I spent Saturday night poring over google maps trying to identify likely looking blue lines. With a few marked as options, I went to bed. I got up, not super early, there was no rush, the day was more about checking out a new area than fishing hard. It was late enough that the dog came and joined me for my morning coffee before going back to bed. Lately he has decided getting up early with me when I go fishing is way too much effort. He never gets to go anyway.
I hoped in the car, put on a podcast and drove. Fog filled the first valley I was going to explore. I eventually arrived at my first likely spot just as the sun was poking its was through the fog. I got my gear ready and went to check it out. In the end, what had looked good on the map wasn’t so good in reality. Instead of the gorgeous trout stream I had been hoping for, what greeted me was a swamp. A cloud of sandflies quickly enveloped me, leeches started crawling all over me. I looked around for a while, walked about a kilometre up river to see if things improved and then walked back to the car without making a cast. As put the car in gear I found another leech. I drove off anyway, the leech would fall off. Sometimes its better not to worry.
The next spot was more promising. A likely looking river flowing through farmland. Cows watched as I made my first cast of the morning. I fished up the river for a few hours, landing five little browns on dries in the process. The spot has potential. I’ll most likely be back.
The next few likely spots were occupied. Some had potential though, so all the driving wasn’t in vain.
Getting to the last river of the day took me along many many kms of winding dirt road. The better halfs trusty suzuki alto took it in her stride. After 20 minutes or so, approaching the first access point, the road I had been planning on taking promptly stopped. It had been abandoned many moons ago and was now overgrown and criss crossed by fallen trees. Given that it was only a km or so to the river, I walked. What I discovered was a overgrown rainforest stream enveloped in tree ferns. Above the tree ferns were mountain ash. It was easy to forget the stream was standing amongst giants. The tree ferns obscuring their height and size. It was only when I had to scramble over a fallen tree or there was a break in the tree ferns was their immense size obviously apparent. The stream was also more or less unfishable. Unfishable on this day anyway given the stream consisted of fast flowing water and many deep protected pockets. These pockets were where the fish were sitting and the fish weren’t taking dries, making it much harder than it might have been.
They were easy enough to spot though given the crystal clear water. They were just very very hard to catch. The major problem was finding a nymph that sunk fast enough to actually get down to them given the limited room available to present a fly. Sinking a nymph 2-3ft within 1-2ft of drift in fast flowing water isn’t easy at the best of times. Its harder when you have very little room to work with and any mistep will result in your fly or fly line getting tangled in the tree fern branches that overhang almost every pool. I hooked a couple bow and arrowing my heaviest tungsten nymphs into the little protected honey holes they called home but it was hard work. Barbless hooks and limited room meant all the fish prematurely won their freedom. I ended up persisting for far longer than I should have given I kept seeing fish. Even though most were impossible to present a fly to I had to try right? I ended up calling it after a couple of hours and headed off empty handed. Trout 20+. Me 0. Unfinished business.
On my way home I stopped at another river I hadn’t planned on fishing but had crossed earlier in the day. I hopped out for a quick gander and saw a fish immediately. A few last casts wouldn’t hurt. I caught that fish and then fished the rest of the run he had been sitting in. Five more fish came to hand, all tiny but a nice way to finish the day.
Truth is I probably would have caught more fish going to the waters I know. Sometimes thats not the point. Half the fun of fishing is the exploring. If you don’t get out and explore, get out of your comfort zone, you’ll never find your new favourite spot or find a new honey hole that is yours and yours alone. While this day didn’t produce either of those, it did produce a few fish and a couple of spots I might soon go back to. The sandfly bites still itch though. I’m not going back to that spot in a hurry.