The time had come to get my father (Ian) and my father in law (Bruce) out for their first ever back country experience, with the goal of getting Bruce onto his first trout on the fly rod.
As usual we had more gear and food than we needed, and the packs were full to the brim. After a short walk into the hut for the night, hamburgers were cooked, and a cold beer was enjoyed. We thought we had the hut to ourselves, but shortly after dinner, 4 young hunters turned up to keep us company. It’s always amazing who you meet in back country huts, and adds to the experience!
Morning arrived, and bacon and eggs were washed down by a welcome cup of coffee. We setup the rods, donned the boots, packed the lunch and we were off. There was a very quick introductory lesson riverside for Bruce on how to cast, of which he picked up the basics quickly. Unfortunately, there were very fresh footprints along the edge of the river, which resulted in fish being a lot more difficult to catch, and very few out in the shallows and on the edges feeding than had been hoped for. My prediction was that the water was fished the day before. I find the trick here is to fish the side that’s not always the easiest, and was probably passed by as being too difficult by the angler/s the day before. Another tip I find useful, is to fish heavier flies than normal and fish all the deep holes and areas where fish could be sitting, but are hard to spot and could be missed.
After sneaking in a couple of fish myself, and Bruce losing a few for various reasons, he eventually got one to the net, and got the official “grip and grin” photo to prove it. Mission was accomplished!
Being a relatively experienced angler myself, you sometimes overlook the basic things, the things you take for granted, and I got re-reminded of some of these with having someone alongside on their first time, and could be useful if you are just starting out:
1- Fly reels are not free spooling like a spinning reel. If the fish wants to run or jump, you need to let go of that reel handle asap!
2- After you have made your cast, keep your rod tip low, and make sure you pull in all that slack line. If you have too much slack line, when the fish takes, and your indicator stops, or your dry has been swallowed, you need to strike. If you strike with lots of slack line, chances are you won’t be in touch with the fish, and there’s a high chance he’ll get off.
3- Keep the length of your casts short when starting out. Keeping low, and sneaking up behind fish slowly, you’ll be surprised how close you can actually get before spooking them. Shorter casts can be easier to fire out accurately, and will be less affected by the wind etc.
4- Keep your rod tip high when playing a fish, especially if there are bigger rocks / boulders in the river. This will help avoid losing a fish when he swims around one, then makes a run for it, ending up in a bust off.
All the best out there, and tight lines.
Photo credits: Ian Poulter