Eight most deeply etched memories of the season past

Why eight? Well I tried to keep it down to seven to remain in keeping with the other “Magnificent Seven” post, but couldn’t bring myself to leave out the tale of brutality that is number eight, as I felt his plight needed to be heard (as does my confession). Anyway, without further ado, here they are….


8. The unfortunate flying fish

There he was, a reasonable specimen of 3-4lbs in the gorge down below, my last chance on what had so far been a trying one fish day. He was in a tough spot just in front of a large boulder in deep water. As he rose (nearly two metres) to take my cicada, I struck hard and continued to apply force in the hope of bossing him across to my side of the boulder. This resulted in him maintaining momentum and being launched—oh the horror!—a good three metres out of the water, gliding past my face where we our eyes briefly met, before hitting the rocks below with a cringe-inducing slap! To make things worse, the impact freed the hook and he drifted off downriver. It was something of a redemption to see an identical fish back in the exact same spot a couple of days later, so possibly he survived. No, I didn’t make a cast, I kept on walking.

541Taken minutes before “lift off”


7. Stygian gear failure

Well yes, I’ve lost plenty of fish this season, but this one was particularly traumatic. There he was, a leader length away, rising to the surface—near spent. The best specimen I’d hooked into in weeks, but then ping! Hook busted, fish swept away down into an unnavigable mess of white water. Wilsonnnn!!!!!!! But unlike Tom Hanks’ character, I managed exercise just enough restraint to stop myself diving in after him. Perhaps if I’d had a raft….

082A confidence-robbing failure


6. Frantic exit of a trackless valley with a rising river

Moments after I’d just fed an ungrateful Weka the remainder of my oats, it dawned on me that I may to prevented from exiting the valley, due to the swelling river. An immense, energy-sapping duel with a 9lb’er, punctuated by a frantic pack up and manic hike out, made this an unforgettable way to end a trip!

981Uh-oh… a couple of hours away from the safety of the track


5. Late uncle’s fly does the business

After multiple rejections on a tough river, I turned to my late uncle’s old metal fly box—a relic of yesteryear. The hooks sporting a light dusting of rust didn’t spur confidence, but these were the only sparsely dressed nymphs I possessed. Rust or not, they fooled the trout and got the job done. They don’t make ’em like they used to—cheers uncle!

861Average specimen, yet memorable moment


4. Hooked up to a new PB as chopper that jumped me flies overhead

Having an agreement backfire, and watching a chopper land exactly where it’d been agreed you were to start fishing from (after a significant walk) is rather demoralising! And so, to hook up on a new PB in fished-over water, while said-chopper is flying off overhead is a very satisfying thing! Instant karma?

106 - Copy2pics


3.Piglet Blitzkreig

Screeech screeech… turning around my eyes met with the strangest sight they’ve ever witnessed on a river. A jet-black piglet charging—well swimming—right at me. Brave little guy he was, attempting to ford this immense west coast river!


2. Busted rod, vengeance had

Setting the hook on a fish to the alarming CRACK! of carbon  fibre shattering is a fairly traumatising experience, especially with a good fish on the end of the line! With rod hinged over at the middle join the only thing left to do was run around his pool in a comical attempt to play him, top half of the rod held high in the air, bottom half stowed under arm. Needless to say, all was lost when he got downriver of me. What made this all the more memorable was that I returned to the scene of the crime the next day—new rod in hand—and bagged him, after an epic 350m duel through perilous pocket-water. And on the exact same fly to boot!

480 - Copy123Success on take two


1. There’s a storm comin’….

‘Twas day two of my first trip of the season, and I was naively slogging it into the teeth of an early-season nor’west storm. “It’s all yours” was the call from the two fishermen heading back out of the valley, and I’d later learn why! Thankfully the hut—where I sat out the storm for two full days—was found at the eleventh hour, and come daybreak the blinding glare of white met the eye. Top of the valley, 30-odd km from the road with only a  couple of layers of polypropylene and a nylon shirt to serve as insulation from the cold. Note to self: buy a decent jacket before next season!

129Any port in a storm? Felt like Rotterdam, compared to the tent!

Well that’s it. Plenty of good memories acquired during the season past. The fishing may’ve generally been tougher than in other years, but I certainly have had more unforgettable experiences.