Why is "Uncle Billy's Retreat" such a Great Place to Fish if you are a Fly-Fishing Novice?
Firstly, "Uncle Billy's" offers the novice who lives in south-east Queensland an easily accessible and convenient destination to fish. "Uncle Billy's" is about the closest place to Queensland where you can almost "guarantee" to catch trout. Admittedly, you can catch trout in many of the northern New South Wales rivers, such as the Macintyre River, the Gwydir River, the Severn River, Deepwater River, Guy Fawkes River and a number of other streams.
However, in my experience, the average size of the trout in these streams are far smaller than the trout that live in Lake Yoolimba.
Another difficulty with fishing these streams is you need consent to fish them. Most of these water courses flow through private land and so you will need the owner's permission to fish them. Living in Brisbane, I don't have the opportunity to get down to this "neck of the woods" very often. It's pretty hard to tell from a typographical map who owns what, unless you obtain property title searches.
If you are able to ascertain the identity of the owners of the properties you want to fish, you then must approach them and plead for their permission to fly fish on their property. It's all too hard and takes too long!
My "leave passes" have fixed "expiry dates". I want to make sure the precious free time I have, is spent fishing, not aimlessly wandering around the New South Wales countryside door knocking on farm properties for an opportunity to fish a river that may or may not hold fish. Personally I would rather drive straight from Brisbane to "Uncle Billy's" and fish Lake Yoolimba, which I know is stocked with about 5,000 Rainbow Trout.
Another disadvantage with fishing the trout streams, is that New South Wales has a closed season from the end of the June long weekend until the October long weekend, to allow the trout to spawn. Trout can't spawn in a dam, therefore this restriction does not apply to "Uncle Billy's", so you can fish there all year round!
Secondly, as a novice, fishing a farm dam situation is far easier than trying to fly fish one of northern New South Wales' little trout streams, with their banks lined with overhanging trees. The grassy shores of Lake Yoolimba at least prevents the novice's back cast from regularly fouling in foliage. There is nothing more frustrating for a beginner than to constantly retrieve one's fly from hungry flora. Sure, keeping one's back cast high is a virtue, but most of the time, attempting to untangle flies and leaders from branches and leaves can be so frustrating that it ruins the day's fishing and occasionally I've seen it end a person's desire to continue with this wonderful pastime. On my first trip to New Zealand my fly spent more time in the thorny black berry vines than it did on the water!
Thirdly, the novice has a very good chance of catching a trout while fishing at Lake Yoolimba. I found learning to fly fish very frustrating! I felt extremely unco-ordinated and clumsy. I was constantly getting my fly fouled in trees, fences and various parts of my body and kept getting the flyline caught round my feet; that was happening just walking along the path to the river - things got a lot worse when I actually started fishing.
In the early stages I was constantly picking out wind knots in my leader. It took nearly took 18 months from the time of purchasing my first fly-fishing outfit to catching my first fish on fly. (Admittedly, during this time I was somewhat hampered by the fact that my toddler son turned my (then recently purchased) 2 piece, 7 Weight flyrod into a nifty 4 piece traveller, by jamming the rod in a doorway and then slamming the door).
The point I am trying to make is catching your first fish on fly gives you a tremendous amount of confidence, which motivates you to persist with learning how to fly fish, despite the frustrations.
Wouldn't it be great if your first fish on fly was a 2½lb Rainbow Trout rather than a ½lb flathead, bream or mullet? At "Uncle Billy's", this is a real possibility!
Fourthly, learning to fly fish is embarrassing. It's hard enough just keeping the fly line above the ground without being hassled by some die-hard bait fisherman rolling around on the ground in stitches of laughter, calling you a "poof".
One of the most comforting things "Uncle Billy's" has to offer the novice is privacy. Once you book "Uncle Billy's" you have the exclusive use of the entire facilities. It is the perfect place for a bunch of mates who are all novices to collectively improve their fly-fishing.
However, I offer this friendly warning, all beginners should receive casting lessons from a qualified tutor before visiting "Uncle Billy's". This is nothing to do with the characteristics of the venue, rather, it is a matter of common sense. If you haven't been taught to cast properly, then attempting to teach yourself is a recipe for learning bad techniques, that eventually, you must unlearn if you wish to become proficient at this method of fishing. In my opinion, bad casting traits only increase frustration levels and limit your enjoyment of the sport.
Fifthly, "Uncle Billy's" offers the novice comfort.
It's amazing when the fishing is bad how much importance you place on the quality of your accommodation. Even fishing at "Uncle Billy's" can be slow, especially when the weather turns foul. For me, half the attraction of "Uncle Billy's" is the little log cabins.
When you're a novice, sometimes the best thing you can say about a fly-fishing trip is that fortunately the accommodation was good. At "Uncle Billy's" the accommodation is very comfortable with blankets, quilts, pillows, gas fridges, gas stoves, gas lights, cooking utensils, crockery and cutlery, all provided.
The cabins now even have solar powered lighting. All you need to bring is your food, bed linen, towels and fishing equipment and your waders.
I can assure you that "Uncle Billy's" accommodation sure beats the heck out of freezing your buns off in a two man tent when you are relying on your mate's flatulence problem to provide the heating.
Finally, one of the most enticing things about "Uncle Billy's Retreat" is that it is relatively inexpensive. Accommodation and fishing will currently only set you back $60 per day, per person. If you just want to fish for the day down at "Uncle Billy's", you only have to fork out $35. If you want to take a friend along who doesn't like fishing, that person only needs to pay $30 per night for accommodation.
If you're a beginner you are probably just financially recovering from the expense of purchasing your fly-fishing outfit so a cheap place to fish is very appealing. I find it hard to justify to my family spending hundreds of dollars on fishing trips. For me, "Uncle Billy's" gives me the opportunity to get my "trout fix" comparatively inexpensively.