I think it is fair to say this hasn’t been a typical fly-fishing season for me, with less days had out on the water than I am used to. This was due to one thing or another getting in the way along with being a father of two has taken up a lot of my spare time. However on the occasions I did to get out I experienced quality fishing which was nice. My season this far has been made up of some local fishing along with a few trips further afield to the Central North Island with the likes of the Tongariro and Lake Otamangakau. Back in November Karl Frederick Sawyer, Tarn Mack-McEwen and I had a long awaited two day back country trip planned but unfortunately we had to cancel this due to unsuitable weather conditions. I am yet to make it into the back country this season and unfortunately due to everything that’s going on right now it’s looking like I won’t make it there which is very rare for me.
On the upside the highlight from my season would have to be when long-time friend and fly fishing enthusiast Mr Wayne Barnes joined me for a days fishing on my local waters in October last year. Wayne has visited me at home before but that was some years ago now. On that occasion we were unsuccessful in connecting him with his first trout from my home waters. This time round we were better prepared and both were looking forward to sharing a day on the river and the possibility of catching a fish or two.
Plan in place we headed out for a full day of angling, opting to take two vehicles and leaving one at the top of the beat to save the long walk back. I think it’s fair to say that the region would probably consistently have the most physically demanding wading you will find anywhere. Which Wayne found out instantly, later displaying some beautiful bail outs on the slippery rocks that looked like dance moves to me!
To my surprise we arrived to find that the stream was running at higher than normal flows and the water was coffee coloured. This would mean that sight fishing was going to be limited to non-existent and these conditions would make for a challenging day. Early on I did catch a fish that was spotted from the edge but that was it, the rest of the time the river demanded blind fishing due to the lack of visibility in the water. I stood back while Wayne fished, pool after pool of likely water. Late morning Wayne hooked up to what looked to be a solid fish, unfortunately the fish was lost mid battle. The day grew older and by now we had covered a lot of ground, the goal of Wayne catching a local fish seemed somewhat out of reach now. With the day all but over we decided we would fish a few more pools before pulling out of the river and returning to the car. The next pool up was a real sexy number but just as appealing as many of the other pools already fished. Still blind due to the coloured water, Wayne prospected away thoroughly at all the likely spots. All but done, I mentioned to Wayne that there was still a sweet a spot/lie left untouched and suggested that he put a drift through there. Well he did and Wayne went on to hook and land a cracking fish from this piece final piece of water.
This day was to be a classic fly-fishing roller-coaster ride of emotions with the highs and lows experienced throughout the day. The conditions proved to be tough however perseverance along with local knowledge paid off in the end this time. We couldn’t have finished the day on a better note than with a fish. It may be hard to picture this with all the huge mouse fish popping up on social media this season however the size of the fish Wayne caught on this day is what I consider to be a trophy trout from these waters, relative to its habitat. As a local, I know these don’t come easy which made this extra special. Given the conditions and unfamiliar territory I think Wayne fished really well and for Wayne to nail one of these beauties was really the icing on the cake to what was a challenging but rewarding day at the same time. All though catching many fish is nice, I think one can learn and take away a lot more from a challenging days fly fishing where one works hard for their fish they catch as opposed to a day where many fish are caught relatively easily. I often find these experience’s more satisfying and this day was a classic example of that.
After exiting the stream we made our way back to the vehicle, buzzing on the day we had. I started to think of the whereabouts of the keys for my vehicle then instantly I was hit with a sinking feeling as I remembered leaving them in Wayne’s vehicle! The thought of having to walk all of those kilometres downstream was a little overwhelming. Luckily our buddy Curly happened to live nearby and answered his phone, thankfully rescuing us from the grueling walk back.
Phew, cheers Curly!