The next hour or so was notable for the scenery and heat but I could't turn a fish for love or money. By the time I hit a rapid area that I knew had a good holding spot in a depression I was ready for a fish... here fishy fishy... and the take I got sent a deep thump thump through the rod. The line had swung downstream of where the fish lay so on tightening an arc of spray flew across the water and then it lit the afterburners heading down the rapid and into the next run, where it threw the hook. Damn. The 2 best fish had got off. I got the fly back and inspected it and the only theory I could come up with was that the hook loop was too long and perhaps the loop was acting as leverage? I pulled a baby fish out next and then was down into the run I'd been looking forward to. Such an attractive piece of water but the best part is that it looks better to fish from the opposite side to where I was tackling it, but is actually best fished (IMHO) from the true right which requires a decent wade to reach. As Layla and I got to the run, 2 anglers appeared upriver of me. They saw me and began to fish the pool above me. I knew they'd head upstream so wasn't that bothered. What DID bother me was that I wasn't getting any hits. I sat down for a snack and dribble and theorised to the dog that I wasn't getting deep enough to attract the attention of the fish that just had to be there. A change of fly to a heavier number, back into it and boom, straight away a rainbow hit the fly and took off down stream. I got him under control and was working the fish back across the current when the hook pulled. "Gosh" I said aloud. What I saw next made me say a bit more... a bright orange hat was bobbing around in the near bank shrubs far downstream before its wearer appeared. I'm guessing he saw me at about the same time and probably said a few choice words. Popular river this one. I continued to work downstream where the water slackened on my side and where my fly swung in against a decent rock I saw a shape emerge, a white mouth open and close and struck as I felt it through the line. The hook missed as the good sized brownie rolled and swam for the depth. Jeeeeeeeeezzzzzz. The guy downstream was soon joined by a mate (who'd fallen over and gone under crossing waste deep water, but it was a warm day so he'd be right). They each took a fish before I finished my run and waded across to go down and see them. I'd really, really, REALLY wanted to swing the patch they'd just fished so as we exchanged greetings I gave them the lay of the land as far as the other guys upstream where concerned and let them know I'd not fished the true left of the pool above. They described the pools they'd fished below, water that was new to me. I headed down, fishing each good looking spot but was fishing second hand water. I got one further hookup before pulling the pin and heading back upstream with the intention of going home. What I'd hoped to be good swinging downstream water really wasn't ideal for that style of fishing so I wasn't upset with my day at all as I'd really only missed one good pool. On the way back up the raft appeared and I had to say that (after Layla had given the interlopers a serve) that it looked a brilliant way to fish. The dude had maximum control and was able to pass between me and the bank as we exchanged pleasantries. He had an american accent and explained that it made for easy access, with the bonus of a chillybin of cold beers at hand....
The drive home gave me plenty of time to think about why I'd dropped all those fish and soon I was back at the vise redesigning the fly to be shorter and hopefully more efficient on hookup.
I was a good boy around the house for the next few days, over-run garden cleared - check! Fence painted - check! Family stuff done dutifully - check! Can I go fishing? Pleaaaseee?
Yehhaa. This time I'd head to Turangi. I got into town early enough to call Pete and see what he was up to - he was shop bound so I said I'd stop by later. I was pretty surprised to be the only vehicle in the top car park. I got into the river and began to work my way downstream... But my swing was too fast and I knew the fly wasn't getting where it needed to be. Quite simply, the volume of water coming down was greater than that on the other river despite it being of similar width in some places. A bit of a head scratcher for me, as I didn't have a skagit head for the small rod. I dug around and found a 132gr tip, which was never going to cast well but there was no wind and I hoped that it would drag the fly down. Layla chased ducks while I worked down the pool, paying extra attention to the gutter on the far side into which I could "huck" the fly, dump some line and get a good swim through. BUMP BUMP - hookup! The rainbow took to the air and shot downstream at full noise. I played it back across to me and Layla tried to land it before I slid the fish ashore, a well recovered spawner returning to good condition.
This style of fishing is absorbing and I find it can take a good hour or more to work a pool (in my estimation, every fish in a pool should at least catch a glimpse of my fly) like this so by the time I was ready to head back up to the car the guys above me were well upstream. Layla by now was mouthing off at the car traffic going past behind the trees - the river was getting busy. I had planned to move downriver to new water but that gutter looked way too inviting so back in I went. Second or third drift through and ba-bump I was hooked up. This fish was different, holding deep and rubbing against each rock. Each time I side strained it out from the gutter, it moved back in. I didn't want to pull the hook so as it surged back into the current I let it have its head. Finally it submitted and as I brought in the last 10 m of line I saw a brown smudge in the water, yup I was looking at a brownie and a nice fat hen at that. A few photos later and old yellowguts swam away.
A stop in town revealed that Pete was swamped by customers so I left and went to his place to see Sherrie and give Layla a run with Kaiser the GWP. Good day all around. Next up - grab a skagit head and see what the little rod can do.