Yellow Bog Creek

David Anderson suggests somewhere not to fish in Kosciuszko National Park

Get your bucket list of trout locations out and write ‘Yellow Bog Creek’ somewhere near the top. Now give yourself an uppercut and cross it off, because this is definitely not one of your better ideas. Actually, that might be a bit harsh — flip the list, write it on the back, give yourself another uppercut for good measure and forget about it until you’re desperate for some time on a very small stream that’s tough and doesn’t fight fair. It’s not that the creek isn’t scenic. In fact, in the rare spots where you can actually see more than a few metres, it’s a beautiful and unique landscape that is unlike any other Kosciuszko National Park water I’ve yet been to. It’s also not about fish. There are plenty, both browns and rainbows, and in sizes that level no embarrassment at any small creek. They’re willing fish as well, and seem pretty happy to smack at the half-accurate and rubbish dry fly presentations at the end of the crap casts you’ll be feeling proud of by the end of any day in this mess. The truth of the matter is that Yellow Bog — and I say this as a closer to box than to birth, small stream nut case — is bloody hard work, with only just enough reward to keep the crazies amongst us coming back. Obviously, if you’re any kind of small stream fly angler, you will ignore this honest assessment and go anyway, so here’s what you need to know. First, almost the entire length of the creek suffers from exuberant overgrowth in, on and above the water. There are stretches that are both unfishable and, at times, hard to walk around. Really, it’s a case of fighting through the rough stuff to find that magic 20 metres of more open water where it’s possible to swing a short rod and feel like a hero when you catch a 12-inch trout. Second, don’t bother in even mildly high water anywhere except the flatter, upper reaches, because navigation up the creek and around the overgrown sections is damn hard and a lot of the good pocket water simply becomes too fast to be fishable. Trust me, this is a fair-weather summer trip only. Last thing would be rod length. A sub-8-foot rod, probably a 2- or 3-weight, won’t win any distance casterbation competitions, but at Yellow Bog it is a weapon like Neptune’s sceptre. If you are new to fly fishing and only have a 9-foot 6-weight, head for the Swampy Plain River. It’s not far, has bigger fish and less botanical interference. Still here? Ok, here’s where to go and what it looks like. Yellow Bog Creek flows out of heavily forested, high and relatively flat country just north of Khancoban, New South Wales, and eventually feeds the Tooma River. It is, for its entire length, located in Kosciuszko National Park. There are three main access points, all found off the Yellow Bog Road, which is a fairly good all-weather gravel road that follows the power lines off the Tooma Road a little over 13 km from its junction with the Alpine Way. My distances here will be vague — and you should get a map — because I get so tired fishing here I always forget to check the odometer on the way out. It’s all fairly straightforward though. As the crow flies, the end of the road is roughly 15 km — maybe as much as 25 — from the start. The top section is about a third of the way in, where a side track on the right leads to a small, gated bridge and room for a couple of cars. The creek is also visible from the road above and below here. The stream snakes mostly level through a meadow-like landscape with springy, slightly tannin-stained water. The bottom is very sandy with patches of vivid green aquatic weeds and the banks are lined with tall grass that drapes over the undercuts. I say meadow-like because there are still patches of forest and a lot of trees that grow right out of the creek, with plenty of obstacles that need walking past. Fishing here is very visual with easily spotted trout, though fallen timber and live trees in the water can make it challenging to get a fly to them. At the same time, that structure provides an abundance of short, deeper pockets that hold fish. Sight fishing is really the best approach as there is plenty of cover for the angler. Sneaking along, finding fish, then working out how you’re going to get a fly past them is why we’re here. Above the little bridge is some of the easiest water to fish, but it doesn’t last long before becoming a complete tangle that I lost interest in trying to walk around after a hundred metres. It also gets very skinny. About halfway along, the Yellow Bog Road starts winding down into the steep country and bridges the creek. A look upstream may be discouraging and downstream disheartening, but know this is my favourite area on the creek. The first 50-metre section above the bridge is basically unfishable and best walked past. I can also tell you from experience that it is far easier to fold yourself in half and walk through the water on your way up. Past those worst bits the creek opens up just enough to get the odd overhead cast out into the deep pools and pockets, but be careful: short sidearm casts will be more common. Of course, I hate it for the constant snags in trees, but I love when it all magically comes together and a hard-won fish comes to hand. About 400 metres upstream, as the crow swims, there’s a lovely little waterfall with a couple of deep pools below that are positively roomy for this part of the creek. Below the bridge is best accessed by walking back up the road and then down a ridge to the creek. Bushfires have made this easier over the last few years, though there’s still plenty of work to do to get to the water. The creek here is a beautiful series of generally smaller, though always interesting pools, and fast runs with plenty of short drops in between. While overhead casting is more common than it is on the water above the bridge, there’s still plenty of overgrowth and very challenging pools to keep you awake. Access to the lowest section of the creek is via a few kilometres of light-duty four-wheel-drive fire trail that follows the Tooma River down stream. The start of this track can be hard to find, but it runs off to the left about a kilometre before the (gated) bridge across the river. It is — and I say this while wringing my hands — by far the easiest stretch to fish, having been most recently burned out, and therefore much freer of overhead obstacles. The creek here is more open, more relaxed to walk up, and even has some views of the mountain behind. The fishing is kinder, with a wider, slower collection of pools and pocket water through a boulder field. If there’s a downside to the lower section, it’s that on my last trip there with my friend Josh, we didn’t see or catch any fish. Not even a touch. Not sure if that’s fire-related or just bad luck, but later the same day we caught plenty further upstream. It’s definitely not the first time I’ve been skunked, but it’s never been at Yellow Bog. You may now be asking why anyone sane would bother with any of this. It’s a fair question. My only answer would be the message I got from my regular fishing buddy Ash, that the last day we had there is the highlight of his season. Crazy indeed, but I guess I would agree.

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