I have been in China for the past week meeting with factories and quality checking this seasons products. I learnt of the Christchurch Earthquake while I was away. It was on the front of every paper I saw. From all the Team at Evolve Outdoors Group we send our regards to the hardy people of Christchurch, hang in there and take care. Our condolences to the people who lost loved ones.
Just thought I’d let you guys know that I’m fine. Our flat survived remarkably well. I’ve been volunteering as a welfare officer with Civil Defence for the past couple of days, but I’ve got a rest day today. Probably going to go check on a relative this afternoon. Things are pretty awful in Christchurch, but the event has galvanised the city. There’s a determination amongst those remaining in the city to help each other and see this through. It’s been heart-warming to see some of the kindness strangers have been extending to each other.
I hope that all of the Christchurch readers of the blog are safe and sound. Take care.
I know its not fly fishing, but, I was recently invited out for a fish with local salt fly gun Andrew Marshall.
We were armed to the hilt with salt fly, jigging and trolling gear, unfortunately the weather didn’t allow for any salt flying, but we did get into some good Kingies on the jigs.
My first ever Kingie, around 11kg, not massive, but I was stoked to pop that cherry, the raw power of these fish is amazing!
Andrew landed a 15kg specimen, and another mate Brad got into a 23kg horse on some seriously light gear.
I dont imagine we’d have much luck trying to land these on fly rods, but we might be silly enough to try it one day…………………………
Andrew informs me there have been a few Albacore Tuna caught out wide, a great target for the fly rod, watch this space!
Bit of a catchup session here, as I’ve been fishing so much since getting down south that I haven’t really had a chance to write about it.
I took a trip down to the Fly Fishing Conclave in Middlemarch late last month. Managed a few good days fishing for fighting fit rainbows on the way down with Jeremy.
The fishing was pretty tough with good rainbows cruising slow deep pools. The first fish was actually a slight fluke (I should really claim that it was highly skilful – but that’d be a straight up lie). As I was stalking my way up an almost still pool I saw a disturbance out of the corner of my eye. What eventuated was an enormous eel chasing a nice ‘bow out of the eye of the pool. Well, it was worth a go. Crouched on my knees with about 9ft of leader INSIDE the top eye I pitched my nymph out. I could almost see the trout’s eyes light up as it sighted my nymph. All thought of pursuing eel out of its mind, it snaffled up my nymph. As I struck from virtually on top of it I pulled it clear out of the water. Having a good bow on that short of a line is a slightly intimidating experience. Once it calmed down it was easily led to the net.
Good start to the day.
Following that the fish played ball a little more, with several bow’s falling to oversized terrestrials.
The ‘Blow Me’ snared this great fish.
Jeremy took a liking to it too…
That night we camped at the head of a river valley, planning to fish the river during the day. Well we could barely even cast into the wind in the morning. I managed one nice fit rainbow before we ran out of fishable water.
Oh, if you’re wondering about the sunglasses… I lost my previous (quite flash) pair of sunglasses swimming through a sheer and otherwise impassable gorge. The fishing on the other side of the gorge was worth it though…
After that we headed to Middlemarch, with just a brief stop for the most outrageous platter of fried food in existence. Upon arrival the beer started flowing freely. Then the whisky and ginger ale. I made the mistake of drinking with Chris Dore. If he’d gone one for one with me it may have been a bit fairer, but the man played dirty. Before I’d finish my drink he’d have bought me another one. I managed to buy him one drink, so he bought me two. It really wasn’t pretty. I woke up about 3 times in the night, desperately scrambling out of the tent before expelling my stomach contents. On one of the occasions I emerged from the tent to a pointing and laughing Chris.
That day was a succession of casting and fly tying courses, with some casting competitions in the middle. To be honest, I was still drunk from the night before until about 2pm. A little after midday I attempted the casting games. I have absolutely no idea how I managed it, but I ended up winning the competition. I can only really attribute it to the alcohol coursing through my system giving my casting a nice relaxed style.
Photo c.o. of Stefan Florea
I was surprised how much I enjoyed the conclave. I met a lot of really good dudes and learnt a lot. Any collection of very good fisherman typically brings out some serious egos, and that can taint the atmosphere. On this occasion though there were no egos and the attitude of everyone was fantastic. I think this was highlighted when I noticed one casting instructor (he doesn’t need anyone else calling him a good bastard, so I’ll deny him the pleasure of naming him) standing out in the gale force winds going through the fundamental aspects of an overhead cast with the least experienced person at the clave. This wasn’t the only time I saw this happen either, so good on you mate.
The next morning saw the distance casting competition go to Carl McNeil (not too many surprises there). Because Carl had actually donated the prize he generously gave it to a gun young caster. That brought proceedings to an end, so Jeremy and myself jetted off to do a spot of fishing.
Camo’s for pussies, bitches.
