All along my journey across Australia, I have been able to meet as much locals fishermen as I wanted. Exchange with them, first to create new relationships but also because they are the best to teach you about their waters. Social medias, and especially Facebook groups have been a great help for that. A post on «Fly fishing in Australia and New Zealand » gave me so many options. I can definitely say it completely changed my travel. Last year, in November while I was exploring Victoria's trout systems, Scott McPherson has been one of those people. He opened me his house's door, took me fishing and accepted to answer a few questions for the web-magazine Trout&Cie. The project was still not released at this time, but Simon was definitely keen to receive interviews from trout fishermen from all over the world. That is actually the main goal of the magazine. To all our readers, please allow me to introduce you Scott.
Ben Kerthe for T&Cie : Hello Scott, could you briefly introduce yourself for the readers of Truites&Cie ?
Scott McPherson : Good day all, I am a chef by trade, fly fisherman by passion. I became a fishing guide 18 years ago and created my company Indulgence Fly Fishing the year after. It's not only about fishing, spending good time with the clients, along the rivers or at the table. I cook nice food for them, open a bottle of wine -or a couple- people sleep well here.
20 years ago, we head up fishing with few mates and ate sausages and beans, since, I am always in charge with food! I live in Eskdale for 5 years, my wife found that place while I was in Broome working. We've done a lot of work, but it's now very relaxing and close to the streams ! You can hear many different birds from the terrace and don't have any traffic noise.
B: Is fly fishing popular in Australia ? Trout fishing in general. Before coming here, I heard about Tasmania but I discovered the possibility to catch trout on the mainland only when I was there.
S MP : Yes, trout fishing has always been popular. Last 10-15 years it exploded with tourism, television shows and more importantly it became affordable. Kids tend to have their own gears early. Get out fishing is a very good alternative to computer games for them. Internet and social medias help, videos on YouTube teaching everything you want to know. If you have a question, just ask on Facebook groups. Australia has definitely taken off and fishing is still « free », I mean, good access to the rivers, no private sections where you would need an extra daily licence...
B: How is promoted trout fishing in Australia ? Is there much tourism business around it ?
S MP : Not as much as in New Zealand but Victoria and Tasmania are working on it. A little bit in New South Wales as well, they are the best places for trout fishing in Australia. They are good guest accommodations everywhere near the rivers, beautiful little towns, short drive outside the cities. Most of the guides would arrange accommodation and pick up from airport. Foreign countries people are interested to come fishing in Australia. For example, I have a mate from Singapore, he wanted to introduce his son to fly fishing. I shew him his first platypus a while ago and we kept in contact since. I had a lot of clients from Japan, UK, America... and a mad french bastard.
A Japanese guy found me on internet while he was in Melbourne, he took the train, stayed 2 days here. Despite very basic English, sign language helped for communication. I remember him standing between 2 red belly black snakes, fishing a rising trout ! « I keep an eye on them and you catch the trout » I said. He did it.
BK : You are able to fish 9 months per year, which is a lot. Does it allow you to live thanks to your passion ? Some statistics ?
S MP : Some years are busier than others. I can always do more. Sometime 1 per week but for 3 days. I still have time to also fish for myself. I still love being a Chef and learn new skills on that, so I often fly to Broome for winter and work there. The lakes are open all year long here, including winter and some people book during this period.
I tie flies for my own boxes and clients often like them and want to purchase. I posted flies all over the world. It adds a little of income, covers fees for my and the clients use flies. My father was wood worker and made my fly tying benches. I also have to tie my own leaders because in Australia you can't buy nymph leaders.
A lot of my flies are my own versions, from what I found in the water and what I found works. The clients say « Oh, I liked this fly, worked very well, caught this trout with it ». All of that keeps me busy the whole year. A bored man is a dangerous man.
BK : What would you say to people from all over the World to decide them to come fly fishing in Australia ?
S MP : We have so many fishing opportunities here, country side and streams are stunning. The wildlife diversity is incredible while fragile and in danger, platypus, kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, plenty of bird-life... We do have a lot of snakes as well but we are not their food group ! As long as you don't disturb them, they are not annoying. You can sit on the bank and watch platypus for ages, they are fantastic. You'll also find wineries and good food places all over the country. « The serenity, you gonna love the serenity ».
BK : A bit of ecology now, do you think freshwater water systems are in danger in the country ?
S MP : To a small extend, yes. Big business always want to make money and they don't really care what they do for money. Rivers are regulated by big dams, they don't move anymore, despite they need it to stay alive. Because of bridges, houses along they got regulated to avoid danger. Furthermore, what happens up here end up in ocean. Salinity is another issue with heavy metals. Water got salty because of agriculture chemicals, paper production, timber products. All those process use salt water sand it's released in the system. Everything relates has a consequence. Mother nature does a good job to get ride of it, but she can't do so much.
BK : Is there much projects from the government to protect those amazing streams ?
S MP : There is hopefully some. Fishes aren't « big » enough, so people rather pay and still pollute !! Prosecute someone or a company takes a lot of time and money. I imagine it's the same everywhere in the World. If people saw the impact on a bigger picture, it would be easier to change things. I remember having a smoker client who was carrying a tin box for his butts, since this guidance, I always carry a tin with me while guiding. Small things do make a big difference. People just need to be educated and when you spent time in the bush, you appreciate find your camp clean. Many people throw their rubbish while it's so easy to take them home.
BK : How do you see fly fishing in Australia 20 years in the future ?
S MP : It is a tough one ! Probably more how I'd like to see it. More people going out of the city, leave their stressful life for the country. On the water, you are focused on the current, fish, the World could disappear you would miss it. You definitely breath, on the water. « Stop the World I'm getting off ». More and more people appreciate the beauty of Nature and get understanding to take care of their environment. It's not just about fishing, it's a good way to educate them. Hopefully it makes more people aware of pollution, farming process, responsible and respectful from each other. Leave people to their serenity as you wish to be left to yours.
Number of licences is increasing and catch&release is becoming more and more popular. As I say to the fish, don't worry, I will put you back soon, just taking a picture and make you famous. Catching the same fish several time and watch him grow is fabulous. I hardly believe in catch&release though. As long as the government keep the bags limits and size limits, there will be fishing for our children and grand children. Fishing is a school of life and a good way to learn. Physically, emotionally and mentally drained after a day fishing, kick back, have a cold beer or a glass of wine and just sleep.
BK : Thank you very much for your answers Scott. But also for the epicurean life lesson, which is, in my opinion, the most important thing in life. Those days by your side have been really delightful and this very nice brown trout I sight fished with you will stay as a magic memory for a while.
For all those who would like to discover the Australian Alps, I can only encourage you to get in touch with Scott, he knows his backyard very well and will be very happy to receive you. Feel free to visit Indulgence Fly Fishing website/Facebook page (LINKS).