Don Wilson fishes Frost Hollow, a major Scud water high in the Victorian Alps
Way back in the 1960s I was first introduced to Scud as being a preferred food source for mullet. Back in those days, during the closed season on trout we used to fish the surf, primarily fishing for Aussie Salmon. One weekend we were down at Waratah Bay near Wilson's Promontory in Gippsland Victoria; the waves were just rolling over with a gentle thump and we could see schools of yellow-eyed Mullet playing in those waves.
My late mentor, Lindsay Haslem, quickly picked up on it, pulled his fly rod out, tied on a green nymph and it was on; great fun. Later I tied up a milky green nymph which was a blend of natural and olive green seal's fur and used it whenever the mullet were on. Sure, I knew about sand fleas and as a kid I used to turn over bunches of kelp on the beach and watch them jump around. For me and a number of friends that milky green scud/sand flea pattern did well for years but at that time I had no idea that they were related to our fresh water species.
My next encounter was up in the highlands of Tasmania in the mid 1980s and in 1994, in Issue 25 of Freshwater Fishing, I wrote an article on Tassie Scud entitled A Little Bit About Scud, which included some fishing adventures in the cow paddock on Arthurs Lake, Little Pine and the Great Lake. It also included a bit from my close friend Alan Hoyle and a trip to Modewarre in Western Victoria. See if you can get a copy, it makes for some interesting reading and includes a heap of old Scud fly patterns.
Like all of us we have been influenced by the fishing techniques emanating out of Britain and Europe. In recent years to many Aussies it has overshadowed what is happening in America. As an example we had Czech Nymphing, French Nymphing and boat fishing techniques piled on us from all directions. And on top of that they have influenced our fly tying with products such as CDC and a new range of hooks. We see flies such as the Klinkhamer, curved hook Czech Nymphs and a huge variety of flies to match these techniques.
Back in 2006 I was invited to demonstrate fly tying at the British Fly Fair after which I was taken by Ole Bjerke of Mustad/Partridge to fish the iconic River Test in Hampshire in southern England. I had always dreamt of one day fishing this famous water and to be honest I was a little overwhelmed being on such hallowed ground. I mean all I could think of was the great fly fishing masters who had trodden the same ground since the earliest records way back in the early 1800s, for it was they who had formed the rules for fishing only with a dry fly on waters such as this.
The day was strange, we were shrouded in fog that did not rise for the whole day. A grand old master, Terry Beale, was our guide for the day and what a pleasure he was to be with. As we were setting up he gave me a wink and said, "put this on"; it was a hot pink shrimp, or what we would call a scud pattern.
Being September the trout season was closed but we were there for Grayling and, as I had never caught one before, it all added to the excitement. And we were allowed to use wet flies.
Hoping the sun would break through, I took a stroll up the left bank and spotted a small school of Grayling sitting near the opposite bank. The first cast drew the attention of a huge brown that was sitting behind them and hiding under a clump of weed. I was yelling at him to let him know the season was closed and that this wet fly was for Grayling only. Well, I might as well have been yelling at the moon as far as he was concerned; he took the pink scud with vengeance. Now this brute must have been close to six pound and because he had caught me off guard, he had control and in a split second he was deep in the weeds and that was that.
Terry was back on the other side fishing to a pod of Grayling and called me over. Another Pink Scud and I was into my first Grayling and what a beautiful fish they are.
The legendary Terry Beale, our guide for the day, giving valuable instruction on how to tackle Test River Grayling
Last year I was invited back again to attend the Spring Fly Fair and was the guest of Christopher Reeves out of Surrey. After the event was over we had a couple of days up our sleeves so as you would guess, we went fishing.
Somehow Chris had obtained a pass to fish the Wilton Estate Flyfishing Club water on the river Wylye in Somerset. The Wylye is a tributary of the River Avon and as with the River Test, has a famous past. As a fact, it was on this water that the Great GEM Skues actually caught his last trout.
You may be thinking that's alright for England but what about here? Well we have well over 500 species of Scud in their various forms and they are still counting.
Think about this, Scud were so thick in the Great Lake in the highlands of Tasmania back in the early days and were considered to be the main food source for those giant trout.
The truth is Scud are everywhere. Just look for the most suitable water, be it ponds, small tarns or lakes and most, if not all, rivers.
Scud are easy to make and you can adjust the colours to suit what you find in your favourite waters but don't forget the Hot Pink, as it just about works everywhere.
Anyway the bottom line is it was on again; using a Pink Scud we caught fish after fish. I would guess around thirty for the day.
How good was that information! My First Grayling from the River Test.
Habitat such as logs, willow, weeds in the lower Rubicon; look for silt bottoms as "mud equals Scud". Seek and ye shall find.