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Andrew Hearne – Five fish I will always remember

Five fish I’ll never forget. No matter ho hard I try.

This entry differs from what the other boys have done recently. I’ll put my top five together later on, but for now this is all about five of the most memorable fish I didn’t catch.

My apologies for the lack of images… but I guess you’ll understand why.

Number 5.

This happened the season before last. I was fishing the Canterbury High Country alone in the heat of summer and the Cicadas were in full swing. I’d caught one fish and lost another already that day on a Cicada pattern, and I had the feeling I was a good chance at catching anything I fished to that day.

I approached a run where I’d seen a pretty big fish a few weeks earlier, and my excitement level lifted. As I made my way to the top of the run I was buzzing with nervous energy, and there it was. I spotted a solid looking fish sitting in the prime spot.

I had to drop slightly to get into a good casting position, which meant I could no longer see the fish. I sent the cicada into the strike zone and hoped for the best. I didn’t need to wait long… the water erupted as the big brown slashed at the fly and I don’t even think I needed to strike, the fish had probably set the hook itself. A strong fight took place from there and I could tell the fish was a good one. It had plenty of length, and was strong and determined.

I got it in really close and was prepering to net it when it rolled on top and I saw its true size for the first and only time. It took off and the line pinged. My tippet hardly ever snaps, but it did on this occasion. I stood there and swore at the heavens for quite some time, until I was eventually able to pull myself back together and carry on for the day.

Number 4.

This is going back a few years. I think it was the start of the 2003-2004 season. The location isn’t too far away from where number 5 took place.

I had fished upstream all day and was on my way out, walking along the side of the river as I went whenever possible. As I came to a certain pool with a small creek pouring in I spied a fish sitting under the feed line. It looked like a pretty nice fish, and it wasn’t there a few hours earlier. I crept into position and started casting to the fish for what seemed like forever. It stayed where it was more or less, drifting slightly but never moving far. After god knows how many casts my indicator dipped under and I struck. I was most surprised when the line went tight and the mighty fish exploded from the water.

My surprise turned into heartbreak when the fish landed on my tippet. In one moment it was all over. I headed for the car thinking about what might have been.

Number 3.

This happened near the end of the 2002 – 2003 season, not long after I had shifted to Christchurch from Nelson.

I’d returned to Nelson for the wedding of some very good friends. While I was there for a few days I thought I should head out for a bit of fishing, I had some unfinished business that needed taking care of at a river nearby.

I’d fished the river a few times, and been alerted to a very nice looking fish which was resident in one of the pools by one of my mates who worked in the area. The trouble was that there was a fallen tree sharing the pool with the fish, keeping it safe. As time passed by, the tree swung closer and closer to the bank… until eventually it was out of the way enough that a chance at catching the fish became possible.

That day I’d caught four great fish on Cicadas. You couldn’t miss, they were moving a mile for them. I decided to drive up the road to the tree pool, and have a go at the big boy. Nervously I peeked over the edge of the bank trying to see where he was, but the light was poor and the water was covered with glare. I was a bit dejected at not being able to see the fish, but I went down to the water anyway.

I worked my way through the pool methodically, and into the fast water at the top. I’d never seen the fish holding this high up, but I fished it anyway. My indicator stopped, and when I struck I was fast into a fish. THE fish!

I worked hard to gain control, and just when I thought I had the advantage the fish leapt high out of the water and I watched in slow motion as my nymph tracked towards me through the air. The fish was free. After all of my previous unsuccessful attempts at capturing it, on this day I had come oh so close, yet I had failed again. This was to be the last time I would try to catch this fish, unfortunately the opportunity never again presented itself.

Number 2.

This is really going back a long time. I was 14 years old, and I hadn’t been fly fishing all that long. I was with my best mate Sam, and we were fishing our favourite river. He’d just caught his biggest ever trout, which was in the vicinity of 7 pounds, and in fact I would confidently say it was the biggest trout either of us had ever laid our young eyes on.

No more than a few hundred metres upstream from where Sam caught his fish from was a mighty pool. It was long, wide, and had plenty of depth in all the right places. It had a nice rapid entering in at the head and a solid rock bottom on the far side providing plenty of stablility.

As we neared the top we spotted a line up of about half a dozen fish, all suspended high in the water column and feeding away nicely. To this day I doubt I have ever seen another situation as perfect as this. I cast my basic rig consisting of a Hare and Copper nymph with wool indicator above the top fish, the biggest of them all. It didn’t hesitate to come across to my nymph and took it with all the confidence of the much smaller fish I was so used to catching. I responded to the indicator dipping with a solid lift of my Daiwa fly rod , and the line tightened.

This fish didn’t treact like the fish I was used to catching, infact I have never experienced the same reaction from a hooked fish in all the years that have passed since. This fish did not splash, or panic. It calmly swam across the river, slowly but surely taking line with it as it went, and took up a position on the bottom. I stood there next to Sam on the side of the river in absolute bewilderment, I had no idea what to do. Several minutes passed, the fish shook its head from time to time, and eventually my line snapped.

Even though I had minimal experience with fish of any size at that point in my life, I knew I had just been attached to something special. With all the years gone past since then, I realise even more now just how special that fish was. If I was to hook that same fish again today I would be in a far better position to land it than what I was back then, but it was incredibly powerful, and nothing is certain. One thing I can say for sure is that fish is lucky it got away, for if I had landed it as a 14 year old boy, there is no doubt I would have taken it home with me to mount on the wall.

Number 1.

This one sits in a similar ball park to number two. It was a bit of a toss up for which sat where in the grand scheme of things… but I decided this one could take the top spot.

It was December 2009. A couple of days after Christmas. I had arranged to take my mate Paul from Timaru and his Dad with me for a day on the water. The fish were in top condition that season, and I knew that where we were going we would have a decent shot at a good fish. It had rained a bit and the water was running a bit high, with enough colour for it to work in our favour.

The day started with a hiss and a roar when Paul caught his first ever fish on a fly. At 8 pounds it wasn’t one to be scoffed at… I made sure I let him know how many years it took for me to catch one that big.

Soon after I briefly hooked and lost one which was about the same size as what Paul landed. A short distance upstream I spotted another fish sitting near our edge which Paul insisted I fish to. I fished at this one for quite some time, and every so often I saw it clearly through a window in the water, it was a big fish.

Many, many casts, and about seven fly changes later I got a result. I set the hook into a very angry fish. It took off at warp factor 6 across the swollen river and angled upstream, taking all my fly line and a good part of my backing with it. I couldn’t do a whole lot to start with, but eventually I gained some back and my fly line came closer to where it needed to be.

This is where it really turned pear shaped. I watched my backing knot as it neared the tip top of my rod, and as the two made contact, time slowed down as I witnessed the knot disintegrate with my own eyes. The trailing fly line flailed off into the current, still attached to my big angry fish. I stoood on the riverbank swearing while Paul and his dad watched in disbelief, before I dropped everything and tore off into the current searching for the trailing line in desperation and anger.

I didn’t find the end of my line, which meant I didn’t get my fish. It put somewhat of a dampener on my day. This is the one which takes the cake.

All of these fish have caused me to lose sleep at some point, but if I’m completely honest I’d have to say I probably wouldn’t change any of them given the chance. Thats a big call I know, but it wouldn’t be the same if we landed them all, would it?


The Hair of the Frog… Product review – by Andrew Hearne

Frog Hair –  a product soon to be supplied by Riverworks.

It took me a while to come around to the stuff, but I’m there now. This is how it happened…

Some time during the middle of the fishing season Rob sent me some new tapered leaders and tippet material to try out.

I was a bit dubious to begin with. When it comes to my set up there are two main things I need to have absolute faith in. Hooks, and tippet. You can get by with a less than perfect rod, but I won’t compromise when it comes to the hooks and tippet I use, for obvious reasons.

So this stuff shows up in a courier package, I divvied it up and gave Jack his share. From there it sat in my vest for a while… Even though Rob was keen for us to try it out and get back to him with the results, I wasn’t quite ready just yet.

I’d been using the same brand for a few years now. I had, and still have, absolute faith in it. I can count on one hand the amount of times it has failed on a fish. It takes a lot for me to move away from that.

The first time I used Frog Hair was on a day when jack and I were in the High Country chasing big fish. The fish were as spooky as anything you have ever come across and we were having a tough time. Just before lunch we spotted another fish, and I made the call to change things up a bit and tied some 4x (6lb) Frog Hair on as tippet material.

The cast landed as it should, and to mine and Jack’s surprise the fish actually took the fly. Unfortunately when I struck the line came shooting back at me… an inspection revealed the line had snapped. At that point in time I was none too happy, and the Frog Hair went back into the vest for a while after that.

A few weeks later and we were in the deep south. Again I was fishing with Jack, and again the fish were playing hard to get. This time it was Jack who decided to take the plunge. He tied on the mighty Frog Hair in an attempt to get the result which had so far eluded us for the day. This time around the Frog Hair proved a success… the first fish took the fly, put up one hell of a fight, and was successfully landed…. with a wind knot in the tippet to boot!

With my confidence restored I replaced my leader and tippet with Frog Hair and we both went on to have a pretty successful day. The fish we caught were as hard fighting as you can expect to find anywhere, so the line was well tested. I’ll even own up to discovering a wind knot in my line after I landed a fish later in the day.

I used Frog Hair for the remainder of the season without any issues. I’ll have no problem using it from now on… we got off to a rough start, but now I’m a believer.

Keep an eye out for this magic string in your local tackle shop. It shouldn’t be too far away. here are some photos of some of the fish we’ve caught on Frog Hair so far. (You may have seen these fish already)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Andrew Hearne – The Grand Finale…Saving the best for last.

I like to save the best for last. If I could do it all the time I would, I like having something to look forward to.

The final day of the season rolled around quicker than I expected. It had been yet another great few months spent wandering about the South Island, and it was all but over.

My time off work was all but over too, the next day was my first day back after a month off. As strange as it may sound, I was actually looking forward to going back to work, for a number of reasons – restoring the bank balance being one of them.

The forecast for the final day of the season was far from ideal, with strong gusty wind predicted in most places accessible from here. I guess it was a fitting way to finish. What to do?

Although I’d experienced more than my share of fishing during the past 6 months and 29 days, my gut feeling told me to get out there one last time. If for no other reason than to see what happened. I felt like there was unfinished business that needed attending.

The alarm went off early on April 30th. It was pretty cold and miserable to start with. I nearly pulled the pin and went back to bed. It took every ounce of self – control not to.

I chose to visit a place with few fish, in the hope of finding some good ones. I ended last season with a great fish, and I was keen to repeat the effort this year.

When I eventually arrived at the river the wind was really bad. It was absolutely howling. It was so bad I thought about flagging it and trying to find somewhere more sheltered nearby. I decided against moving on and stayed with plan A.

It took a while, but eventually I found a fish. Best of all, it looked to be feeding. The adrenaline started right at that moment, and I was a wreck as I attached a dry fly and dropper rig. I dropped down to the river and changed my set up again slightly, I figured the dropper length I’d set was too long and the nymph was probably too heavy.

With that sorted finally I set about laying line on water. This was the next issue, the bushes behind me and the still howling wind conspired against me to turn an otherwise simple task into a difficult one.

My first couple of attempts resulted in my line being stuck in a bush. I kept as calm as I could while I unhooked it, and eventually I nailed the cast, and the dry fly indicator hit the spot. I knew I was in the money.

The Humpy bobbed along in the current. I couldn’t see the fish clearly through the wind ruffled surface, and it felt like forever had passed, but eventually the nymph reached the red zone and the dry twitched sideways slightly.

I lifted the rod and resistance was met in the form of a solid thud. A moment later the fish rolled onto its side, stunned. It then took off to the bottom of the pool at lightning speed. I quickly crossed the river to get in a better position, and the fish pulled up at the top of the rapids, seemingly reluctant to head downstream any further. I sidestrained the fish in close and that was when I caught my first glimpse of its shoulder. It was an impressive sight indeed. From there I was pretty ruthless with my approach and was able to land the fish surprisingly quickly.

