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Once . . . Fairlie's Amanda Sheehan with the 5.4kg male rainbow trout from the Tekapo Canal. PHOTO: JACOBFISHING—NZ

by George Clark

Far from being the one that got away, a 5.4kg trout in the Tekapo Canals has been caught three times by three different anglers.

A hobbyist fisherman was showing friends how to fish when he witnessed the same rainbow trout being caught three times over August at the Tekapo Canals.

Oamaru’s Jacob Willets was fishing with friend Amanda Sheehan when she caught the 5.4kg (12lb) male rainbow trout at a popular stretch of the upper Tekapo Canal known as the Magic Carpet.

The next weekend he caught the same trout, at the same spot.

“Two weekends after that, my friend Dyl Eyeington flew down from the North Island and caught the trout again. I could not believe it.”

Twice . . . Oamaru’s Jacob Willets then caught it the next weekend. PHOTO: JACOBFISHING—NZ

Ms Sheehan and Mr Eyeington caught the fish using the “egg drifting” method.

The technique works best when a drifting, soft-bait egg is moving along at the speed of the current close to the bottom – or at least in the lower third of the water.

To be really effective, just the right amount of lead weight is needed to take the rig down to the ideal depth.

Mr Willets caught the trout through softbaiting, a form of lure fishing with soft plastic fish imitations on a weighted hook.

He was shocked after netting it for the third time, recognising it as the same from spots above one eye and consistent facial features.

“I have only ever caught the same trout again once in my life.same trout again once in my life.

“It is very unlikely to catch the same trout multiple times, considering there are tens of thousands in the canal systems. Funny, that.”

Thrice . . . Te Awamutu’s Dyl Eyeington was the third angler to catch the trout. PHOTO: JACOBFISHING—NZ

Central South Island Fish & Game officer Rhys Adams confirmed it to be the same trout and said there was a higher chance of re-catching it at this time of year.

“They are congregating at the top end of the Tekapo Canal. They will migrate up there in winter,” Mr Adams said.

“They can hang around in the same spot for a long period of time.”

He said it was common to see a fish caught twice, but three times was unique.

“Where they were fishing was probably the most popular fishing spot in the South Island in winter.

“It is great to see people showing how safe catch-and-release practices do work.”

The key was to keep fish in the water for as long as possible after a catch, ensuring water remained on the gills.

Anglers should always wet their hands before touching the fish and never grab the trout by its gills or jaw.

The gills are very sensitive and jaw will break.

“We want to keep it fit and healthy for the next angler to catch.”