Saturday, 19 April 2014

Hardcore pikers go ultra light trouting.

Last week me and Woody dropped on a few trout so we decided to have a better crack at them with a little more time. Struggling to sort a full day out as I had plans one day and he did too the next, so we just had to go for it and make the most of a few hours in the morning. The night before I was trying to figure out what I would need for a trouting session, and more importantly what I wouldn't need. Travelling light would give us mobility, but we were scraping up stuff to do the job. Lures weren't a problem as we both had plenty that would catch trout.

We knew brownies were here but had little experience on this river. Woody had fished it before a long time ago but for me the venue was all new. I do love fishing new spots, especially when they are quiet and out in the middle of no where. After a while of hunting out pools, crashing through the bank side vegetation to get to the river, hanging out from behind tress to run a lure through a fishy swim, it reminded me of my river chubbing days as a kid. We couldn't wait to get to the next swim every time to see what was in store, holding back and fishing each spot properly was hard. Often the fish came first couple of chucks but we also knew that covering the swim correctly could throw up more or even better fish.

Ugly duckling 2S
The first fish of the day came from the first swim. The water was probably about a foot deep, a bit of flow to it with small pools either side which looked promising. Trying to be as quiet as possible while clambering down the bank so we could get a cast in wasn't easy with still a tiny bit of frost from the cold night before lingering on vegetation. We tested the pool right under our feet before casting across to another pool on the far side. In between us was some fast water and as my tiny Ugly Duckling crank worked it's way through the rapids, I was met with a bend in the rod. I love using a new lure and catching on it, you have complete confidence in it from the off. A spirited fight ensued though I could tell it wasn't a lump, but a welcome fish and a great start.

Ugly duckling 2S
We worked a hundred yard stretch, clambering banks, dropping the lures in the near and far side pools  and working the faster water. We knew that the lures would probably get nailed as soon as they were seen so we were confident that between us we'd covered the water. We managed a few more follows and hits  between us but nothing stuck. Time to move on, but a really fishy looking spot of rapids and pools was met with not a sniff. We reckoned this was a place that must get hammered as it was an obvious spot and the worn out banks gave away the biggest tell tale sign of other anglers. We moved on and just around the corner we had a bit of fishy action, again some follows and hits. Fish on and off. These small trout were hitting at lightening speed and then managing to unhook themselves just as quickly. More follows came, sometimes small fish though occasionally something a little bigger would come along. The fish seemed to stay low, just a foot or two back from the lure, so the use of polaroid glasses was essential or you would never know that fish were in the area. Casting back at these follows we would pick up the odd fish. For me again, the Ugly Duckling doing the business while Woody was using small shad raps, plus we also mixed it up with small silver or copper spinners.

We were now in to guerilla warfare mode and had to creep through trees, bushes and branches to get to the river. The constant battle with tangles and hook ups with these branches proved not just annoying but a distraction. While you're faffing with trees you're not fishing and similarly when on the riverside we often struggled to cast and were forever flicking our lures out of the branches above our heads. Despite all this, the fishing proved to be much better and we were getting more rewards. More follows from bigger fish but as yet none converted in to fish on the bank. A flurry of small trout came before finally something larger was landed. We found a half decent sized pool that screamed trout and first cast Woody had a follow from a small one. He cast back out but this time his shad rap was nailed by something bigger and all hell broke loose.This fish went a bit mental and gave a good scrap on the ultra light rod before finally it was in the net. The first decent fish of the day.

We expected the swim to have been spooked but still gave it a go as you never know. We'd taken a bit of time unhooking and photographing so may be the tiny rest would help? I still had a silver spinner on, cast to the far bank, let it sink a little and then started a fast retrieve. It got smacked and my rod whacked round before another similar sized trout leapt about four feet in to the air and flicked the lure free. A super sight to see and I don't mind losing fish to something so spectacular. Moving on again we kept plucking out small trout from random bits of water, sometimes really fishy areas, other times just having a crack in the shallows. We eventually found another spot which looked trouty as hell, Woody one side of a tree and me squeezing in at the other side. Woody had some interest straight away with fish battling to get close to the lure and then first cast out, half way back across the river my little duckling wiggling across river suddenly disappeared as the flash of fish whizzed across my view, I was in. Again this fish was bigger than most and it went ballistic, leaping two feet out of the water on more than one occasion before finally I could get the net under for my first proper trout.

Ugly duckling 2S

For the rest of the session it was more small fish landed, more small fish on and off with every now and again a better fish sighted following. On one occasion I was over looking a pool, struggling to cast around and under a tree to get to it. There was a flash as a decent fish struck at the lure and missed but it hit again. I lifted, saw the fish shake its head twice and the lure pulled free. A better fish and Woody a little further away shouted he'd seen a proper trout follow. We moved on and a couple more trout were banked. It was coming close to me having to get off home so we had a quick brew and then planned to skip most of the river on the way back except a couple of the better spots where we'd had the bigger fish or seen them. At the spot where Woody had seen the biggest fish we both had a chuck. I had a follow from something decent but it went quiet. I moved off around the other side of a bush to try another angle and Woody stayed where he was, still trying to tempt that big fish out from the dark hole it was hiding in, this time using a small Salmo which had a good lip to help it get down. I couldn't really get to fish the spot I'd moved in to so I followed the bend around and crossed the river, climbing up the far bank. I figured I could get a different angle of Woody fishing for a photo. I stood and watched him as I pulled out the camera. Woody shouted to say a fish was following, and then I saw it come steaming up from behind. Some of the follows from bigger fish had been a bit timid and shy. This fish was charging straight for it and even from where I was I could see it was a good one. It nailed the lure right below his feet, the surface erupted and the battle was on.

The trout tore off across river, upstream and downstream and I think it even launched itself airborne a couple of time. I was a bit far off but could still see the fight, in fact I'd probably got the best seat in the house for this. Woody was fishing off a steep bank and I'd left him my long handled landing net just in case. I could have tried to get around to help him land this fish in an awkward spot but I felt that by the time I got there it would be over. So I just watched and took photos, aren't I a great help. One ore two dicey moments as the trout tried for cover, with a soft ultra light rod there isn't too much you can do to stop them. Woody was getting the upper hand but to land this fish would be a bit tricky. I clicked away as the water around the net was thrown all over. Finally Woody had it in the net and the last fish of the day was landed. A super fish, much bigger than the others we'd had and a fitting end to a super little session.

Not a bad little distraction to pike fishing and a nice change of target species. I've had brownies before but never really set out just to catch them as we did today. We had some great sport with a few better fish thrown in and just being out among the perfect little river, the wildlife and the peace and quiet was fantastic. I'm sure we'll do this again some time.


  1. Great report Paul. Some cracking spotties there bud!

    1. Yeah we did ok mate, good bit of fun and makes a change for us.