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Archive for October, 2011

Jack Kos – Made my day…

For the first time in my academic career reading about fly fishing has proved useful. I came across this excerpt from  whilst studying for my environmental law exam tomorrow:

‘Fishermen are probably more interested in equipment than are the devotees of an other leisure activity, and fishing books are full of endless discussion of flies, lines, rods and leaders. Yet that interest is not at all directed to technological advance leading to increased efficiency in catching fish. Indeed, in one respect, it has exactly the opposite purpose: it is designed to maintain and even to increase the difficulty of success. At the same time, intricacy for its own sake is not sought. The goal is to raise to a maximum the importance of the participant’s understanding, to play the game from the trout’s point of view, so as to draw, as Haig-Brown puts it, upon “imagination, curiosity, bold experiment and intense observation.”‘

In many ways I think it captures the ethos of fly fishing very well. We essentially voluntarily subscribe to an unwritten code of ethics that places restrictions on the techniques we can employ.

 

Leave a comment and let me know what you think.


Andrew Hearne – That Badger stole my fish!

Part of me hates to admit it, but Jack is right. He did catch the same fish as I caught last year.

Honestly though, I am pleased the fish is alive and reasonably well. It looks like it has been involved in a mighty scrap during spawning season – it was only missing one part of its face last year, not two! It did well to live through the big flood in December.

Here is how it looked nearly one year ago.


Jack Kos – The Weekend That Was (Part 2 of 2)

In hindsight it was probably a pretty stupid idea going fishing the night after the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup Final… I know I barely got any sleep, Matt got far less. He generously offered to cook me breakfast. I tell you, there aren’t many better smells to arrive at a house to than bacon and eggs. With the breakfast formalities underway it was time to hit the road. After a little while I had a sudden brainwave… Where the hell’s my vest? Upon realizing that my vest was still in Andrew’s car after Saturday I also noticed a certain someone’s study materials in the back of my car. Well I couldn’t go fishing in good conscience without dropping it off at her place first. After that it was a case of a very apologetic early wake up for Andrew, quickly grabbing my vest and finally getting on with the show.

We arrived to cold, windy conditions with the promising hint of sun peering over the peaks. A brief walk brought about our first encounter with our quarry. By this stage the wind was fair roaring, so I thought I’d be nice and let Matt have a go. The fish was feeding like mad, but try as we might we just couldn’t get a drag free presentation with the conflicting currents and the pervasive wind. Eventually the fish became aware, and took off. I encountered a fish feeding similarly just a few pools up, but my luck was barely any better. I managed to trick the fish into eating a small green caddis, however the hook pulled after almost no time.

Things carried on in this vein with Matt pricking a fish on the dry, and myself meeting with nothing but air after a big fish had taken my green caddis. After almost drowning myself attempting an ambitious river crossing to get at a fish (and spooking it in the process) I wasn’t feeling too positive about the day. This all changed when I spotted a smudge holding in fast water. Then the smudge rose. Cool. First presentation with my small parachute adams and the fish rose and scoffed it. I’ve never seen a brown trout tailwalking to quite the extent that this one did. When I eventually got it in I saw that the condition on the fish was absolutely outstanding.

It wasn’t a big fish, but you’d struggle to find many in better condition.

Barely 500metres further up the stream we encountered one of the best patches of pocket water fishing I’ve had in a long time.

Matt made it look easy by pulling this fish out on one of the first casts.

I then proceeded to fish at a fish that kept popping in and out of the current, and in and out of my visibility. Spotting two big fish rising one pocket over I crossed to fish at them. At this point I should note that I’d been having a rather problematic time with my pants. They just kept falling down. When I hit the right cast (not easy when the casting position dictates that you can only cast leader into a nor’wester) the fish rose without hesitation to my grey klinkhammer. Hammer time.  What ensued was quite possibly one of the most comical experiences to have transpired on a river. As soon as I hooked the fish the swirling current at the base of the pocket had dragged my line down, tangling it with the fittings on my boots. At this point my pants decided to fall down. Proper down. Here I was with a big fish jumping madly on the surface, my line wrapped around my boots and my pants around the ankles. Matt said he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Personally I felt more like crying. Somehow with one hand I grabbed my pants and hoisted them up, then managed, despite my inflexibility, to lift my foot into the air and clear the line. All this whilst standing in waist deep fast flowing water. After that the rest was just a formality.

At the time I had a slightly inkling that this may have been the same fish Andrew caught a year beforehand. Upon getting home and checking the spots it was confirmed.