I don’t mind admitting I screamed like schoolgirl when I landed this fish. I screamed so much it made my voice a bit hoarse for the rest of the day, but I didn’t care.

Getting the photo was tricky. I can set the camera up on the tripod pretty quickly, but it was so windy I thought the whole lot was going to finish up in the river. Fortunately the expensive stuff didn’t, however, some of the less expensive stuff did… but nothing which mattered much.

 

Here it is…. the reward for my efforts.

The winning combination isn’t exactly revolutionary. I used a size 12 red Humpy as the indicator, with a size 14 Pheasant Tail nymph hung underneath. It was simple, but effective.

I released the fish and packed up my gear. That was it for the season of 2011-202. There was no way I could finish the season in a better way than that. I really had managed to save the best for last this time.


Andrew Hearne – Revisiting a trip from earlier this season.

A video clip from a trip earlier this season. You’ve seen the photo’s now here it is in motion…

Cheers to Mike Kirkpatrick for stitching it all together.


Andrew Hearne – Homeward bound…. nearly.

This is the fourth and final instalment from our trip south. Thanks to Chris Dore for providing a good portion of the photographs for this entry.

We were nearly done in this particular part of the world for now. It was time to head somewhere else.

Day four saw us quietly packing up the campsite and heading back along the track at a rather sedate pace.

We stopped where a tributary stream entered the main river. Jeremy and I headed downstream with the intention of fishing back up, Jack headed upstream on his own, while Chris disappeared into the tributary with his bow.

There was a notable absence of fish in the stretch Jeremy and I fished. We didn’t see nearly as many as we expected. Despite the lack of fish Jeremy managed to catch one anyway, as he has a habit of doing. I think Jeremy is some kind of fish – catching genius. He could pull a fish from a puddle in the gutter if he tried hard enough.

Later that evening we arrived back into Queenstown and stopped off to collect our much anticipated, pre ordered Fergburger. Then we headed on up to Chris’ place where we promptly smashed our respective orders to pieces.

I’d ordered the Big Al, with fries and aioli. Looking back on it now, the fries were overkill really… in fact I knew at the time I didn’t really need to eat the whole lot, but I didn’t want to show any sign of weakness in front of my peers so I pushed through the pain barrier and finished what I set out to start.

That night I had a pretty good sleep on the couch, once a bit of time had passed and my food baby settled down a bit.

The next morning we were woken by Chris. He got up and started walking around at some ungodly hour. I don’t even think the man uses an alarm, he just wakes up.

Slowly I gained consciousness and coherency, and then Chris, Jack, and I packed the truck with our gear for yet another couple of days on the river. Jeremy stayed behind – he mentioned something about cleaning Chris’ carpet and having catch a plane in the afternoon….

The first day of phase two was taken at a leisurely pace. It was a nice change from the norm. We headed south from Chris’ place – this was to be the day Jack and I fished the mighty Mataura for the first time. I’m not usually one for saying where I fish, but I think I’ll be ok to disclose the location this time.

I felt it was very important to catch a fish on this monumental day in my fly fishing career, and thankfully I wasn’t to be disappointed. Although the insect activity was minimal that day, which made things slightly more difficult, I ended up catching a couple of fish that day, as did Jack and Chris.

I don’t know how I would have felt if I blanked on the Mataura? Probably not all that happy I suspect.

That evening we stayed at Simon Chu’s trout cottage in Lumsden. The cottage is a really cool place, reading the visitor’s book reveals that many well – known anglers have passed through over the years, and it is something of a shrine to all things fly fishing. Many thanks Simon for allowing us to stay there.

Once again the next morning it was Chris who was out of bed first, really, really early this time! He brewed the coffee though, so getting up wasn’t as difficult as it may have otherwise been. The coffee was a minor incentive to drag myself from the warmth of my sleeping bag.

As painful as it was to begin with, we needed to get away in good time to secure our stretch of river for the day. When we arrived at our destination our early start was rewarded with an empty carpark.

It was pretty fresh that morning. I guess it was a good thing we had a reasonable walk before we would start fishing and were able to warm up pretty quickly.

 

That day ended up being pretty tough. I managed a nice fish in the morning… but that was all for the most part. Later on I momentarily hooked and lost a couple of fish in the same run near the end of the day. This saw me nearly lose the plot altogether, I displayed some of my less refined behaviour for a few seconds there – and that was that. It was near dark when we got back to the truck, and it was time to head back for a feed. Not a moment too soon either.

 

 

Somehow between the three of us we managed to forget our lunch for the day, so we were looking forward to food. We were really looking forward to it. Luckily for us, Lumsden is the home of the Mayfly Café, and based on the evidence of that night – they make great food.

We ordered ourselves a pizza each, and we weren’t at all disappointed. In fact we were very impressed. The pizza I ate was so big that it hurt me to finish it. I still finished it though. That’s pretty good value for 15 bucks if you ask me.

The next day Jack and I had to catch a plane in the afternoon. It was time to go home. I had the pleasure of watching Jack put on his wet fishing boots at the airport for the flight home in order to bring his luggage down to the weight restriction. I was kind enough to photograph it for you all to see too…

 

 

 

The final hurdle after that was actually getting on the plane and taking off. The flight was delayed for over an hour, and then we had to wait for about half an hour once on board for some people’s gear to be removed… I think they got booted off or something? Who knows – it took a long time though!

Eventually I was home, and pleased to be there. Two weeks of tents and couches was enough for now. For a couple of days at least…

The season was nearly finished… but not quite. There was still time to throw a few more casts.

As always, watch this space for more to come!


Andrew Hearne – Lighting it up down south! (Day two)

So far I really liked it here. We were in a good place.

This was the day when Chris decided to chill out around camp and muck about with his bow. So while he was doing this, Jack, Jeremy and I headed off upstream together.

The day started off overcast, and ended up remaining that way. Not that it mattered.

 

There are plenty of fish in the river. Finding them wasn’t an issue. However, we struggled to catch any for a while on the second day. Jeremy decided to wait back at a section of the river where there is a lot of still water. He told us to go ahead and he’d catch up later.

Jack and I continued on our way, and finally after much frustration, Jack fished to one which was rising at the top of a long, glassy run, and it took his dry.

 

Soon after that it was my turn to bring one to the net.

 

 

It was Jacks turn once again, and it seemed like we had found our rhythm at last.

 

 

We spent the next couple of hours taking turns picking fish off one after the other. It was pretty good fishing.

 

 

 

 

Later on Jeremy caught up with us. He’d had a pretty good time of things downstream too.

Things went pretty quiet for a bit once we reunited with Jeremy, but after a while we made it to a stunning piece of water.

Jack kicked it off by hooking into a good fish. While he was hooked up I cast to another fish feeding in the eye. I hooked up too.

So there we were, standing only metres apart and both hooked up to a big rainbow trout each. My one burst out of the water every few seconds for the first bit, and continued to do so less frequently as it tired. Just when I thought I had the battle won, the hook popped out. I stood there, shouting. I wasn’t very pleased. Jack was still hooked up. Lucky for him, he landed his one!

 

 

As I stood there feeling sorry for myself and thinking about how unfair the world can be sometimes, I spotted another fish. At first I thought it was the one which had just thrown my hook… but it wasn’t.

I cast to the fish, and it surged forward onto the size 16 hare and copper. This one went like a rocket too. It took some beating, but this time I won. It was a fat fish, and obviously very fit. This was my biggest of the day and finished up being my biggest for the trip.

 

 

That was a pretty good way to finish up. A great fish each from the same pool.

Together we walked back along the track after that. About halfway back to camp Jeremy disappeared away from the track for another look at a piece of water he’d fished earlier in the day.

Jack and I had a look off the track a couple of times too. I managed to donate some new jewellery to one fish along the way, and hooked up on the most atrocious looking pink streamer ever to swim a New Zealand river. I really wanted to catch that last fish, just to say I’d caught something on that particular streamer. I guess I’ll just have to wait for that moment.

That night around the campfire was another good one. Although I wouldn’t recommend kids trying it at home, the fire was started in the same fashion as the night before… it’s very effective.

 

We sat on our log in front of that fire, soaking up the warmth as we fed on soup, steak, rice and veges.  This was followed up with chocolate and whisky. We weren’t really doing it tough down there.

Well there goes day two. Jack will cover day three soon.


Andrew Hearne – Stomping on old ground.

I mentioned a while ago that I was lucky enough to have the entire month of April off. Well, it was awesome. I did a lot of fishing.

There is a whole bunch of stuff which will be appearing on here in the next while… including the report from a great trip we had down south, which Jack is going to kick off in the next few days. Watch this space!

To keep you going until then, This is a report is from a few days ago. It puts things a bit out of synch… but never mind.

Once we arrived back from our trip south I stayed at home for a few days. I needed to recover, and I also needed to learn how to sleep in a bed again after so long sleeping in a tent.

Once I was sorted out I figured I may as well get back out there and make the most of the last days of the season, and my remaining time off work.

Again I packed up for an overnighter, loaded the mountain bike onto the rack, and headed off into the distance towards the hills. The venue for this particular adventure was one of my old stomping grounds from a few years back.

A few hours later I met Mike, and from there we drove in convoy to the end of the road. After that it was onto the bikes for an hour or so. It was just enough time for me to work up a pretty good sweat and made me realise how much I need to spend a bit more time on the bike.

That night was pretty cold, and I struggled to sleep properly in my tent. The forecast was for overcast conditions, but the next morning the sky was cloud free. There was also a pretty crisp frost coating the ground thrown into the mix for good measure.

The sun couldn’t hit the valley soon enough that morning. The temperature definitely wasn’t helping, my fingers were barely able to function in the cold, and my feet weren’t doing much better.

I hooked a fish pretty early on, which threw the hook after only a few seconds. I hooked another one soon afterwards, which did the same. It wasn’t really the start I’d been hoping for.

After my second fish got away Mike hooked one cruising the same run. This one didn’t get away, and we’d officially opened the account for the trip.

That day turned out to be pretty tough. I hooked another two fish without landing either, and Mike had a couple which went wrong too. Frustration was the order of the day.

 

That night we sat around the campfire and enjoyed the finest of three course bush meals. We had soup as a starter, followed by steak, potatoes and gravy, peas and corn for the main, and then a custard and fruit desert.

We both agreed that if the weather closed in the next morning we would abort mission and head out. Neither of us were feeling very motivated at that point to fish in the rain.

The second night was considerably warmer than the first, and I managed to get plenty of sleep. I woke up feeling pretty good, much better than on the first day. On top of all that the weather was good. It looked as though we would have a look at the river after all.

We didn’t fish very far, but we saw plenty of fish and fared a lot better than the previous day.

Because of the current from the side with good visibility I had to cross the first run of the day to fish to the first target, while Mike stayed on the other side to spot for me. To his credit he did a great job, and before I knew it I was solidly hooked up. Finally!

I landed the fish, and at that moment I wasn’t all that far from being ecstatic. The memory of my failure from the previous day virtually disappeared… because at last I had actually caught a fish!

 

A short distance upstream Mike fished at another one which ended up spooking and screaming up and down the run. As we started to move on we noticed another one sitting slightly higher up the run. Mike offered it to me. Hesitantly, I said yes to fishing to it. I mentioned it was probably spooked after what the other fish had just done, and as I unhooked my nymph the fish swung to the left to feed. On seeing this, Mike called me names, and my confidence grew.

It took about three casts to get the drift right. The fish again moved out to the left, but this time it was for my nymph and not a natural.

This one took to the air straight away and kept on jumping right to the bitter end. Each time it cleared the water we could both see it was a shovel nosed Jack. Initially I didn’t think it was all that big, but once I had it in the shallows I saw it was in great condition. This was a real bonus on top of the one from earlier.

