REPORT: Fishing Ebor – A boy’s trouting adventure

I SPENT my family holiday in Ebor in the New England region of NSW just after the New Year period. There I fly and lure fished (mostly fly) for the majestic, yet cunning rainbow trout.

We stayed at the fantastic Moffatt Falls Lodge in the Northern Tablelands overlooking the pristine Moffat Falls. It boasted kilometres of private fishing streams at our doorstep. The lodge was fantastic, with 4 available bedrooms, spa bath, views of the falls, neighboring horses and sitting on 2,000 acres of private fishing brilliance.

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The parents had plenty of things to do and see while I fiddled with the fishing side of things including; visiting Point Lookout, admiring the stunning Ebor Falls, the huuuge and beautiful Wollomombi Falls, not to mention the vast amounts of scenic bush tracks and clear streams to experience. It really is a wonderful part of Australia and one of NSW’s best kept secrets.

Anyway, before I get too carried away, talking about New England and how fabulous it is let’s get to the fishing.


Although we only arrived at our destination at about 2:30pm (lonngggg drive) this still gave me a good 3 hours to explore the streams of the property with a spin rod in hand to discover the fishy looking pools, runs and hopefully land my first fish of the trip. The stretch of water I fished was superb, which starts with the scenic Lower Moffatt falls that had a great big fish holding pool with no real obstruction for fly fishermen to worry about, so I decided to leave that for the fly fishing. I moved on to the more tight spots on the narrow stream that followed the falls where having a light spin stick would offer a greater advantage than the fly rod for the precise casting needed in some of the bushy spots.

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I found a nice flowing pool which held a lot of rising rainbows and started casting my sx40 in amongst the snags and timber. I spotted a nice fish rising in this little deep bay and chucked my lure right in the strikezone. During my retrieve I felt a little tap which I thought was my lure hitting a snag so I decided to wind my lure in to cast again but a nice rainbow charged at my lure right at my feet only to turn it’s head when it saw me.

Next cast my lure landed right up against the bank, I gave my reel two or three winds and I was straight ON! This fish put up a great account of itself including some acrobatics and in the fight used my 4lb leader and a nearby log to its advantage and wrapped my line around the tree pretty thoroughly. I straight away jumped into the cool creek, found the fish and slipped my homemade trout net (made from a badminton racket) under it and my first fish was landed! Bursting with excitement I ran back home, took some pics and with this fish measuring 30cm we decided to keep it for dinner (calm down, only two fish were kept for the trip, the rest were released).

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With an hour or two to spare and some exciting insect engulfing trout signs, I grabbed the fly rod and some of my friend’s grandfather’s hand-tied dry flies and set off again. I headed back to the same pool and started casting to the many rising trout along this run. One of my rare “good” fly casts, landed perfectly upstream and within seconds a nice fish engulfed my Royal Wulff with gusto! And within minutes my second ever trout (and a PB) on the fly was secured, going a healthy 34cm.

I slipped the fish back in the drink and landed one more for the session, going 32cm. Both on Royal Wulffs and both released.

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Day 2 gave me a whole day to fish with no interruptions, and I had time to explore a creek above Moffat Falls and I stumbled across a very nice slow pool that’d be bound to hold lots of trout. I sat on a log that stretched across the stream and started casting upstream.

On cast #3, a healthy fish slurped my fly and was hooked! Then, without too much hassle I eventually coaxed him into the net. This time, the 30cm (or thereabouts) fish, got his freedom.

Fishing on I took a wander down to explore some more creek, casting along the way. This stretch of water was a really challenging spot to manage a cast in, so I got increasingly frustrated with hooking the trees behind me. But when I managed a nice cast up against this deep bank, I knew it was a money shot and the fish read the script too because right on cue it popped its little head above my dry fly and rolled on it, thinking he’d just caught dinner. But unfortunately for the fish, I’d just caught my dinner.

I took a break from the fishing during the heat of the day (where the fish seemed harder to fool) and the family decided to take a trip back to the trout hatchery just down the road for another visit. Although I’d been there before, you never tire of seeing 3-4kg fish going nuts over fish feed on the surface.

Afterwards, we decided to visit the nearby Serpentine river for a lazy fish and swim in a nice pool that looked like it held fish. Unfortunately no fish were caught, but it sure was a great way to spend a boiling hot day. And hey… who said New England was freezing? We packed woollies, thick jumpers and track pants only to be greeted with weather hotter than it was in Sydney.