My guess is that they were feeding on these fellows.

I won’t go into details with what happened in a big pool a little further up. Suffice to say I was left nearly in tears as a rather large fish flipped me the bird before popping the hook and lazing about in the shallows. I attempted an overly ambitious swipe with the net, but to no avail. I will be back.

The next pool up saw a rather bizarre experience. A fish sitting in a small alcove and popping out only occasionally into the current took a liking to my most successful creation over winter – the Deviant fly. Matt was fishing to it, and it took his fly not once…not twice…but seven times. I’ve never seen anything like this before. On the seventh the hook bit and a long hard fight ensued.

A great end to the day.

It was a long walk back, and a couple of very tired lads that made it back into Christchurch late in the evening.


Jack Kos – The Weekend That Was (Part 1 of 2)

What a weekend. After two weeks of flat-tack, nose in the books torture I knew I’d enjoy this weekend, but I think I underestimated just how much.

Saturday morning saw me get up after 3 hours sleep. Andrew and I were taking a special guest on a fishing trip into the backcountry. Being the Saturday of Labour weekend we figured a very early start was in order. It wasn’t. After a long drive during which certain members of the crew drifted in and out of consciousness we turned up to find no other cars in sight. Walking through bog at 7am is a really wonderful experience. Believe it or not, I’m not being sarcastic. After thrashing myself writing essay after essay getting into the backcountry was a relief. Life was very good.

Andrew kicked things off nicely by catching the first fish we saw. A couple of fly changes were all it took to see the tell tale roll as the fish took his nymph. After a start like this it’s easy to get complacent, to assume you’re in for a cracker day. It was tough. I missed a strike on the dry in a small pocket, and then missed a possible strike on a rather large fish holding in a deep side braid. The fish moved, the indicator went down, but somehow I’m still not convinced it took my fly.

We all got a little distracted watching a stonefly emerge from its shuck. For some reason you see a lot of adult mayflies in New Zealand, but relatively few adult stoneflies (despite the abundance of stonefly nymphs).

By this stage we were a little perturbed. We’d fished this stretch at almost exactly the same time last year, with dramatically differing results. What’s more, we’d seen about 10 times as many fish. The leading theory we came up with was that a party had thrashed the water the day before and the fish had not yet resumed normal feeding behaviour.

Nevertheless, Andrew persevered prospecting the fast water and was rewarded for his efforts.

Just upstream of this I spotted a fish holding in a small braid off the main flow where the current ran hard against the bank. Did it want my offerings? Hell no. I moved up and was about to initiate phase 2: attack phase. Just as I’d tied on something big, bad and heavy I spotted a movement in the current about three metres ahead of me. It was one of those fish with light sides and a green back. A fish that looked very solid in the water. Motioning to Liz to drop down I retied my original flies on and made a presentation to the right of the fish. It moved, inspected my dry and then refused it. One more I thought, this time to the left. No mistakes this time as the fish lifted and took the generic black dry from the surface. It was like striking into a freight train. Before you start wondering, it wasn’t massive. But Christ it was solid! I had my dry tied straight to 8lb tippet and I needed every ounce of it! As soon as it felt the bite of the hook it headed straight across the flow and under a rock. I just couldn’t move it. To be honest I thought it had broken me off and snagged me. I think Liz was sensing my concern, but she still laughed as I ploughed across the pool and attempted to use different angles to budge the fish. In the end I decided to play dirty. I grabbed the tippet and started tugging on it. Now this isn’t a ploy I’d typically use, but in this case it was necessary. I felt the telltale thud, thud, thud and knew that somewhere beneath this rock the fish was still attached. In an effort to drown me the fish, which I was quickly gaining a lot of respect for, bolted straight downstream causing me to pirouette gracelessly in the water; straight downstream, and under another rock. Thankfully this time it wasn’t so stubborn, and with a little more pressure I was able to swing it into the waiting net.

Now that’s what I call a fight. It was backcountry fishing at its best. Big, strong fish on dry flies.

After that the day somewhat petered out. I had a couple of glances from a fish sitting in the shallows. Then a bit of bush bashing, not one but two unplanned swims, and a very deep and dodgy river crossing brought us to the only pool on this stretch that we saw fish in. That said, it held four of them. I managed to stuff up three of them and Andrew fluffed the fourth. A solid fish feeding at the back of the line up happily engulfed my stonefly, but no resistance was felt on the strike. The second fish spooked first cast after the antics that unfolded below it. The third took my colubriscus without hesitation. Some frightening pressure was required to keep it in the pool. A swim through rapids entailed if it got out, and I wasn’t going to let that happen.

