You don’t often associate the north of the South Island with rainbow trout, but today was the exception. I’m staying with my good friend Felix Borenstein at Owen River Lodge, as I’ve done as often as I can (but not as often as I’d like) over the last 10 years. Usually we sight fish for very big brown trout, the area’s staple. However for some reason, this morning we decided to do something different and took a chopper ride to a remote local stream known to hold rainbows.
Once on the ground, the terrain was straightforward enough at first. But as the day wore on, the country became progressively more rugged and the instructions from our absent guide friend didn’t seem so simple anymore. How far up in to the gorge were we meant to fish exactly? And the goat track around it – did we stick with it until the end, or cut back down to the river sooner?
Ultimately, I suspect we spent more time walking, and less time fishing, than we were meant to. Still, the fishing produced some remarkable moments. A 5 pound rainbow came up and nosed my bright orange indicator, then had the decency to wait until I changed my nymph for an orange Stimulator, and ate that! Later, Felix and I spotted a big rainbow feeding in a deep slot and it came up at least a metre to take his Christmas Nymph. At 7.5 pounds, it was the best wild river rainbow either of us have seen.
Sitting here now in the lodge, fed and rehydrated, even the walk doesn’t seem so bad!