Winter reflection of rainbows

The start of winter brings a deluge of water into the local rivers, making it difficult to catch those final trout before the season ends. So, with rain on the forecast, I was forced to make a gamble and head off to search for a tributary that was spared.

I drove over the crest of a familiar hill and prayed for at least some clear edges. To my surprise the stream was flowing clean with just a tinge of colour. I could even sight fish, in June of all months!

I set off up the river, spotting the odd fish as I went, not at all bothered by the 10-degree temperature. I rounded a corner and spotted a modest fish happily feeding in a run. One cast and bang. Immediate hit. And a brown trout at that. I landed the fish, admiring its red spots before it powered off back into the run. I’d never caught a brown from this stream, I was off to a strong start.

I continued, meandering through the valley towards a favourite pool of mine when I spotted a very large, slow-moving stretch, with a significant depth change at the head. In no time I’d plucked out a spirited threepound rainbow hen.

I always forget the days are short in winter and the sun was already making a beeline for the horizon at 3.00pm. I fished through the water, relaxed when, just as I neared my turn around point, I saw a very nice fish sitting right where I’d planned to stop.

I lobbed a couple of heavy nymphs without success; seemed she wasn’t interested in free food. Drift after drift I had almost given up, letting the flies sink deep and drifting them further. When I lost sight of the fish, I assumed she had spooked so I decided to call it a day. As I lifted to bring my fly line in, there was suddenly a weight on the end. The silly fish had eaten the nymph as I was lifting it up!

Not happy with this outcome, the hen charged off upstream but, with no way forward, she turned and headed off down a rapid with me scrambling behind. I chased the fish out into the current, hoping to get an early net shot near the back of the next run. Silly idea, as the fish boosted between my legs and I was left trying to avert disaster.

After a brief protest, the rainbow conceded and rolled onto her side. It was a lovely adult fish, around 2.5kg. As the fish glided slowly back into the stream, I reflected on a brilliant afternoon out and headed back to the car chuffed, as the light began to fade.

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