Posted by on Nov 28, 2013 in The Faraway Blog | 0 comments

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A while back three of us fished one of the many small streams that flow into Lake Hawea, deep on New Zealand’s South Island. I’ve fished it before, finding a mix of rainbows and browns in the 3-6 pound range. After going deep for ‘bows in a bottomless pool we moved upstream to a riffle that looked perfect for a big, bushy Royal Wulff. It’s a go-to fly just about anywhere, particularly useful in faster water where its buoyancy and visibility have few equals. The stream here has pace and delicate dries just don’t cut it in that kind of water.

You have to earn these fish. Cast, mend, tip down and concentrate. Nope. Try a little closer to the foam line and….nope. Fly is still dry, put a little more double haul on it and go closer to the wall…and what the hell is that?  A great head has just risen vertically out of the water, right to the fins, and the fly is gone. There’s something not right about the whole thing, but that can wait. Hold, wait and…bang!

Fish on.

It’s not a long fight but what comes up in the net is bizarre. He’s a massive brown, as long as my arm, but thin. In New Zealand a spawned fish is called a slab. (A slab is also a case of beer, so be careful how you use that.)  He must have been great once but now is something of a ghost. After a quick picture I put him back and he moves off, slowly at first then with confidence. I feel a little bad for having caught him when he’s obviously recovering.

Is this the ugliest trout ever? No. He’s a perfectly splendid fish. I love ‘em all…even when they’re down on their luck.

Fly Girl