The Boston Fly Fishing Festival 2015

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I can safely say that the Boston Fly Fishing Festival is by far my favourite festival. Yes, I will admit it’s the only festival I fish regularly, but I’m utterly convinced this is irrelevant – it’s just that good – and this year was no exception. Will I be back next year? Definitely, but I’ll be packing a set of bolt cutters. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s start from the beginning.

With Nick, a key Baha Boy and team member, having left SA for Australia I was forced to relook at Team Baha for the 2015 event. Neill and Bruce had both secured their places after dominating the 2014 festival, which meant there was just 1 space left to full. Coxy’s mom might have prevented him from coming and Alan was down at Hole In The Wall. This saw me approaching Dave from the South Coast, who is a solid salt water fly fisherman.

I only managed to get away from the office late on Friday which meant that the other three had already arrived and registered by the time I entered the Boston Club, just after 8pm. The beers were flowing, but it did seem a tad quieter than previous years. Perhaps this was just due to Nick’s absence, which also accounted for the smaller fire. We were given our usual measuring stick (for the fish you fools), as well as a jacket, a few flies, and our water allocations.

Star Dam, Boston
Star Dam, Boston

Sadly we weren’t lucky enough to secure a spot on McKenzies 1, but we did manager to land McKenzies 2 which was apparently fished less and showed good promise. We also drew Star Dam and Rivendell, both of which we had fished in previous years and had done us well. Our fourth water was Meadow Farm which was new to us and we knew very little about. All in all it looked to be a promising mix of old and new.

That night we were well controlled in the bar and, after a fantastic meal cooked by the farmers wives, made it back to our cottage just after 10pm. I’ll again reiterate what I’ve said every year. This festival is something special thanks entirely to the Boston locals. The farmers selflessly open their homes for the anglers to sleep in, and their wives work tirelessly to feed the masses through fantastic home cooked dinners, and breakfast and lunch packs. The vibe is relaxed, and the fishing is good. What more could you ask for?

The next morning we headed for our first water, Star Dam, at around 6:30am. We were sharing it with another team but were the first to arrive. Rather than rush onto the water we kitted up slowly and dished out a few home tied flies among the team. The other group arrived just in time to see us kicking onto the water, and getting into fish almost immediately. It had begun!

Star Dam fished well with all of us picking up a good bag of trout. The majority were stockies in the 35 – 40cm range, but we did get a few nice fish of 50cm+, with Dave making a pig of himself just before climbing out. It was a good start to the festival and I was left wondering if it was due to the slightly warmer temperatures. In fact, that morning I’d seen only a sprinkling of frost in one of the valley’s, whereas in the previous year’s session on Star Dam the reeds were frozen.

Dave landing a nice rainbow trout at Star Dam
Dave landing a nice rainbow trout at Star Dam

After enjoying our lunch on the waters edge (while our tubes dried) we packed up the cars and headed for Rivendell. This is when the real fun started. As we pulled up to the gate Dave was quick to inform us that it was locked. Flashbacks of the 2014 festival sprung to mind as I remembered how we were locked into this same water and were forced to knock over the fence to get out.

On this occasion however, being midday, Bruce and Neill headed to a group of nearby houses where they found a staff member to help us out. He didn’t have a key but instead showed us a section of the fence which we could detach and drive though. Although we were now in, this was somewhat frustrating as we’d wasted close to an hour of fishing time. I guess the golden lining was that it was at least during the midday “heat”.

Once inside we quickly made our way onto the water with most of the gents heading for the deep wall section, while I kicked for the inlet. Fishing was tough and by the time I reached the inlet, which is a long stretch that took me close to an hour, I’d not had so much as a touch. Thankfully the inlet changed that and after a short battle with a stockie I was on the board. I then fished my way along the far bank, which was steeper and deeper, to my teammates up at the wall. Again this produced not even a bump.

The boys at the wall had also been struggling with just a stockie or two coming to hand. Amazingly things then changed, either when I put on a red fly, or when the sun began to dip. None the less the water suddenly came alive and we all landed multiple good fish in the 40 – 55cm range. One of them gave me such a good run I was convinced it was at least 10lbs, and worthy of the fish of the trip. It ran me well into backing multiple times, forcing me to yell out with joy. Sadly I didn’t get the last laugh as, when I finally got the fish to hand with Neill close-by to photograph the beast, I discovered it was merely a 50cm rainbow which I’d foul hooked in the tail.

