Check out the latest installment of Costa Behind the Guides presented by Costa Sunglasses. The flylords team was lucky enough to catch up with Joshua Hutchins, also known as “AussieFlyfisher”. Josh is a close friend, mentor, and all around great guy. He is also pioneering some incredible things in Australia with fly fishing.FL: Who is Joshua Hutchins?
JH: I am Josh Hutchins. I run a business out of Sydney, Australia called Aussie Fly Fisher. We particularly have 3 main areas of our business, starting with our guided fishing where we concentrate around fresh water, trout, and Murray cod, in the state of New South Wales. We also run travel to around 20 great places in and around Australia, South Pacific, and further afield. Including New Zealand, Argentina, Mongolia, etc. And our 3rd one would be media. So we make short films and take a lot of photography for print magazines, fly fishing brands, and anything in the fly fishing media.
So essentially everything we do revolves around fly fishing and everything I do is absolutely fly fishing focused. It’s our life and we love it.FL: What makes Australia such a unique destination for fly fishing?
JH: I’m pretty sure Australia hasn’t been on everyone’s freshwater fly fishing map. That being said, I think it’s one of the coolest places in the world to fish, we’re the largest island in the world, with a massive coastline, so obviously, the salt water opportunities are just endless.What many people don’t know is we also have a great trout fishery. Mainland Australia, the Snowy Mountains, Victoria, the Blue Mountains all have great trout spots. You can fly into Sydney and be fly fishing for trout in less than 2 hours. I believe it’s just a country that has a lot of good variety and a lot of untapped potential.FL: How long you have been guiding for and how long you have been shooting photography for? Can you compare the two?
JH: I’m coming on about 7 years now in the guiding industry. I’ve always loved fly fishing, started when I was about 13. And I was working a job that gave me a lot of international travel, I started taking photos on a very amateur level. Instagram was quite new at the time and I didn’t want to annoy my friends on Facebook with endless fishing photos, so I just decided to start an Instagram and I called it @AussieFlyFisher.The photography thing went hand in hand. Social media was a good driver. I actually just enjoyed taking photos. I think the memory of any good fishing trip is a good thing and when we started to guide, as well, I realized that people want that thing to take home. We catch and release all our fish, so what they can take home is a great image. We definitely prioritized the photography side, along with that and I just love the places you go to with fly fishing. When I go on a trip these days, I’m thinking about the fishing on the same level that I’m thinking about photography.FL: Can you pick a favorite trip that you’ve gone on?
JH: That’s a hard one to answer. What I always say, is if I had one week left to live, where would I fish again? And I’m going to put on even par my 2 favorite trips; a recent trip we did in the Wessel Islands, in the top of Australia, which is beautiful, untouched, amazing Indo-Pacific Permit fishery there. And the other one would be Cosmoledo in the Seychelles. To me that was just an awesome week; once again an untapped fishery due to amazing fishing, but everything else as well.
FL: Tell me about the Murray Cod. What makes that species so special to target on the fly?
JH: The Murray Cod is probably my favorite freshwater fish in the world. It’s our biggest freshwater fish in Australia. It’s an apex predator. They’ll eat a full-grown duck, they’ll eat just all sorts of things that fall into the water. I mean there are stories that people have been pulled into the water and literally drowned when they got entangled in the line or got snagged and tried to hold the fish by the head. They’re big fish.
In the past people would catch and kill this species, these days they’re seen as a great sport fish because they’ll eat a top water fly and it’s amazing. It’s like a bowling ball just fell on your fly, they’re huge. Think of a large mouthed bass and times that by 10, times that by 20…that’s a Murray Cod.
Yeah, they live in quite often pretty small water, small rivers. Some rivers look like trout rivers and you can have this huge fish in there. We’ve been doing a lot of work on them, we think they’re just the perfect freshwater fish. And they’re endemic to Australia; you cannot find this fish anywhere else. For anyone wanting to see a bit more we recently made a film called Goodoo. This traveled around the Rise Film Festival in Australia, New Zealand, and Asia. Soon we’ll have that available online and they can see a bit more about the Murray Cod.
FL: Tell us about the gear you use to target that species.
JH: We are usually throwing a 9 or 10 weight rod, sometimes a 12 weight if we’re targeting them in heavy structure or particularly knowing that it could be a large fish.
The biggest one we’ve caught on fly so far is around 65/70 lbs. They have been known to grow to 250 lbs!They’re the sort of fish that will eat and will try to run straight back in their ‘snag’, their log-jam or a rock ledge, something like that. So you need a lot of stopping power straight away. So particularly that’s why we use the big rods and we are throwing big flies, as well. These might be, in your terms, 12-inch flies, surface and subsurface and so even throwing big flies, you need a big rod. In terms of lines, you want a heavy headed line. Particularly, like the SA Sonar clear tip F/I, we fish that a lot. This line is perfect for throwing those big flies and loading the rod fast. And much of the time there is not a lot of room for a back-cast.FL: Tell me about your favorite frames and lenses from Costa that you like to rock on the water.
JH: We’ve been using Costa sunglasses from the start. Since they came to Australia, we know them as the best sunglasses on earth. My favorite overall lens is probably the green mirror. I like that straight copper lens too, but the green mirror has been good all the way around for our fresh and salt conditions. The latest frame that I’m wearing is ‘The Bloke’. That just fits me really well. And, yeah, I’ve been trying a few others new styles too. I got some of the ‘Del Mar’s’ recently, which actually are just really nice for the fashionable sunglasses. The new ‘Pescador’ are straight up boss-mode with those retro side-visors, I think they’re awesome. So yeah, I’m heading off to French Polynesia next week with the Costa guys and definitely gonna be rocking those suckers.FL: If somebody wants to come fish for Murray Cod, #1: When’s the best time of year to do that? #2: What’re some things that you can maybe tell them that they can prepare for before they go out there?
JH: My favorite time for Murray Cod is all of December. The season opens on December 1st. That first 6-7 weeks of the season you get a lot of interactions, particularly on surface hits throughout the day. Once you get to summer they become, not nocturnal, but a little bit more likely to only actively feed in the low light periods of the day.And then once again, April, May, June is a pretty good time too. When that first cold weather comes through, the bigger fish, particularly, start to feed hard again.
In terms of preparation, you’re going to be casting a 10 weight and big fly all day, so just be ready for that. We can catch fish on a short cast, but if people are practicing their cast, then practicing throwing something a little heavier, this will certainly help them out. And you’ve got to really have that strip strike down pact, when you’ve got that fish that just comes out of nowhere and strikes, if your normal reaction is to trout strike, you’re probably gonna lose the fish because their mouth is very hard. You’ve got to get that strip strike locked in as second nature.