Murphy rosters on—trout off

Trout lurk in these margins

Occasionally Matey and I make trips to more distant locations, so this time it was a lake just north of Fiordland. We’ve done well here in the past and it houses great fish but we’ve also been skunked when the tepid water made the fish torpid and not interested in a fly.

Water temperature was better this time and none of the untoward things from the earlier trip such as forgotten polaroids, or sliding down a wet bank on my backside into mud while launching, happened.

‘Murphy’ was lurking in the bush as always though, holding his belly and chuckling about the prospect of bringing his law to bear on us again. He didn’t take long to make his presence felt. A few casts into a reliable stream mouth near the ramp failed to show anything, so we zoomed across to the other side of the lake where we’d previously had very good luck.

Matey saw the white flash of a take and proceeded to play his quarry. At the outset it seemed to be a good sized specimen but a few moments later, “Not got much fight in it,” quoth he.

Turned out to be a slabby female, which Matey said could almost be an eel. In a lake with some thumpers, that was our first of the day, so thanks ‘Murphy.’

He must’ve gone on his tea break because things looked up a short time later when I hooked up. This fish bored down in typical brownie fashion, threatening to bury itself in the weed, before zooming under the boat and out the other side, requiring some swift manoeuvres with oar and rod. This one had energy to burn and ran for nearly 10 minutes, with me having to keep the pressure on to avoid it going in amongst the submerged trees, fallen from the hillsides over the years.

There are some huge logs amongst these fallen giants, stretching their full length out into the water, a hazard for both boat and line.

Then my fish headed further out in the lake and I began to feel it was soon mine, but that was when ‘Murphy’ ended his tea-break and got back to work. My line pinged slack and, while I still had the nymph, there was no fish. I remained remarkably calm, even philosophical, but Matey made up for it with three imprecations in quick succession, all of the same nature.

As we planned next moves around the lake, naturally our gratitude to ‘Murphy’ remained high! Light airs meant we could drift along the edges and sedges, dropping flies into nooks and crannies and to any sighted fish. Some of the trout would ghost out of nowhere to appear right beside the boat, adding interest to the day, but ‘Murphy’ had also supplied large patches of weed close to the surface, to foul the flies.

Then came an amazing moment as Matey saw a fish come towards his fly.

It didn’t take it but swerved away and immediately did a vertical leap of almost a metre out of the water, a rod length from our boat. Every colourful trout feature clear to the eye, it dropped straight back down tail first with hardly a splash. A special moment to be savoured in the memory banks.

Next time we’ll go on St Patricks Day, that’ll fix ‘Murphy,’ he’ll be on a day off.

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