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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Report from the Dude

Ray is my fishing buddy and is so relaxed I call him the “Dude” after the character of the same name in the Cohen Brothers film The Big Lebowski. He has written a few words about a day we had on a salmon river  in NZ.  It was one of those things where you read about a river and it says no one really fishes it for trout as it is known for salmon.  But it sort of gets you thinking that firstly is that because no one actually does bother fishing it for trout or is it the details you have in front of you like this to keep you for fishing for trout? We probably looked into this too deeply but when it comes to fishing I think you have to…anyway, over to you Dude…

 Pete and I were told by locals that the Rangitata “was more of a salmon river”.  When we arrived at the upper gorge section upriver of Peel Forest, it was easy to understand why:  it was a big, fast water interrupted by long, deep pools.  the water was brilliant torquoise, almost artificial in colour, because of the light reflecting off the volcanic silt collected from its headwaters.

The Dude

The Dude

 Unfortunately, the strong Northwesterly wind was blowing whitecaps in the pools and we quickly decided that we wouldn’t be able to turn over even our seven weight lines.  disappointed, we got back in the car and drove back downriver hoping to find more trout friendly water and shelter from the wind.

 We found what we were looking for, but unfortunately the section ran next to a campground that was fully booked with locals enjoying a long weekend.  We figured that the water got a good pounding but it was getting close to lunchtime and we hadn’t fished so we decided to put in.
Pete took the first pool and I took the second.  Three campers arrived shortly after us in their swim gear and positioned themselves between us.  I immediately became annoyed, but Pete later told me that the two women and one man nuded up and went swimming, so I forgave them and thought what a pleasant addition to any fishing day that would be (seeing the women, that is) provided it didn’t adversely affect the fishing.
We ended the day with two fish each, the largest around 5lbs.  Every day we fished the South Island I learned a thing or two, and here’s what I took away from our day on the Rangitata:      
    1)  Don’t dismiss a river that “was more of a salmon river” as not holding trout.  Pete and I chose the Rangitata deliberately to avoid other trout fishermen.  If you can fish the sections that the salmon fishermen avoid, you may find some trout that haven’t been fished to, even if they are next to a campground.
    2)  Fish lighter tippet than you think would be appropriate.  Although 5lb. tippet is standard for the size of fish we were catching, I fished 3lb. test for most of our trip.  The lighter tippet seemed to help with wary fish.  On big, open rivers like the Rangitata or the nearby Rakaia there aren’t many snags or other places for fish to pop you off.  My normal bias is to fish heavier than appropriate tippet to hasten the fight, but I found that quickly making my way to calm water as the fish tired was the best way to achieve a quick release. 
    3)  Always choose the first pool downriver of nude lady swimmers.

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