Jack Kos – Raging rivers and the first of the season
Open season mean’s crystal clear water, hot days and free rising browns, right? For some reason my mind tells me that even though September 30th might be crap weather, the 1st of October will be a perfect day; a combination of all of last seasons good memories (and none of the bad). It brings with it so much expectation and excitement that one can’t help but be slightly disappointed when virtually every river in the region is a complete write off.
Andrew and myself had plans to fish a small stream on Friday, we weren’t going to let the weather get in our way. An outrageously early start saw me dining on baked beans, toast, bacon and eggs at his place around 3:30am. The car ride flew by as we discussed plans for the season. Passing lowland rivers we saw that they were fairly dirty, but hey, the upper reaches will be fine. Except the water didn’t really get much clearer the further up the river system we went. Sure, each tributary we passed reduced the sediment a bit, but the flows were still enormous. Arriving at our intended destination we waited a few minutes till daybreak before heading out to look at the stream. We hadn’t gone more than 5 minutes before realising that further exploration was pointless; it was all but in flood!
Ah well, Andrew had (as he always does) a plan B. No cars in the car park, so we started the trek into the river. When we finally saw it the flow was high, but it wasn’t actually too dirty. We blind fished a few pools despite the fact that this river holds a very low population of large fish. A few kilometres further up the river Andrew spotted a fish in the run he was prospecting. The next thing I heard (I think everyone in the valley probably heard it too) was ‘Oh ****’. One seriously spooked fish scarpered pretty quickly after getting pricked. Heading further up the river we only saw one more fish, which Andrew covered. On the way back downstream he decided to swing a streamer back through this lie. When he was halfway through the pool I saw a bit of movement out of the corner of my eye. Big streamers tend to get a pretty strong reaction, but this fish simply swum slowly up behind it before engulfing it. Bang. Fish on. Andrew literally screamed like a small girl. He’s not really much of a winter fisherman, so it’d been a while between drinks.
A good bend in the rod
Big fish like big bites of protein.
A fantastic start to the season.
Sadly I didn’t manage one that day. Given the numbers in that stream I wouldn’t be surprised if I hadn’t covered a fish all day. Sure, I felt a little envious, but Andrew deserved it. Over winter he’s put a hell of a lot of effort into tying streamers and learning how to fish them for situations exactly like this. Even though I didn’t catch a fish it was still a supremely satisfying day. Getting out there on a day where everyone else probably stayed at home, using our heads and finding the only clean water in the region, and then finally catching a cracker brownie in tough conditions: a very challenging, but rewarding start to the season.
Having a 21st the night before doesn’t typically leave you in a great state to go fishing the next morning. I’d made plans to head out nice and early with Isaac, so I felt a bit bad sending him a text saying I would be an hour or so late picking him up. The rivers we had intended to fish were pretty much shafted, so we decided to do a wee bit of exploring close to home. To be honest, the only thing that really came from the day was that we were able to help out a guy who had gotten his car stuck.
Fancy a Land Rover pulling out a Toyota…
I gave Isaac a choice of heading into the hills that night and crashing in the car, or getting up at 4am the next morning. He chose a night in the car. After exploring the prospects for the next day we headed back to the camp-site, which I later dubbed the Hilton, for some kai. We ate like kings.
Big Mac ain’t got nothing on that.
The view from the campsite.
A good mate had once mentioned to me about these hot springs on the banks of a river, and after a fair bit of searching we found them. It was truly idyllic lying in scalding hot water on the sides of a river in heavy flow staring up at the stars. Very much befitting of a night spent at a Hilton.
The next morning saw us prospecting up the lower reaches of a fairly well known river. Isaac got a strike early on, but failed to hook up. Further up the stream we saw a nice fish feeding in a run. I believe I threw every single fly in my box at it over the course of an hour. Yet it simply continued to feed. Due to the currents in the pool I’m not actually convinced the fish saw my fly. However, it couldn’t help but see the 10cm long streamer I threw at it next.
Protein bars for trout.
The first fish of the season.
We headed further upstream and saw some fantastic water and a few more fish, but sadly couldn’t hook anything else.
Picture perfect pool
After getting bluffed we returned to the car for some refuelling.
Isaac really went to town on that orange.
On our way home we decided to have a flick in a very high and dirty river. I decided to go bling with my big gold beaded stonefly pattern (I’m actually quite taken with this pattern, so will probably post a picture of it at some stage) while Isaac was going to dredge the depths with his homemade 5wt shooting head. I think I’d made maybe 3 casts before I hooked a very well conditioned wee brownie.
Another brownie on a big gold beadhead.
After this Isaac got a few strikes and a couple of hookups, but sadly nothing stuck. It was a fairly tough day as far as the fishing went, but just so good to be out there again. I remember saying to someone before the weekend ‘Search out stable water. Some rivers fish better high. Big flies. Bling flies. Streamers.’ Turned out to be a bit prophetic really.
Heading out Wednesday and Friday with Andrew again in search of some big fish now that the open season jitters are behind us. How’d your opening weekend go? Leave a comment and let me know.