 

That wasn’t the end of the action for the day. Just as we walked slowly along an edge discussing the subject of fish feeding on mice, another one was spotted. Mike put the cast in the right place and was rewarded with a take. This was another pretty good fish.

 

 

Not long after that we called it a day. It was time to pack up and get back on the bikes and then the long drive home.

So that was one trip. Wait until you see what else we got up to this month!


Andrew Hearne – Old school.

A while back I got a message from Chris, one of the boys I used to go to school with way back in the day.

It turns out Chris has been into fly fishing for a wee while now. He has been spending a bit of time during the past couple of seasons fishing with Ben, who we also we went to school with.

The boys have even been reading the Riverworks Lifestyle blog!

It was long overdue, but today we finally got out for a fish together.

We didn’t travel all that far from home relatively speaking, so we left at a reasonable hour in the morning and found ourselves on the water just as the sun was peeking over the hills. The idea was to explore a piece of water none of us had fished before. Although most of the water we passed looked very promising, it turned out to be very disappointing indeed.

We saw one fish. (We didn’t catch it)

 

There ain’t no fish here…

Plan B was hatched after we came to the realisation that plan A sucked. We marched back to the car and took off up the road.

There were a few fish in the short stretch we fished, and they were as difficult as usual.

Right near the end we found one in the lower part of a pool which was feeding happily. Chris went forth and tried to entice it… unsuccessfully.

Ben went next, and after several fly changes he had it fooled.

 

 

It fought a good fight, and when it came to the net I could see why.

 

And there it is, Ben’s biggest trout.

It wasn’t long before this I’d been saying to Ben that often a single fish can make the entire day worthwhile. This was one of those fish.

It was time to leave after that. We had to get back to town, and I was losing my sanity fast as I became the food supply for several thousand sandflies.

We’re gonna do it all again before the season ends. Next time we’ll head somewhere with a few more fish, even if they are slightly on the smaller side.

Here is a little fish I caught a week or so ago, it was a fat wee pig. I caught it on a black terrestrial pattern.

 

Somehow I’ve managed to swing the whole month of April off… so I hope to get out fishing once or twice during that time. Watch this space…


Andrew Hearne – Its not about the fish.

Well we went fishing again this week… twice.

Tuesday was pretty tough going, with most of the fish we found not really willing to play our game.

The weather forecast for today was looking pretty good, so we decided to have another go, and hopefully maker a better job of things.

It isn’t always about the fish though, all I really wanted was a good day out. As it turned out, it was a pretty fun day on the river.

As usual, the weather wasn’t quite as good as it could have been… it was a bit grey all over, but at least it wasn’t windy.

 

It wasn’t all that long and Jack found a fish against our bank. It took a couple of casts, but the fish played ball.

 

That’s a pretty good bend in the rod. This fish went hell for leather from the beginning.

A pretty good start to the day really.

We carried on up and I hooked one myself, which also went hell for leather… unfortunately my disability prevented me from landing the fish. Yup, my busted finger got in the way and became tangled in the line and the fish broke me off. It continued jumping for quite a while afterwards, obviously it wasn’t all that keen on the new addition to its face.

I didn’t let that speedbump get me down, I found another fish. Just as I was casting to it another one came down towards me so I redirected and put the fly in front of it. As it got near I lifted the fly off the bottom and the fish swam onto it and opened its gob right up. I struck, and it was game on again.

I quickly suggested to jack he might want to be on my side of the river to fish for the other one, which, coincidentally looked to be about twice the size of the one I had on the end of my line. I kindly hung on to my fish for dear life while jack made his way over… my fly line got tied around some bushes during the fight, so even if I wanted to let the fish take line I wouldn’t have been able to. How my rod didn’t snap in half I’ll never know…

I landed it on a small clump of dirt, not ideal really but it was the best I could do. It wasn’t a great location for a photo either.

The big boy must have been a bit stirred up from all the commotion, because he took off pretty quickly when we made our way up to him. Not to worry, we’ll find him again.

At one point we had to negotiate a bit of matagouri bush, which involved climbing halfway up the side of a rather large hill. At some point along the side of the hill Jack found a fish in the water, and since I was closest, he nominated me to climb down and smash through the bushes to try and catch it.

I did catch it. However, it looked way bigger from up on the hill. It was a nice enough little brownie, but didn’t quite warrant the effort required for a photo at that point.

I had yet another turn after that. By now the sun was trying to poke through the clouds, and the conditions were really good. I was fishing the eye of a nice pool when I hooked a bohemoth of a rainbow.

Look at him, what a beauty!

I had to really show this fish who was the boss… I think it got the picture pretty quickly.

In the end I just let him away with a warning, and he swam free to think about what had just taken place.

Time for Jack to give it a crack.

He had to throw a long cast, virtually to the other side. He got it right straight away and was on again.

 

This really is a pretty cool place to be on a nice day.

This fish was a bit like a bat straight out of hell too, it took some beating.

 

We both hooked another rainbow each after that. They were of similar size to this one and they both got off. My one escaped just after I told Jack I would make it jump for the camera… and his one escaped just as quickly. The precise moment Jack’s one popped off, the wind went from non existent to about warp factor 3 in an instant.

We’d had our fun for the day, and it was time to go home…

 


Andrew Hearne – Always take the weather with you… we always seem too!

Last weekend Rob came down from Wellington for some fishing with Jack and I. We had the plan sorted… and then it rained. A lot!

Despite the weather, we still went fishing. It just meant we had to travel further than we wanted to, a lot further as it turned out.

It seemed appropriate that most of the pictures were taken in black and white. It matches the doom and gloom that followed us wherever we went for the three days…

The first day was spent on a river which was very high, but usually remains reasonably fishable after even very heavy rain. There wasn’t a lot of photography taking place that day though, the rain kept coming on and off throughout the day. The camera was tucked away safely for most of the time… except for when Rob caught a fish.

That was all for the day as far as it went for fish on the bank. They were tough to find in the conditions, but at least it was a start.

That evening we headed off in search of cleaner water. After nearly a couple of hours we eventually found some. We arranged accomodation for the night, and headed off to the pub for some sustenance by way of steak sandwiches, burgers, and beer.

That night I slept pretty well, as did the other boys I believe. I’m not so sure about our Mexican friend who was unfortunate enough to have to share the room with us that night… the snoring might possibly have been a bit much for him to handle.

The next day dawned reasonably fine, although it quickly clouded over. It seemed like whatever we did to avoid bad weather, it was going to find us anyway. It wasn’t looking flash as we headed for the river. We arrived to an empty carpark and as we started getting ready patches of blue sky began to show through the cloud cover. It looked far better than before, but we resigned ourselves to the fact the weather might change a bit during the day.

The river had a touch of colour in it, but it wasn’t really a problem. We were reasonably confident we could find fish.

Jack found a fish, and after a couple of fly changes it took his nymph. Unfortunately it didn’t stay on for long… it spat the hook pretty quick.

Rob was next in the batting order.

It didn’t take long for him to connect with a fish.

This one stayed on.

It looked like it had been on the lean cuisine diet for a wee while, but at least it was a fish caught.

After that we walked for a bit without seeing much, then I found a fish holding in a small bit of pocket water against a solid bank. I managed to put a fly in front of it and it took, but like Jack’s fish it came off pretty quickly.

At this point in the day, it was almost threatening sunshine.

Not far upstream from here we split up for a bit. Jack took one side of the river while I went on the other side with Rob. It turned out that jack was on the wrong side!

If you have a close look at my right hand, you’ll appreciate that catching this fish was a bit harder than usual. I broke my middle finger right down near the knuckle three days earlier. Casting wasn’t very much fun… but where there is a will there is definitely a way!

Soon after that we found another one which Rob fished to. It was on the move, but as soon as it saw the fly it accepted nicely.

We carried on for quite a while after that, but didn’t manage to land any more fish for the day.

It was a decent walk back to the car, but not as bad as some of our past hikes to the car. We ate and drank at the same place as the evening before, and stayed another night. The Mexican dude was gone when we arrived back, I hope he didn’t leave because of us…

The next day we opted for a smaller piece of water. For whatever reason though, the fish weren’t willing to co-operate, and we blanked. We didn’t even look like getting a fish that day, but it was a day out nontheless…

Not long after lunch we had to pack up and head back to Christchurch so Rob could make his flight back to Wellington. It’s a shame the trip was a bit of a fizzer as far as the weather and fishing went, but we still managed to have a few laughs and made the most of a crap situation. Cheers guys…


Andrew Hearne – The final fling.

Day three… time for the final countdown.

We woke up pretty early in the morning, too early in fact.

I hated it, but Superchrist hated it more.

The plan was to up sticks early and get to where we needed to be before someone else got there. The plan was a good one, because we had only been parked for about two minutes before another vehicle loaded with anglers arrived at our access point. They did a gangsta slow drive by before parking up and tearing off upstream in double quick time.

It was pretty fresh that morning. We got sorted pretty smartly, wrote a not with our intentions for the windscreen, and away we went downstream. The plan was for Chris and Jeremy to fish upstream from a confluence stream, with Rodney and I walking about an hour further and fishing back up.

We walked reasonably quickly to the confluence stream, partly to keep warm, and partly because we were keen to get started. Unfortunately there was a wee surprise in store for us when we arrived at the confluence…

It was blown to bits. There had obviously been a small pocket of bad weather somewhere which had exploded into the top end of the tributary. That stuffed the plan to walk further downstream… we would have to fish together for the day.

As you can see, there was quite a contrast between one stream and the other.

Not to be deterred at all, we pushed forward. It wasn’t all that long before Chris was casting to a fish. He asked Rodney and i how far away it was, and from where we stood it looked quite far, so that is what we relayed. It turns out the fish wasn’t actually as far away as we said it was. Oopsy, sorry Chris! Anyway, it didn’t matter because Chris put a hook through its head anyway.

Its a beautiful thing isn’t it.

Jeremy sat in the grass watching the world go by for a while.

I just wandered around with my pet bug.

Jeremy must have been onto something just sitting in the grass for all that time, because as soon as he went back to the water he dragged a fish out. He is making a real habit of this.

Superchrist and I decided to try some of what Jeremy was doing. we must have been doing it wrong though, because all that happened was Jeremy caught another fish.

And it was a good one too…

Soon after that I had a go at a fish. It came up and took my humpy dry fly on the first cast, I waited… waited… and struck. No resistance at all. I was wild. I said some of my best fishing language and threw my rod like a javelin into the grass. Meanwhile Superchrist was laughing like a demented hyena in the grass behind me and doing his best to wind me up even more.

We went past a few more which we didn’t catch for one reason or another, and soon enough it was my turn to fish again.

By now it had warmed up considerably and the light was getting a bit better. Chris and Jeremy spotted one close to our bank which Rodney and I couldn’t see from our position. I got into the water to cast at the fish and Rodney started sledging me from his position on the bank.

..

Being the mature person that I am, I ignored his taunts and just focussed on the task at hand. First I tried a parachute, and the fish followed it a long way before refusing it. The next thing I tried was a psychadelic cicada imitation. I plopped it about a metre wide of the fish and it went right for it.

This time when it took I struck and felt solid weight on the line. I think I even let out a bit of noise indicating my happiness at the time.

As you can tell, Rodney was really helpful while I played the fish. The sledging continued for most of it.

And here it is. How do you like my fishnet stocking?

Pretty much straight away after that we found another one for Rodney Rude to fish to. I thought he needed to cool down a bit, so I made sure I splashed some water over him just before he cast.

It must have been magic water or something, becasue he hooked the fish…

And landed it too!

He was so happy he had to pash the fish before he put it back.

It was a boy fish…

Then it was time for Chris to cash in on the mid afternoon feeding activity. After refusals on about three different patterns, a blowfly did the job.

