We met Karl at his house late Friday night. We got settled, had a chinwag and hit the hay around midnite. The can of V I'd drunk on the way down to ensure alert driving made its presence felt when around 1 I was still tossing and turning. But sleep I did in a fashion and it was around 5.45 when I heard Karl moving around. He was going to head to one of his spots to nymph with a mate of his who was coming down. Jase and I went to a run that was working well for swung flies of late and got into our work. The river was high and rain fell constantly... not high as in brown and flooded, but in the 45-55 cumec range against a normal 25-30 flow. The water had a beautiful tinge.
Jase started at the top of the run while I moved in just above the bucket. It was just such a different run with the extra flow that it took a bit of getting used to. I was fishing when Jase's series of nightmares began. He called out that he'd brought his wrong tips. I dug into my pouch and gave him a spare T-11 tip that I had. Soon I got a hit and hooked up to a beautiful little fish who simply didn't give an account of herself - the upturned hook in my sculpin fly had nabbed her in the upper jaw/nostril area so I'm picking that the upward pressure kept her mouth open and subdued her.
Then disaster befell my buddy - his running line broke on a strike leaving the fly, leader, tip and head attached to the fish. I dug out a spare head and tip and gave them to Jase. I finished winging the tail out then swung the entire pool again for nil other than snags, and left couple of flies stuck in the rocks. I wandered downstream and pulled a fish out of the next run, in close company of a fish executioner on the far bank who'd rip fish out of the water on his glo bug, boot them up the bank then dump them in the tray of his ute. Special guy, he obviously disliked fish intensely.
Jase joined me and we decided to move on for while. Karl had let us know he'd be in one of his favourite pools, one which Jase didn't like very much so I dropped him off and moved up to find Karl up to his waist fishing down the Hydro. I moved in behind him and watched him expertly comb the water. By the time Jase arrived with his mate Cutsie in tow, Karl had whipped 4 rainbows out for my single fish. It was like following an industrial vacuum cleaner! Jase beckoned so I waded over to find that he's lost another head (not mine!) to a fish and needed to go shopping. I gave him the keys to my truck and got back in the pool. What followed was a bit on an angling masterclass. Karl hooked up and called over his shoulder "brown!". The fish dragged him down and across and swam into the trees on the far side. Karl waded down, applying as much pressure as he could and then began a dance that started with net unleashed, rod bent crazily and ended with shaking foliage and a sizable fish in the net. By the time he'd photographed the fish and returned across the pool I'd covered a fair bit of water for no takes so we decided to head upstream. Cutsie would catch up with Jase for the afternoon.
We got to the next run after a brisk walk and I was first through. A fish took short on the second swing and then came at the fly again a couple of casts later to be firmly hooked. We worked our way down and Karl hooked and landed a really nice fish. We decided to head back to town and see if we could get into one of the 'name' pools, guess we were kidding ourselves thinking like that as town was flooded with anglers. We headed back to base for a shower and beer. Jase and Cutsie rocked in later, Jase having redeemed himself with 5 fish for the afternoon. That night we joined the Fly Fest crowd at the tavern and caught up with faces both new and old - it was great!
Sunday dawned fine. Karl was taking a newbie out for his first trout so Jase and I decided to hit the upper river pools. It would be fair to say that it was a struggle to deal with the extra water... the Whitikau gave Jase a couple of short-takers, then I lost a couple of flies in the rocks at the tail of the sand, while Jase walked down to the Reef pool. I hopped down further to fish the tail of the Blue; the upper pool was occupied by some old guys with deck chairs. I got stuck in, the wading was trickier than usual but I stuck with it. I was occasionally hitting the bottom so my fly was definitely in the right area, and I managed in that first foray 5 hits for 3 fish banked. And they were uniformly small and dark nothing at all like the chromers we'd managed of late. Jase followed me down and managed a hit or 2 only, so we decided to up sticks, have lunch and decide on a new venue. We drank hot coffee and ate rolls sitting on the banks of the river and it was a fine place to be! Next stop for us was the Mill Race. Last trip I'd had a ball in here so was expecting great things. Jase went through first and then I followed him, really focusing on getting a shallow angled swing through the seam. The fish when it hit, launched upstream and to the side twice and threw the hook. I concentrated harder. I swung that seam with great focus, putting the fly through slowly, fast, dead drift... but nothing else bit. Jase got a hit or two but nothing stuck, for whatever reason (probably angling pressure) the fish were reticent. We decided to make our final stand in the town pools and drove down to the car park which was standing room only. Again our little run was unoccupied (it looks like swift rapid water - unappealing to the millions of nymphers who walk past it). I went in halfway down and Jase fished the head. His first fish bit in the soft seam in no more than a couple of feet of water, and came downstream with firm determination. I had to run ashore so it wouldn't put me between the soft water behind me and the surging flow in front of me, and Jase banked her shortly afterwards. He hooked up again shortly thereafter while all I managed was snag after snag. I began to put 2 and 2 together regarding tips. 1. 12' of T-14 is a bit too much on the #6 2. That tip in combination with weighted flies sure combs the bottom, but in high water we are fishing the edges much more = snags
We met a couple of old mates back at the car park, and after a decent chinwag we got out of town. I remarked to Jase that I'd lost a heap of flies over the weekend. He'd lost none....