Just as it was nearing the bank the hook popped (it became a theme for this weekend – more on that later). If you look at the trajectory of my line you’ll get an idea of the amount of pressure I had on that fish. A couple of new decorations in the tree.

Andrew spotted a fish feeding in a small pocket further up, and after a couple of fly changes procured a strike. Sadly he too met nothing but air.

We bashed our way further up, looked in all the likely spots and finally finished things with a wee river crossing…

One member of the party decided to cross a little further upstream.

I wasn’t laughing…honest.

That night I went to probably the strangest party of my life. It was like entering a cult. Suffice to say I didn’t stay for very long. Sleep came easy and uninterrupted.

That’s all for now. I’ll chuck the second instalment up in a few days…


Lucas Allen – Lake Tarawera

I had some unfinished business with a certain place on the side of Lake Tarawera. Two weeks ago I fished it quickly prior to an engagement party, needless to say I didn’t fare too well in the given hour. After hearing a few current reports of well conditioned fish being pulled out I was well and truly fevered.

The plan was quickly hatched with a mate and we set off through the rain to Rotorua. A quick stop at Hunting and Fishing to get Jeremy a new licence and some more info had us talking more smack than ever. The handbrake had barely engaged and I was out of the car. Waders on, jacket on, rods were assembled double time and so began a damn good fishing session.

Looking down on the spot it was super fishy. Overcast skies, patchy rain, getting dark shortly…  Fly fishing porn some might say. I waded out near the drop off and stripped line from my reel. The first cast was ironed out and once the next one found its mark I relaxed into the zone. Tap, tap, WHACK! What, too soon! I was almost caught out as a silver pig belly flopped back into a hole in the water. This thing was determined to give me a hiding and in an instant the line came tight on the reel. A right scrap ensued and after a few attempts the Rainbow was coming over the lip.

It looked nice and juicy so decided that I’d keep one for the smoker. Fish from some of these Rotorua lakes have the best flesh and this was no exception. My new found habit of dropping fish when having photos taken was proven three times, thankfully over the grass this time. Part of the reason I’m smiling is due to the laughter.

Off to a good start

Next up was Jeremy. We were yarning away and next thing his face lights up as the rod bucks down. This wasn’t the biggest fish but once again in bloody good nick, it fought well and gave him the run around near the weeds. Some quick snaps and it swam off, slightly confused.

Back it goes

By now the light had begun to change and while tucking into some sammies Jeremys rod tip goes again. Without hesitation he got to work and shortly later the tip sprang back up, fish gone. I think you can see the pain on his face in this photo.

Oh the pain

On darkness my rig was changed to a floating line and small lumo doll fly. By this stage the lake had turned to glass and we were trying our best not to stir it up too much. It must have paid off because next thing I feel a very gentle knock, then nothing. Weed? Ten seconds later the knock is back followed by a familiar tug and we’re hooked up. This fish felt good but had limited fighting ability, it was walked to the bank and when the lights went on I realised why, obesity problems. This thing was the best conditioned fish I’d seen in a while. Unfortunately it had hoovered the fly deep and the demands from friends saw it knocked on the head also.

The icing on the cake

After a little more trying we decided to call it a night, content with all the events of the evening. Now I just need to sort some gear out for this weekends snapper mission in the Firth. Fingers are crossed they behave, my flyrod will be there for the ride.


Rob Wilson – Molesworth Trip Photo Essay

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Andrew Hearne – Funday Monday

The crusade continues.

In case anybody out there is wondering whether Jack is still alive… just so you know, he is. He’s pretty busy at the moment studying and writing essays etc.. That’s why you haven’t heard from him too much lately. However, he did manage to find enough time to come fishing yesterday!

After approximately four hours sleep I woke to the shrill sound of my cell phone alarm, I did my best to make sure I had everything I needed for the day before collecting Jack from around the road. For some reason he wasn’t at his place, he’d texted me an address for where I could find him the night before.

With the amount of sleep I’d had it was necessary to add a large dose of caffeine to the bill when the car was filled at the gas station. It hit the spot, and we were on the way.

We weren’t too sure where we’d stop. It would more or less come down to how windy it was in any given place. As it turned out, we found somewhere early on which wasn’t too bad. We stopped there and agreed that we would fish a short stretch, and if the wind came up as we expected it to then we would bail out and find somewhere more sheltered. This place is top secret, it is unlikely anybody reading this will recognise it and because I’ve been sworn to secrecy I can’t disclose the location. If someday you are fortunate enough to discover this place, then you are very lucky indeed!

