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Trophy Trout – Fly Fishing at Thompsons Creek Dam

August 10, 2015

When I think of fishing in Sydney, the first thing that comes to mind is dangling off the side of a boat, salt spray covering my face while face reeling in some monster from the deep.

While there is plenty of salt water fishing on tap, just a few hours west of Sydney there’s lots of fresh water to be had.

Josh Spotting


Thompson Creek Dam, lies two hours west of Sydney; an artificial dam, the water from which is used to cool power plants in the surrounding area.



Josh Hutchens (@aussieflyfisher) a local guide invited me out to tag along with he and a client at the dam. A 6am starting time, meant leaving from Sydney at 4am to get there in time.


When I arrived  Josh, and client Nick were gearing up in the parking lot, so I threw on my waders, grabbed my pack and we were off.

Still in the dark, we hiked about a kilometer from the cars to get out to the water. Just as we arrived at the lake, the sun was just beginning to peak over the horizon.

Despite the wilderness feel of the area, the calm and quiet that is only found off the beaten track, the sun soon revealed stark reminders that civilization was only a stone’s throw away. Massive pylons on the far side of the lake, and big smoke stacks in the distance were an indication to the purpose of this lake.

Power lines Powerplants

Even still there are big fat trout in these waters, and that’s why we were here.

After Josh rigged the gear, he found a vantage point and spotted while Nick began casting. In surprisingly quick succession Nick had caught two Rainbow Trout (one male and one female). The fish were active and hungry.

First fist of the day eyes on the prize

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After a few obligatory catch photos we sent the fish on their way.


With the trout spawning, they are move into the shallower areas of the lake to pair off and lay eggs.  With a bit of walking, and lots of looking they are easy to spot from a high vantage point. When caught, the female fish release eggs like machine gun fire.

After an action packed morning, a cold wind picked up and bringing with it a blanket of thick clouds.

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There is no doubt that the trout here are picky. With this water being easliy accessible, these fish have seen every fly, lure and bait imaginable, and reward those who think differently. While I won’t reveal the tackle we used on the day, I will say leave your streamers in your fly box.

The fish had moved on and so did we. Josh led us around the lake, to a few spots the fish usually hang out, and after a short hike we spotted a group of dark figures gliding through shallow water.

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This new spot provided Josh with and interesting vantage point.


Shot of the Day

Before I left Josh and Nick, we noticed the weather had taken an interesting turn. At first it appeared as if a funnel cloud was forming, but as time passed blanket of grey began to look more like cotton candy.

After a bit of research, Nick told me these are mammatus or mammatocumulus clouds. While their cause seems to be mysterious, quick changes in temperature, humidity and wind direction plays a big part in their formation.



This photos is actually a five-exposure composite, shot at f8.0 ISO640 and shutter speeds of 1/640, 1/1250, 1/2500, 1/5000, 1/8000. When bracketing the exposure, I opted for quick shutter speeds as the wind was blowing like crazy.

As you can see by the texture of the water there was a lot of movement on the lake, but also the in big tree. In an attempt to ‘freeze’ the action, I tried to keep shutter speeds high as to avoid any motion blur. Since Josh and Nick were standing quite still, and I wasn’t sure I would need the brightest exposure and wasn’t too worried about the 1/640 shutter speed.

After some basic tonal correction in Lightroom, I stacked the layers in Photoshop and got to work. In my haste getting ready at the car, I left my tripod in the trunk. Lucky for me bracing the camera body on my knee was steady enough for Photoshop’s auto align tool to work its magic.

Starting from the darkest shot I worked my way up, progressively masking the areas which suffered from black clipping. As I mentioned before, since the anglers were an important part of this this photo, I opted to mask them ever-so-slightly brighter than the rest of the photo to help draw your eye to them.

For more photos from the day check out the gallery below. Also to see more fishy goodness Josh Hutchinson check out @aussieflyfisher on Instagram.

Also shameless plug follow me on Twitter and Instagram @colinlevitch

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