Sometimes the unexpected things in life bring delight and add piquancy to our existence.

I was sitting on the deck with a coffee, admiring the day, the weeds in the raised beds and thinking how nice it was to wear sunglasses after a rare few days of rain. Here I was on the Coast, when a sudden thought wormed its way into my brain. Fishing!

It was certainly a decent day, the boat was ready, and the lake awaited as it always does, so the cuppa was drained, bung checked, ratchet tie down tightened and it was latch on and away.

Yes, it was winter but the sunny hours across the top of the day before late afternoon chills creep in are a mid-year gift. It happens, because southerlies make life a bit unpleasant on the east side of the island, but they drop their wetness and fade to virtually nothing when they reach our western climes. When Canterbury gets a northwesterly draught, well that’s a different story for another day.

The lake was quite a picture and I had it to myself, while the sun meant the jacket and jersey soon came off as I searched for any movement and cast into nooks and crannies. Before long there was a slight ‘wobble’ in the still water of one of the nooks, so a hopeful fly went out. Swirl, thud, rod bend, then under log it darted to swim away free. Ah well, if yuh got everyone it’d be called catching.

Some quiet oar strokes along the margins to where a fish was clearly feeding in the shallows so out went the fly, which was duly ignored. It continued feeding, so I made another cast and the feeding stopped, with the bow wave indicating its passage to deeper water.

I returned to the oars but found they were ineffective as I was grounded and had to use one of them as a punt pole, a bit like the chaps from Antigua boatsheds on the Avon. Some heaving and pushing off trees that sit in the water and the Silver Frog was free once more.

The floating stalk continued along the edges and sedges with fish making their presence known by a fin or tail appearing and a short time later, a small swirl, thudding weight – in again. A reasonable 4.5 pounder came to the net and was released, which made me glad of the trip. Like most anglers we have our favourite spots on Brunner – places where we’ve done well over the years, however they don’t perform every time we visit them.

I was once told by a seasoned fishing guide to move if there’s no action or interest as fish only go where there is food. Food for thought.

Further along the lake featured water that went in behind the reeds so in I also went, recalling great days of the past. Yes, there were fish to be seen but not hooked as in the thin water they had become cautious. Hmm, what to do? A little light bulb glowed briefly above my head and off to somewhat deeper water I went. Picked up a modest but very angry and active specimen that leapt off alongside the boat – another strategic in lake release!

Next it was into an inlet that might have once been an old creek mouth, where I had a good solid take followed by a spirited battle and a release. This is good I thought, so ventured further in to have a bow wave as a trout went for the fly. The fight was hard but short as it flipped out the barbless and fluffed off elsewhere.

The clock and the temps began to conspire against further fishing, so with thoughts of what still needed to be done to get home, I pulled the plug. Another West Coast winter day well spent.

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