This one was pretty chunky.

We were so happy for Chris that we all started to dance on the bank.

That was the end of the fishing really. We saw a few more, but they were acting far differently from the other fish we had seen that day.

We arrived back to the vehicle to find an anonymous note expressing the disappointment of other anglers. I guess you just need to get to the river early if you want first dibs on a stretch for the day.

That night we returned to Queenstown and demolished some of the finest local cuisine (Fergburger!) If you haven’t had it… just get there!

That was that. The boys trip south 2012 was over and out. It was a great three days of fishing with some good boys, we had plenty of laughs and caught some pretty good fish along the way. I’m back at work now for a few days, but we’ve got another wee plan cooking for the next week or so.

I can’t wait.


Andrew Hearne – The very next day.

Following on from the last post… day two of three in the deep south.

It was a considerably slower start to the next day. It was a bit like coming out of a long hibernation instead of waking up from a night of sleeping.

Fortunately Chris has this fancy pants coffee plunger attachment to go with his jetboil thingee, and we were all fortunate to experience the revival that only a morning coffee can offer.

The conversation was thrilling first thing in the morning.

Lunch was packed up after that, the fishing gear was organised and we were on our way – nearly. First of all we needed to find somewhere to keep the beer cold until the end of the day. Jeremy was right on it.

We split the group in half for this day. Chris drew the short straw and had to go with super pooper, while I went with Jeremy. After we parted ways Jeremy and I walked for a while to our designated starting point. For the record, we were fishing one of the tributaries for the day.

It took a wee while, but finally a fish flashed in the current under Jeremy’s fly. It didn’t take on that drift, but the next presentation did the trick and the fish grabbed the fly. We were on the board for the day!

Numero uno.

I spent the next while experiencing some tough times, through a combination of misfortune and bad decision making. I missed a couple of takes because of poor line control in tough currents, and snapped off on a good fish when I tried to skull drag it in too soon.

Jeremy got this one fishing blind. It flew out of the water when he struck and landed on a rock… it must have knocked itself out for a bit because it floated upside down for a while. It didn’t seem to be permanently damaged though, it came to in my hand and swam away as strong as ever. Hopefully it recovered properly.

After what felt like forever, I finally caught a fish. It wasn’t this one by the way… it was a horrible thing. I was getting ready to cast at one midway through the pool when I spotted the degenerate fish in the tailout more or less at my feet. I flicked the cicada over the fish, basically dapping it… and the fish snared the fly with its third attempt. I think it just needed the first two to get its eye in.

Anyhow, after that I heaved a long cast into the belly of the pool where I saw some movement. Straight away the rainbow pictured came to the surface and ate the cicada imitation. I set the hook hard and the fish did its thing. Fortunately this one stuck.

At the top of the rapid feeding that pool was another nice run, and it had a couple of fish.

This is one of them. Jeremy got it on the gay white thing. (Its a cicada imitation of sorts)

A while later I had another opportunity. The fish was sitting in very shallow, slow moving water on the edge of the river. I put a parachute fly in front of it and it accepted straight away. It did a kind of fishy burnout / skid when it felt the hook and took off. Water was going everywhere.

It put up a good scrap, but relented with a bit of pressure and came in for a photo after a while.

Things slowed down for a bit, and the light became such that spotting was very difficult. We still found the fish, but is was much harder than before. I spotted one from a high bank and showed it to Jeremy, he went down into the water and managed to sneak into a position where he could see the fish. First cast with a green caddis hung under the gay white thing saw the fish grab the nymph and Jeremy was on again. This one put up a great scrap. It took some beating, but Jeremy was up to the task.

We’d agreed at the start of the day to meet where we split up at 6pm. By now it was around 5, and we were starting to find fish quite frequently. We decided to give it another 15 minutes.

I duffed another one soon after Jeremy’s fish. I cast my parachute fly up and it started dragging immediately, just under the surface. The fish snatched at the fly anyway, but I failed to connect with it. I got a bit grumpy for a few seconds at that point and let the world know how I felt.

Another one was found not far from that, and Jeremy again did what he had to and successfully landed another brown. It was now closer to 5:30 than 5:15… we still didn’t want to leave, so we didn’t.

We continued on upstream, reasoning that the others probably would have been late anyway, and they would figure we were ok and leave us to it. The last piece we came to had a couple of fish in it, and although they were feeding happily enough they were a bit on the fussy side.

I had two refusals from separate fish after very long and deliberate inspections. In the end I had to go old school and tied on a standard size 14 Greenwells Glory. It worked a treat too. The rainbow hit it like a sledge hammer and fought with the same degree of enthusiasm.

The fly was way down by the gill rakers on this one. He really wanted that fly bad.

It was then that Jeremy and I decided enough was enough and turned around. It was after 6, and if we didn’t stop there we would have gone on forever. It was a good walk back to the main track, and we were nearly back when we met Chris and the Lion King on the track. They were armed with binoculars and had come to see where we were. They told us if they couldn’t see us then they were going to drink all the beer themselves… how caring.

They had an interesting time on the section of river they fished. Chris caught a few, and Rodney had 10 takes without landing a single fish. He managed to smoke all of his cigarettes throughout the day too, so he was a happy man by the time we got to him.

That night Jeremy was on cooking duty again since he caught the biggest and most fish for the day. We just sat and watched as we drank our beer and chatted away to an Australian angler who had turned up in the hut during the day. He even gave Rodney a cigarette!

That was it for day two. Another great day out exploring new water.

The trip was nearly finished. Only one day to go.

The next instalment isn’t far away…


Andrew Hearne – Happy days are here again! The first day of three…

As I mentioned, I had a few days fishing in the South… it was a great trip.

This time there were four of us. There were a few cameras flying around for the duration of the trip, and as a result the images used here are a mixture of those taken by all involved. It took a while at the end to sort out what was what and make sure everyone had a copy of all the pictures.

First of all we had Lionel, aka Rodney McSuperchrist,  you may or may not recognise him from previous appearances. Then there was Jeremy, whom I have been meaning to fish with for a while now, and I believe has also made an appearance in one or two of Jack’s past reports. Obviously I was there too… and last but not least we had Chris. He’s a pretty well known angler and guide, but more importantly – he’s the local guy with all the knowledge!

I was already in Queenstown before the others got there. Sunday night saw the arrival of Jeremy first, followed by a quick trip to the supermarket for supplies. Lionel eventually turned up and we all made our way to Chris’ place for the night.

Early the next morning… business time!

Just like the saying goes, pictures say more than words. Because I have so many images at my disposal I decided to ease up on the writing part and let you see for yourself how it all unfolded. Here goes nothing.

The first day had a slightly cloudy beginning, but it didn’t take too long for the sun to begin poking through.

Once the sun was on the water we started to see fish reasonably easily.

I found one hard against our bank and Jeremy went to work.

And it worked well…

With the first one out of the way we continued along our merry way. There was plenty of banter to keep things interesting.

Another fish was found sooon after Jeremy released his one and it was time for Superfly to wield his wand.

He didn’t disappoint. He hooked up first cast.

He even landed it successfully…

So far so good. The day was looking rather promising.

Then it was my turn. There were a couple of fish in here. The cicada I was using was inspected by a fish for a very long time before being refused, so I changed over to a parachute. Again it was inspected for what felt like forever, but this time the fish didn’t turn away and delicately sipped it in.

I hooked up, and after a decent tug of war the fish came in.

This fish went some way towards exorcising one of the demons from last season.

I can’t quite remember what was going on here, but there must have been a fish in there somewhere that I didn’t end up catching.

And here is Rodney pointing out a rock to Jeremy and I…

Chris had a turn next and he hooked up on a nice fish.

Yep, Rodney does have two nets. I think he was planning the “Tango” slap netting method?

His technique worked, and Chris was victorious…

A pretty standard, solid fish from the river I believe.

After that Superchrist had another go and connected with a fish for quite a while, until it threw the hook near the net.

And then Jeremy…

But his one stayed stuck and came to the net.

I saw one against the near edge in the shallows, so I cut the nymph away and got right to it.

It very slowly took the first cast and I set the hook. I love this picture of the rod hooped over…

This was the fish of the day so far…

After a small quiet patch we came to a great looking piece of water. Rodney went close to another one but missed out. Jeremy offered me the chance at the next fish but I turned it down, the next thing you know he is hooked up again.

Superchrist was pretty helpful with this one.

I really should have taken him up on the offer!

This one overtook the title of fish of the day.

Soon after that we turned around and marched back to the vehicle. It had been a pretty long day and we were all very tired, but there was more to do yet. From there we drove for over an hour to our next destination. We arrived to find a less than friendly tramper in the hut and after we got set up it was time for dinner.

Superchrist only wanted beer for dinner, but we eventually talked him into having a feed of steak and pasta with us.

That was the first day of three. That night we slept well in the comfort of the hut and woke at a more reasonable hour the next morning for day two. I’ll try to get that report up ASAP…I’m just waiting on a few more pictures.

Watch this space…


Andrew Hearne – The biggest, baddest nymph in the world!

I’ve just returned from a few days in the South. I had a pretty good time with a few of the boys away in the bush chasing fish. There will be more on that in the next couple of days or so… watch this space!

In the meantime I thought I had better keep my word and reveal the biggest, baddest nymph ever!

Remember this fish?

This is the fly which did the job.

And this one…

Likewise…

There it is. The big purple Stonefly. I saw them tied like this a few years ago in a magazine and I’ve been tying them like it ever since. I used to limit myself to the smaller sizes but in recent times I have become a big fan of the larger model.

God knows why they take it, it isn’t exactly natural. I’ve had takes from both Browns and Rainbows though, so there must be something in it.

The recipe for this wee piece of magic is;

Hook: Tiemco 200R

Thread: Black – whatever size you are comfortable with using.

Underbody: 0.35mm lead wire

Tail & legs: Purple goose biots

Abdomen & Thorax: Purple dubbing – abdomen is overlaid with clear flexi body

Wingcases: Black flexi body or thin skin

Antenna: rubber legs

I tie it pretty heavy. I start by binding the length of the hook shank with thread. Cut a strip of flexi body and angle off one end. Tie it in right at the back by the angled bit.

Then I tie in a length of lead wire along each side to widen the profile. I follow up by wrapping lead from one end of the shank to the other, covering the two pieces you’ve just tied down.

By the time you’ve done this it should be feeling pretty heavy.

The next thing to do is start dubbing the body. I use some purple stuff which is quite bright and sparkly – these flies require quite a lot and I’ve nearly run out…

When you get to about where you think the tail should be, stop dubbing and tie in a goose biot on either side of the shank. After that resume dubbing to about half way along the shank. That’s about where I start the thorax.

Now is the time to wrap the flexi body over the dubbing. Bring it forward and position it so the tail sits naturally. This can take a bit of practice, but you’ll get there.

Tie it off when you reach the end of the dubbing and trim what you don’t need.

I tie in a strip of black flexi body or thin skin with a V snipped out of it at the rear of the wingcase. Once this is in place, tie in the first 2 legs. Then you can tie another bit of the black stuff down and start dubbing the thorax. At about halfway, bring the black stuff over and tie it down. Tie in another couple of legs, and repeat the process for the front half of the thorax. After you’ve tied the front section down you can finish off by tying in the last 2 legs and a couple of rubber legs poking forward as antenna.

Whip finish it, and it should look pretty good.

It isn’t the easiest fly on earth to tie, but it can be done. I use these for when I need to get a nymph deeper than usual. It seems to work.


Andrew Hearne – Big Sky Country, and the Rainbow Connection.

I haven’t put much up here lately, mainly because I haven’t been out much. I was at work the other day and a guy by the name of “Big Paws Hensley” asked me when I would be putting up another report, I assured him I would get one done as soon as I could. (He’s a big man and I don’t want to make him angry)

So here goes nothing…

After what seemed like forever, I finally had a few days available to get out for a fish. There was only one problem… it was blowing gale force almost everywhere. The forecast was for it to remain that way for a couple of days, so I decided to wait it out.

