The following tale was published in a 1974 “On the River” publication published by the Federation of Hawkes Bay Angling Clubs, from which grew the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers. It was written under the pen name of “Optimist” and was true!
Fishing can be full of surprises.
On night this season (1974) I went out to the river. It was a nice night and the fish were rising.
The river which flows through farm country, is a good one for dry fly, so I tied on a dry fly and in the first pool hooked and landed a 3 pounder, In the next pool I missed one and so I went further upstream. There were two good fish in the next pool. I tried for the lower one which turned out to be a poorly conditioned four pounder, a jack with a big ugly bulb on his jaw.
Upstream was the other fish, still rising and feeding avidly. It refused my dry fly. It seemed to be sub-surface feeding so I switched to a Hare’s Ear nymph.
I was positioned now under a high bank with grass on top and to get a cast, I had to throw my back cast high. I watched my back cast in the half light. It just cleared the high bank behind.
I started to cast and then it hooked up behind me. Blast!
I clambered up and unhooked it from a nodding thistle. Back to the river again. Again the backcast. The line stopped dead. It was caught up again!
Muttering comments about the ancestry of nodding thistles, I began to clamber up the bank holding my rod in one hand. Suddenly my rod pulled and the reel screamed.
I held my rod aloft. Thoughts of a hooked sheep went through my mind. But it wasn’t a sheep for when I breasted the crest of the bank, I saw in the dusky light, a low dark shape streaking into the paddock. Thirty, forty, fifty yards of line disappeared and then I was into the backing.
Shades of a big, fit Tongariro rainbow!
I applied pressure. The object urned to one side under the pressure and moved in a big arc. It kept going backwards and forwards in arcs and I reckon about twenty times. I was so dizzy.
The “fish” must’ve been too. It then stopped by a log. I lay the rod down and hand-lined my way, walking towards it as I did so.
It was a hare, utterly bewildered, totally exhausted.
Quickly restoring my equilibrium from the battle and constant turning, I pounced and grabbed the hare and killed it.
Believe it or not, the little Hare’s Ear nymph was firmly embedded in the poor hare’s ear.