The run we intended to fish first had another good looking piece of water beneath it, so we walked down to it and before too long Jack found a fish. Even better – he invited me to fish for it.

His rod was set up more appropriately than mine for the situation, so I took it across the river with me for the task at hand.

The first nymph I tried didn’t work. I can’t even remember what it was now, but I think it was too light and not getting deep enough. I changed to a green caddis with a black tungsten bead and it took first cast. The fish gave a good account of itself before being landed without any problems. It was a pretty good start to the day.

Great start

After that we crossed the river and climbed the bank. Straight away Jack saw another fish. This time it was his turn to get across and pretty soon after that he was connected to the fish. It was slightly smaller, but that didn’t matter. We were going great guns so far.

Another victim for the green caddis

It was pretty keen to leave when given a chance at freedom. What about that look on Jack’s face?

We continued on upstream after that and saw a few more fish. For some reason we stopped catching them though. We were pretty good at putting them off their breakfast though. We didn’t fail at that.

The last run we came to is one which I have a vivid memory of. It’s not a happy memory either. Jack went along one side while I was on the other. Just as I was nearly at the top of the run I hooked into a fish. I looked across to see Jack wandering into the distance with his back to me so I called him back. He crossed over to me near the bottom of the run where I netted the fish. It was a solid fish, but it didn’t make up for what happened there last season.

The wind was nearly howling by now, so we took off in search of somewhere more sheltered. Fortune was with us again, because we didn’t have to go far.

Along the way Jack discovered this one finning away and tricked it into eating a Coloboriscus imitation.

We found a few fish in our new spot, but not many. At least we could see what was there though and we didn’t need to worry about battling the elements.

After some failure, Jack spotted a fish in a pool as we crossed at the tail. It was good work on his part, because there was a lot of glare on the water and it was a tough one to see. He was seeing them much better than me on this day that’s for sure – I’ll use the excuse that I was tired.

Anyway, the pool has some sentimentality attached to it so it was my fish to catch. I pitched the green caddis up and I saw the fish lift in the water. When I set the hook and it was all on. The fish dove deep and went along a rock ledge on the far side, I had to really lean into it to lift it from the bottom. After a couple of good minutes the fish tired enough for me to secure it and I was a very happy man.

 

It was quite overcast by now. The forecast rain wasn’t far away and there were thousands of sandflies attempting to dine out on the exposed skin of my arms and Jacks legs. We went upstream further towards where we suspected there would be more fish. Just as we were walking along and engaged in one of our many riverside discussions I noticed a fish surfing the pressure wave in front of a rock near the tail of a small run. I performed the appropriate stop, drop, and roll while directing Jack to follow my lead.

I looked over my shoulder from on the ground and saw him walking a wide arc back downstream. He wasn’t wasting any time to get into position for this one.

There were two main obstacles to catching this fish.

  • Although it was feeding very actively, there was a consoderable drop directly below its lie and it was going to be hard work to gat a good drift
  • There was a tree in the water right next to the fish, it would go in there for sure if given half a chance

With the latter pouint in mind, I offered the best advice I could of “If it takes, rip its head off” from my seated position on the bank opposite the fish. My advice did not go unnoticed, Jack managed to get the required drift and set the hook. He did a great job of clearing the fish from close to the tree as soon as he hooked it and after that he was home and hosed. The fish gave a good fight but there was nowhere for it to go once it was clear of the obstuction.

That was all for the day. We retreated to the car and headed for home. Not bad for a Monday.


Andrew Hearne – Cheers to the freakin’ weekend!

Last night I got back home from a long weekend over on the West Coast. It was interesting.

I certainly learned some stuff.

  •  When bush bashing over a gorge it is probably a good idea to pack your polaroids away instead of having them on your head
  •  Trying to find where you dropped your polaroids in the bush is very difficult / frustrating
  •  It’s really hard to see into the water without Polaroids
  • Always take a spare pair of polaroids with you fishing
  • Petrol is more expensive on the Coast
  • It is possible for a tree to grow relatively well while collared by a 44 gallon drum
  • Sparrows are capable of biting harder than you’d think

That won’t make a lot of sense at this stage, but I’ll try and explain most of it.

