Weather predictions were against us trekking into the mountains. Instead we opted for the lower reaches of the river in the tribal lands. While not as many as others I know, I do have a few notches in the cork for some decent river fish, but I don’t hunt for them specifically. My interests draw me rather to the higher reaches, those pristine streams in wild placees. The rivers that flow through the tribal lands are far from pristine, impacted by human activities, erosion, litter and use of its waters for some of the rural communities daily chores. Despite this, these water are known for holding larger fish.
Photo Warren Brigg
We parked above the causeway at the spot that is used by local taxi drivers for washing their vehicles when business is slow. We were almost immediately surrounded by a small group of youngsters interested in our activities as we strung our rods and tackled up. A final request for ‘sweeets’ and with nothing forthcoming, they returned to swimming in the bridge pool that they shared with a group of women busy with their daily washing chores – blankets draped over sun drenched boulders and a colourful mix of clothing hung out to dry along the barbed wire fence.
We walked downstream towards the confluence with a small tributary that we were keen to explore. About 400m from the causeway, Piet spotted a pod of decent scallies in a deeper pool and decided to have a go, Mark stayed with him and Colin and I walked a little further downstream.
Waiting for Piet and Mark to catch up we stood at the edge of a promising looking run. Midstream, there was a large boulder just subsurface, the main current rushed past on the opposite side and through a deep slot. I decided to make a cast, nothing fancy just really to pass some time. I dropped the bushy RAB into the main current a meter or two upstream of the boulder. It raced downstream towards the tail of the run, nothing. My second cast was the same. As it passed the boulder a large buttery spotted shape rose out of the slot and turned under the fly, Colin swore, “what the f#*k”, my heart pounded in my chest. “Did you see the size of that thing?” he asked. How could I miss it. I cast again. This time the big brown rose and engulfed the RAB, turned and porpoised showing the full breadth of its shoulders and large dorsal fin. It was big, very big certainly the biggest wild river trout I’d ever had on the end of my line. I felt the weight and let it swim down while keeping minimal tension to protect the fine 6X tippet, fighting the urge to rush it. Back in its holding lie, it was solid. I wondered if it even knew it was hooked. I had to get it to move into open water. Increasing the pressure the brown must have felt the steely prick, then the thump, thump as the head bashing started, typical of big browns. I was never in control, I increased pressure and then, that sinking feeling as the bend in the rod straightened, the line went limp and drifted on the current – the big brown and the RAB were gone.
I was thankful that Colin was able to validate the story otherwise it may have joined the ranks of just another fishy tale. We went back to the spot the next day and tried a variety of dries and weighted nymphs, nothing. A wise old brown – once pricked twice shy.
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