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Ronan's report

Wednesday 16th, November 2011

I'm sitting here in Christchurch writing this FP in the sun which feels a lot warmer than it was last week while fishing with Jack.. A night sleeping in the truck was warm and toasty before Jack banged on the back window at 4 something AM. With a couple of hours driving ahead of us a quick stop at the garage for a kiwi breakfast, hot pastry based foods were purchased and we cruised out of town on the empty roads and headed for he hills.

As we got closer to the range the cloud filled the blue gaps in the sky and when we arrived at the car park the temperature had dropped considerably. As I donned my tights and shorts (the classic kiwi wetwading outfit) it felt like a day's pike fishing at home that would have warranted many layers of fleece and goretex. The snowline was very apparent sitting only a few hundred feet above us and the morning drizzle was a degree or two away from sleet.

The walk started with my first encounter with a very basic and rather narrow swing bridge and as I shimmed across on my forearms I had to counteract Jack's presence who was busy making wirey waves ahead of me. The bush quickly broke through into beech forest that felt quite eerie in the still morning air. It took us an hour or so to reach the river and we found it carrying a tinge of colour, though still very clear. The first fish was spotted in a tasty back eddy and was the biggest Brown I had ever seen.

We never spoke about size until Jack had finished harassing it with a drawn out display of his entire fly box. It was just not in the mood for any of jacks nonsense so we left him for next time. A few more fish were spotted in the gorge as we moved up the river though they were lying deep in the pools. Blind casting nymphs didn't move them so we moved on instead. My next shot was a fish that Jack spotted through the bank side vegetation. Good job he did cause my inexperienced eyes took a while to spot it even with Jack's finger pointing directly at it.

The fish was laying at the back of a smooth run only 30ft away from a rather badly placed set of rapids leading straight down the to the gorge. I got in the water about 28ft behind the fish and few feet from the fast, boiling water behind me. A couple of numb handed casts landed short but with Jack above the fish, instructions were shouted from the bushes. The next cast landed the dry/nymph combo right in the seam and the black foam humpy blow fly slid under and 'STRIKE' bellowed from the bush. I hooked up pleading that the fish would run upstream but even slack line (as I fell of a rock) didn't convince him. I regained composure and control just as the fish got to the first "bulge" of water in front of the start of the rapids. With my hope pinned on the hook hold and my knots I gave it all I had. With the cork bent over the fish sat in the clear water a foot above the crashing rapids. Jacks ran down and leaped into the water and as I laid the rod over the fish thumped across the current and straight into the net!

With whoops of elation echoing down the valley the cold rain became warm as the adrenaline pumped. It was a great looking fish and my biggest brown EVER! Not a huge NZ fish by any means but at 6lb spotted beauty and my PB brown! The warmth didn't last too long as the rain got heavier and the winds picked up. Jack had forgotten his WW tights and looked very out of place in just boots and board shorts. We hit a few more pools further up but as the weather really turned we decided to head back before the streams we had crossed became torrents.

It was a long walk back to the car and by the time we got there we were both shivering and cold to the bone. The only saving grace was the mammoth sandwiches we had made the night before. Pizza bread as big as your head filled with salami and brie, it tasted sooo goood!

I spent the afternoon and evening trying to get warm, not even two sleeping bags seems to warm my insides. Jack left me snoozing in the truck as he had a hot date to take to a "German Sparkle Party"... I have never been so cold, I have never been so happy to be in two sleeping bags but that night, the memory of that fish was a warm fire deep inside...


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