It seems the little bit of rain we had last week pushed trout into a few of the rivers. The reports in, that trout were, (and still are) holding off the river mouths and a few of those decided to run. It is shaping up to be a good start to the winter season with many of these fish being in great condition, fat and red fleshed. I even had a report from a friend that he took a fat rainbow from the Waitahanui on a Glo Bug
I have my next knee surgery tomorrow and I decided to have one more crack at the back country stuff to end my season. I will be out of action for a month and I know I will be going nuts, so this was it. I have been super sore from my last effort and so needed something a little more sedate.
I have a river that I found a few years ago that meanders through forest and over a bit of farm land. I gained permission from the farmer, (who didn’t think there were Trout in there) all those years ago and have re visited this a few times, mainly in January. The trout in here have been surprising, as although there are plenty of little fellows willing to pounce the dry fly, there is the occasional good fish of 4 pounds + that will come along and make things a little more challenging. The river is small and comes from hill country covered in native bush and pines. I have never come across anyone in the upper section and that is where Alex and I headed. Normally I just use a dry fly and the fun is spotting these fish, getting into a casting position and fooling them on the first cast. It’s epic fun!
As we were walking over the farm and looking into the water we spooked a few relatively good Browns. I have always pulled Browns from this river and they would have to be the prettiest I have come across. There must be something in the water that really makes the spots stand out and the skin to be so gold. I was however quite surprised at the number we were seeing and it wasn’t too long before that got the better of us and we started to fish. We had got there a little late in the morning as it was the dry fly we were going to use and so needed some warmth for the hatches to make an appearance. The day was bright and warm with the forecast for no wind or clouds, it was perfect.
The first two pieces of water we fished came up a blank, even though we had seen trout moving around in the depths. They just were not interested in coming to the surface. So not to be beaten we tied on a dropper of about 3.5 feet. Alex had a new type of flash back he has been tying and I used my Winged reaper in #14 with a 2.8mm Nickle bead. This breaks through the water film but has not got enough weight to drag down the dry fly. On the first cast Alex hooked up on a very feisty Rainbow that fought so much above its weight we were happy it was only 2.5 pounds, anything bigger would have given us issues. This unhappy little fellow would not come near the net. We gave him a good rest in calm water before we let him swim away.
We picked up some reasonable Browns as well, while making our way up stream to the bush line. There is a good pool that you look down on from a 20 foot high bank. You can slither your way up to the edge and peer down into it. Normally I see one or two decent trout in there however this time there were about 8 or 9 decent fish ranging from about 2 pounds up to a magnificent specimen of about 7.5 . Looking down onto it you could see the width of this beast and the best thing was they had no idea we were there. It was my turn, (well actually Alex just didn’t get a choice ) I striped out plenty of line and started my cast. Being so high up on the bank I needed extra line and I was worried with the added casting I might spook them. I shouldn’t have worried, they were very well behaved fish and just stood their ground. I was aiming for the big boy and the drift was pretty good as it slowly came back down stream onto it. You could actually see this fish look up at the dropper and start to move across. Alex started to get excited as he does and I though “oh yeah baby here we go”, when out of no where darted a Rainbow of about 2 pounds and scoffed down the dropper. Gahhhhhhhh ! All hell broke lose as you can imagine with the Rainbow spending more time on top of the water than in it. By the time I had it in the net everything had disappeared and was hiding under the banks.
We moved up.
The first few trout we spotted with the help from the Sun. They all took the dropper and fought well in very tight confines. The plan was to go as far into the stream system as we could before it closed over and casting became impossible. I had never been too far up into this section as the vast majority of my clients have not been able to deal with this type of casting and this was only the third time I had fished it for myself. I had never fished it this late in the season as well and the Sun was not as high in the sky as I would have liked for spotting. As it turned out we didn’t need the Sun, as all bar two trout took the dropper, we fished everything blind.
Alex who is an eating machine was making some fairly huge burping noises by this stage and in fact I was thinking he was trying to call up a stag. After one enormous burp that sounded like it started in his feet and moved up, I asked if he was ok. It was then I noticed how pale he was. With that he bent over and … well yeah I got to see what he had for lunch, breakfast and I think dinner the night before. Ok I said one more fish then we can walk back. I’m good like that.
We happened to have walked around a very deep bend and up a small straight. The water was deep all the way and we emerged on the true right at the top of the pool. I un hooked my dry and dropper, stripped out twenty feet of line, roll cast across the stream, up stream mended and drifted everything down. Half way down the Dry fly got pulled under, I lifted my rod and we got a huge flash of gold and Brown. There were snags everywhere and I dropped into the water fast from the bank to do battle with a really good brown that I was sure had the upper on me. I knew it would want to go downstream and under a big branch and so was prepared to apply maximum pressure to stop this. It did as I thought and I really applied the breaks. I was using a tapered leader of Mono and a 3.5 foot tippet of 6 pound Fluro. How the hell this didn’t snap I have no idea, my poor old Innovation 5# was bent to the cork with sideways pressure. Just as I though “see ya” it turned and screamed up stream past me and a rate of knots that had me stripping in line using hands and teeth. It came into our side of the bank and went straight under a small log at the head of the pool, damn I didn’t see that coming! I thought “well thats that” and it certainly felt stuck and solid. I released the pressure giving him some slack and with that he screamed back out still attached. The fight was now in the center of the pool, in deep water with no apparent snags. The secret here guys is to get them in as fast as possible, if you give them an inch they will smoke you hard. Alex, who has got his shit together something awesome with the net, now was ready to scoop him up, (he actually didn’t vomit there for a while). I lifted its head and with perfect skill he was netted. Whoop whoop Brownie of the season for me and the last of the back country season too. We made sure he was fit for release by holding him in a small amount of current and he swam away a little grumpy but no worse off.
We took our time walking out, me with a buggered knee and Alex looking like a ghost. It was probably my best days fishing ever. That is really saying something, especially as the last trip was the best day ever
The New Zealand trout fishery is a fantastic place. NO where else in the world can you fish so much water with two different licenses. If you do your homework on a river system and are prepared to hike a little, the adventure you can have is out of this world. This truly is “Gods Own” and I intend to make the most of it while I can.
Tight lines to all who read my page. Be safe, think smart and catch heaps.