Firstly, I decided on Friday night while I was eating my McDonalds that I would try and conquer a gorge the next morning in an attempt to get to the promised land beyond. I was excited by the prospect of fishing a new piece of water which had the potential for some good fishing.

The next morning I woke early and soon after that I was on my way. I arrived at the end of the road at what I thought was the perfect time. I got my gear together and started walking…

After an hour and a half I decided to set my gear up since I was at a nice looking pool. It was overcast, but all was good. There were no fish in that pool. Never mind, I carried on upstream. Soon after that I got to a small gorge. I climbed up and over it through the bush and when I got to the top I felt for my Polaroids. They weren’t there.

I had put them on my head after they began to fog up from all the walking I was doing. Unfortunately they had come off at some stage and I didn’t feel them fall. I retraced my steps back to where I knew I had them last and searched carefully. Still no cigar. Hopefully I would find them on my way back.

I carried on for a couple more hours after this, I didn’t see a single thing and I even managed to fall in the river. After a while I just turned around and left. I made it all the way back to the car without finding my glasses… if anyone is fishing the Coast at any stage and finds a pair of brown Oakley polaroids… well done.

I went back to the bach with my tail firmly between my legs and had a big feed to ease the pain. Sunday saw us heading out for breakfast in the seething metropolis of Greymouth, followed by a search for some replacement polaroids, and then not much for the rest of the day. For the record, finding appropriate fishing polaroids in Greymouth on a Sunday is something you should try to avoid at all costs. I found some at the petrol station in the end, stunning things they are. You’ll see a photo of them soon…

Monday was the day we were to return home, but before that there were some fish to be caught… somewhere.

On the way to the river it became apparent that fuel is rather more expensive than in other parts of the country – as mentioned earlier. This is what I mean…

Definitely more expensive than most places.

Anyway, we didn’t get gas there. I needed all my limbs to aid in my attempt at conquering the wild fish of the West Coast.

We arrived at the river to find it was looking as good as ever. It was probably running slightly higher than I was used to, but it was very clean.

I must mention that I was short on time, so I fished in a rather reckless manner. I just tried to cover as much water as I could in the shortest time possible.

The first run soon yielded victim number 1…

At last, a fish.

I spotted another fish further up the run, which I also hooked briefly before it freed itself. After that it was speed spotting at its finest. I managed to see a couple, but didn’t catch them. The next fish came from a piece of fast water fished blind.

Soon after that and number 3 came along. There was a nice looking piece of structured water running down next to a large boulder. It was the only good looking water around so I cast into it and got the reward.

They were all a bit on the skinny side. But they were willing, which was the most important thing as far as I was concerned.

I briefly hooked a fish further upstream which felt considerably more solid than the ones I’d caught. When it came free I verbalised my disappointment to the world.

It was time to head back to the car soon after. We needed to get back to the bach and tidy it up before going home…

On the way back I noticed a large tree growing out of a 44 gallon drum. I’m not sure about you guys, but I’ve certainly never seen this before…

After the distraction of the tree we carried on. We were nearly at the car, and about to cross a small creek when I spotted a fish. It was holding in the eye of a small pool. Actually, the entire stream was very small.

It responded angrily to my fly plopping into the water upstream of it and wasted no time racing forwards to smash the invader. I responded in kind by setting the hook and initiating what was to become the contest of the day.

This fish just wouldn’t give up. I consider myself to be reasonably proficient at landing fish quickly… however this one didn’t want to play the game. Eventually it came in, and I saw it had a hunched back, just like quasimodo. The hunch certainly didn’t hinder performance though, maybe it just made him angrier? Whatever it was, this freak fought hard that’s for sure.

On the way home we stopped at Arthurs Pass for ice cream. If you haven’t had ice creasm from there… you should. They are huge.

I’m back to work tomorrow… no more fishing for me until Monday! Until next time….


Alex Broad – Season continues

Over the weekend I managed to get out with a couple of the boys from one of the local stores.

We were rewarded with free rising fish and managed a few pretty good early season fish, was also good to fish with some light gear, the 3 and 4 weight rods are just awesome!

A nice fish first up for Joel:

Andrews first wellington fish for the season, this one is still a little skinny:

 

A good fish for me after dark on the dry:

And another good fish for Andrew, also on the dry after dark:

Plenty of good fish around, looking like it will be a good season!


fortyone degrees – issue 3 is LIVE!


Andrew Hearne – The good times keep on coming

The weather has been pretty awful since opening… it’s been raining more or less non stop.

Yesterday I decided  to just take a couple of hard pills and I ventured into the high country to see what I could find.

