Tony Ling is a regular client of Latitude Guiding's, Mike Kirkpatrick, and his last trip here was a cracker by all accounts. He's even taken the time to send us his account of the trip and the gear he was using and for that we thank him!
Mike is just a spot in the distance. He has gone to retrieve his camera. Left behind with our gear when things got serious. I glance at my watch. 3.20pm. We’ve battled the magnificent trophy trout that lies in the net recovering at my feet for well over ten minutes. Hooked 400 yards or more upstream from where we landed him, he has tried every trick in the book but we’ve triumphed. It’s a big, open fast flowing river and he has used his weight and power, bored for trees and rocks, dragged us down through rapids and runs until our mouths were dry. Twice he just evaded the net and to the very end defiantly kept us at bay. You could almost see his contempt for us, and his anger, as we finally managed to beach him. There could scarcely have been a more fitting battle for such a fish - 10 3/4 lbs of the most wonderfully conditioned wild brownie that you could ever imagine. A fish to make dreams come true, and a fitting end to a truly memorable 8 days. I hold him in the net, gazing at him and trying to take it all in. I’m overawed by the moment, the luck and the privilege to be able to admire such a fish and raise him briefly for the camera. The smile on my face in the photos only begins to tell the story of how I felt. A man couldn’t be more at peace and I will never forget the sight of that mighty fish sliding majestically back into his river as I silently said goodbye.
I never thought we wouldn’t land that fish and in large part that’s due to the confidence that I had in the tackle I was using. Mikes Scott Radian 5wt is simply the finest rod I’ve ever used with a smooth fast action and the strength and power to overcome fish of a lifetime. I’m getting one. The Lamson reel attached is so light that it’s barely noticeable, but has a drag to die for and meant that fish was never going to bust off.
Mike’s unique 20ft leader rig meant that we were able to successfully get spooky fish in low water to take time and time again. The star of the show however could well be the amazing Trout Hunter fluorocarbon tippet. Countless times we would land fish from seemingly impossible positions, even pulling them out of underwater caves backwards on 5x! Hard to believe but true, the tippet was often badly abraided but intact on landing big fish from rugged environs. I’ve never used fluoro as strong and abrasion resistant and it meant that we could adopt a no holds barred approach to playing a succession of incredible fish.
Mike Kirkpatrick is a phenomenal guide, truly world class, and his tackle is the best I’ve used and perfect harmony. With his rigs, advice and no small amount of luck we managed to land nearly 40 fish in eight days with many of them world class. We lost count of the number of 6 and 7lbers, a few 8–9lb, and ended the trip with the spectacular trophy recounted above. The quality of the fish and the battles they gave us was something extraordinary. This was my fourth trip to New Zealand and it was simply on another level from anything I’ve experienced before. I just can’t wait to come back!