that extra depth. With a heavy pink tag nymph on from Tom's Outdoors, Andy fishing the front, we were fast approaching the first bridge with some pretty turbulent water and a lot of trees and other debris flying towards us. Then Andy screams YEP, and it all hit the fan. With no idea what to do, panic set in and there was a lot of yelling. Going into overdrive trying to get us out of the collision course with the bridge pylons, just managing to get us into some slightly slower water, I dropped my girlfriends pilates weight and it somehow grabbed hold of the bottom. The first fish in the boat was landed and immediately all that time, money and effort at that moment had paid off. A beautiful chunk was in the net after a solid fight wrapping, splashing and narrowly avoiding all the submerged branches of an old gum tree.
Pulling the trigger on a drift boat with little thought or consideration with where to keep it, how much the whole thing would cost, what our girlfriends might say or how to use the thing really didn't matter. Stoke levels were high and we knew we would be back again the very next weekend. So be more adventurous, buy that board, boat, rod or rifle, because those times in the wild are worth more than the money you sink into it.
See you out there!