Sunday 19 October 2014

In under the trees

From Tony Orman's great little book The Challenge of Fishing Small Streams in New Zealand; part of chapter 13 (slightly edited/shortened to fit this layout better):

When you fish overgrown streams you have to assess each situation individually. 

I recall one trout which rose just above a log jam. You could not get at it from below because of willows. So at dusk, as it rose steadily a metre or so above the obstruction, I carefully eased upstream and dropped the fly in a few metres upstream and let it float down, paying out line so there was no drag. 

The fish took the floating deer sedge quietly, I paused... one two three... then tightened and without yanking dictated to the fish, moving upstream a couple of metres. I was lucky I got away with it. It was a fine fish from a difficult spot, only overcome by an unorthodox approach.

Overgrown streams are worth looking at. Most anglers shun them. Perhaps they like it easy. Perhaps they don't realise what treasures such streams can hold.

Another way of fishing in tight spots is dapping. This technique consists of dropping your fly on the water and flicking it up and down if it is a dry fly, or letting it sink if it is a nymph. There is no casting involved. A good method for fishing off a bank or under willow. Dapping is reputed to have originated in Ireland on the loughs (lakes). There it was done from boats, usually with dry flies.

One Marlborough stream I know can hold some fine trout early in the season when they run up from the parent river. There were two particularly fine trout that held under a clump of willows and briar. You could see them through the twigs as they fed deeply on nymphs. No one could cast to them.

Ted tied on a weighted nymph and poked his rod through the twigs and branches. Then he fed out line until he had enough slack literally to drop the nymph in about a couple of metres above the trout.

The fish rose up towards the surface and Ted's nymph disappeared.

Until then he hadn't considered how he was going to land it. He tightened the nymph home and the fish bucked and drove away. Ted just let the fish go somewhere downstream. After a few minutes the fish luckily sulked. 

Ted passed his rod through the twigs and put his other hand downstream, transferring the rod from right to left. Then he eased his right hand through the gap and took it from his left, poked his left hand into another gap and transferred again. Four or five of these and he was in the clear, with the fish luckily still attached. There the fight took place. 

It was a fine 3.6kg (8lb) brownie which Ted quickly weighed in his landing net and then slipped back.