First of all I found dirty water, and lots of it. So I went further. Eventually I found some water which wasn’t quite as dirty as the rest… so away I went.

Over 3 hours later of walking and blind fishing the murky water in the rain and I was ready to pack it in. Then I spotted a fish. I was high up on a bank and I could see it on the near side in the bottom third of the big pool. I could tell it was big, and my heart began thumping inside my chest. I looked at the angry, swollen rapid that emptied the pool and tried to figure a game plan for if I successfully hooked the fish. It seemed to me that, if it decided to go downstream, I would need to rely on a fair bit of luck to get home with this one.

I crept down to water level and prepared to cast.

I couldn’t see the fish from where I stood because of all the glare. I snuck forward and caught another glimpse of the fish, then went back into casting position. Three times I snagged up in trees behind me before my line hit the water for the first time… somehow I managed to keep my cool each time. The first cast went untouched, and the second. I thought I’d blown it.

I wound in and crept forward again expecting the fish to be long gone, but it was still there. I cast from where I could see the fish and it moved lazily to my fly, I saw its mouth open and when it closed again I slammed the hook home.

The fish rolled on the top and I leaned into it hard. I gave it nothing in case it made it to the fast water. Then I dragged it upstream slightly and into a shallow patch over a sandy bottom where I slipped the net over its head before it could take off.

This fish is the fattest I’ve caught in quite some time. It was a pig.

Unfortunately I was by myself, so the pictures aren’t exactly A grade… better than nothing though.

I left the fish in the net while I got the camera ready, and when I looked back at it there were a whole lot of earthworms in my net. The fish had been gorging itself on them, and it was so full that it regurgitated them in the net. No wonder it didn’t fight too much.

I carried on for quite some time after that, but failed to see another fish, even though the water looked really good. It was a long and cold walk back to the car in the wind and rain.

On the way home I stopped off for a quick look in a piece of dirty water. It was pretty filthy, but I couldn’t help myself.

I found a pool where a small stream was putting some cleaner water into the main flow. It mixed quickly with the dirty stuff, but it looked as good as anything around. I figured that I would probably hang out there if I was a fish, so i sent my fly into the current and hoped for the best.

Sure enough, there was a fish in there. I hooked it and landed it quickly. Fortunately for me and my net this one didn’t spew any earthworms.

That’s all for now. Its been a great start to the season so far… I’ve got a few more days before I have to go back to work, so hopefully I’ll be able to catch a few more fish soon. Fingers crossed for better weather!


Alex Broad – Beer never tasted so good

Opening day 2011 was going to be a bit different this year.

Instead of my usual trip to the south island I decided to explore waters closer to home.  After talking to a few mates we had a posse together and a spot to check out.  We knew the river we had chosen held fish, but how many and what size was something we knew nothing about, further research revealed little insight.

Friday the 30th rolled around, the posse gathered at the supermarket, supplies obtained for 3 days, packs packed, and we were off.  5 hours later we arrived at our accommodation, blistered, bruised and to be honest absolutely buggered.

The extra kilos of amber gold we carried in was well worth the effort, something we rejoiced in upon our arrival.

We checked a few pools that evening, and found fish straight away, feeding hard and seemingly unaware of our presence.  Again we rejoiced with cold brews, the river held fish, and good numbers too!

A good feed put on the billy and off to bed in anticipation of what the next day might bring.

Up early and another epic meal was quickly prepared by our camp chef, Lucas.  Before long we were off, not far from our hut Lucas promptly hooked and landed the first fish of the season, unfortunately no grip and grin shot here as the fish seemed a little camera shy and released himself.

The next piece of decent holding water held 2 more fish, Aaron hooked and dropped one, Andrew hooked and landed his first fish of the season.

As the sun came up another fish was spotted feeding hard, Aaron was put on point and a good cast brought this fish up to his dry, the fish then went to town on us, he did eventually come to the net in a rather unorthodox manner, but we wont go there.

Lucas pulled another good fish out of a side braid,

And another from a nice pool,

By this time it was my turn, fish were spotted, I cast, fish spooked.  This went on for a while, with a couple of hooked and lost fish in the mix.  We almost swore that these fish had already been fished to, but the lack of human sign suggested otherwise, perhaps I just wasn’t on my “A” game, or the fish were just way to smart for me.

