Andrew Hearne – Making the most of it
Here we go again… another trip report! I nearly feel guilty for the amount of fishing I have done recently, but only until I remind myself that I’m back to work on Monday. It’s a tough life.
After Robert and I finished fishing together he was planning to head further south in search of better weather. As it turned out, I managed an extra day out fishing with him before he left.
We set off early in the morning as per normal and drifted our way towards some water, hoping we could find some that was fishable. After the recent rainfall I didn’t know quite what we would find. I figured that anything would be better than nothing.
Robert, like many others do, came to New Zealand with the dream of catching big trout. He was lucky enough to catch one on his first day out which eclipsed his previous personal best, a fantastic beginning to his stay.
When I learned of his fish I told him he was very lucky to have caught one that big and he might be hard pressed to beat that during the remainder of his time here. He told me he didn’t mind. He was pleased just to have caught that fish. I admired the fact he was contempt with the fact he had already achieved his goal and intended to just enjoy the rest of his time here.
After driving for a while we came to a piece of water which although slightly high, was very fishable. We unpacked and set off for the day, not knowing what to expect.
Spotting was rather difficult due to a combination dirty water and glare, so we had to blind fish for a bit. No fish were found in the first two or three runs, but the next run provided the first piece of action for the day. I hooked a fish in the outside edge at the top of the run. It was a great place for a fish to hold, it was slightly deeper, had enough current to bring plenty of food through, and the fish wouldn’t need to work too hard to remain on station.
The fish never did anything spectacular while on the line, but it still managed to make its way to near the bottom of the run before I managed to net it.
It was a bit lean, but a nice fish regardless.
Robert had a couple of opportunities further upstream, but unfortunately the fish won both times. We had walked a long way for only three fish seen. I hoped we would find more before time ran out.
We came to the end of the beat where there is a very likely piece of water and I asked Robert if he wanted to fish it blind since we couldn’t see any fish. He told me to do it, so I set about covering the water as best I could.
I fished right into the top of the run, even further than I usually would. Just as the fly was drifting back through a fish lifted right near the top and I lifted the rod to feel solid weight. It was a bit chaotic to begin with, but I soon managed to get control of the situation and after a decent struggle with several bursts into the middle of the river, the fish was safely netted.
This one was a bit bigger than the first.
I have to say, I thought I had covered the water where the fish would be holding well before I got this take. I guess you learn all the time…
After that I suggested to Robert we go and check out a place I had found a fish on a previous occasion. As I suspected, he was keen. I explained that it was a bit of a long shot, because I had only ever seen a fish there once before.
It took a while to get there, but we made it eventually. I snuck along the bank behind the vegetation, using the height to my advantage. I spotted a rather large grey shape near our side. It looked pretty big, but the wind prevented me from seeing it clearly to start with. I told Robert to stay put, while I crept closer for a better look. When I got close enough, I could see it had a tail. Last time I checked rocks don’t come with tails, so I was reasonably sure it was indeed the target species.
A quick team talk then took place in the safety zone, where I suggested that Robert change things up a bit for this fish. As he was doing so he enquired how big the fish was. I felt this was one of those “need to know basis” occasions, I told him it was quite a nice fish. I didn’t lie to him, but this was a rather toned down version of what I was thinking inside my head at the time. I didn’t want to inject him with buck fever at this stage of the game…
The plan was that he would sneak back around a bush and down onto a grassy knob which he would then use as a casting platform. Robert moved into position and I was relieved to hear he could see the fish from where he knelt. That was one less thing to worry about.
Despite the strong headwind, his first cast fell true, as did the second, third, and fourth. They were perfectly positioned, but the fish wasn’t interested in the green caddis. I called a time out, and went to see Robert. I clipped off the caddis and replaced it with a dirty big brown stonefly nymph.
I could see well enough from my new position, so I stayed put while Robert continued casting. The first couple of presentations weren’t quite right and the fish didn’t move. The third one went further up and slightly to the left of the fish, Robert said to me at that time he thought the next one should go further over, just as he finished the sentence I saw the fish move positively to the left and gave my reply of “I don’t think you’ll need to” as the indicator dipped. Robert saw the same as me and ripped the hook home. There was a brief congratulation from me before my tone changed and I screamed at him to get across to the other side of the river. There was some nasty stuff on our side and he needed to be across the river to pull the fish free if it went for the gnarlyness beneath.
The fish ended up at the tail of the pool and caught up in some fast water which pulled it downstream even further. I followed in hot pursuit if Robert and his fish, eventually smashing my way across. When I lifted the net and Robert’s fish was inside, I screamed triumphantly as if it were my own. That was followed by a high five of mammoth proportions and general celebration.
Although I wouldn’t tell him at the time, I knew from the moment I saw this fish in the water it was bigger than what Robert had already caught. I wasn’t wrong. Robert was literally shaking as he looked at his prize, and the excitement on his face was priceless. I felt very privileged to be there for his special moment.
After the photographs were taken the fish was released to swim away into the current strongly. This was a cool thing that had just happened, very cool.
We walked back to where the rest of our gear was up on the bank and Robert decided he would leave it at that for the day, a perfect finish.
Just as we collected the gear I looked down through the wind ruffled surface into the top of the run and spotted another fish feeding in front of a large rock. Without even speaking, Robert handed me his rod and motioned me towards the river. I set off for my casting position while Robert set up his camera to film me as I fished.
I crept to the downstream side of the rock, and peeked out to the side where I could see the shape in the water. I was very close, but needed to be because of the obstruction.
The first cast into the wind was too short, as was the second. I added some extra spice to the third one and it fell where I wanted it to. I was very confident this would be the one… I wasn’t at all disappointed. The fish grabbed the stonefly as soon as it saw it and I was on. The fish didn’t muck around at all as it shot straight downstream and out of the pool into the fast water, with me following it as fast as possible.
I caught up to the fish in the fast water, and went toe to toe with it for a while until I was able to slip the net over its head.
This one was pretty big too.
After the pictures were taken the fish took off savagely into the distance. The perfect finish to the day had become even more perfect. What a great day. I doubt I’ll have another one like this for a while.
I’m back to work tomorrow for a few days then I have some bits and pieces to attend to over the next couple of weeks. Hopefully I’ll manage a day or two of fishing if I get the time. Here’s hoping I do…
Until next time… Tight lines all!