Arriving home I thought to myself ‘I’ve been fishing every day for the last week, why not go for a fish tomorrow’, so I jacked up a days fishing with Matt. A long drive and a long walk brought us to our destination – which turned out to be completely filthy. Still, you can’t walk that long without throwing a cast or two. I’m glad I did, as on about the 3rd cast my cicada was engulfed by a great brown.
There’s a real satisfaction about catching fish in conditions that would make most people turn back.
Three casts later I had another.
Even more satisfaction.
Things got quiet after that, although I did manage one slightly smaller fish caught in comical circumstances.
A week back in Wellington had me chomping at the bit to get back down south.
The day after arriving I took a couple of South African guys fishing. The day was so epic (and I don’t have even half of the videos or photos) that I’m going to wait and do a whole report on it. It’s one to look for though.
It didn’t take long for Andrew and I to formulate an over the top fishing plan. Doing a short notice multi-day trip into the backcountry isn’t always advisable, but sometimes it’s the best way to do it. Just make sure you’re prepared and check the weather.
We dawned before the day did and made our way to the start point of our tramp.
Safety garb is important in the bush
Two hours in we decided to start our fishing for the day.
I think it took about 3 minutes before Andrew had his first fish of the trip.
Just round the corner he had his second.
His tactics were dirty, but they worked so I adopted them.
We landed a good number of nice fish over the course of the day before commencing the final slog to the hut.
Quite honestly we were rooted when we finally got there.
The snakes went down a treat.
I was in charge of cooking duties, and whipped up a fine feed of steak and mushrooms with a side of pasta.
Rarely has sleep come as easy as it did that night.
The next morning saw the fishing go slightly slow until the water warmed up. Andrew was getting fairly disheartened after the constant success of the day before. He got even more disheartened when I managed to snare this fantastic fish.
Thank goodness I had unusually heavy tippet on, as the fish had its mind set on wrapping me around a boulder. This fish alone justified the blood sweat and (almost) tears that it took to get there.
It didn’t take much time at all before I spotted a rising fish holding in a tiny pocket against the bush-clad edge. Calling Andrew over I knew this fish would be a sitter if he could just get the cast right. And he did.
A stonking little fish that would have been seriously big if it had any length to it took him through some rough water before coming to the net.
The dry fly action continued as Andrew put a hopeful cast over a lightly coloured smudge and was rewarded with this gorgeous brown.
Definitely the prettiest fish of the trip.
For a few hours there were simply no refusals. Fish would freely rise, and rarely did we have to change from our small mayfly imitation.
One for me.
One for him.
Another for me.
Another for him.
Eventually the water just got skinnier and skinnier. At the junction with a tributary we made the call to turn back and bash our way down to the lower hut so as to give ourselves an easy walk out the following day.
The walk was a bit of a prick, but after a couple of days shouldering our packs we were getting used to it. Arriving at the hut we discovered we had company. Sadly it wasn’t two hot Swedish girls, but rather a couple of American troutbums who turned out to be really good dudes. We swapped a fair few flies before going out for a fruitless night fish.
Upon return the yanks busted out one of the strangest substances I’ve ever tried – chewing tobacco.
Skeptical before trying it…
It was an acquired taste… lets leave it at that. The banter and bullshit extended into the wee hour.
The next morning we were up and out as quick as we could. We had a date with fried food to keep. Salty fatty fries have never tasted so good. When I finally got home I passed out asleep for over 14 hours. Yep, I was pretty damn tired.
Uni starts on Monday, so I won’t quite be able to match the intensity of the past few weeks. I’ve got every Thursday off though, so that’ll be my fishing day – plus the weekends of course. Life is good.
Mouse feeders are often easy to identify, with wide thickset flanks, big full bellies with hard nugget-like chunks being able to be felt from the outside…
Huge New Zealand trout feasting on rats and mice are the stuff every trout angler dreams of. Big, fat, heavy brown trout, engorged on a turbo-charged, proteinrich diet of rodents are something to marvel at and enjoy. But it only happens once in a blue moon, in those special years when the native beech forest produces an abundance of surplus seed, which causes rodent populations to explode in number.
Most New Zealand trout are limited in size by the food available to them. Many trout streams here have limited fertility and are not the insect-rich waters that premier overseas waters often are. So, when they get a bumper terrestrial food source, trout are only too happy to take advantage of it.
Recently, I read reports in the Nelson Mail about increased catches of rodents and predators by volunteer trappers in the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary area. I also noticed a few more rodents around my garage this winter before I put out bait stations, with the excellent name of ‘‘departure lounges’’.
With the general trout fishing season due to open on October 1, I’ve been busy fielding inquiries from international anglers interested in the fishing prospects for the coming season. Reports from Nelson Lakes Conservation Department staff would indicate that a spectacular beech seeding in autumn has paved the way for a substantial increase in rodent populations in the spring and summer.
New Zealand rodents range from small to a massive 30 centimetres for a big norway rat. Rodents are prodigious breeders and a female rat can produce 12 litters of 20 rats each year, according to pest contractors Target Pest, potentially having the ability to have thousands of descendants a year, which is a lot of trout food.
