Long hot weekend

As the scales on the weigh-net tipped 5lbs I allowed myself a small measure of smug self satisfaction not really believing I deserved it. Emergency response experts often talk about the incident pit – the scenario where one mistake builds on another and another and before long you’ve got a disaster.  My little potential pit began because I’d only recently reorganised my tippet spools and added some 2X 3lb for some fussy small rainbows – so the 4X 6 lb was now number three in the stack, instead of the 3X 8.2 lb. My headlamp battery had gone flat after an accidental pocket turn on the night before and then I’d forgotten to change the batteries. In the failing twilight I’d tied on a leader by “feel” thinking it was the 3x when really it was the lighter 4X, then added a big brown woolly bugger because it had an enormous eye I could thread the tippet through by holding it up against the last of the light on the horizon. Then I hooked this nice brown 10 metres offshore mid way between 2 tree stumps whilst standing next to a waist high wire fence disappearing into the water.

I immediately knew there would be no ceremonious head shaking 10 minute battle to report – I would have to drag it in. Phil raced along the bank with the net whilst at the same time somewhere deep in my cerebral cortex the realisation dawned tippet stack position 3 was the lighter tippet definitely not suitable for the required heave-ho approach. For non technical readers all that means is I’d stuffed up my tippet selection, and taken a huge risk with my knots leaving me ill equipped for the challenge. All I could think of was this furious fish crashing around on the surface, and my preparation errors – so I let it run, once. It screamed off 15 metres of line and took a dive into the bottom of a swamp full of snags where it lunged and angrily shook its head. With Phil and net in position I started a steady retrieve letting the rod absorb the lunges and praying the woolly would stick.  With typical mastery Phil netted the fish on just the second attempt – the first no doubt my inept attempt to guide it in.  Less than three minutes and it was all over – it should have been a disaster but the little collection of Solomon Islands fish gods sitting at home in the office must have been aligned in accordance with the instructions.

Over a 3 day weekend where the mercury regularly spent its days in the 30’s we fished Tantangara, the Murrumbidgee downstream of the dam, and Lake Eucumbene in the evenings.  On Tantangara we had little success. A light easterly meant we could Polaroid the eastern shore in the early morning but we got there a bit late and probably made the wrong choice of banks to hunt. By the time we found a few good fish – including one monster – the clouds and light were stopping us seeing them properly.  We fished the western shore but the water was over 23 degrees and the fish just didn’t come out to play – just the odd tempting rise way out in the lake.  The Murrumbidgee gave us some nice fish, browns and rainbows. Further downstream the fish were plentiful and small. Nearer the dam wall bigger and plentiful. There were masses of dragon flies and damsel flies all along the banks and plenty of hoppers on the banks.  One evening I struggled on Eucumbene but Phil did well. Another we both got onto fish; as well as the 5 lb brown I caught, I got smashed up by another, and Phil hooked a monster that just simply came off mid fight as well as landing a mix of rainbows and browns.

Already you can sense the days shortening and it’s starting to cool.  Another few weeks and Caddigat Lakes will fire again and then it’ll be this year’s early Easter upon us.  Just 4 weeks until I leave for NZ with Corrigan and 12 days of travel and fish so if you’re friendly with any of the NZ weather gods have a quiet word please.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fly of the week for the lakes is any mid size mud-eye pattern, or unweighted WB and WW fished from dusk until after dark in the surface film short jerky retrieves and move a bit of water with the fly. Size 12 or 14 green nymph for earlier on in the lakes.  For the ‘bidgee hopper patterns, clinkhammers – fish big, high and dry and as Phil said “don’t think how small a tippet can I get away with, but rather how big a tippet can I get away with”. Sage words on more than a couple of occasions this weekend when 2 or 3 lb fish would have nailed us in the undercut or weed were it not for 8lb tippet.

 

Tight tippets all!

Steve