After three days of sitting at home the weather was finally settled enough that I wouldn’t feel like snapping my rod across my knee. I summoned the ever available Shagger to accompany me on the trip, and I collected him at the horrific hour of 4am on the Monday, along with a mountain bike borrowed from Rodney McSuperchrist.

Once Shagger was on board it was straight to the nearest BP for some gas and the mandatory Wild Bean coffee. Then it was full steam ahead to destination #1, with Shagger entertaining me with his war stories the whole way.

It was worse than cold when we exited the car and mounted the bikes. It was close to freezing. Fortunately we warmed up reasonably quickly riding with full packs on.

It was a pretty misty, gloomy start to the day. We were hanging on the hope the sun would burn through by the time we started fishing, I’ve been to the valley a few times, and its pretty tough trying to find fish there in overcast conditions.

After a couple of hours slogging away we locked the bikes up and were ready to start fishing. Our wishes for better light had been granted and the valley was in full sunshine without any hint of wind. It didn’t take very long to find fish.

This fish responded immediately to a deer hair cicada. It is the smallest fish I’ve ever caught from the river, but it was a positive start to the day.

Shagger got onto another fish in the same run.

This one wasn’t huge either, but it pulled plenty of string. It nearly had Shagger’s backing through the top eye of the rod at one stage.

Soon after that I found a fish while walking along a high bank. Shagger was otherwise occupied at the time, so I crept down to river level and put the cicada over the fish. It responded the same way as the others had done, and we became attached at opposite ends of the line.

Shagger emerged from the bushes looking about two kilograms lighter and just in time to assist with a photo of my second victim.

The second smallest fish I’ve ever caught from the river.

After that another fish was spotted near the top of the same run, feeding nicely in shallow water against the near edge. I stayed put while Shagger moved into position behind the fish. At that point I realised I hadn’t captured many fish on video so far this season, so I set the camera up for the action that was to follow.

The fish came to the cicada on the second cast and Shagger hooked up. After a long tug of war he netted it safely downstream.

Soon after that we came to a run which seemed to be teeming with fish. They were literally only a few metres apart and all of them were feeding. Some of them spooked from being disturbed by others, but we spent quite a while at that run hooking and landing fish after fish.

This one must have been through some hard times… As you can see, it had a really munted head.

Shagger hooked and landed another nice fish which then pulled a Houdini act as we were setting up for the photo. (Becoming an all too common occurrence for the two of us)

After we finished reaping the riches of that piece of water we didn’t see anything for a while, until we came to another run which was long and wide, with a high bank on the true left. We stalked along the bank and found a fish holding tight against the edge over the brown rocks. It was hard to see, but it was there, and it looked to be larger than what we had caught so far.

It took a few attempts, but eventually the brownie lifted to the cicada and I set the hook. The fish got a bity stroppy at this point and used all the dirty tricks.

It took a fair bit of time and pressure, but eventually the fish was subdued to the point he could be netted.

It was bigger than the others, but had seen better days. He could use a Mac Attack or two to help him put on some condition. I might take one with me for him the next time I’m passing by. This one had a scuffed up head too for some reason?

It clouded over pretty quickly after that and spotting became very difficult. We found the odd fish, but more often than not they were being spooked as we got too close.

It wasn’t all bad though, it seemed that some fish were allowing us to get pretty close in the diminished light. The next fish caught was cast at from 90 degrees off a bank.

They weren’t as keen to come to the top by now, so a certain little nymph was atached as a dropper to do the job, and it worked well.

Things went quiet after that for quite some time, until right near the end of the day when the fish became active again, taking from the top. Unfortunately they were also a bit skitterish, and were quite easily spooked at this time. The light wasn’t helping much. The fish were all moving quite rapidly and it was hard to pinpoint their location until they broke the surface.

Only one more fish was taken that day. It was caught blind on that same nymph.

This one could also do with some Macca’s or something similar. It looked like it had been on the Jenny Craig diet for a while.

That was all for the day. It was time to retire for the night and we would fish again the next day before returning home.

Shagger was in charge of the cooking that night. He whipped up a couple of “Back Country Cuisine” meals. It was my first experience of these, and lets just say they’ve got nothing on steak and pasta. But it was a feed nontheless, and I was grateful that Shagger went to the effort he did.

Sleep came easily that night, and I slept right through my alarm in the morning. I eventually woke up feeling a bit second hand from the previous days effort. We packed our gear up and set off for destination # 2.

The day was a good one. We had full sunshine and there was bugger all wind.

Once we started fishing it didn’t take long to find a fish. Shagger did a splendid job of fooling the fish with both nymph and dry fly on the same cast, and landed it after a good scrap.

There he goes…

That was a decent start. We continued on our way, spooking a couple of fish in the process of trying to catch them. We approached a deep pool which looked for all money like it would hold something, and sure enough it did. The thing is we only saw it when we were virtually standing over it. The combination of the water depth, light, and the paleness of the fish meant it was tough to see until you got really close to it.

The fish darted out into the curent, and I thought I had spooked it – until it returned and repeated the action. This one was very deep down, but it just so happens I have a few patterns in one of my boxes which were tied with this very situation in mind.

Shagger watched in disbelief as I attached the biggest, baddest nymph in my fly box to my tippet. I was riding bareback so to speak… (To coin a phrase from a certain well known angler who may or may not have appeared here on the Riverworks blog in the past) There was no point attaching an indicator to this rig. I wouldn’t describe it as casting, but whatever it was I did I managed to get the nymph in the water and in front of the fish. I saw it shoot sideways and when I lifted I felt that satisfying thud that only a fish can provide.

It was on for all money from that point onwards. The fish went deep and long – fast. I leant on it as hard as I dared and after a while I had the fish in a position where Shagger could trap it with the net.

This was hands down my favourite fish for the two days.

We continued upstream for a while after that without success. Shagger had a take but missed out, and that was about it. We turned around and headed for home.

The fish Shagger missed was back in place. He had taken his fly off at that point, so I cast to it with the biggest, baddest nymph. It spooked. However, there was another one in the run, over the other side of the river and downstream from where the first one held.

I launched the big bad nymph over to the fish, taking as much care as I could not to;

  1. Break my rod
  2. Knock myself out
  3. Knock Shagger out

Fortunately for all involved I managed to avoid all three of these things, and as a bonus I even placed the fly in front of the fish!

It was still operation bareback at this point, and we both watched in eager anticipation as the fish swung to intercept its prey. As it straightened up I lifted the rod in perfect harmony with Shaggers call of “Yup!”

This one fought hard too, but not quite hard enough.

A nice bonus on the way home.

We came across a couple of guys on the way back down the river. They hadn’t had much luck… they probably didn’t expect the river to have been fished already that day. We talked to them for a few minutes before continuing downstream.

We got to one of the runs where we had spooked a fish earlier in the morning, and I was surprised to see it was back. Shagger took my rod and tried a couple of nymphs over it before it appeared to spook. At that point he pulled the pin and gave me back my rod.

I watched as the fish returned to its spot, and I muttered under my breath as i began stripping line from the reel. I had a feeling about this one for some reason.

I cast over the fish, this time with a different nymph from the one I had caught the other fish on. Again we watched aas the fish swung to the right and again I lifted into solid resistance. Shagger said some of his special unkind words to me while I fought valiantly against my fishy foe. I wasn’t feeling the love.

Shagger soon softened and netted my fish, despite his explicit statement that he would neither net or photograph it for me.

We were both surprised and disgusted as the fish lay in the bottom of the net with something emerging from its vent. I still don’t know what it was…

Whatever it was, it got caught on the mesh and the remainder emerged from the fish.

It must have been welcome relief to get that one out. I’m pleased we used Shaggers net on this occasion too!

I guess it must have been a small fish, or eel or something? Whatever it was – it was disgusting.

That was the end of that. We high tailed it to the packs, and then the bikes after that. It was a horrible experience getting to the car, it took forever and I even crashed off my bike… falling from a bike isn’t too flash with a full pack on either. Not to worry, no harm done.

And the special nymph… the biggest, baddest nymph in town. If there is enough interest then I will reveal the identity of this creation, otherwise it can remain anonymous. If you’re keen to see it, then post a comment. If I get 10 or more requests, you’ll see the fly.

Anyhow, that is all for now. I’m heading south in the next few days, hopefully I’ll have something to report once I’m back.


Andrew Hearne – Not much doing.

Not much has been happening for me lately. I’ve had a couple of half assed days out on the water, but that’s about as far as it goes.

These fish are my most recent. They didn’t come easliy! They were caught on separate days, both were taken on a cicada.

 

 

I really nailed the self timer shot on this one didn’t I !

This fish was one of three I saw in the pool. The only three fish I saw in the river all day. It inspected the cicada for a long time before slowly breaking the surface and inhaling the fly. Once hooked it went absolutely ballistic and scared everything else in the pool. Never mind, it made the day.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Jack is able to conjure up from his three day trip. In the mean time, I’m off fishing tomorrow. The plan is to stay out for a couple of days and do some exploring. Here’s hoping for some reasonable weather, and fishing!

 


Andrew Hearne – Fishing from the bank

We haven’t caught many on video so far this season unfortunately, however this is one that was. It was filmed earlier this season… it’s nothing terribly special, but something to look at nontheless. Thanks very much to Liz for coming along and filming for us.


Andrew Hearne – I can see clearly now the rain has gone!

Finally we have sunshine…

It seems like every time I’ve been able to go fishing so far this season it is either raining, or has been raining, usually rather heavily. Not this time though. The rain stopped last week, and the forecast was for fine weather and light winds.

The last time I fished with Shagger it was in the pouring rain, and we decided to have another go in the week leading up to Christmas, in the hope that we wouldn’t get as wet and cold, and that we may even be able to spot some fish. Our wish for better conditions had been granted. It was time to get amongst it.

The necessary equipment

We drove to the end of the road where we mounted the horses of steel and continued towards the day’s destination. After an hour or so we couldn’t ride any further so it was time to travel on shanks’ pony for the remaining distance.

Time to start walking…

The river was in great condition and it wasn’t too long until we found fish. Shagger was first up and he didn’t disappoint at all. The fish was moving around a bit, but as soon as Shagger covered it with the cicada it came up and took confidently.

The fish took Shagger a way down the river, never really doing anything spectacular, but refusing to come easily to the net. It fought the typical fight of a big heavy fish.

Unfortunately the fish was a bit sneakier than we expected it to be and shot out from the net after it was unhooked just as it was about to be lifted for the grip n grin picture. It really took off like a rocket.

There was another fish feeding in the run above us. I climbed down the bank to make the cast and it took the first presentation of the cicada dry. This one fought differently from Shaggers fish, it leapt a couple of times and released a few bursts of energy by tearing off into midstream at times throughout the fight.

My first netting attempt was a bit sloppy and it got back into the current, but I got him on the second attempt.

It was built differently from the first one, but it weighed the same.

It was right about the time when I released the fish that it occurred to me Shagger might not be familiar with the finer points of getting the focus set on my camera… so I gave him a 10 second midstream tutorial…

This was as good a start to a day as any I could remember. It was suggested that we could be in for a great day if the fishing continued in the same fashion. As it turned out, we spoke too soon. The fishing soon became very frustrating.

Shagger fished at the next one, which was actually sitting below where I had just hooked my fish from. It must have moved in there while we were downstream. This fish obliged in the same way as the first two did, but only stayed hooked for a few seconds.

Can you see the fish?

We found another one further along the same run on the other side which I crossed over for, but it soon disappeared after only a couple of presentations.

After that we went through a long period where the fish were very spooky, and the ones which took did so in an unusual manner. They were nipping at the fly rather than taking confidently. The fresh boot prints explained to me why they were behaving this way.