Mid arvo brought an interesting change in target species, while stalking quietly up a pool I heard Aarons rod drop, the bolt on his rifle being worked quickly, I looked up to see him racing across the river bed towards a small flat, he stopped, the rifle came up, BANG.  Pigs of various sizes and colours erupted from the bush edge.  The rifle was placed down and Aaron was racing around like a man possessed, finally a desperate dive had us in fits of laughter.  His cheeky grin appeared above the scrub with his prize in a tight grip, a wee black piglet.  The little bugger was trying desperately to free himself and Aarons fingers were quickly becoming worse for wear, so he was released for another day.

A short search in the bush and we found the first prize, a nice fat sow.  The picture shows just how happy he was with this one.  And before you ask, No it wasn’t the mum of the piglet, we saw mum running at full speed, she was much much larger!

Aaron and I caught up with Lucas and Andrew further upstream, a nice pool holding a few fish, Aaron and I spotted from the far bank, we called the cast, followed by the strike, Andrew quickly had the biggest fish of the day to the net.

The sun was setting, and we were a long way from the hut, so we bailed in double time, stopping to pick up our pork dinner.  Arriving back at the hut we were greeted by what looked like an entire tramping club.  You certainly get some funny looks carrying a pig and a fishing rod up to the hut.

Camp chef Lucas whipped up another culinary delight, quickly followed with some fine scotch.  Off to bed to try get to sleep before the snorers cranked up.  No luck there, we re payed the favor with some loud flatulence in the morning.

By this stage I was still skunked and getting rather upset about the issue, early morning Lucas and I went down stream to where we had spotted fish the first night, we had left these as a back up.  These fish were in another world, chasing each other round the pool and just generally ignoring our flies, eventually we managed to spook the lot.  It was here I cut my loses and decided I wasn’t going to get a fish this opening.

The walk out was much easier, our packs were substantially lighter and the rain that had just begun, kept us moving at a brisk pace.  After copping a heck of a lot of flack about “loosing my touch” and “Using all my mojo up on the Hutt river” we arrived at the bush edge.  One last ditch effort at a fish for opening.  I spotted a fish in close and set up.  He was moving around a lot and was hard to keep track of, he turned up at my feet, a short cast, a good take on the dry, some aggressive playing and a good net job by Aaron, I had a fish to the net finally.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy about catching a little fish.

Finally 4 wet, tired and sore anglers arrived at burger king, we smashed back a good feed and nailed it back to welly for the league.

An epic trip with good mates in NZ’s back country is something you can’t beat.  Already we have other trips planned for other areas of the forest park, and a very very different proposition for next years opening.  But you’ll have to wait till next year to see what that is.


Andrew Hearne – Opening Day 2011. When the going gets tough

Its that time again… the 2011 – 2012 season has officially begun.What an epic beginning it was.

It goes a little something like this…

A couple of weeks back the plan was developed. On Thursday afternoon Jack came to my place and we went off to the supermarket to buy the food for the trip. Early Friday morning saw me collecting Jack from his place, and from there we went straight to McDonalds for a healthy breakfast of hash browns and massive mcmuffins to kick start our trip.

We were on our way at last. I always have the feeling I’ve forgotten something, and an hour into the drive I realised this that this time I actually had left something important at home. I’d left the sandwiches behind. They were supposed to be our lunch for that day as well as the next. It was too far to go back and get them, so we would just have to stop and buy something somewhere.

We arrived at the start point for the journey late in the morning where we met with our mate Mike Kirkpatrick from Nelson. We first met Mike on the river last season during our November trip. We kept in touch after that, and some of you may remember a previous report of a trip I went on with Mike near the end of last season.

From there it was a solid couple of hours four wheel driving and mountain biking to the hut where we were to base ourselves for the weekend. Along the way we saw plenty of great looking fish which were begging to be caught. We all agreed the fish must have known it was the day before the trout season. They were feeding like crazy.

This is how we roll..

We organised our gear in the hut and had some lunch (Scones, not sandwiches) before heading up to where we would fish the next day on a reconnaissance mission. It was a beautiful day and all three of us liked what we saw.

Mike observing the promised water of tomorrow

More on this one later…

This one was about 5 metres upstream from the last one

We wandered the river for a couple of hours and returned to the hut full of enthusiasm from what we had seen. Dinner that night was venison curry and rice followed by chocolate and some fancy pants whisky which Jack brought with him to celebrate the new season.

Telling lies in the hut

As always, the sleep you get in a hut is as good as you’ll get anywhere. I slept like a log and from what I could gather, Jack and Mike did the same. Saturday morning dawned fine and after a quick breakfast and tidy up we were on our merry way down to the river. The time had come.

