View Full Version : Eat At Joe's

08-03-2010, 08:55 PM

The Neon sign said “Eat at Joe’s”

The Makakahi near Paihiatua was proving to my fishing companion and me that Fly-fishing could be a great leveler.
We had arrived in the early morning on a good summers day full of confident expectation of a successful sortie on a usually productive stretch of the river. Now as the shadows started to lengthen and rain clouds started to push over the ranges to the west, we sat sipping coffee and wondered where all the trout had gone.
What a day; hours of fruitless stalking the banks without spotting a single trout of any consequence, and even though we had fished the water at every likely spot we were still in line for having one of those ego shattering blank days. In an effort to forestall what seemed almost inevitable, we decided to split up for one final effort.
As I did not intend to get too wet should the rain come, I headed off downstream to be nearer to our parked car. On the way I settled on the bank at the tail of one of my favourite pools and went through my fly box in search of a fly that might turn the table in my favour.
Tucked away in one corner was a Hairwing Royal Coachman I had been given by a fellow angler a season or two before but never used, as I figured no self-respecting trout would be fooled by this concoction of White Calftail wings and tail with a furnace hackle and a peacock herl body divided by a midsection of bright red. Never the less it was the fly I chose in the hope it would change my luck.
By this time the darkening sky had changed the water’s colour to a dark brooding green and the first signs of a rising wind were showing as little white flecks on the surface. As the fly landed on my first cast, I was taken by the way it stood out so clearly on the dark background of the water and for some reason the thought stuck me the fly looked like a Neon sign floating toward me saying
“ Eat at Joe’s”.
I remember thinking no trout was going to be silly enough to take a Neon sign, when the fly disappeared. Taken completely by surprise, I retrieved my line and cast again. A short drift and again the fly disappeared this time I was ready and lifting the rod had the satisfaction of feeling the weight of a nice fish as the rod bent under the strain. After a short but furious tussle a Brown of about 1.5 kg was in the net and soon after having been revived was once more swimming free.
I had just released my second Brown almost a twin to the first when my companion who had seen the action and hurried over asked what fly had done the damage. I told him it was an “Eat at Joe’s” and offered him the fly to try if he wished. After a bit of muttering about no fish likely to still be feeding he relented and after tying the fly to his leader he moved slightly higher into the pool and put a good cast out over the water. Almost immediately the fly was taken in a strong rise and the fun was on.

Having landed his trout my companion confessed he had not had any real hope of a fish, and nearly missed the take as he was about to tell me he agreed the fly did look like a neon sign floating down the stream.
Having revived the fly and given it a bit of a spruce up, he cast again more in hope than expectation and nearly fell over when after a short drift “Eat at Joe’s” lived up to its name and a fourth Brown fell prey to it’s tantalizing message.
Ever the optimists, we persevered a little longer to no avail and as the weather closed in and the first drops of rain dimpled the waters surface. We made tracks to the car and set off for home well pleased with out efforts and try as we might could not come up with a satisfactory explanation as to why after a long day without sighting a trout in the river. Four lovely Browns had been encountered in one pool and saved us from a blank day so we did what all smart Fly fishers do and blamed it on the weather.
The name “Eat at Joe’s” has stuck and the Hairwing Royal Coachman has been a stock item in my fly box ever since.


08-04-2010, 02:50 PM
Hey Jax,

Nice tale, Eat at Joe's, it's where the Royal Coachmen Go!