Slow, Deep, and BIG


Kau Tapen, March 8–15, 2014

As I mentioned last week, changing weather conditions have forced us to switch up our regular tactics: from small nymphs and rubber legs on intermediate tips to a more robust system of 3- to 4-inch leeches in bright chartreuse and orange tones fished on fast sinking tips, going down to a T20 in the deepest pools. After ten weeks on the trot, it’s a style of fishing that suits us guides perfectly. Gone are the sessions where guests need constant tutelage and adjustments in terms of fly choice and swing speeds. Instead, we’re taking on a more relaxed demeanour, confident in the knowledge that slow, deep, and big is the best approach.

Considering the excellent catch statistics from Week 10, icluding the highest average weight for the season, the process is working. And we’re seeing larger, aggressive male fish factoring heavily into our catch counts, alongside some impressive females.

Orazzio Gatti’s report card for the week is a testament to the quality of fish this river produces. Gatti landed 19 fish. His top three weighed in at 22, 19 and 17 pounds. Fishing alone, his 22 pounder was skilfully beached on the bank, while his guide managed to arrive just in time for the all-important photo shoot.
Ponoi regular, Laurence Kiernan and his wife Andrea joined us from Germany. While Laurence battled with cold conditions on the river, Andrea adopted a more relaxed approach and took residency beside the cosy log fire in the lodge. Coming off the river each evening frozen to the bone, I looked at her enviously. Laurence landed some superb fish, but came just short of achieving his quest for a 20 pounder… maybe next time.

Our top rod for the week, Chris O’Neill, fished with his wife Diane. Both steelheaders from California, their Skagit and MOW tip approach was perfectly matched to the conditions. Together they accounted for 36 fish, biggest of which was 19 pounds.

Fishing partners Alistair Sheach and Thomas Muir of Scotland got off to a slow start, but landing a combined 13 fish on Wednesday seemed to relax their nerves and send their confidence through the roof. Thomas got the accolade of landing the joint biggest fish of the week at 22 pounds. While on his final night, Alistair, in a melodic Scottish twang, paid homage to the guide team by reciting a piece of poetry that would put the most gifted with a pen to shame.
UK duo Alex and Robert proved to be a huge hit with the guides. Two guys solely interested in having as much craic as possible, their jokes and stories (all of which are unrepeatable) were a refreshing replacement to the more commonly heard “BIG FISH” tales.

Sugai Yasuji, a flyfishing photographer, joined us all the way from Japan. He worked tirelessly through the week to hook as many fish as possible, only to hand over his rod to the guide and start snapping shots of the ensuing fight. It was a most unusual scenario for a guide, but a welcome change of scene nonetheless. His fishing partner, Jonathan, struggled early in the week with lighter tackle, but once the heavy gear was embraced the trout followed. He landed a total of 15 fish for his week.

A rise in water on the last days fishing curtailed our efforts to break the 200-fish barrier, however the spike bodes well for the remainder of the season. Initial catch statistics from the first days of this week suggest that our waters have an even spread of fish throughout.

Total Rod catch: 199; No. Hooked: 288; Top 4 fish: 22, 22, 19, 17

[Matthew Solon is head guide at Kau Tapen Lodge.]

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