It’d been a pretty challenging start to the trip but we’d still landed some really good fish – by our own standards – and we were ready to explore another part of the island and hunt some more trout. Our next destination was Mossburn – about a 40 minute drive inland from Te Anau. We had a slow start to the morning that consisted off a leisurely run along the picturesque paths of Te Anau followed by breaky and a coffee at a local café. Feeling rejuvenated and ready to move on from Te Anau to our next accommodation, we ventured forth in the Sunny and arrived at Mossburn Country Park Cabins at about midday.
Whilst boiling the kettle in our little cabin, we pulled out the maps and decided that we’ll give one of the nearby streams a go for the afternoon. We skulled our weak instant coffees and eagerly pilled into the Sunny to find this little stream and see what it had to offer. It was probably about 2pm by the time we found the stream and got our gear organised. This particular stream – or river by Australian standards – was about 2 – 3 meters wide with slightly discoloured water and had didymo riddled throughout the farmland section that we found ourselves in. Nevertheless, we were fairly confident we would find fish with some stealthy fishing and keen observation. Sight fishing wasn’t really possible in most sections of this river, so we went with what we knew and tied up a prospecting rig which is pretty common in Australia. I had a flashback pheasant tail – #14 – suspended beneath a rather large Parachute Adams – size #10 by memory. Nat had a similar rig with some alternative NZ favourites so we could hedge our bets and see if the fish were going for a particular fly.
The first run didn’t yield a fish for me, although I did have a take on the dry but as soon as I was on, I was off. To be honest, I couldn’t even really see my dry in this run. You know the situation… mid-afternoon and the river is facing the worst position where the glare is smack bang where you want to cast your fly. It was a lucky hook up. I was just lifting my rod to re-cast and complaining about the blinding glare to Nat – asking him if he could spot my fly for me. So we got into the rhythm and whoever was on the bank – not fishing – would spot the fly and give a yell if there was a take.
The next run was Nat’s. The first few casts were a bit shaky and abruptly presented but he soon got into the rhythm. He put a few delicate casts in all the right areas and sure enough, doof!! That’s my best attempt at the noise a trout makes when it vigorously attacks a surface insect. I’ll try and think of something better in the coming posts. Haha. Anyway… doof!! I screamed YEPPP!!! Insisting for him to strike, as he to was getting violent glare off the water. So he slung his rod back and with it the fly came sailing back out of the water straight at his head… no fish attached. Thank goodness for some seriously good matrix type skills, no eyes were lost on account of that fish.
As we ventured further upstream, the rivers characteristics changed dramatically. It went from a shallow, dirty, slow flowing stream through farmland to a bedrock laden, clear, fast water ‘mountain stream’. This section was an absolute pleasure to fish! I continued to prospect in the small fast runs, and had another hit on my nymph. I was on, and at first it was looking like an easy fight. Its head was up current and it wasn’t doing to much. Well… that didn’t last long. It decided to do a 180 and make a break for the cascading water further downstream. I reckon it was about this stage that I realise that this was a better fish then I initially thought. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t dictate terms in this fast water so I chased the fish down multiple cascades of water – whilst falling in multiple times – and eventually directed it out of the fast water and netted it. It clocked in at 4 and a quarter pounds and made us work for every bit of it!
The sun was beginning to disappear behind the mountains and I was just about ready for a beer and a burrito. It was an interesting days fishing on a pokey and intriguing little farmland stream. There were ups and downs, and points where I thought neither of us were going to land a fish, but it’s fair to say that I’ll remember that manic fight that I had with that brown! We got back to our cabin eager for the next days adventures, but more so at the time, the food and beer that awaited our consumption. Tomorrow, we’d tackle the illustrious trophy trout waters of the Oreti river!