Good intel’ sets salmon a sizzle

Matt all smiles with his slab of silver

With good reports of salmon at the Rakaia river mouth over the weekend, Simon and I decided on a midweek sortie after work. Backed up by intel from mates, we anticipated the salmon would be holding 15—20kms upstream and its here we started our walk.

Trudging over the braided gravel beds, we pulled up at a likely looking run and slipped into a well proven casting pattern. Both of us were using light gear—same gear we run for the big fish of the canals—a strategy that works well for us. However, if you plan to go light for big fish you need to be somewhat calculated in what you do, so go quality rather than cheap. I run 7kg mainline on Shimano 2500 Vanquish, matched to an 8ft Shimano Dialuna rod and run a 10il fluorocarbon tippet. On this occasion, we were using Diana Chinook 17g lures.

I hooked up solid on my fifth cast and knew instantly it was a big fish. I was gutted when it didn’t stick and ultimately disappeared in a tail swirl in the murky water.

The season had been fair cranking up till now, which created a lot of speculation as why we were suddenly experiencing a run similar to those of the 90s.

It generated more questions than answers, one being why the Rakaia appears to be experiencing this aberrant ‘silver rush’ on its own. The Waimak’ tends to be a late runner, so there is still time for that river to fire. In good seasons, salmon normally run in multiple rivers.

It was still early so we crossed to the other side of the pool—it looked more promising. True to its word, I hooked up on my second cast. A good fish. Solid take. Weight. The mantra playing in my mind, “Don’t rush it, don’t rush it, don’t rush it…”

There was plenty of fight in the fish; it didn’t want to come in and had the muscle to back its intent. These fish fight aggressively, similar to their oceanic counterparts, kingfish, but with dynamic elements of the braided rivers to leverage off. With the light canal gear, I have had practice at landing much bigger fish so have the confidence—as long as I take my time.

When the fourteen pounds of silver eventually came to the shingle beach, I was stoked. In fact, Simon and were so excited we screamed like little girls:

“That’s how it’s done, that’s how it’s done!”

Sometimes you cast all day for a touch of silver and here we were with a fish on the river after twenty minutes. It certainly fired us up… and it was a long time till dark.

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