Andrew Hearne – Against all odds – part 2 of the epic week
Sometimes, things aren’t all plain sailing. Usually when I have plenty of time to go fishing the weather doesn’t do me any favours. Earlier this week was no exception.
Robert Hakkanson hails from Sweden, he has been religiously following the Riverworks Lifestyle blog since its inception. Robert is a super keen fly fisherman and has been in regular contact with both Jack and I for the past few months while he hasbeen preparing for his trip of a lifetime.
Last week he landed in Christchurch for his long awaited trip to New Zealand.
Jack and I were half way through a feed of burgers and chips on the way back home from our trip with Tony and Mike when Robert called my cell phone. He had been fishing already and had a great time by the sound of what he was saying.
I told him I would need to get home and make an evaluation before I knew where we were at and then get back to him. I didn’t like what I saw when I looked at the forecast, it looked pretty bad everywhere. I decided we would need to venture further than normal to give us a chance, so I called Robert and let him know what the rough plan was.
We left on Monday afternoon, so we would be in the right place for an early start on Tuesday. It rained solidly for the entire drive, it was more than a little concerning that the rivers we were passing had as much water in them as I had ever seen before. There was more than one occasion I thought about turning back for home, but I figured we might as well give it a shot. I didn’t have anything else to do and neither did Robert.
We nearly missed out at the back packers that night, because they were pretty well full due to road closures. What a disaster that would have been. However, we squeezed in to a room (One with two beds) and awoke early the next morning ready to go.
The plan was to drive as far as we could, then walk the rest of the way to what I hoped would be water that was fishable. I was both surprised and disappointed to find the road had disappeared a short way into the journey, the river had washed it away. We were going to be walking further than I thought.
We stopped along the way briefly and managed to find a Brown for Robert to fish to. He tried a couple of different flies before I tied on a whopping big stonefly. The fish seemed to like it and grabbed it on the first drift. Robert hooked it briefly before it became unhitched. Not a bad start, but it could have been better!
A couple of hours later we arrived to a very full, dirty river. At that point I told Robert we had to catch one. We couldn’t walk all that way for nothing!
We walked up for a bit before dropping into a pool where I hoped to find a fish. Eventually I found one, right near the edge off the bank we stood on. Robert generously offered me the chance to catch it, since he had already hooked one on the way there. I used his rod, because it was better set up for this situation. I attached a brown stonefly and waited for the fish to get into position. Robert was on station with the camera and filming as I poked the rod through the bushes and flicked the leader out. I was so close that there was less than a rod length protruding from the tip.
The fish saw the stonefly and made its way over, I watched from right above as it opened its mouth over the fly and I set the hook. The fish bolted downstream and I had to quickly thread the rod through a series of bushes until I was in the clear and able to follow the fish properly. Robert followed behind and filmed what he could. We got to the bottom of the pool and it was all good until I took my net from the back of my vest and realised it wasn’t quite right. I’d tied a knot in it to stop it from getting caught in everything during the walk, but forgot to undo it until now…
Robert came to the rescue, he came rushing out from behind the camera with another net, and we were back in business.
That was a great start. We had one to the bank. Whatever happened after that didn’t matter so much.
We had to walk for a while before we found another couple of fish. They were feeding very close together on the edge of a long run. The fish were easy enough to see initially in the sunlit river, but a small patch of cloud covered the sun for a time and made things slightly more difficult.
Robert crossed over armed with a couple of secret weapons. The first one didn’t work, but the second one did the trick. I nearly blew a vocal cord calling the strike when the fish took. I was stoked to see Robert connected to the brown, and he was even happier.
I charged across and helped him out with the net. It was the same size as my fish, but cleaner looking. The photo shoot then took place before the fish slipped through Roberts’s fingers and back home.
After we finished up with Robert’s fish we saw that the other one was still in position. Again I borrowed Robert’s rod and set about presenting a nymph. Secret weapon number two didn’t work on this one, so I changed to the very sophisticated pattern known as a Bead head Hare and Copper. The fish liked this fly and took it as soon as it hit the zone. I set the hook and the dog fight began.
The fish kept deep for a lot of the time and the leader came pretty close to some big rocks on a few occasions, but I managed to keep it clear and the fish finished up in the net. That made three out of three from the river so far. This day was getting better and better!
The river was clearing quite quickly throughout the day and the fish became tougher to catch. We fished to a couple for quite a while with no result, and another was hooked and lost.
Robert did well to spot a fish in a side braid when it lifted in the water column. He threw a caddis nymph at it and got a result straight away.
It was a great looking fish, and Robert got this one all by himself. It was a very good effort from him.
We arrived at a nicely structured run and found a fish feeding well in shallow water on the near edge. It looked like a sitter at the start, but after about half a dozen fly changes I was beginning to wonder.
In the end I fired a Royal Wulff into it’s feeding lane and the fish had half a look. I tried again and this time the fish nosed the fly for what seemed like forever before slowly breaking the surface and taking the fly. I waited, and waited, then set the hook. Sadly the fish made it into the fast water below me and the weight of the current was too much. The fish was free…
As we walked along the run I saw a fish very briefly in heavy water near the centre of the river. This fish was for Robert. He tried a couple of different flies without success, I had the feeling they weren’t heavy enough to get the job done. Secret weapon number two was attached and it did the trick. Robert hooked up solidly, but when he was moving along the rocks he stumbled and jerked the rod, just enough to snap the tippet. Bummer…
We were already past our agreed turn – around time for the day, but I wanted to look in a big pool I knew wasn’t too far away. When we got there we immediately saw three fish. One was close, one centre pool, and one on the far side.
Robert went across to the one on the far side, while I tried for the one which was closest. To cut a long story short, after a lot of casting with different stuff, I tied on the whopper stonefly from earlier in the day and threw it in front of the fish. Straight away it moved over and took the nymph, I struck, hooked the fish, and lost it. Then I lost it myself. A barrage of terrible words flowed from my mouth, welcome to NZ Robert.
As always, there always has to be one last fish. In this case, I found one not too far upstream and spent a few minutes on it. It took a few different flies, but it ended up taking… secret weapon number two!
It was another great fish and gave a good fight. It was a perfect way to end the day.
It was a very long walk back to the car after that, more than three hours in fact. It felt like longer…
That night we had a grand feed and a couple of beers, and stayed at the same place as the night before. The next morning we hoped to fish for a while before returning home, but the weather came in hard and stopped us from doing that.
As it turned out, the Tuesday was the only window for us to get out in a patch of crap weather. We put in a lot of leg work, and got the reward. We couldn’t help but feel it was one out of the bag.
Thanks Robert for a great day out. It was a pleasure to fish with you.