The Big One – Fishing story but true!

(haha – has this happened to you)

One day I was fishing the lower Tongariro River and I was about to have a cuppa when I spotted an old timer already sitting down having a brew so I decided to join him. After the initial introductions, as is common with fishermen, a conversation began. The old timer, (we’ll call him Jack), told me of a great experience he had on this river some 40 or so years ago.

Jack said “I was walking along the high bank on the true right of the river and spotted a huge brown resting under the willow on the other side. I studied the Trout’s beat for some time and worked out a plan of how I could catch him. I figured my best chance was to come back just on dark. I could see a platform down the bank that I could adequately cast a big streamer to him. I was keeping an eye on the current and picked out a landmark that I could cast to that would put my streamer into the food lane of the fish. I figured a big woolly bugger would be my bait.”

Under the willows.

“So how did it go?”, I asked. “Well”, Jack said, “I came back just on dark and threw the perfect cast. As luck would have it, I was hooked up immediately. It was a strong head shaking movement typical of a big brown Jack. There was no bolting down the current. This fish was holding its position with enormous power giving the odd jerk every now and then. When I saw this fish in the daytime I estimated it to be about 12 pounds but this felt bigger. Could I have a 15 pounder I thought.”
“The adrenaline must have really been kicking in” I said.

The woolly bugger that ‘did it’.

Jack replied, “Was it ever, and I was starting to get a bit nervous. I didn’t want to lose this one. It was a warm summer’s night but understandably I was sweating more than normal. The trout had set up camp and I couldn’t budge it. I had to risk turning on the torch to see if by seeing where the fish was at might assist me landing it. Upon turning on the torch everything became increasingly obvious. My woolly bugger was firmly embedded in the willow branches and the river current was responsible for the jerky movements as they were pulling the lower branches that were in the water”
“I bet that was a disappointment Jack”, I said.
“Hell no”, Jack replied. “I’ll take that 10 minutes of rush and anticipation anytime.”
True story.


My name is Brian Willson and I have been a fly fisher for over 50 years. I am a professional fishing guide and current NZPFGA member of which I have served at executive level and have guided anglers of different skill sets, ages and gender from all over the world. I have also written two books on fly fishing and am a keen artist. I am passionate about fly fishing and the therapeutic qualities it offers and enjoy sharing this experience with people on and off the water. Over the years I have made some amazing friendships that continue to this day. I have partnered up with one of these friendships, Barrie Barnes from I Love Fly Fishing, and I sell exclusively, quality, affordable fly fishing gear at my premises at 8 Wiremu Street, Turangi, the designated I Love Fly Fishing shop in Turangi which is open all hours— just ring 021667867 anytime. I take a serious interest in my clients and freely offer advice when asked and am happy to talk fishing anytime. Tight lines, Brian Willson

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