It was a rainy miserable morning for salmon fishing – but the fish were there!
My alarm is always set at 3:15 am during the salmon season. It is almost a routine of quietly getting out of bed, take a quick a shower then into the kitchen for breakfast. Then I fill my thermos up with hot bell tea for later in the day.
This particular morning I awoke to the pleasant sound of rain on the tin roof of my home. Naturally, I think to myself I should just go back to bed but the other part of me knows that these conditions at times can be very productive! And hopefully, there shouldn’t be many on the water.
As 4 am rolls past, my good fishing friend Issac Eaton sends me the usual heads up that he is on his way to mine. We load up and continue our way down to the north side boat ramp in the now extremely heavy south-west rain and wind. When we arrive and were reluctant to actually leave the warmth of the truck.
Putting multiple warm layers on and the rain jackets we jumped into Issac’s Hamilton Jet 20 and made our way down the long lagoon in the half-light that was a laugh in itself. The rain felt like shards of sharp glass as we boated into the storm! It was unpleasant but we were committed now. Our plan was to anchor up against the main current line in the gut as the day before we noticed salmon rising in this particular area.
At our planned destination, it was clear that the wind was too strong to anchor up where we wanted to. The boat kept swinging north and kept us off the ideal path just off the heavy water.
We parked up in a small bay on the north side and joined a small picket fence of familiar locals. Nothing was seen or hooked in the 40 mins we were there so we returned back to the boat for a cuppa and many of the others followed suit. Others returned to their warm batches to get shelter from the rain.
Issac pointed out that the south side gut water looked better and possibly deeper and we would get minor shelter from the sou’west wind being on the south spit at the water’s edge. Parking the boat on the south side gut now we arrived to see local Martin hook up land a nice 6kg fish.
Fantastic there might be a few more here. As the outgoing tide turned, the odd salmon started rising around us. What made this even better was that the four other remaining anglers decided to leave as well back to their south side huts.
Not long after that friend and manager Simon McMillan arrived at the mouth to salmon fish in these wild conditions. I was fishing my favourite method down the Rakaia River gut and that’s with a medium silver Colorado spoon 6ft trace and 2 1/2oz banana sinker, its the easiest way to fish the bottom and gets your gear in the zone quicker.
More salmon kept rising and our enthusiasm grew. My gear was swinging through nicely on the odd occasion tapping the bottom to make sure I’m at the correct depth. I can feel the constant hum from the Colorado spoon and the tension from the heavy lead sinker. Suddenly, then in a flash, the hum stopped and the slightest weight came off my sinker! BANG I strike thumb on the spool and in an upstream arc. Then came the part we all enjoy; the slow head shakes that follow to confirm its a salmon!
Issac came over to help and Simon full of high spirits starts yelling out banter from afar! I walked this salmon the 50m back upstream basically to the back of the parked boat and the rest was history. Another cuppa was in order in the pouring rain.
It was nearly half outgoing tide by now and there were salmon rising quite often in the gut just below us. I rejoined the guys happy and with a hot cuppa in my stomach, I was ready for action again.
It wouldn’t have been more than 20 minutes and I was into my second salmon for the morning. This one more had more fight and attempted to take me out the mouth but with patience, I walked this guy back up the river current into a small pocket where Issac tailed it. You bloody beauty bagged out down at ma local in miserable weather and the salmon are present. The followed another hot cuppa and I return to the guys with my camera in hand this time and sit on the wet stones feeling rather smitten.
More and more salmon kept rising and it was only a matter of time before one of the guys would be in!
Another good friend Scotty Mclean joined us by boating across. It’s funny how news travels fast these days! Cast after cast and the fish kept coming through. Then Issac yells “YEP” great he’s on! The battle begins. Issac tired his salmon and Simon was there to tail it for him. The guys continued to fish for another hour in the horrible weather.
Issac needed to be home around midday so we picked up the anchor and went home via a stop at the Southbridge pub to weigh our salmon in.
I really enjoy salmon fishing, especially catching salmon, but I enjoy it more shared with the company of good friends.