Torrential Rain and Trout

As I headed off for the High Country on Friday afternoon for a couple of days fly fishing the rain that had been pouring down in the mountains for the last day and a half was working its way towards Christchurch.  The rain progressively got heavier the closer I got to the High Country with many slips and washouts along the way.  After setting up camp by head-lamp in the rain a hot cup of tea was had before hitting the sack to get an early start the next day.

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Departing Christchurch in the rain
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One of the many road washouts

The rain came down heavy all night and only stopped at about 5am resulting in a number of muddy slips from the surrounding hillside pouring brown debris laden water into the lake. Although the morning started out calm this was soon interrupted by a firm wind that held its ground all day. Trying to locate sections of clear un-rippled water that could be sight fished proved hard work, and the only golden opportunity was blown with poor fly selection. Trying to be clever I tied on a spider pattern thinking that this could be a successful angle with all the rain washing down various insect life into the lake. Casting to an oncoming six pound brown initially received interest as it nosed right up to the fly, but then refused it. Although four more good fish were spotted, laying nymph traps in anticipation for their return didn't prove successful as they weren't seen again. One 3lb rainbow was caught around midday however this was more by chance than skill, pretty much Saturday served extremely difficult sight fishing conditions that weren’t very eventful, the same could not be said about Sunday however...

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Slips still pouring brown water into the lake Saturday morning
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Muddy water conditions
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Calmish morning conditions before the wind picked up

As Sunday rolled around it brought with it a cold eerie misty morning. The muddy water had slowly worked its way towards the outlet with the water becoming progressively clearer towards the top end. With two days of muddy conditions the fish were responding well to the clearing water and as I worked my way towards the top of the lake I spotted the first actively patrolling fish through a layer of heavy mist. The first to come to the net was a rainbow just shy of three pounds. It was a challenge to catch as it rejected three fly patterns before a successful change had it launching after a debut nymph pattern.

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A cold misty morning start
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The first fish of the day soon had me forgetting about the icy cold morning

The heavy layer of mist began to burn off and the lake bed started to become more visible. Another rainbow of 2 1/2 pounds came to the net just 30 minutes later in a similar fashion, this one however energetically leapt from the lake numerous times before surrendering.

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The deformed bottom jaw of the second rainbow to come to the net, usually a good excuse to take home a table fish and weed out bad genes but I gave this wee one a lifeline and released him =)

By now the mist had nearly completely burnt off producing a stunningly clear and bright day that fully lit up the lake bed providing visibility for 30+ metres, some of the best spotting conditions I have had on this lake. Over the next hour I watched as two rainbows of similar size were actively patrolling and energetically chasing bullies. One eventually swam to encounter my slowly sinking nymph I had cast ahead of its path, without hesitation it shot towards the fly engulfing it and tearing off toward the middle of the lake before the hook was shaken loose. Satisfied that the nymph pattern I was using was successful I decided to mix it up a bit and try something different. On went a small damsel fly nymph to a fresh length of 5X tippet, as I finished the tie and prepared myself I caught a glimpse of a large fish out of the corner of my eye. It was just a few metres to my right cruising slowly while carefully examining the lake bed all of 1 1/2 feet out from the bank. The nymph was carefully lobbed about 3m ahead of his path, as he approached within a foot a slow lift of the rod had the nymph in plain view of the fish as he proceeded to engulf the fly without any reservations. A 15 minute battle followed as the fish refused to come to the net, each time it changed direction I cringed as I heard the tippet pinging as it flicked across each one of his sharp teeth. The battle was won however and a 9 1/2 brown was quickly photographed before being gently released.

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A 9 1/2 pound brown lifted for a quick pic before being gently released. To be fair, it was slightly on the slabby side and probably would have gone 11+ lb in good condition, but given the fact it was just after spawning he'd obviously lost a bit of weight chasing all the girls!

I was absolutely stoked with the morning success, it was only 11:30am and I had dropped one rainbow, landed two rainbows and landed a 9 1/2 brown. I decided to head back to camp and have a bite to eat, pack up camp, and go for a ride to find another lake to challenge.

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The sun was shining and the day was warm, it was a perfect day for a ride in the High Country. As I approached the first thing I noticed was a swollen tributary dumping brown water into the lake producing less than desirable conditions, regardless I set up and hit the water. This time I was having a play around with a new sinking line, and sure enough 45 minutes in I hooked up to the first wee rainbow. Gently released and continuing fishing I hooked up to a small salmon another 45 minutes later, talk about a day delivering hook-ups!

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A healthy wee salmon that sure packed a punch for its small size - caught and released

As 4pm rolled around I decided to hit the road and make the most of the sun on my ride out winding up a simply brilliant fishing weekend.

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Author of this article: RMOTO