We all set our gear up at the bottom of a big run with a creek feeding in at the top. Mike suggested I try my luck.

After searching the lower part of the run I launched a cast into the heavier stuff at the top where the creek came in and I saw a big dark shape coming towards my fly. Instinct took over at that point and I lifted the rod into the weight of a solid brownie. I was on!

It was a quick fight. Jack went in like a hound dog when given the command to go forward with the net. I let out a fair bit of noise once it was secured in the mesh and we even high fived. Unfortunately Mike captured all of this on his video camera.

The season was officially underway

From memory, this is the fastest I’ve ever caught a fish in a new season. Its fair to say I was pumped for quite a while after this.

A while later we came to the pool where we saw the two fish  in the pictures from the day before. By now it was completely overcast and it didn’t look like the forecast rain was very far away.

Mike started fishing at the bottom fish while I filmed. Several fly changes later it was still feeding, but I had stopped filming. This fish was locked on to something and so far we hadn’t figured out what.

I’d hate to think how many different patterns and sizes of fly that fish saw, but it was a lot. Eventually after Jack covered it with about 15 drifts with one fly it opened wide and accepted the offering.

Hooked up after a thousand and one presentations!

Jack landed the solid brown within a couple of minutes and he too was officially welcomed into the 2011 – 2012 season with a couple of handshakes.

Welcome!

The next one was fished at for quite some time before it eventually spooked away. They were being very fussy, and it looked like we would have to work hard for them.

Mike missed a take on a fish in a small pool. He was a bit gutted, but there were more to be found further upstream. The light wasn’t as good as the day before when we came for our walk, but we knew roughly where they would be.

It wasn’t too much longer and Mike was casting at another good looking fish. This time there was no need for him to change his fly, it swung to the left on the first cast and took his possum fur nymph.

Soon after that Mike was holding his first victim.

By now the weather had set in and the camera had to be stowed away in the pack. It would be brought out to take pictures of fish, but that was all. The next fish we found was rising. In all my years I can’t recall a time when I witnessed a fish caught on a dry fly on opening day, but that was all about to change.

Jack threw a pink posted parachute over the rising fish and up it came. The strike hit home and after a spirited battle I lifted a very golden fish into the net. I was more than a little jealous that he’d caught it on a dry.

From there we found another one rising. This one was in a narrow pool with a solid rock wall on the far side. It was darkened somewhat by the overhanging trees and the fish was hard to see a lot of the time. Fortunately it kept poking its face above the water to reveal its whereabouts whenever we lost sight of it.

It wasn’t all plain sailing. Mike had to cover the fish several times before it finally took his dry. This fish fought a very stubborn and dogged fight for several minutes before it could be lasnded. It was a great fish, caught in a great way.

It was my turn again after that. We were approaching a pool which I was going to fish, but on the way there we found a fish feeding in the run below.

I took up position and after a couple of casts I was in business again. I leant into the fish as it tried to get among the cutty grass overhanging on the near bank. Once again Jack did a splendid job of securing the fish. I don’t think Mike has ever seen people land fish the way we do. It isn’t always pretty, but I like to think of it as very efficient and effective.

The successful fly being filmed

The big pool had a couple in there, but a big tree stopped Mike and Jack from being able to fish at them effectively. The run above held another fish which didn’t look like it was up to much until Jack put a nymph in the right place. The fish was swinging to the right every time it fed, and as soon as the fly went through the right channel, it was once again business time.

Mr Kos’ third victim of the day

By this stage it was getting late, and we didn’t want to be walking back to the hut in the dark, but there was one more run which we knew would have fish.

After a few more minutes crashing our way up the stream we came to the run, and found a couple of fish. The first one spooked after a couple of fly changes, but the second eventually took a size 16 nymph after refusing other patterns. It was landed quickly and the formalities completed just as fast before it was released.

Last fish for the day

After that it was a quick march through the rain back to the hut. We ate steak and pasta that night and we talked about the day and how special it had been. We caught plenty of fish, but not many of them came easily. All but two required at least one fly change for success.

It rained heavily right through the night and the river came up an incredible amount. The next day the water was unfishable and we only just managed to make it out through the high water. I guess the timing had been right for us really. If the rain arrived a day earlier it would have been a different story.

That is as good a start to a fishing season as any I’ve ever had before. It was a great couple of days away, in a great place, with great people, and we caught some truly special fish.

I can’t wait for tomorrow. I’m going fishing again!