‘Justin Case’ nabs Grady’s salmon

Ben with a sliver of Wairau silver

I have had a stunning season on the trout; they have been absolutely smashing the cicada. However, a fresh in the river in late February turned the talk from brown to silver— salmon. While most fishing the Marlborough’s Wairau River are closed lipped, the braided river can’t keep a secret for long and whispers of salmon soon emerged.

I always carry my salmon rod strapped to the outside of my vehicle while trout fishing—just in case… ‘Justin Case’ catches a lot of fish at times.

I used to catch salmon back in the day, when I was a snot-dribbler living in Canterbury. Us kids used to fish McIntosh’s Hole in the Waimak’ back in the early 90s, with pilchards hanging under a float. We used to catch a heap and the float rig would soon snag the ‘straight up’ anglers, causing a hell of a mess. A few caught on to our technique but it resulted in so many punch ups, Fish & Game banned bait fishing. Shame. It was a good ‘blood sport’!

Succulent in pink

Anyway, in the last week of February, I was fishing between the two bridges— between Tuamarina and Renwick—and was tempted to drag a Black Magic lure through a few holes. My salmon rod doubles as a snapper set so rigged light with thin braid and 15lb fluorocarbon. Imagine the shock I got when it was hammered and the little reel started melting line. The salmon must have only arrived in the river with the overnight rains because it was fresh and feisty. There was an anxious moment when my chocolate Lad TJ, so used to swimming with trout, decided on an upgrade to retrieving salmon. I few sharp commands diverted a bad outcome and silver was soon in hand for me.

The salmon was in such good condition—in the pink you might say—I vacuum bagged it so I could enjoy salmon steaks for sometime to come.

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