THE DRONE AFFAIR
We slowly crept up the side of the cliff to get some elevation on the run that lay ahead of us. The position of the sun in the sky meant that there was a decent amount of glare on the water and that basically made us blind as to what might be in there.
As we got higher and our eyes adjusted to the water below we started scanning for signs of fish. Nothing in the tail and couldn’t see anything on the far side edge either so we moved forward some more and higher still.
Still nothing but the water looked too damn good to not have a fish out and about.
Then out of the corner of my eye, something caught my attention...
‘Yep, there’s a fish bro’
A good rainbow was swinging back into the deep channel on our side of the river. He was about mid water and sitting out in the main flow, under the foam line....pretty much right where he should be.
As we watched to see what he was up to so we could hatch a plan of attack, we noticed a second fish slightly further upstream and in line with old mate that we were watching. Another big fish too and following a similar feeding pattern - sitting about mid water under the foam and occasionally swinging out towards the opposite bank for food.
Our best option for a good drift was to fish from the other bank but with the light as it was, that would mean we wouldn’t have great visibility.
Option B was for Marc to stay high and call the shots to me from this side of the river.
We decided to see what we could see from the other bank. We would make our minds up from there and so took out landmarks on where the fish were stationed and slunk quietly back down the cliff and back to the tail of the run where it looked like we could cross.
One of the things with the gin clear water in NZ rivers is that a crossing can look thigh deep and actually turn out be more of a ‘nipple dipper’ and this was the case here as we ended up chest deep and bobbing downstream a bit in order to make the crossing.
That sorted, we set to staying low and creeping up towards where we knew the fish were hanging out. The visibility was pretty average, like we had anticipated but didn’t leave us totally blind.
The water in which the fish we were holding was actually a fair bit deeper and faster than it had looked from the other side (that clear water and elevation combo) and so it was going to be a double nymph and subtle indicator rig for sure.
It was my turn to be up this time and Marc pointed out that it was a sweet spot to get the drone out and see if we could get some footage.
So, while I sorted my shit out and made sure the flies and knots were good, he dumped his pack and got the drone in the air.
With him ready to go, I got low and slowly moved up the edge of the run, scanning for a shape, a bit of movement, a flash of a mouth, anything that might give away that first fish.
I got opposite where I knew he was but still couldn’t make him out in the glare so I was left with a decision to make....either get Marc to can the drone, cross back over and get up on the cliff on the other side to guide me onto the fish from there, or to risk it and keep him doing his thing and fish the water where I knew our fish was.
Fishing a piece of water like this blind is always a risky thing to do here as its incredibly easy to line a fish when you can’t see it but we decided to go for it as we were all set up and wanted some footage. I worked out my best chance of a decent drift and got on with it.
As always, I would need to make my first cast count.
I sent my flies up the run a good way, in order to get as best a mend in as I could and let the flies get down deep to where I figured the fish was. The currents were a bit trickier than they looked but the mend was good enough to stop any drag on the flies through the important bit.
As it neared the end of the drift, the indicator dipped slightly, I lifted the rod and was met with that satisfying weight and head shake at the other end of the line.
A big flash of silver showed me he was a solid fish and then he screamed off to the other side and then downstream at a million miles an hour. I followed him, trying to keep tension, slip my bag off and not fall on my face at the same time.
He seemed intent on getting deep under the cliff overhang opposite and with the faster water over there, it was tough to coax him out of there but with some constant pressure and a couple of changes of angle, he slowly came out and over towards me.
He made a few more runs and then started to tire a bit before getting himself caught up in the dropper fly which meant that I was now trying to bring him in backwards which is never ideal!
Fortunately, this time things went my way, he behaved well and let me net him on the first attempt.
BAM!! Sometimes it all comes together and goes your way.
Watch it all go down here...