Illawarra Flyfishers Club

The FONTENOY Story

I emailed Barry as requested to say I would arrive at Fontenoy around lunchtime on Friday with my son Andrew who is a new member, but I took the longer route through Gundagai to Tumut to show Andrew the rivers crossing the Snowy Mountains Hwy. the Yarrangobilly and Eucumbene, arriving late at 2.15pm  at Fontenoy, no one around so we stowed our swag in the cottage, made sandwiches and headed out to fish the Yaouk above the bridge at Andrew’s request.

Good stream very open no cover, difficult crosswind, tussocks had been burnt off, spent a lot of the time fishing on my knees, can’t remember spending so much time on my knees since a child at Sunday school. Could have been tired from the long drive, hooked and lost four good fish, landed one nice brown 25cm all on dry fly, Andrew around the same, landed one fish lost two or three, we fished till around six, I did climb the fence for the last cast to try two good looking pools below the bridge while waiting for Andrew, mentioning that it looked promising below the bridge, maybe tomorrow! Heading back to Fontenoy we encountered a sharp piece of blue metal on the road back, on arrival Andrew said” what’s that hissing sound “ I thought it was my tinnitus” it’s coming from under the 4wd. the tyre was still fully inflated so it must have happened only a short distance from Fontenoy,”I said it’s too dark we’ll worry about it in the morning”, Barry came in to tell us the bad news, “do you know you’ve got a flat on the 4wd.” Do you need a hand to change it” thanks Barry but we’ll worry about it in the morning.We had a quiet but enjoyable evening around the campfire, a beer and a glass of red and retire to bed. Barry said “you don’t need an alarm I wake up at 6am every morning, “was it the nervousness of sleeping in a room with people you don’t know (“no offence Barry”) or being overtired after the trip, but I forgot to go to the loo before retiring, around midnight  I awoke to a room completely blacked out  not a chink of light,” well did you find the toilet in the night “said Barry in the morning “’I got worried when you opened the wardrobe door “no I didn’"t I said and yes I did find the toilet eventually” boy those block out curtains were good”.Next morning I was awakened by Barry swinging his legs out of his bed I checked my watch 6am spot on, tea and brecky and out to change the wheel, the guys gathered around to watch, Kim “said do you want a hand “thanks Kim “he was so well organised he had the situation under control in no time, all I did was supply the tools and just stood back and he did everything like a pro. Phil and some of the guys who were standing watching including my son Andrew, Phil “ said if I was changing a wheel my son would just stand there and watch me like you are, Kim looked up at me and I “said thanks Dad ,“that’s O.K. son came the reply, you seem to know what you’re doing changing a wheel Kim, I said, it’s the first time he said “check your nuts.”!  

Andrew and I decided to fish the lower Yaouk below the bridge as we like small stream fishing and planned to fish the Murrumbidgee in the afternoon we headed out after breaky arriving about 9.30 at the bridge we climbed the fence and started downstream when a passing white Toyota L/C ute suddenly spotted us changed direction and headed straight for the fence, a middle aged man rushed up to the fence pulling two strands of barbed wire apart thrusting his leg through the fence followed by a head and torso and the other leg in about thirty seconds where it took us at least three minutes to climb over the fence, oh! Ho!  I think were in trouble I called to Andrew, who was further downstream, “Good Morning! “do you know your trespassing on private property, “the guide book says the river is accessible from above and below the bridge I said” the guy who wrote that is in trouble he said” what ….. ……… I said “yes him “he said “Andrew had made it back to join the conversation being 6ft he defiantly helped the situation, well do we have your permission to fish your river I said “Yes on one condition, “you don’t tell anyone you’ve fished this river below the bridge, “where are you staying,” Fontenoy" I said Why would you pay to fish the river on that property  and come on my river and expect to fish my river for free. If anyone asks who knows you fished below the bridge tell them the fishing was no good, “if they see your vehicle parked by the bridge and they know your fishing downstream there will be four or five vehicles here in no time, “I will tell them to come up to the farm and ask permission” it’s Saturday afternoon I don’t want people coming up there asking permission, ”O.K . in that case we will as they say in Germany” Keep Schtum,”not sure if he knew what it means.Well like the Gungahlin small rainbows right through to the gorge where we gave up, we finished the morning with two small 20cm rainbows each, we headed back to Fontenoy for lunch planning to fish the river we had payed to fish as the farmer so aptly put it. We stopped to help a young attractive lady in distress about half a km. from Fontenoy with a flat, around the same place as I picked up my puncture, we offered every assistance we could but all offers were declined !!

The Murrumbidgee past the second farm was very high due to the release of water from Tantangara Dam to encourage Macquarie perch to breed, Andrew started fishing from a pebble beach with a dry fly, I came over all tired  and retired  to the 4wd. Reclined the seat opened all the doors to let out the heat and blowies and had a Neil Nelson so the guys told me later, haven’t a clue what they were talking about I just had a kip, so no fish for me that afternoon.Saturday evening was a great gathering around the campfire, lots to talk about the two days fishing and as night fell the beer and red flowed and more stories, just as you thought things were winding down more wood was thrown on the fire, ah well another glass of red and more stories finally time for bed.We awoke on Sunday morning at 6am, you guessed it Barry’s out of the bed spot on six, had breaky and we all said our byes and went our separate ways to fish different rivers, Andrew and I headed off to fish the Eucumbene River as it crosses the Snowy Mountain Hwy. we struggled with a strong downstream breeze, Andrew battled on with a dry fly hooking and losing a good fish, I finished the morning with two rainbows 30cm and 40cm(best fish of the weekend)fishing with a tadpole pattern. Very reluctantly we had to leave the Snowy Mountains ticking another river off the bucket list and head back to the Illawarra.

This was my first Club Outing, I thoroughly enjoyed every day  and recommend anyone who hasn’t been yet to sign up for the next club outing, there was no clickyness that you get in some clubs, the guys were great they talked to Andrew my son who they had never met before this weekend, they were willing to help if you are in trouble as I was with the puncture, Thanks Kim!

Footnote........What  have I taken away from the Fontenoy outing, mateship, we all have the same interest FLY FISHING, I found something in common with my father, by the way Black Powder is to shooting as fly fishing is to fishing  Kim!  I’ve also been infected by Barry’s headclock, waking up at 5.50am every morning since The Fontenoy weekend.

Mike Mansell