For the first time in quite a few years, this group was brand new to the river and it was great to see new faces reacting to the fishing and the lodge. It is sometimes easy to become blasé when you see the same thing over and over again and it was wonderful to see their enthusiasm shine through.
We were probably slightly unlucky with our weather in that it rained very hard just before we got there which gave the river a milky tinge for our first two sessions but after that we landed a good number.
One of the main reasons of fishing the East Ranga is to catch serious numbers of fish and we did that again this year but there was one key difference. The average size of the fish was much, much bigger than we could have reasonably expected. We landed 5 fish over 10kgs (22lbs) and a huge amount between 6-8kgs – fresh off the tide, these fish fought incredibly hard and we lost as many as we landed.
It is a smolt release river and the managers have deliberately only bred from the largest fish and this policy is now really beginning to pay dividends. If you land a bigger fish, the guide will take it to a box in the river where the fish will be kept until taken away to the hatchery to be stripped. For making your contribution to the future of the river you will be given two sides of smoked salmon.
All of the smaller fish are taken for the smokery and at the end of the trip you can exchange the fresh fish for delicious smoked fish at a ratio of 4kgs to 1kg. We all came home with a lot of smoked salmon which will not only make excellent eating but will also make superb presents.
We took the lodge exclusively which meant that we were 18 rods and we landed 125 fish in the 3 days. It could have been more as the grilse run seemed to be a bit late but overall our team were happy to forgo more fish for the increased average weight of the fish that we did catch.
The food was delicious, the logistics were seamless and we enjoyed a fantastic dinner courtesy of our Icelandic hosts which was a great way to start the trip.
As ever, the guides were top class and whilst the more experienced rods landed the most fish, everyone improved their casting and every rod caught fish which was a very satisfying aspect to the trip.
There are just not that many rivers left in the world where you can consistently catch large numbers of fish and being able to leave your office on Thursday morning and be back at Heathrow on Sunday evening does mean that it is very doable for even the busiest person. The East Ranga remains one of our most popular destinations and it was good to remind myself why that is the case.
The river is fully booked for the remainder of the season but if you would like to know more about it for 2017 then please do not hesitate to contact me.