Warren landing a trout at Star Dam
Warren landing a trout at Star Dam

After enjoying a solid last hour we headed back to the shore and polished off a cold beer or two while packing away our kit. Darkness was fast approaching and we knew we had to wangle our way through the fence, so we didn’t linger for too long. Fence one proved little challenge having done it earlier, but then we hit an unexpected surprise – the next farm gate was locked, and this fence was as solid as a rock.

Sadly none of us had cell reception, and we were a long way from the club, so it was time to make a plan. On paper our first idea seemed good. Put a tyre iron through the lock, and twist it until the lock snaps. Unfortunately my ropey arms didn’t have the strength, nor did Neill’s, Dave’s or Bruce’s. So we moved onto plan two, and began cutting through the lock with the file on a trusty Leatherman. Much to my amazement this proved to be successful (albeit slow) and 10 minutes later we’d cut through the lock and were on our way.

After a quick shower we made it to the club, just in time to log our catches. Once again a fantastic meal was put on by the locals, and we then enjoyed the standard tales of the day from the other fishermen. On a whole it sounded like everyone had done well, although no monster fish had been produced. Again we slinked off relatively early and enjoyed a few sherries around a roaring fire in our cottage, before heading off to bed.

Escaping the waters after being locked in
Escaping the waters after being locked in

Early the next morning we headed for Meadow Farm, a water than none of us knew anything about. It was a small water to say the least, beautifully located against a forest of pines. Sadly it was heavily weeded, although it did have some nice channels which had good potential to hold fish. Despite being a beautiful water, it was perhaps a little too small for a team of four fisherman. In fact sitting in the middle I could cast to all 4 banks with relative ease.

Bruce and Dave elected to fish off the banks, while Neill and I got onto the water in our tubes. I was lucky enough to get into a small fish on about my 10th cast, while the rest of the boys struggled until well after 10am when everyone finally got into a fish or two. It was actually an amazing dam to fish as you could see the bottom the entire way across. This meant, by paying a little attention, you could spot fish and direct the boys on the water as to where to cast.

From Meadow Farm we headed to what we were hoping to be our best water of the weekend – McKenzies 2. McKenzies 1 had done well for us in the past with all anglers picking up 10+ fish per session. Dam 2 was apparently even better as it was fished far less frequently, but stocked equally as well. Word on the street was that while it generally produced fewer fish, it produced bigger fish.

It took a little 4x4ing but the view that awaited us was well worth the effort. McKenzies 2 is a large water, located in a valley with a sunken forest near the inlet. It has good structure, deep and shallow water, and more than enough space for 4 anglers to enjoy. The Maclear team were busy packing away and spoke of good catches in the 50 – 60cm range.

Bruce with a nice rainbow trout
Bruce with a nice rainbow trout

Excited after a tough morning session we got quickly onto the water. Sadly the fishing was tougher than expected and at 3pm we all gathered on the bank fishless. We had a quick snack, refueled and regrouped, and then got back onto the water.

Thankfully the late afternoon session was more productive with Bruce, Neill and Dave all getting into fish. I on the other hand was less lucky and struggled until 5pm without a touch. The wind had picked up and just staying in one spot was difficult, but I was determined not to blank. As is often the case, I amazingly got into a fish just as I was kicking back to the shore. It took a fly deep and slow and headed for the horizon at great speed. It certainly felt like my fish of the trip but, after a long fight, it slipped off  my barbless hook as I lost concentration netting it.

I sadly met the rest of the boys on the bank and we packed up for the last time. As darkness fell we headed for our cottage to freshen up prior to prize giving. And then the unexpected happened – we discovered that we’d been locked in again. While I saw the funny side, some of my team members were less than excited. Thankfully we had cellphone reception on this occasion and managed to get hold of the organisers to come open the gate. Since they were roughly half an hour away we relaxed under the stars, and shared some much needed whiskey from a hip flask. Getting locked in wasn’t bad at all.

Warren Prior with a good rainbow trout
Warren Prior with a good rainbow trout

Having lost a lot of time we weren’t able to head home for a shower, and were instead forced to shoot straight to the club in our wet gear. Thankfully we arrived just in time to have a quick drink before sitting down to dinner and prize giving.

Prize giving was short and painless as is the norm with this festival, and I was lucky enough to come away with an Xplorer peak. Sadly, for the first time in 3 years, we didn’t place. But then it’s not a festival that’s about the prizes; it really is about the vibe and spirit, which were once again spectacular.

Amazingly the pub was at its rowdiest that night, perhaps at the peril of a few fishermen who’d brought their girlfriends with to join in the festivities. Shots flowed a plenty and there was dancing on the bar, as well as a few activities I simply can’t mention here. All in all it was a great end to yet another amazing event. As I say every time, we’ll be definitely be back next year!

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