Sunny backwater, spot the paddle boarder
Skinny water flighty fish

For this Coastlines you could almost read my previous one – skinny water, flighty fish.

However, it was a bit different this time. A hearty breakfast is a necessity before a day on the water and I tucked into muesli, with blueberries and yoghurt, banana on toast, all washed down with a cup of earl grey.

Mist was holding along the Arnold Valley, as the sun climbed from behind the hills. The blazing orb right in my eyes made sunstrike a real issue, until turning away toward the granite bulk of Mt Te Kinga. The morning light accentuated its bush clad ridges and valleys, a beautiful and familiar sight, with the next beautiful image an empty car park.

The quest was begun with a Hamills Killer in a backwater where a couple of fish in the sunny, still shallows rocketed out to deeper water at 120kph.

A trout challenge for Charlie

Moving right along, I gave the frighteners to a fish just by being there—my reputation as a threat to the fishery precedes me. Flocks of swan paddled steadily away until they thought they were out of range, indicating perhaps their countdown to the shooting season. Still no hookups by smoko, so it was up and away to an old favourite spot, where I played campanologist by ringing the changes—it was time for a nymph. It was dropped just to the right of a suddenly spotted fish and bang, fish on.

I said, “About darn time,” and it was fish off.

Yep, it spat the dummy.

The day was also punctuated by snagging the fly in the shallow water and getting grounded, which all keeps a fellow busy. After being ignored by a couple more, I powered up again and moved to yet another spot, where a light breeze began to put a small ripple on the water, enough to hide any rough casts.

Again, the odd flighty fish was sighted, but by keeping very still in the boat, they would slowly pass. Then two came at a time—they were so close you could count the spots – swear the front one was sneering.

Later, another fish was cruising the edges, so a fly was dropped out and wonders, it took.

Feisty devil peeled line, performed aerial displays and tried to get me into the stumps but, eventually, it was netted and zotted for rehousing at my place. Tried a few other spots but kept getting grounded and, with the wind picking up, I turned for home.

At the ramp in gusty conditions, a nice chap with a jet ski offered to help line the boat up for the trailer to save me from getting wet. Must rethink my attitude to these guys.

His kind work on my behalf was undone on the way home when I stopped to clean the fish. While rinsing it, the thing with no head or guts slipped from my grasp and swam freely away into the depths. Slosh, in I went after it and after a bit of floundering I had it once more.

The wet drive home was almost nice in a car filled with February heat. Just one fish for another challenging and, at times, difficult day. Should’ve left the bananas off the brekkie menu.

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