It was my birthday this week, so my present to myself was to fish my butt off as much as I could.
On Thursday Trevor and I headed over to a river I try to fish every year. However in the section we were planing to go into, I hadn’t fished there for three seasons. The last time was guiding and we really struggled. Angling pressure was probably at its peak for the river and there were plenty of anglers killing large fish Other sections of this river have suffered too over the many years I have been visiting it. The river itself is beautiful and at one stage the average weight of trout would have been close to 5 pounds! I was excited to fish it regardless of trout numbers. Trevor has only fished three back country rivers, being a Taupo Fishery man through and through. We were wet wading too and that was fairly new to him. It was going to be a good day.
We rigged up with the usual length of leader, (9.5 to 10 ft), a 3.8 mm Black Bead Reaper and a Black bodied Winged Reaper. This weight is light enough to fish thigh high water without snagging up but heavy enough to get down, once you implement a mend and slow the drift down. The Winged Reaper is a taker of Trout in every water system I have fished. I will place some new colours and variations of this fly on my shop later today. This whole rig is perfect for water up to 9 ft deep or fishing the runs. I use a small Taupo Fishing Indicator. You can now buy these from Hunting and Fishing, Alice Town Wellington. They are the winter indicators but can be cut down. If your indicator sinks, it is not an indicator, its a submarine and will probably spook the trout. My indicators float!
So with that sorted we fished the piece of water right by the access point. On his second drift the indicator was savagely dragged under and on lifting his rod, Trevor was into a good fish of about 5 pounds. It came right out of the water shaking its head like a Marlin and then crashed back down onto his line, the hook pulled. Trevor had a look like a stunned possum in head lights but got himself together and started fishing again. He was missing some holding water by casting across the river a bit to much and not concentrating on the run in, so we corrected that and on his first cast was into another solid trout. As anglers we sort of owe it to our selves to fish ALL the water. This time he had it on for a good four minutes before it did the dirty on him and screamed in at Mac ten to his feet, then shot away at right angles. It was a massively powerful run that busted Trev off. That was all from the first pool, “cool” I thought that was a positive start! Trevor was hanging his head from my gentle ribbing.
We found the trout holding at the head of the pools, in the fast water. How many times have you heard that for Summer fishing. It’s probably because the saying is true! For the first 1.5 km we pulled trout from pretty much all the water we fished. However apart from that very first hookup of the day the trout were undersize for the river. Even if they do put on weight over Summer they are not up to the standard of past years. What they lacked in Size they made up for in strength. Some of the fights I had with 3 pound trout were epic! We then walked into a section that was fairly devoid of fish. Even the, VERY high Probability water, lacked fish, we went from having a cracking day to scratching our heads in frustration. Then just as the tail was beginning to go between the legs, we were into trout again. However it was time to start the walk back so we left that section for another day.
So yesterday, (Saturday) Alex and I shot out to a river we both love to fish but have not done together. Its a fairly long drive and so we were up early and on the road by five. The word on the street is that this area got a right royal smashing from the weather late in September and early October. An angler we had met earlier in the season stated he had gone for a fish there but it was full of snags and the crossings were deep, the river had been turned over Always needing confirmation, (in case it was trick for us not to fish it ) we decided to do it Saturday.
Access was ummm sort of easy with a track down to the river, however the track was down hill for about 80 meters and I do mean down this is the one action that will tickle up my knee so I was pleased when we hit the flat ground at the bottom and only had a short walk to the river. The bank at the edge of the river was quite high and we had a perfect view of the water. Gaaahhhhhh, it was huge almost twice the normal volume of water. It was fishable water vizability wise but was massive in volume. There was obviously lots of run off still going on from the hills and the river was well above normal flow. We looked at it and made the decision to implement plan B. So within ten minutes of walking down the hill, we were walking back up it, I grizzled somewhat at that. If you can, have a plan B and use it quickly. We could have struggled for a few hours, done deep crossings on slippery rocks and been fishing water devoid of trout because it had been smashed by Mother Nature. However we decided, drowning, smashing ourselves on rocks and not catching trout, was not worth it. So we drove an hour back in the direction we came from and went in on a river system we had not fished before, (or that section anyway).
The water in here is mind blowing. I seem to say that a lot about back country water, however this was truly amazing. It became very apparent that the rocks were treacherous and that all precautions had to be taken when walking, doing river crossings and safety in general. We carry an emergency beacon with us but it is still going to hurt for a long time before Morphine arrives. I have carried a stick with me since my fall in 2012 and it has been life saving at times. The river is reputed to hold some massive trout but there is a lot of walking between fish. It seemed true, as water that looked like it should teem with trout was barren, or at least to our hooks anyway.
Finally Alex hooked up and his strike held this fish really put on a display with some nice jumps. It pulled the scales at just over 7 pounds. I actually thought he was going to get dusted by this fish but he netted it perfectly while perched on a rock that was very slimy. The video on my web site shows the action of the day. he did really well.
My fish was obviously twice as big and anyone can see that.
We would have had a video clip of my strike, (it was a massive!!) however Pocahontas was off looking at water, with my camera, so you only get the fight part. However this 5.5 pound bad boy did not want to come to the bank, where I was trying to beach him carefully. I had my rod maxed out at times trying to lever him in. I tried all my tricks but when he got a sniff of that shallow water, he bolted. In the end it was obviously safer if he was netted. Alex did the business there and a couple of quick pictures and a good sensible time of recovering in the quiet water and he was off, telling his mates he had been abducted by aliens again and not to eat anything that looked like a Black Bodied Reaper. On that subject The hook was barbless! Alex was having a moment of stress thinking I was being a barbarian and not crimping my barb down. When in fact he has seized my Nymphs a few pools down and had crimped my barbs without me having a choice The hook slid out of the trout with ease making the whole process of catch and release easier for all. One of the main reasons we crimp our barbs down is because if we do snap a leader on a trout it has a MUCH better opportunity of ridding itself of the line and hooks when the Nymph can easily slide out. My personal argument was that I don’t lose trout however this season that has happened 5 times and who knows what happened to those trout. Anyway I don’t have a choice in the matter when fishing with Alex as he steals my rod and crimps them when I am not looking.
Just after my epic battle of awesomeness the heavens opened up and big raindrops fell on mass. This sort of rain will swell a river quickly and we were 1.5 km up a pretty shitty river with deep nasty crossings that had us working together all the way. We bolted and by the time we reached the last one of the day the volume was up and we really had to take care. We linked up, grabbing each others back packs and moved out into the current. Always start as high as you can and move out and down. Stay as deep as you can safely while moving downstream and aiming for an exit spot. Always have a spot you want to get too. That way you will know if you are going to overshoot and need to get out faster. Always have the heaviest person, (fat bastard) with the water coming down on them, they are the Anchor. Never second guess yourself, if you don’t think a crossing is doable, don’t do it! We got back to the car safe and sound had a good cup of coffee and drove home. Two good fish and some beautiful scenery, a very successful day.