When rodent populations boom, their predators, such as stoats, ferrets and weasels, also peak, which is bad news for native birds and invertebrates, which suffer when rodent numbers abate. Cuddly little critters such as rats and mice don’t get a lot of positive press from government organisations and the media, but they are actually pretty interesting animals and, whether we like it or not, they are part of the history of humanity as well.
European history is richly laced with tales of rats and mice. In New Zealand, rats were of cultural importance well before Europeans arrived on the scene, with kiore or Polynesian rats being a treasured part of Maori culture, having spiritual value to some iwi. Maori considered kiore a delicacy. Rats fattened on a diet of berries and invertebrates were trapped and preserved in their own fat for those cold winter days, long before Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, Ratatouille or self-styled love rat Major James Hewitt.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate as a recreational angler and professional fly-fishing guide to have been involved in the capture of an unfair share of very large brown trout, many of which have been fattened on rodents. Some seasons’ trout will be 1kg to 2kg heavier than normal in many rivers, and we all dream of trophy trout 4.5kg and bigger.
So how do the mice and rats end up in the water? It seems rodents range far and wide nocturnally for food, move to new territories, die of hypothermia, drown, and fall or swim in rivers and so become available as trout fodder.
Most mouse-fed trout are caught on traditional tackle offerings such as dry flies and weighted nymphs during the daytime, although we have caught trout on mouse imitations fished during the night shift. Slow-stripping a large floating deerhair mouse imitation across a still pool after dark can provide exciting fishing, although, interestingly, the trout usually take the mouse imitation quite softly.
Rubber mouse imitations or other topwater poppers also work well on spinfishing gear, with the advantage being that anglers can cover larger distances with longer casts and also avoid standing in the water among the eels. Mouse feeders are often easy to identify, with wide, thick-set flanks, big full bellies with hard nugget-like chunks being able to be felt from the outside of the fish. Trout can eat multiple rodents and fish with up to several dozen mice inside have been recorded.
Sometimes with rats, I’ve seen a rat’s tail hanging out of a captured fish’s mouth. I remember one captured trout regurgitating dead mice in the net. Big trout act like a magnet to overseas anglers and word of big fish present will prompt many anglers to book longer and more adventurous trips.
One overseas fishing agent is already playing the mouse card, with worldwide recession and lower than normal bookings requiring different strategies to attract high-value, big-spending tourist anglers. Personally, I’m waiting until I get on to the water and have a look around this coming fishing season before I talk too much about mice and rats. If the hype fails to match reality and the big fish just aren’t there, a river can be a lonely place as you attempt to be a modern-day Rumpelstiltskin trying to spin straw into gold.
Secretly, however, I’m hoping a big rodent year will happen and that the big trout will appear like magic. It might be tough on the native birds but the trout fisherman in me says ‘‘bring on the mice’’. Let’s just hope the Department of Conservation isn’t crying wolf – or in this case, rodent – because, when you’re a hardcore trout bum, you can never have too many mice. Hickory, dickory, dock.
After a busy few weeks with weddings, stag parties and just general time wasting I finally managed a free weekend to get into a few trout in the back country, the only problem was the weather……………
But I thought bugger it, better off fishing in the rain than sitting on my backside doing nothing. I put in a full day covering plenty of water, seeing a heap of trout, landing a couple, dropping a few more, and getting a wet backside.
The cicadas worked a treat
There were a few locals hanging about (look out the roar isn’t far away)
It was also a good chance to test some of our new hunting clothing, the New Prime Summer clothing is awesome! you can check it out here:
I layered up with prime summer and an Aspiring hunting jacket and was dry and comfortable the entire day. Despite being designed for hunting this gear works just as well for fishing.
The cicadas are chirping hard, get into it!
Spent a day a couple of weeks back pottering around the Wellington backcountry with local guide Andrew Harding (www.brown-trout.co.nz). I’ve gotta say that I was immensely impressed with his knowledge of the area and would have no hesitation in recommending him if you’re looking for a guide in the lower North Island.
An early start and a long drive saw us heading for a remote wee stream in the backblocks. A decent walk delivered us to the good water. I’d barely begun prospecting up a run when Andrew mentioned that he may have seen a trout rise out of the corner of his eye. First cast over this area with a big rubber legged cicada saw a slow and deliberate rise from a good brownie. I hadn’t expected the action to be quite so instantaneous.
He immediately sought refuge under the toetoe, however some pretty serious pressure had him turned. After the initial spirited burst it was a foregone conclusion. Taking him downstream to an area of shallow gravel the fish allowed itself to be led into the waiting net.
A beautifully spotted brownie. It was my best North Island brownie this season, and was more than enough to make my day.
As is often the case after a promising start, the remainder of the day failed to deliver. We covered a lot of ground and saw several more fish, but none were actively feeding. Still, with a good fish in the bank I was happy just exploring new water. We concluded the day with pies and energy drinks at a dairy on the way home.