Small Stream Fishing – A Canterbury Day to Remember

The fish went half way down the concrete culvert. Small stream fishing.

Small Stream Fishing – Down the Culvert by Piscator

A pretty spotted brown trout from a small stream, spring creek.
A pretty spotted brown trout from a small stream, spring creek.

The day was mid-week, a Wednesday. I remember it well, not only for the incidents I am about to relate but for the fact that it was a perfect day after a Clayton’s summer of cloud, cold winds and wet. A glorious morning spilt into the bedroom as I drew back the drapes. Why did it have to be a workday? I reached for my diary. My workload was light and I figured that if I pulled my finger out I could be finished before lunch. My mind was on small stream fishing!

Excited now by the prospect of an afternoon’s fishing, which of course was what was on my mind, I wondered how Greg was fixed for taking some time off. A quick phone call confirmed that he too thought it an opportunity not to be missed, and we made arrangements to meet later. It constantly amazes me how much can be accomplished in a short space of time given enough incentive, and so it was that before noon I was speeding on my way to rendezvous with Greg.

Perfect conditions to stalk spooky browns

The sun continued to beam down benignly from a clear blue sky and the lightest whisper of a southwest wind stirred the tops of the willows, while not a cloud blotted the horizon. In other words ”perfik” I thought, as I pulled my car in next to Greg’s.

”What kept you?” greeted me as I climbed out of the car. ”I’ve already seen the landholder and there are no problems, so get a move on.”

Greg, like me, was anxious to take advantage of the perfect conditions to stalk spooky browns in shallow, clear streams. Unfortunately, the April sun lacks the higher elevation of summer and failed to give us the visibility needed. The stream remained shrouded in shadows from the high banks and encroaching vegetation.

Three fish were spooked before Greg suggested another water fifteen minutes drive away. I deferred to his judgment, as small stream fishing is his forte. In fact, seldom do I match his catch rate or level of skill in this, his chosen discipline. There have been days when he so outfished me as to leave me feeling not only humbled but humiliated. One such day had occurred two or three seasons ago, the last time we had fished together on the stream we were now heading for. Memories of that experience were uppermost in my mind as we drew up near the road bridge.

“You may as well wait here while I do the rounds to get permission from the three landholders,” said Greg. There are usually several fish in the pool upstream of the bridge. Yes, there they were, one good fish midstream and nymphing strongly, a real sitter. I smiled as the gem of an idea and temptation took hold.

What if I could steal a march on Greg? Selecting a size 14 possum bead-head I attached it to my 3 lb tippet and began casting when I saw Greg’s car cross the bridge below me.

My first two casts were short, the third one good. The trout turned down after the nymph.
“Oh, you’ve already started! Oh, you’re into one!” exclaimed Greg, while my rod took on a satisfying curve. Ah, the sweetness of it all.

”Try to keep him downstream,” called Greg. ”I can see a good fish above him.”

I gave Greg the pleasure of netting and releasing a fat two pounder before it was his turn to fish to the larger trout above.

The bloody fish has gone down the so and so culvert!

This one lay in a deep little channel and studiously ignored the contents of Greg’s flybox, which he persisted in showing it. I began to lose interest and turned away until I was brought back by cursing and splashing. A cheeky little fish had darted across, took Greg’s nymph and now proceeded to jump all over the pool! Needless to say, this gave occasion for some good-natured ribbing and laughter from us both, until suddenly Greg cried out, ”Oh shit!”

“What’s wrong now?” I asked.

“The bloody fish has gone down the so and so culvert. Sure enough, we had laughed so hard that Greg lost control of the fish and now it was halfway down the concrete culvert under the road, flapping about in the fast water and taking the line.

“I’ll have to follow it,” said a surprised Greg. I hooted with laughter, grabbed my camera from the
car and ran across the road with it, while Greg scrambled through the culvert and eventually landed his 8oz trophy.

Ah yes, small stream fishing. I remember it well! 

Canterbury Fly Fishing Club

Greg reappears from the concrete culvert under the road with his trout. Small stream fishing.
Greg reappears from the concrete culvert under the road with his trout.


more recommended stories