Woops! I’ve said it wrong all the time. Yesterday, when I was heading back to Gore in the foul, icily nagging rain that ruined a fishing day for the three of us, I realized while driving over a bridge that it’s actually Duckwing Creek instead of Duckwing River.( In front of every bridge in NZ, there’s a yellow sign telling which river one’s crossing)
I can’t believe I’ve had it wrong all the time. But honestly, it’s more of a river than a creek anyways.
I, Alex and Jacob had three interesting days of fishing on the “creek”. Day one delivered superb, warm, sunny and generally mild conditions with fish rising in every little stretch of water. Don’t get me wrong though, its paradise, yes. But placing a fly in front of any of these fish without them suspecting malicious intents is pretty hard. Once they get suspicious they carefully investigate the area around them before proceeding with another attempt of feeding, which they prefer to do undisturbed. If they do investigate without finding anything and then do return to feeding; the next cast is sure to spook the trout for good.
However, when a cast is successful and results in the trout taking the fly, it does not necessarily end in cries of victory. The trout of Duckwing Creek can be incredibly strong and fit for fight. And with a 2 kg breaking strain tippet, which most often are required in order to fool the fish, the fight is not too often won by a human – especially not against the more obese inhabitants of the river.
Just as the sun first entered the stage the cicadas started their loud singing that kills any kind of fly-choosing related anxiety. There were two fish rushing from corner to corner in the stretch that seemed to be their hood. They seemed to be fighting over the first few cicadas, the first ones that would make their slip and jump into the water just to get fiercely devoured by that which was lurking below.
Jacob saw the two crazy fish that seemed to have heard the call of the cicada from above. He placed his favorite fly in front of them both. One of them didn’t hesitate, that one thought himself to be the one who would get the first juicy cicada for the day. But, after a nerving fight the fish finally ended up in Jacobs net.
Alex was scouting further downstream while I and Jacob decided to start fishing upstream from where the last fish was landed. Shortly thereafter we came to a halt, a stretch with at least four frequently rising trout. Now it was my turn. I craved a fish so badly this day that the whole of my body where shaking. “Must not make mistakes, must not fail, must not make mistakes”, my voice echoed through my head.
While casting for a rising trout in shallow and calm water, It feels like it’s hundreds of things that can go wrong contra the one only thing that can go right. My cicada caught its attention twice. The trout, seemingly aware of fakers, denied. Sweating, shaking and to the sound of my pounding pulse, I changed my fly to a fat blowfly.
It took a few tries before I got it right. Jacob was on the front raw witnessing the take from a bank, hiding in the thistles. “He’s gonna’ take it this time”. In that, I didn’t believe until the slowly moving shadow finally collided with the fly with a mere dimple on the surface. The fat terrestrial vanished. To my surprise I performed a good strike and the fish were on. This one fought like a Spartan and with a crushing blow he, or she, ripped the line in midair.
I threw my rod in the water while screaming like a psycho.
Life goes on though. Jacob left us in order to get some water by the car. Meanwhile, me and Alex tried for a few rising trout and did so without results. We continued past a pool, I was just casting an eye on it since I knew Jacob’s been on about a huge trout in that pool for quite some time. Just before we left it behind I saw a gentle ripple on the surface. I told Alex we had yet another trout to spook and he agreed. He stated that the trout probably was small and that I should succeed. Avoiding a spook wouldn’t be that hard though; I could simply put the fly out from far away to let it drift by from the side.
The trout was a cruiser, busy eating from the surface. I saw the ripples coming closer to my drifting little terrestrial imitation. Dip… dip… dip… and the fly passed by whilst the dipping continued on the other side of the fly. He must’ve seen it that time. With little hope I tried once more. The trout didn’t rise any more, leaving me clueless of its whereabouts. But I putted the fly up in front of the pool to let it drift by the whole thing. Suddenly my eyes, which were strictly focused on the fly, lost subject and all that were left was yet another gentle ripple on the surface.
I set the strike and screamed out in happiness as I felt that it was successful. This time I didn’t underestimate the power of the fish. A good idea as this fish’s strength was not to be underestimated. The strongest I’ve fought so far down here. It launched into the air several times and landed with an explosion. After several minutes in adrenalin-heaven (or maybe hell?), Alex finally got her in the net while I saw the fly fall out of her mouth.
Before breaking in half, the rusty old hook made it until the very last second.
This is by far the neatest condition of a trout I’ve ever seen.
Her body could’ve fed an entire family, could have.
A few minutes later, we could hear the voice of Jacob screaming out for help with photography with a beast he just recently caught. Apparently, Jacob had got stopped by the sight of a beast on the way back to the car. He managed to hook it, and it sure was a big one. But the fish had the line snap almost instantly. Instead, he caught this big papa jack as a consolation, as if a fish like this could go under the term “consolation price”. No, this fish was just as massive and beautiful as one can ask for.
After this the day was pretty much over, if not only for some. Jacob and Alex went to sleep at 7 in the evening already which led to me going on a cruise along the river until it got dark. I managed to have two fish sucking my terrestrials in but without getting them on the hook.
The following two days were pretty much vandalized by the bad rainy weather. Even though the weather did what it did we still had a few takes without results. The last and rainiest day, I had a fish on that could’ve been better than my Rahu Beast, but a really bad knot didn’t allow me to even feel the triumph of hooking the fish for more than five seconds.
So, during my last 48 hours in life I’ve told myself, at least ten times per hour, to let the trout run after hooking, to not use rusty hooks and to never tie my knots in a rush.
I’m currently back lurking in Gore, but I will hopefully return shortly to Duckwing Creek for more.
I just have to put another shot of the fat fish, I think that it’s needed to mete out justice properly.