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Ronan's report

Thursday 8th January, 2009

After catching my Biggest Fush on Christmas Day I decided to head home early. The day was probably only going to go downhill after that and it seemed like a good idea to end on a high note. There's nothing like adverse fishing in the second part of a day to make you forget good fishing in the first part. I decided to swing by a river to see if it had cleared much after flooding some days earlier.

The river was surprisingly clear, although quite a deep blue colour. There was still a lot of water in it and the fish holding spots I knew of were much too fast. I spotted a small backwater in the distance, and as I got closer I realised there was a pretty decent fish in it. My first instinct was to bolt back to the car for my gear, I actually tensed up ready to spring vehicle-wards. I was feeling at peace with the world after catching my bug fush though. There was a guy fishing the other side of the river, in a rather unlikely spot given the flow of the river and the fact that experience tells me there are very rarely fish there anyway. In the spirit of Christmas I yelled out to him to come and see the fish.

I had an idea he was a tourist from the dinky little car they were driving, obviously a rental. He was German and he and his wife were over for their first NZ fishing trip. It was only the second day, and he was pretty excited to see such a big fish. We watched it for a while and it was both rising and taking nymphs. He was surprised a fish like that would be in such a small backwater, not the sort of place he would have looked, but it was pretty good water. There was the potential for lots of food coming in and excellent cover close to hand, as we were soon to discover.

We talked a bit about how he might rig up. He only had leaders with 6 lb breaking strain, and I offered him a stronger one of mine, though he didn't take it. I've had recent experience of 6.5 lb tippet breaking in this river. The fish probably start at around 6 lb and head up to double figures. I'd figured 6 lb should be enough even for larger fish. What I hadn't accounted for was the strong flow of the river. When the fish gets out to the main current it can just sit there as dead weight, and 6 lb isn't up to the job of getting them under control. Someone kindly clued me in to using stronger tippet, with 8 lb minimum (it still gets broken) and ideally 10 lb. In this case it was a little way to the main braid of the river so I suggested that he just try and get it to the net quickly.

We also had a look at flies. He was a bit taken aback when I suggested a CDC emerger, which to me was quite large at about size 10. I'd seen the fish take a few things off the surface and the backwater was very smooth, so I figured the emerger could be the way to go. He was thinking more along the lines of a Woolly Bugger. Apparently in Germany once browns get to a certain size they start to eat small fish almost exclusively, with I've since read about. Big browns in NZ seem to stay much more omnivorous. You'd certainly catch them on streamers, but my two largest were caught on a size 14 nymph and size 10 dry. I just didn't think the backwater suited fishing a streamer. I think the splash of it could have spooked the fish which must have been quite wary in a relatively exposed situation. A delicate dry presentation seemed more suitable.

Just before he got in place I asked if he minded if I took some pictures. It was a great opportunity to get something for a POD, which for me is the trickiest part of doing FPs. I snuck up to a good position, still some distance from the fish. As you can see from the photos, I was shooting through the weeds. I was also trying to keep a low profile and not make any sudden movements.

Somehow the fish must have seen me. It didn't dart away suddenly, but it calmly carried on around the pool and then smoothly in under the concrete blocks. I couldn't believe it! I knew in a situation like that it would be wary, but even so. We waited for some time but it didnt come back out. I felt pretty bad to have spooked the fish, but the guy was very kind about it. I think he was quite happy just to see a fish like that. He reckoned he was too young to catch the fish of a lifetime, but I hope he and his wife have caught several as they've continued on their trip.


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