It was towards the end of our first week of our trip, the weather had blown us off the coast, a real shame as the fish were all fat with mice and rats. Everything was flooding, the rivers that weren't filthy yet would be soon.
We had spent a night playing pool at the Haast pub and enjoying steak egg and chips. The next day saw us head over the divide and out of the rain, into some beautiful water around the Central Otago lakes. Glendhu Bay really caught our eye, the lake edge was magnificently clear, from the road we had seen several trout working a beat.
The truck was safely parked in the shade under a tree. The Zeebec inflatable was off the roof and on the water with the motor running smoothly. We headed back to the edge we had spied from the road. Having spent many days in wind and rain it was a real treat to be in sunshine. It was actually hot.
What we had thought would be easy prey turned out to be some pretty smart fish! The first 6 or 7 fish had spooked, either by our footfalls on leaving the boat, or from our casts as line and water met. It was proving to be a real challenge to lay down a cast anywhere near a fish, as the lake was like a sheet of glass.
I didn't give Roan much chance of hooking in to the fish. It had refused me several times and although still on its beat was somewhat twitchy and spooky. He had seen the fish and the direction it was taking, and chose to put down a cast many metres ahead of where the fish was. The nymph had settled in to the sediment well before the trout arrived. All it took was a small movement of the wrist to give the nymph a natural look and my “spooky trout” came in for the take!! Hmmmm, whats that about age and wisdom??
Although not a big fish the brown put up a respectable show. Taking several runs which had the reel fair singing. After 4 or 5 minutes the fish was to the bank. The look on the big guys face as he gently cradled the brown was that of a proud father, I couldn't help but notice the sparkle in his eye that came from catching a fish that I had so clearly missed. We had a fantastic afternoon in the sun, both burnt by the big yellow orb as it beat down upon us. We got another touch or two… but Roans fish was the catch of the day.
A few days later on found us in the Waitaki valley, we had seen a lot of miles, fished to a lot of fish.. even landed a few. Today was about a relaxed pace, no route marches and sore feet!! We had even stopped off for an ice cream to knock the edge off the 28degrees celcius we found ourselves sweltering in at the Kurow dairy.
Roan has fished the area a lot, theres a lot of good water around the Waitaki valley. This particular pool is just off the main river. We quietly stepped to the edge of the cliff to look down onto the pool. “Buggar”…. I bit back on a few more choice words as we looked down on the heads of two spin-fishermen in our spot.
Funny how we think that way isn't it!? I mean its not “our river” theres plenty of room, but, we had fished this one before and have come to think of it as “ours”. Anyway, as we looked down we saw these two chaps were spin fishing the main river, with their backs to “our pool”.
“Look there!!” we both exclaimed as one. Two trout working a beat in the pool right behind these two guys! They couldn't have been more than 10 feet away from the fish.
Not being the shy type, I tied on my favourite nymph pattern…. “The Hollandaise.” ( I reckon it's just the sauce!) Really gets the trout to swing to the hook… a beautiful stonefly imitation, around a size 10. The splash it makes as it hits the water is something to behold! But, it works for me. I put down my first cast as I simultaneously asked permission to do so from the two gents below. A bit cheeky to fish at their feet, but hey…. they were facing, and fishing, the other way!
The cast is a bit of a challenge from where we stood. You see, the cliff stands about 7 metres above the pool… so to cast you have to strip off a fair bit of line just to get down that far, and then allow for the distance out to the fish.
The first cast was just a tad short. By now I had the attention of one of the two anglers standing below, I think he was a little taken back at the sight of me on-high casting into the space at his feet. He good humouredly offered up a word of enquiry as to my endeavours, and Roan and I told him what we were on to.
My next cast was on the money. As the nymph sank the Rainbow turned to the fly and we watched as he opened wide and inhaled the nymph! Well, the fight was on. The fish quickly ran for the deep water…. of course, being directly above the fish, I could see every move it made. The fight lasted 4 or 5 minutes and then the feisty Rainbow started to tire.
The commentary had been fun, our two friends below were wondering how we planned to land this fish from the top of a seven metre sheer cliff. Much laughter and kidding around made for a very pleasant bit of angling. The fish was about done, Roan took off for the track down to the pool, and some 5 minutes later appeared “down below” beside our two friends.
Now, the plan was for me to throw my rod across the pool to Roan who would catch the Sage in mid-flight whilst delicately pirouetting in the shallow water so he wouldn't have to get too wet.( he used to be a ballerina you know)
You see, Roan was feeling a little nervous about catching the rod.Now, I had offered to go to the foot of the cliff and have him throw the rod down to me…….. after all, it was my fish. But, we had done something like this last season…. I had thrown my rod across a river for him to catch so I could swim back unhindered…. you guessed it, he missed!!! The Sage( only worth around $1200) had flown past him and smashed into the rocks, also wrecking one $250 reel, and rendering the rod useless. As long as he doesn't consider a career in the outfield for cricket he'll be fine. Back to the cliff……….
Roan is at the bottom, I'm at the top. Once he had stripped down to polyprop leggings and vest I let sail with a throw that would do Sir Richard Hadlee proud!! Roan may have gotten a little wet in swimming out to the rod… but heck, it was a hot day, and I had offered to do the swimming!! Now it was his turn! Tag team fishing!!! Theres nothing like it.
The pool had become quite muddy by now with Roan splashing around like a land locked Sea lion. Our new mates were having a great old laugh at one of the more extreme bits of fishing they had ever seen. The fish came to the net at 4 pound, a beautiful rainbow hen.
We got to yarning after the event, I was wearing my favourite “Complete Angler” cap on the day, it turns out that one of the two gents was the father of Barry who works at the shop that's like a black hole to most of my discretionary income. Funny who you run in to on a river eh? My only advise re throwing a $1200 rod is this….. be sure of who's catching it!!