Upper Ovens River

Fly fishing the Ovens River in North East Victoria

Driving up the Ovens Valley on a weekend is an exercise in dodging bicycle-riding old farts. While I’m all about sharing the road, why must they assault our eyes with the lycra?

Obviously, as a fly fisherman I can only give fashion advice to a point, but tight lycra on old people?

Really? No.

Fly fishing the Ovens River in North East Victoria

Accuracy required for a narrow, undercut slot on the Upper Ovens River.

Once you get past the MAMIL problem on the local roads and onto the Ovens River itself you’re on one of the best trout waters in Northeast Victoria and its beauty will soon put your eyes at ease.

Between Bright and Harrietville the river is proper twigwater and perfect for a #2 or #3 rod.

The variety of water, easy access and generally easy wading make it a good low-maintenance fly-fishing destination.

Fly fishing the Ovens River in North East Victoria

Compared to recently posted locations, the Buckland River it’s probably more interesting water and certainly easier wading than the Snowy Creek though in terms of fish numbers or size, it’s much the same.

(Twigwater destinations page:)

For Northeast Victoria the water is reasonably open though there are some short stretches that are tight. For the most part it’s pool-ripple-pool.

Access is simple, with many road crossings off the Great Alpine Road between Bright and Harrietville and one of my favourites: the bridge on the Mt. Beauty Road in Bright.

Upstream from here is good water.

Fly fishing the Ovens River in North East Victoria

One of the better browns for our day.

On the day Tony and I went, most of the fish to hand were small, fat & fit rainbows from eight to twelve inches, but there was the occasional bigger brown in the better pools. As browns do, some of them were sitting in the tails of the pool and were easily spooked and ruined the pool if we didn’t see them first. After the first couple of bolters, one who made a bow wave that would have looked more at home in New Zealand, we started scanning the tails with more care and making a few short casts before going for the deeper, more obvious water.

Fly fishing the Ovens River in North East Victoria

A low cast underneath a completely overgrown pool produced this brown.

In truth, like most small streams, there’s a lot to be said for fishing all of it to get an idea where the fish are before making assumptions—a note to self for the most part.

Fly choice proved simple for me and the Claret Scruffy from Daniel Hackett’s Riverfly 1864 worked well all day. It’s a fly pattern that’s spent a lot of time on my line so far this season and looks like becoming a new favourite Northeast Victoria dry when there’s no specific insect activity on the water.

My current, though always evolving fly selection for this sort of water is written about here: A Small Stream Flybox.

Fly fishing the Ovens River in North East Victoria

A porky little rainbow eats the Claret Scruffy.

If you’re new to the sport, the Ovens is probably as good as anywhere to get some stream time and if you’re new to the area, the upper reaches of the watershed also contain the King, Buffalo and Buckland rivers so there’s lots of other water to explore nearby. As a family destination Bright gets a big thumbs up from me because these’s a lot of great water for a quick fly session after pretending to be a parent all day.



twigwater fly fishing small stream trout flay fishing