Recently I was blessed to spend 5 days fishing in the North Island backcountry with my good mate Benry. It was a bucket list trip to a river that starts with M, or was it N, actually maybe it was O, shit I can’t remember the name…funny that. This was a particularly significant trip as Benry is having a baby, well to be more precise it’s actually his infinitely better half having the baby. We decided to sneak in one last big trip and give the new Scott Centric's a bit of a run in the backcountry.
The nameless river was enchanting, remote, crystal clear and full of small rainbows averaging 5.5-6lbs. Classic deep pools, fast runs with banks lined by native bush. Although this river hasn’t received much pressure in recent times the fish were tough, it’s their prerogative to be dicks when they feel like it so nearly all of them were holding deep in the pools. I guess it was still relatively early in the season.
If you didn’t make that first shot count, the fish would snub all offerings. They’d continue to go about their business like you weren’t there, they were giving us the middle finger! Unfortunately the box of flies I tied for the trip was largely useless! Most of my fishing has been in the South Island until recently, and my box reflected this. Nymphs and wets from 10-16 both weighted and unweighted with the largest tungsten bead being 4mm.
We had to resort to the big swift deep water rigs more commonly employed in the central north. A wool indicator down to a sacrificial bomb followed by a smaller trailing fly. Those that know me can attest to how much I love this style of fishing, but it got the job done. I had to pilfer quite a few of Benry’s Simon’s Uglies as this seemed to be the fly of the trip. The slim profile double tungsten bead and rubber legs make this fly so deadly. More fish fell to Benry’s beautiful rendition of an ugly than the trailing naturals.
It was only fitting that I got to net the largest fish of the trip for Benry. A big girl weighing in at just 12lbs shy of 20lbs. This fish had shoulders, thank god he thought he was connected to a tough 4lbr! It took him down a rapid after yours truly suggested putting some downstream pressure on her to keep the fish in the pool. He didn’t need to take my advice and probably shouldn’t have. The fish took it as a signal to fly down the rapid we were trying to avoid.
This led to Benry sprinting downstream trying to keep a short line, me alongside, rock hopping like Nureyev having forgotten about my earlier back injury. Thankfully Ben still thought he was attached to a feisty 4lbr, she was downstream of him in swift water. There was a raging tail out below and no way of us following any further! I was telling him to walk backwards and put some muscle into it, he did, pulling her up current and I managed a decent net shot for once.
Holding up the net, the first words that escaped my mouth were “my arse 4lbs.” I think we were both grinning from ear to ear for the rest of the day. That evening we celebrated our day over a small batch bourbon sitting around a camp fire. This was about as good as it gets, a trip that I will reflect on often over the years.
I can’t wait for the next trip with one of my closest mates. Trout fishing takes us to some pretty amazing places, I’m glad trout choose to live in these spots. It’s the company and surroundings we find ourselves in that make these memories so significant. Getting away from all the daily noise and distractions. It’s the small details, like the smell of the bush, the sounds of the stream, looking at a mesmerising fire whilst sipping a neat bourbon.
Life is good and I wish I was there right now...