Monday Fish 3, The Wairau Diversion, Spring Creek and Wairau River

The Tuesday after our last Monday fish, Jim turned up at my house on his way back from a swim, holding up a kahawai. He said his first attempt to grab the fish as it was lingering around some kelp made it get some life into it, but then he grabbed it near the tail and held on, and managed to get into onto dry land.

After getting it home and filleting it, he said he noticed it looked a bit damaged near its lower spine, possibly from the trawler that had been operating in Cloudy Bay recently. A good explanation for why it was probably a bit more docile than expected.

We decided to have another fish the next Monday.

Monday morning came, and I drove down to Jim’s house around 5am. He was waiting at his gate with his fishing gear.

The plan was to try the Diversion again at first light, and then either go up the river or try the Bar, depending on our mood. Jim had bought himself a trout fishing license during the week.

It was even colder than the previous Monday. I had to take a break from fishing every now and then to warm my casting hand in my pocket. I was glad I had come prepared in thermals. The weather had turned rather frigid for mid-summer.

The tide was fairly high, compared to it being around low tide last Monday, and I was optimistic we would have better luck this time.

We didn’t.

 I had an irate seagull diving and squawking at me at one stage. If it was guarding a nest, it must get irate fairly often, as the Diversion river-mouth must be the busiest part of the Wairau River.

Jim was barefoot in the waves while I was dreaming of hot mugs of tea again.

Another car turned up with some young guys. They didn’t seem to have any more luck than us.

Eventually we gave up and returned to the vehicle. Jim offered me a cup of tea from his thermos. Magic.

We pondered our next move while packing away the gear, eventually deciding on trying for a trout where Spring Creek flows into the Wairau – about 5 minutes drive away.

After parking and getting our gear sorted, we walked the short track to the river. Walking along the riverside, we started casting lures into the Wairau as we neared where it turns and also meets Spring Creek.

We split up for a while, and I had a few casts into the lower Spring Creek after trying unsuccessfully to spot a trout in the Wairau.

I changed from the black-with-yellow-spots black fury spinner that I had been using, to my favourite style of rubbery-little-yellow-and-black-fish lure.

~ Jim, I just had a fairly small fish follow my lure – I guess a rainbow, but it looked like a kahawai. Would they come up this high from the rivermouth?

~ I don’t see why not.

Then Jim fished the lower part of Spring Creek where I had been, while I stayed casting into the Wairau. I heard him say something about a snag, and turned around to see him with water up to his neck, freeing his lure. Dedicated lure retrieval, right there.

There wasn’t much action, so we started walking back.

Jim brought up the subject of felt-soled boots, pointing out that they’re now not allowed according to the regulations, to try to prevent the spread of didymo.

He told me about a time back in the 80s, when he had hooked a fish, and was following it upstream, and slipped on wet slippery rocks and fell onto his face, knocking himself out.

~ When I came to, there was all this blood around me, and the fish was still on the line.

After landing the fish and eventually making his way back to civilization, he found out his nose was broken.

Anyway, back to our fishing – we stopped for a look at a spot where Spring Creek splits into two briefly before joining back up again.

There was a nice pool to cast into, with surrounding trees, but more than enough room to be comfortable casting.

A trout was rising right in front of us.

He turned around and followed my lure, taking a good look, but he didn’t take it. Maybe I should have given it a quick little getaway-twitch to spur the feeding fish into action.

We attempted a few more casts from the same spot, and also on the opposite side of the stream. He continued feeding, but ignored our lures.

Jim asked if I thought he should try his new fishing technique that he used to catch his kahawai the week before.

I’m pretty sure that’s against the regulations, too, Jim.