The wind picked up throughout the day. It was blowing quite strongly behind us and made it difficult to load the back cast and place a fly accurately… so much for the forecast of light wind, although I got the feeling the wind we were experiencing was on the lighter side of the scale for the valley.

Time went by with a few fish cast at and not caught, until we came to the run which was to become our saviour for the day. It started off when I hooked one on a blowfly pattern which snapped me off. I was a bit angry, but reasoned that at least it was a solid hook up. Shagger then fished at one which took the fly but didn’t stick… again. Once again it was my turn, I hooked up, and at last I landed another fish.

It was a great feeling to get one to the net finally.

How heavy are you my friend?

It was a shade smaller than my first one.

Another one was found a short way up, at first we thought it might have been the fish I just released, but it lifted to Shagger’s dry fly and took it, so apparently not.

This one also stayed hooked and made it into the net. This fish was a real warhorse… it looked as thoughit had survived through some hard times.

This was the biggest fish for the day and Shagger’s biggest fish for some years. He was stoked and so was I.

It looked like things were turning for the better.

After that, Shagger brought another one to the net, however, it wasn’t using any traditional method. He used the bum jacking technique… the fish was just sitting there minding its own business when dirty old Shagger snagged it in the rear with his sunken fly. The poor fish got one hell of a fright and took off for the other side, taking all the fly line and plenty of backing with it.

To his credit Shagger pulled it in quickly to save it any undue stress, but he insisted on having a photo with it. Who was I to say no?

We carried on for another hour or so, but we stopped seeing fish at that run. Eventually we turned around for the long trip back to the truck. It took a long time to get there, and I was one very tired boy by the time we rested the bikes down.

We (Shagger) cooked up a feed of steak, onions and packet pasta in the back of the truck, before heading towards greener pastures elsewhere.

I have no idea how long it took us to get there, but it felt like forever until we were setting up camp for the night. I slept very well that night, Shagger confirmed this in the morning when he mentioned the amount of snoring that had been coming from me. I was a bit second hand to start with when I woke up, but after a while I limbered up enough to be of some use and went to work cooking up the bacon and eggs breakfast I had been looking forward to so much.

It was a pretty gentle start to that days fishing. The sun was already on the water by the time we arrived and it didn’t take long to find a fish.

Look above Shagger’s hands…

Shagger tried a few different patterns over it, but it wouldn’t budge. The next few fish were pretty much the same… they were very still and sitting in strange places. There were a lot of footprints around. Perhaps the owners of those prints had a successful day on the river a day or two before?

I managed to hook one fish which was sitting at the bottom of a very heavy run. I had to change to a massive stonefly to get a result, and the fish only stuck for a few seconds.

We made the call to bail out and try somewhere neither of us had fished before. The water had far less clarity there, and the wind was rather strong, but we were both confident of catching what we could find.

It took a while, but we found a fish sitting near the edge. Shagger put a dry fly over it and the fish came up immediately. Shagger struck, hooked up… then lost the fish. Not to worry, it was more promising than what we had seen at the other place.

Soon afterwards I found one in a small channel. It too took the dry on the first presentation, but this one stayed on. It scrapped like a demon despite its small size, but it was hooked well enough that I could bring it to the net.

We found another one for Shagger a short way upstream and it was the same deal. The fish took on the first cast and he landed it after another spirited fight.

One more fish was hooked, but it snapped the leader like it was cotton… I don’t think it was very big, it just had a lot of energy. I guess I will never really know?

Despite the smaller size of the two fish we caught, It was good fun catching them. I can see myself there again at some stage, hopefully when the water is a bit cleaner though.

And that was it. Two more great days out on the water, and I can’t wait to do it again…

I’m going back to work now for a few days, so I won’t be fishing anytime soon. Hopefully you all have a safe Christmas and the weather stays good so you can get after some fish at some stage.


Andrew Hearne – Rainy day fishing with Shagger.

I’d always been meaning to go fishing with Shagger, otherwise known as Grunt Futtick. The main obstacle to this taking place was that he moved to Australia a couple of years ago.

Anyhow, Shagger moved back about a month ago. He’s not doing a whole lot at the moment apart from hunting, fishing, so we planned an overnight trip for last week. As usual, the weather forecast was poor.

My car is currently out of action, so it was up to Shagger to get us there. He turned up about half an hour earlier than I expected on Tuesday morning with a beaming smile on his face. I don’t know what he’d been up to, but whatever it was he was in good spirits.

We set off into the rain in the hope the weather forecasters had it wrong for the day. They hadn’t, and it rained most of the way to the river. However the rain stopped when we were near the end of the road and we started our walk in overcast but dry conditions.

The river was crystal clear, but there was no backdrop to speak of so we couldn’t really see in. Shagger started fishing the first run with a nymph and indicator set up before deciding to change it slightly. He kindly offered for me to fish the remainder of the run while he mucked around with his set up, and with my first cast I hooked up. Shagger couldn’t believe it and neither could I.

We saw a few more quite quickly. Most of them were spooked because we got too close to them, but the one which we spotted first came to Shagger’s fly and took it. Something went wrong though, because it didn’t stick when he struck.

The rest of the day was spent mainly blind fishing because of the heavy rain and poor spotting conditions. We both hooked and lost a couple of fish each, only to come unstuck each time after a few seconds. Later in the day I was fishing a promising looking run with a side current entering from the right when I hooked up again.

 

The fish looked pretty big in the water, and fought with plenty of power. I could feel the shaking of its head vibrating through the line, and a couple of times when it came near the surface it looked very impressive.

It didn’t turn out quite as big as I thought, but it was a great fish. The first one was good, but this one was great, it really made my day.

Unfortunately Shagger didn’t land anything that day, but we are going back for more soon. Hopefully next time the weather will play its part.

I was all worn out and chafed up more than I thought was possible when we finished the three hour walk to the truck, and it was raining as heavily as it had been all day. We made the call to flag the overnighter and we started heading for home.

Cheers for a great day out Shagger, I’m looking forward to going there again.


Andrew Hearne – the fish, the wedding, and the little cow.

A few months ago I was informed that Saturday 3rd December was the date set for my sisters wedding in Nelson. No sweat, I’d leave Christchurch on the Thursday, and have a day spare on the Friday before the wedding the next day.

I had to take care of a couple of things first thing on Friday, but after lunch I cunningly suggested an afternoon drive – to a river of all places.What better way to prepare for your sister’s wedding than by looking for a fish or two! Besides, I had just received my new Evolve Tussock XTI boots, I needed to test them out.

After a reasonable drive along a shingle road and a near death experience with an out of control four wheel drive coming the other way, we came to a picnic area. Off we went for a wander down to the water and after a bit of looking I spotted a fish hugging the bottom just out from where we stood on the stones. That was all the prompting I needed to race back to the car and set up my gear. I rigged it up with a Royal Wulff indicator and a brown Caddis nymph with a copper bead as the dropper.

I came up to where I had seen the fish and I couldn’t see it any more. I was worried I had spooked it, but I stood and looked for a while until I spotted it again cruising up along the bottom from downstream. It was pretty deep where the fish was holding, so I threw a cast a reasonable way above the fish which landed in a pile , hoping the nymph would sink quickly.

The first few went untouched, so i moved slightly up and tried another one slightly further into the fast water. I watched as the indicator dry flaoted downstream and when it was directly over the fish I saw it open its mouth. The indicator didn’t move, but I lifted the rod and it was fish on.

It wasn’t very big, but it was a scrapper. It went a bit mental before I managed to get it safely into the net.

When I showed this next picture to my three and a half year old nephew Cameron, he asked me why I had a “Cheeky face” I guess I can’t argue with that.

It wasn’t the biggest fish ever, but I really enjoyed catching this one.

One fish seen for one fish caught. That was fine by me, so we headed back to my sister’s place.

The next day I was charged with the responsibility of driving one of the wedding cars – a 196o something Chevrolet Caprice… I didn’t have a problem with that at all… but I never considered the possibility of the steering wheel being on the wrong side. I’d never driven anything with the steering wheel on the left, so I had a practise run in the morning. It turned out to be pretty easy in the end and I managed to get us all there safely later that afternoon.

The wedding went smoothly and the next day was spent catching up with a few mates before heading back home on Monday after lunch. There had been a lot of rain fall on Sunday, and all of the rivers we passed on the way home were either very high or in flood. Not a good sign for my scheduled two days of fishing starting the next day… but more on that later.

On the way through I needed to make a pit stop at Murchison. There was a friendly wee calf in a small paddock next to the road across from where we stopped. I’m pretty sure it was keen to eat my arm.

I’ll try and get another trip report up in the next couple of days. I’m back to work for a few days again starting tomorrow, then I’m off to Auckland for the Foo Fighters concert next week. I have a few more days off after I come back, so hopefully the weather allows me to get out for some more fishing.


Andrew Hearne – Making the most of it

Here we go again… another trip report! I nearly feel guilty for the amount of fishing I have done recently, but only until I remind myself that I’m back to work on Monday. It’s a tough life.

After Robert and I finished fishing together he was planning to head further south in search of better weather. As it turned out, I managed an extra day out fishing with him before he left.

We set off early in the morning as per normal and drifted our way towards some water, hoping we could find some that was fishable. After the recent rainfall I didn’t know quite what we would find. I figured that anything would be better than nothing.

Robert, like many others do, came to New Zealand with the dream of catching big trout. He was lucky enough to catch one on his first day out which eclipsed his previous personal best, a fantastic beginning to his stay.

When I learned of his fish I told him he was very lucky to have caught one that big and he might be hard pressed to beat that during the remainder of his time here. He told me he didn’t mind. He was pleased just to have caught that fish. I admired the fact he was contempt with the fact he had already achieved his goal and intended to just enjoy the rest of his time here.

After driving for a while we came to a piece of water which although slightly high, was very fishable. We unpacked and set off for the day, not knowing what to expect.

Spotting was rather difficult due to a combination dirty water and glare, so we had to blind fish for a bit. No fish were found in the first two or three runs, but the next run provided the first piece of action for the day. I hooked a fish in the outside edge at the top of the run. It was a great place for a fish to hold, it was slightly deeper, had enough current to bring plenty of food through, and the fish wouldn’t need to work too hard to remain on station.

The fish never did anything spectacular while on the line, but it still managed to make its way to near the bottom of the run before I managed to net it.

 

It was a bit lean, but a nice fish regardless.

Robert had a couple of opportunities further upstream, but unfortunately the fish won both times. We had walked a long way for only three fish seen. I hoped we would find more before time ran out.

We came to the end of the beat where there is a very likely piece of water and I asked Robert if he wanted to fish it blind since we couldn’t see any fish. He told me to do it, so I set about covering the water as best I could.

I fished right into the top of the run, even further than I usually would. Just as the fly was drifting back through a fish lifted right near the top and I lifted the rod to feel solid weight. It was a bit chaotic to begin with, but I soon managed to get control of the situation and after a decent struggle with several bursts into the middle of the river, the fish was safely netted.

 

 

This one was a bit bigger than the first.

I have to say, I thought I had covered the water where the fish would be holding well before I got this take. I guess you learn all the time…

After that I suggested to Robert we go and check out a place I had found a fish on a previous occasion. As I suspected, he was keen. I explained that it was a bit of a long shot, because I had only ever seen a fish there once before.

It took a while to get there, but we made it eventually. I snuck along the bank behind the vegetation, using the height to my advantage. I spotted a rather large grey shape near our side. It looked pretty big, but the wind prevented me from seeing it clearly to start with. I told Robert to stay put, while I crept closer for a better look. When I got close enough, I could see it had a tail. Last time I checked rocks don’t come with tails, so I was reasonably sure it was indeed the target species.

