Undercuts & Cloud 9

Fish moments come and go and there’ve been many in my life, but there are a few that truly stand out above the rest. This one is one of those. It was Jan 27, 2012. It’s not the trout’s substantial size that had me on cloud 9, but where and how I caught it and who I got to share the moment with. Picture yourself in a gorgeous mountain valley, looking up to a glacier capped mountain in the distance, standing on the banks of a tiny spring creek that is less than 9 feet wide, with fast flowing, crystal clear water and undercut banks that would blow your mind in depth. Add to that being able to share the place with someone you deeply care about. Then picture seeing a large bluish, grey shadow surfing in and out of the main seam from under the banks, picking off nymphs. You get a glimpse of the fish and then it’s gone way under the bank, but you know it’s not left the run. You know it’s big, but you have no idea what you’re in for.

undercut bank
A good fish heading to the undercut!

Dave had sighted this fish for me, as I was on the other side of the bank and had not seen it yet. I came over to his side of the river and got into position. One cast on the left side of the seam and the fish wanted my nymph. Then the fight. It tore under the undercuts on both sides of the river and my 4wt rod was bent to its max, the fly line disappearing into Never-Never land below the undercuts. It’s the kind of water where the biggest challenge isn’t so much the cast as it is landing a fish, because the escape cover is so much in the fish’s favour.

I fought the fish with my rod doing the “5 D’s of Dodgeball”: Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive and Dodge motions repeatedly. The rainbow then decided to jam itself under a bank. Dave could see the impending doom unfolding and jumped in after it to help me out. I slowly pulled a little harder to try to bring it out from the undercut, while cringing inside that I was likely to break him off. Dave got a quick view of its tail and managed to grab it, landing it for me – no net required! I was beside myself happy and basking in an insane adrenaline rush from the fight. I think the photo Dave took of me says it all.

As a keepsake, we have the most bent out nymph I think I’ve ever seen and this particular fly not only hooked my fish that day, but an equally impressive male rainbow that Dave had landed only 20 minutes prior to mine. You could definitely say it was an “epic” day.

Trophy Rainbow Trout
We managed to land it!

I’ve always thought I would catch some monster sized fish in New Zealand, but I never suspected that one of my biggest would be a rainbow, since the majority of fish we go for are browns. It’s truly a moment with a fish that will live on forever in my mind.

Another meaningful aspect of the whole experience for me was that I had been fly fishing for 17 years, but on that trip I had a 2 week stretch where I put forward some of the best, most consistent fishing I’ve ever done since I started enjoying this sport. I’m one to analyze and critique my skills heavily so when people talk about being at the top of their game, I think I can actually say this applied to me, which is truly an awesome feeling. I’ve never stuck to one sport or interest for as long as I have fly fishing and now I’m reaping the rewards of perpetually working to improve my skills. There’s no question, it’s paid off.

Amelia Jensen

2 thoughts on “Undercuts & Cloud 9

  • October 16, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    I was at Fortress lake several years ago. 3 friends and myself spent a
    Week in late August 2012 at the camp. Guides said they would never forget our fun group. Maybe they tell every client that.
    We had hopes of meeting you and Dave. I recall being told you were hiking in the day we flew out.
    I have followed you guys on Facebook since.
    Hope to return with my wife or my 3 adult sons someday. Maybe both. We enjoy having our guy trip every year. maybe I can be lucky enough to return twice. I am so lucky my wife loves fly fishing as much as me. Clint Hartman Fort Collins, CO

  • October 16, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    Hi Clint – great to hear from you! 🙂 Not every group gets the guides’ kudos, trust us on that! 🙂 There are great guests just like great guides – when you meet them you certainly appreciate them. Glad that you are here and thanks for the reply. We’ll keep sharing and hope to see you in the future. Those big brookies at Fortress had a solid bump up in sizes since your trip.


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