Later in the afternoon, I took my mum down to see the waterfall and she got some footage of me fishing where I got a take on camera. The result was a nice 36cm fish and was my new PB for a little while anyway. It was a great way to finish a fine day.

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Day 3 marked a memorable day of fishing I’ll never forget. Not because it involved hours and hours of non-stop fishing success, because it didn’t. But simply because of what I learnt and experienced that day.
The day began with some fly casting basics, taught by my experienced guide for the day Andy Matenson and as expected my (self taught) technique was rubbish. Soon enough, I got the knack of it and we were off.

The first part of the day was spent driving through tracks along kms of pristine, private, fish holding creeks. Then, when we arrived at our spot and finished breakfast, we began walking through thick, steep and beautiful bush country until we arrived at our first fishing spot.

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The location looked perfect and basically untouched and things looked promising. But as we moved along for a while and no fish to show for it, Andy began to scratch his head, looking for answers.

It turned out that this day was to be the hardest fishing day he’s ever guided in this location in terms of fish numbers. He thinks it was the sunny conditions, clear water, not a cloud in the sky and temperature in the high twenties.

Soon enough though we were rewarded with our first fish and it was a good one too, in fact the best one of the trip. It went 39cms and a fat fish at it too, not to mention its colours.

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The rest of the day was spent wading up these streams and casting, hoping for a wary fish to pluck his head out from his home and slurp our dry fly presentation. At some point, we found a shallow stretch of water where we polaroided a group of feeding fish, swimming frantically after their prey and rising prolifically. They were the kind of moments that, in the end made the lack of fish caught, not matter.

We made our way upstream, stopping at some great big pools and slow runs, having casts with our Green Humpy hoping to get engulfed by a fish. At one stage, I spotted a healthy active fish cruising on the surface of the deep with the sun on his back in a very tricky and snaggy area to cast to. So I lent the rod to the master and showed me how it’s done. The fish was probably 18-20m away from us and if the fly landed 2 inches either side of where it was it would have caught a tree branch. But Andy plopped it on the fish’s head, and the fish just calmly cruised over to it and nudged it with its nose, as if to test whether what it was eating was actually real…

We stopped off at a huge pool with a little waterfall, and Andy thought it was a good spot to try placing a nymph under a hopper dry fly. Then what do you know, the master exercised his brilliance, as on the second cast the hopper fly went under and a cry of “lift!!” was heard. This fish was hooked and landed without too much trouble, making him, my first trout on a nymph – he measured 33cm.

The day was running out of light and we had about one last spot to fish, and it looked promising as we spotted two nice fish rising in the same run, one of which was about three metres away from me, yet it didn’t see me as it was facing upstream. I put in the cast. and within literally two seconds, my Green Humpy was smashed! And it was a feisty fish too, showing off its acrobatic skills from the get go. But it had no chance and landed safely in the net shortly after. Although it put up a galiant fight it only went about 32cm.

Unfortunately, this was the last fish of the day, but not before the drama of losing a wildly rising fish on the back of a precision roll cast landed in a small window of casting space. Nonetheless, the day I had with Andy was fantastic and one I’ll remember forever, the things I learnt and did that day was well worth the money paid for it. I’d recommend him to anyone, not only for his vast fishing experience but his great company, humour and hospitality (he supplies some very yummy cookies).


This was our last day and I only had a couple of hours to fish in the morning to say my last goodbyes to the fish I’d fallen in love with over the last couple of days. There was no better way to do that then have a fish in the pool under Moffat falls. I started fishing with my spin rod and a Celta, but like that was gonna happen.

So the decision was made to use the flies Andy kindly donated to me the day before and fish a nymph under a large Royal Wulff. The fishing was hot, and it took me three casts to persuade a very energetic rainbow to accept my offering, taking the Royal Wulff. I think this fish spent more time in the air then in the water during the fight as he could not stop jumping and this energy caused the fly to spring free out of it’s mouth, but like I cared!

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Worried that I wouldn’t be able to say goodbye to these rainbows, the pressure was on to produce. It did take a few casts but finally, a nice female launched itself at my dry fly and this time, it wasn’t going anywhere. It was a bittersweet moment but it was a great setting to bid these fish farewell, and as I released it, it was gone like last week’s pay.

My New England trip was the best fishing trip I’ve ever had so far, and this location was truly NSW’s best kept secret and I’d recommend it to anyone to come and learn the art of fly fishing.

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