A quick team talk then took place in the safety zone, where I suggested that Robert change things up a bit for this fish. As he was doing so he enquired how big the fish was. I felt this was one of those “need to know basis” occasions, I told him it was quite a nice fish. I didn’t lie to him, but this was a rather toned down version of what I was thinking inside my head at the time. I didn’t want to inject him with buck fever at this stage of the game…

The plan was that he would sneak back around a bush and down onto a grassy knob which he would then use as a casting platform. Robert moved into position and I was relieved to hear he could see the fish from where he knelt. That was one less thing to worry about.

Despite the strong headwind, his first cast fell true, as did the second, third, and fourth. They were perfectly positioned, but the fish wasn’t interested in the green caddis. I called a time out, and went to see Robert. I clipped off the caddis and replaced it with a dirty big brown stonefly nymph.

I could see well enough from my new position, so I stayed put while Robert continued casting. The first couple of presentations weren’t quite right and the fish didn’t move. The third one went further up and slightly to the left of the fish, Robert said to me at that time he thought the next one should go further over, just as he finished the sentence I saw the fish move positively to the left and gave my reply of “I don’t think you’ll need to” as the indicator dipped. Robert saw the same as me and ripped the hook home. There was a brief congratulation from me before my tone changed and I screamed at him to get across to the other side of the river. There was some nasty stuff on our side and he needed to be across the river to pull the fish free if it went for the gnarlyness beneath.

The fish ended up at the tail of the pool and caught up in some fast water which pulled it downstream even further. I followed in hot pursuit if Robert and his fish, eventually smashing my way across. When I lifted the net and Robert’s fish was inside, I screamed triumphantly as if it were my own. That was followed by a high five of mammoth proportions and general celebration.

Although I wouldn’t tell him at the time, I knew from the moment I saw this fish in the water it was bigger than what Robert had already caught. I wasn’t wrong. Robert was literally shaking as he looked at his prize, and the excitement on his face was priceless. I felt very privileged to be there for his special moment.

 

After the photographs were taken the fish was released to swim away into the current strongly. This was a cool thing that had just happened, very cool.

We walked back to where the rest of our gear was up on the bank and Robert decided he would leave it at that for the day, a perfect finish.

Just as we collected the gear I looked down through the wind ruffled surface into the top of the run and spotted another fish feeding in front of a large rock. Without even speaking, Robert handed me his rod and motioned me towards the river. I set off for my casting position while Robert set up his camera to film me as I fished.

I crept to the downstream side of the rock, and peeked out to the side where I could see the shape in the water. I was very close, but needed to be because of the obstruction.

The first cast into the wind was too short, as was the second. I added some extra spice to the third one and it fell where I wanted it to. I was very confident this would be the one… I wasn’t at all disappointed. The fish grabbed the stonefly as soon as it saw it and I was on. The fish didn’t muck around at all as it shot straight downstream and out of the pool into the fast water, with me following it as fast as possible.

I caught up to the fish in the fast water, and went toe to toe with it for a while until I was able to slip the net over its head.

This one was pretty big too.

 

 

After the pictures were taken the fish took off savagely into the distance. The perfect finish to the day had become even more perfect. What a great day. I doubt I’ll have another one like this for a while.

I’m back to work tomorrow for a few days then I have some bits and pieces to attend to over the next couple of weeks. Hopefully I’ll manage a day or two of fishing if I get the time. Here’s hoping I do…

Until next time… Tight lines all!


Andrew Hearne – Against all odds – part 2 of the epic week

Sometimes, things aren’t all plain sailing. Usually when I have plenty of time to go fishing the weather doesn’t do me any favours. Earlier this week was no exception.

Robert Hakkanson hails from Sweden, he has been religiously following the Riverworks Lifestyle blog since its inception. Robert is a super keen fly fisherman and has been in regular contact with both Jack and I for the past few months while he hasbeen preparing for his trip of a lifetime.

Last week he landed in Christchurch for his long awaited trip to New Zealand.

Jack and I were half way through a feed of burgers and chips on the way back home from our trip with Tony and Mike when Robert called my cell phone. He had been fishing already and had a great time by the sound of what he was saying.

I told him I would need to get home and make an evaluation before I knew where we were at and then get back to him. I didn’t like what I saw when I looked at the forecast, it looked pretty bad everywhere. I decided we would need to venture further than normal to give us a chance, so I called Robert and let him know what the rough plan was.

We left on Monday afternoon, so we would be in the right place for an early start on Tuesday. It rained solidly for the entire drive, it was more than a little concerning that the rivers we were passing had as much water in them as I had ever seen before. There was more than one occasion I thought about turning back for home, but I figured we might as well give it a shot. I didn’t have anything else to do and neither did Robert.

We nearly missed out at the back packers that night, because they were pretty well full due to road closures. What a disaster that would have been. However, we squeezed in to a room (One with two beds) and awoke early the next morning ready to go.

The plan was to drive as far as we could, then walk the rest of the way to what I hoped would be water that was fishable. I was both surprised and disappointed to find the road had disappeared a short way into the journey, the river had washed it away. We were going to be walking further than I thought.

We stopped along the way briefly and managed to find a Brown for Robert to fish to. He tried a couple of different flies before I tied on a whopping big stonefly. The fish seemed to like it and grabbed it on the first drift. Robert hooked it briefly before it became unhitched. Not a bad start, but it could have been better!

A couple of hours later we arrived to a very full, dirty river. At that point I told Robert we had to catch one. We couldn’t walk all that way for nothing!

We walked up for a bit before dropping into a pool where I hoped to find a fish. Eventually I found one, right near the edge off the bank we stood on. Robert generously offered me the chance to catch it, since he had already hooked one on the way there. I used his rod, because it was better set up for this situation. I attached a brown stonefly and waited for the fish to get into position. Robert was on station with the camera and filming as I poked the rod through the bushes and flicked the leader out. I was so close that there was less than a rod length protruding from the tip.

The fish saw the stonefly and made its way over, I watched from right above as it opened its mouth over the fly and I set the hook. The fish bolted downstream and I had to quickly thread the rod through a series of bushes until I was in the clear and able to follow the fish properly. Robert followed behind and filmed what he could. We got to the bottom of the pool and it was all good until I took my net from the back of my vest and realised it wasn’t quite right. I’d tied a knot in it to stop it from getting caught in everything during the walk, but forgot to undo it until now…

Robert came to the rescue, he came rushing out from behind the camera with another net, and we were back in business.

That was a great start. We had one to the bank. Whatever happened after that didn’t matter so much.

We had to walk for a while before we found another couple of fish. They were feeding very close together on the edge of a long run. The fish were easy enough to see initially in the sunlit river, but a small patch of cloud covered the sun for a time and made things slightly more difficult.

Robert crossed over armed with a couple of secret weapons. The first one didn’t work, but the second one did the trick. I nearly blew a vocal cord calling the strike when the fish took. I was stoked to see Robert connected to the brown, and he was even happier.

I charged across and helped him out with the net. It was the same size as my fish, but cleaner looking. The photo shoot then took place before the fish slipped through Roberts’s fingers and back home.

After we finished up with Robert’s fish we saw that the other one was still in position. Again I borrowed Robert’s rod and set about presenting a nymph. Secret weapon number two didn’t work on this one, so I changed to the very sophisticated pattern known as a Bead head Hare and Copper. The fish liked this fly and took it as soon as it hit the zone. I set the hook and the dog fight began.

The fish kept deep for a lot of the time and the leader came pretty close to some big rocks on a few occasions, but I managed to keep it clear and the fish finished up in the net. That made three out of three from the river so far. This day was getting better and better!

The river was clearing quite quickly throughout the day and the fish became tougher to catch. We fished to a couple for quite a while with no result, and another was hooked and lost.

 

Robert did well to spot a fish in a side braid when it lifted in the water column. He threw a caddis nymph at it and got a result straight away.

It was a great looking fish, and Robert got this one all by himself. It was a very good effort from him.

We arrived at a nicely structured run and found a fish feeding well in shallow water on the near edge. It looked like a sitter at the start, but after about half a dozen fly changes I was beginning to wonder.

In the end I fired a Royal Wulff into it’s feeding lane and the fish had half a look. I tried again and this time the fish nosed the fly for what seemed like forever before slowly breaking the surface and taking the fly. I waited, and waited, then set the hook. Sadly the fish made it into the fast water below me and the weight of the current was too much. The fish was free…

As we walked along the run I saw a fish very briefly in heavy water near the centre of the river. This fish was for Robert. He tried a couple of different flies without success, I had the feeling they weren’t heavy enough to get the job done. Secret weapon number two was attached and it did the trick. Robert hooked up solidly, but when he was moving along the rocks he stumbled and jerked the rod, just enough to snap the tippet. Bummer…

We were already past our agreed turn – around time for the day, but I wanted to look in a big pool I knew wasn’t too far away. When we got there we immediately saw three fish. One was close, one centre pool, and one on the far side.

Robert went across to the one on the far side, while I tried for the one which was closest. To cut a long story short, after a lot of casting with different stuff, I tied on the whopper stonefly from earlier in the day and threw it in front of the fish. Straight away it moved over and took the nymph, I struck, hooked the fish, and lost it. Then I lost it myself. A barrage of terrible words flowed from my mouth, welcome to NZ Robert.

As always, there always has to be one last fish. In this case, I found one not too far upstream and spent a few minutes on it. It took a few different flies, but it ended up taking… secret weapon number two!

It was another great fish and gave a good fight. It was a perfect way to end the day.

It was a very long walk back to the car after that, more than three hours in fact. It felt like longer…

That night we had a grand feed and a couple of beers, and stayed at the same place as the night before. The next morning we hoped to fish for a while before returning home, but the weather came in hard and stopped us from doing that.

As it turned out, the Tuesday was the only window for us to get out in a patch of crap weather. We put in a lot of leg work, and got the reward. We couldn’t help but feel it was one out of the bag.

Thanks Robert for a great day out. It was a pleasure to fish with you.


Andrew Hearne – Fishing with legends, the beginning of an epic week.

This past week has been epic. I’ve had a few great days fishing with some other bits and pieces thrown in for good measure… and I’m not finished yet. There is still the weekend to come.

My epic week began last Thursday, very early last Thursday to be more specific. I picked Jack up at about 4am and we set off on a long drive to where we met with Tony. Mike, and Lester. At some stage during the winter the idea for this trip was first floated, and finally the time had come.

Mike has already made a couple of guest appearances on previous blog entries… and Tony, he’s popped up here and there on occasion too.

I’ve known Tony for many years now. I used to spend hours in his Rod and Gun shop when I was growing up in Nelson. I’ve been fortunate enough to bump into him from time to time over the past few years, but until now I’ve never had the opportunity to fish with him. The closest I came before this was when my great friend from school Sam’s father was kind enough to pay for Tony to guide the pair of us as teenagers. For that I will be eternally grateful, and I’ll never forget that day, but this time we would fish together.

We left Lester at the bottom of the valley to harass the fish down there while the rest of us humped packs upstream for a couple of hours to where we set up camp. After the tents were erected we had some lunch and ventured upstream in search of trout.

The water was much colder than I had remembered it being, I was standing on the opposite side of the river from the others feeling sorry for myself when I saw Tony begin stripping line from his reel. I figured this must be a good thing, I stayed put and watched as he put a few casts on the water. Tony then did something to his set up, and within a cast or two he was fast into the fish.

I stumbled through the water to the other side just in time for Jack to secure the fish in the net. I snapped away with my camera and the fish was returned to the water pretty soon afterwards.

Upstream further a fish was located near the far bank. Jack wasted no time getting over there and successfully managed to push the fish over to just in front of where we stood behind some bushes. The fish didn’t seem too keen on his nymph, and he kindly offered me the opportunity to try and persuade the fish into eating something.

I cast a streamer at the fish from where I stood on the bank, with the fish in front and a few metres downstream from me. The streamer swung down behind it and when I stripped it back past the fishes head it turned on the fly and smashed it. It wanted that thing dead. I watched for the mouth to close and I set the hook into the angry brown with plenty of background noise from a very animated audience. I was surprised at the reaction I got from the fish, as were the onlookers!

Just up from there Tony caught a great Rainbow which fought like holy hell. It went under a fallen tree and everything, but Tony did what Tony does, and landed the fish without even looking like losing it. It was beautiful to watch.

Mike caught the next one, but unfortunately I was lagging downstream a bit and missed it, so there are no photos of it.

At that stage it was getting pretty late, not to mention cold, but the fat lady hadn’t sung yet. A fish was found in a shallow edge of a run and Jack placed his dry fly right where it needed to go. The fish came up and grabbed the fly immediately, Jack waited for as long as necessary and set the hook well. It was a nice brown which capped the day well.

After that it was a quick march back to camp where we got the fire going and cooked dinner. We sat up for a while solving the problems of the world around the camp fire and then it was time for bed. It was about then I realised how envious I was that Tony and Mike had inflatable bed rolls and I didn’t… Nevertheless I slept adequately and woke to a freezing cold morning ready to go fishing again.

Breakfast was a good old fashioned One Square Meal bar. They aren’t exactly what you would categorise as fine dining, but they serve a purpose I guess.

The Friday was pretty chilly really. I don’t usually wear waders when I’m fishing a place like this, and on this day I really wished I had packed them for the trip. I must be getting old or something.

The fish weren’t doing much until around lunchtime. Tony talked about water temperature being the probable reason for the inactivity, I have no doubt he was right. Like I said, it was pretty cold.

Fortunately the recipe was right after lunch and we started to find active fish. Mike had the first opportunity and capitalised by catching a nice brown with a parachute dry. This one was caught on film by more than one camera, with everyone playing their part in the production. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product later on.

There was some tough going for a while from that point on, with the river very boisterous and lined with thick vegetation. After bush bashing our way through from the track, two feeding fish were located at the bottom of a run. Jack climbed in behind and got one to take his fly. I moved forward from my perch on a boulder with net in hand, just in time for the fish to swim straight towards me. I stuck the net down and it swam straight in – easy as you like. This one was caught on video too, but not photographed.

Next it was my turn. There was a fish feeding in shallow water just in front of a big rock further up the run on the far side from where Jack hooked his fish. I snuck up behind the rock and formulated my plan. I tied on a Humpy dry fly with a Pogo style nymph as a dropper. The second cast brought the result I was after and I had my fish.

I crossed a heavy piece of water for a Brown feeding hard on the far side. Unfortunately when I was altering my set up it spooked inexplicably and went doggo before I had even finished tying my knots. All was not lost however, for there was a Rainbow in the deep water high in the water column and rising freely. The first good placement of the black Jack parachute saw the rainbow come up and grab it. I set the hook and that’s when hell broke loose… I sidestrained hard to try and drag it into the left braid where there few hazards. Unfortunately I only came close to getting it all the way to safety, which wasn’t quite enough. The fish managed to get it’s head and shot through the chute into the heavy current I’d battled across to get there in the first place. Once it was in there I didn’t stand a chance, the tippet pinged a boulder at speed and the fish was history.

Sometime after that Mike and I rounded the corner to find Jack fast into a good fish with Tony looking on. The Rainbow was pretty stubborn and wouldn’t come in easily. It was the type of thing you would expect to see from a Brown, a real tug of war. It was a great looking fish.

Another Rainbow was hooked after Jack released his fish, this time by Mike. The fish nearly exploded from the water when it took the dry, and was equally explosive in taking off downstream into the rapids. Unfortunately it too snapped the tippet, it could well have been the fish of the trip.

Tony got his turn after that. He spotted a Rainbow on the edge of the current and enticed it up to his parachute dry. When the fish felt the hook it took off like a rocket and gave the 4 weight Tony was using a really good workout.

Despite the commotion that had just been, there were still two feeding fish remaining in the pool. Jack hooked one after several attempts, and it promptly took off to the opposite side of the pool and all the way to the top into some white water. It was spectacular stuff!

That run took its toll on the fish though, and it was landed without issue once the line was regained.

The third fish was still in position, so I decided to have a crack. To my surprise, I got it to take and hooked up briefly before it spat the hook, and I spat the dummy.

It was time to head back to camp. Along the way Jack found a fish on the far side of the river which he had fished to earlier in the day. He kindly offered me the chance to go across the river to try and catch it which I gratefully accepted. I battled across the icy current in the hope that my efforts would not be for nothing. When I got there I was pleased to find I could see the fish, albeit not perfectly.

A Grey Wulff was at the sharp end this time, and even though I couldn’t see it very well, I figured that when the fish rose it must have been to my fly, so I struck accordingly. It was a pleasant realisation to find it had all gone to script. I leant on the fish as much as I dared and netted it quickly before battling my way back through the ice water to Jack and Tony for a photo. As you can see where my weight was resting on my legs, it wasn’t even close to being warm in there.

Dinner that night was well earned. Steak and pasta in the back country is hard to beat…

The sleep that night was better than the night before. The next morning was far warmer too, I struggled to get out of the sleeping bag at first. Eventually I stumbled out of the tent in time for Mike to serve up a feed of bacon and eggs. That was something worth getting out of bed for right there!

This was to be the last day. The fishing wasn’t much good as it turned out, we found only a handful of fish in the small amount of water we covered, and most of them weren’t willing to play ball.

 

Tony was unlucky to break off on one at the beginning, and the rest spooked, until we found a couple in a back eddy facing downstream in the swirling current. The guys offered me the chance at the fish. I wasn’t going to say no.

I elected to fish for the back one, it looked like the bigger of the two. It was relatively deep down so I rigged up a stonefly and bead head caddis combo with an indicator before heading around the back of a fallen tree into position. Using the tree as cover I crept as far as I dared and flung the double nymph combo into the current, the indicator dipped and I was on. The fish headed down towards the rapid at the tail of the pool, I leant on it hard sideways and steered it into a small backwater where Jack netted it for me.

That was it. It was time to pack up and head home. The walk out was every bit as tough if not tougher than the walk in, but it was worth every drop of sweat just to have spent the time fishing with these guys.

I’m extremely grateful that Tony and Mike were willing to spend their time fishing with Jack and I. It was great talking with them and watching them fish, like the title says, these guys are legends. Thank you guys, I really hope we can do it again someday.

I’ll try to get the next instalment of my epic week on here as soon as I can… I’m heading away for the weekend though, fishing again, so it might be a few days yet!

Take care, until next time… tight lines all.


Andrew Hearne – a weekend with Superchrist.

I’ve had an interesting couple of days really. I guess it’s always on the cards when you agree to go fishing with a guy who goes by the name of Rodney McSuperchrist…

I picked Rodney up from his place nice and early on Friday morning. Usually when we fish together it turns out to be a complete disaster, so my hopes weren’t very high.

Rodney got us off to a flying start even before we made it to the river. He needed to get some smokes on the way so we stopped off at a tearooms on the way. Rodney went over to the fridge and grabbed a bottle of V then made his way to the counter. Just as he was asking for a packet of cigarettes he let go of the bottle and it exploded as it hit the floor. It went everywhere.

Rodney was soon on his knees mopping the drink from the floor. If only I had taken my camera into the tearooms…

Right before we got to the starting point for day one’s fishing a four wheel drive came flying up behind us and not long after that soared past and along the road into the distance. I had a bad feeling he was headed for the same place as us. Fortunately when we arrived the car park was empty.

The sun was out, which was a nice change from what has been the norm for my season so far, but the wind was strong right from the start. At least where we were headed was slightly more sheltered.

We saw a few fish at the beginning which weren’t interested in anything, but after a while we came to one which was sitting in a nice shallow pocket swinging away to the right from time to time intercepting bits and pieces from the current.

Foolishly I suggested Rodney should fish at it. He accepted the offer and the fish took his nymph straight away.

A short while later and I lifted the net with his fish in it.

The trip was already better than a couple of our previous attempts. One to the net is far better than none!

Further upstream Rodney decided to cross over and search the other side. I was busy changing flies for one I was casting to when I thought I heard a goose. I heard the same goose noise again and looked back to see Rodney disappearing downstream with a bent rod. I dropped my bag off and took off after him in pursuit, it was tough work getting there quickly but I made it in time to net his second fish.

Well done Rodney.

I continued up to where I had left my gear and carried on trying to catch the fish I’d left. I didn’t catch it. Not far up from there I found another one in a good position near my bank, I put a small parachute Adams over it and it took straight away. I waited, then struck, but felt absolutely nothing. The fish stayed there for a while, but after a few more casts with a different pattern it disappeared towards the other side. I don’t know quite what happened there, but I think it might have bumped the tippet with it’s snout when it came up. Who knows?

Even better than that though, Rodney came along and found a fish right opposite me on his side. He pitched his nymph in front and got the reward immediately.

Fortunately this time he did the decent thing and came across to my side to land it.

Superchrist: 3 Me: 0

Shortly afterwards he found another one. Again it was on the opposite side from me, and again he caught it. This one came from a tiny little pocket between two tree stumps. Rodney did well to drag it away from the obstacles and down to safety.

After that I found one on my side which was swinging to and fro, eating off the surface and just beneath. I placed the Adams above and to the left of the fish and it came straight to it. The fish lifted and took the fly, I waited for what I thought would be about the right time and again when i lifted I felt nothing. The fish wasted no time in disappearing after that. By now I wasn’t really seeing the funny side of things…

Rodney managed one more for the day and I got nothing. It was officially a downtrou.

After a long walk back to the car we headed off to where we thought we were staying for the night, only to find out when we arrived there was an event in town and all accomodation was booked. With the threat of rain we decided not to pitch a tent and pushed on to the next town where, after a few failed attempts, we eventually found a place that would take us for the night.

We put our gear into the room, went across the road for a late dinner, then came back for a drink at the bar below our room. We sat and listened to the men wearing dungarees and playing banjoes while we drank our beer. It was different from what we were used to, but enjoyable.

The sleep that night was as good as any I’ve had lately. It wasn’t the longest sleep ever, but it was solid. The alarm went off at around 5:30ish and neither Rodney or I could be bothered getting up to even turn it off. We just waited for it to stop before continuing with our sleep.

It wasn’t until around 7:00 that we eventually rose from the bunks and decided to vacate the premises. After a less than healthy feed across the road we headed off, with no idea where we were going to the driving was a bit aimless to start with. After several kilometres we decided to head inland, and hoped the road we took was going to take us to the right place. As it happened, it did.

The river was in great condition, and there were enough fish to keep us busy. None of them were very big, but they were all healthy looking specimens. (Except for one Rodney caught which loked like it had the AIDS)

The fish were pretty fussy. Most of them were actively feeding but wouldn’t respond to our offerings. After a while I found one in a side braid moving nicely from side to side and after I changed to a small grey nymph I got a result.

Rodney had to cover some ground to get there, but he did it with time to spare. The fish gave a good account of itself and it took a while, but I landed it safely with the assistance of my trusty sidekick.

Yep, I look thrilled don’t I…

Rodney crossed back over to his side and soon found another feeding fish. He lost it momentarily before finding it again and as soon as it saw his Adams dry fly it lifted from the bottom of the river and took it confidently. As soon as it felt the hook it took off upstream and then across to just in front of where I stood. According to Mr Superchrist, it nearly had the backing out.

He kept the pressure on and brought it closer, while I looked for somewhere to get across. No matter where I chose, it was going to be deep. As I got to him the fish was quite close, and started playing dirty. It buried itself in amongst the rocks on more than one occasion before I managed to position myself and slip the net over its head.

It was a great fish, the best one for the trip.

They were the only fish we caught for the day and it was a long drive home after that. I’ve got a lot of time up my sleeve at the moment, so it won’t be too long before I can get out again…