Last weekend saw a break in the weather and the better halves were out of town. Holy shit, what to do, where to fish. So many options and so little precious time. Matt and I made a plan to mix it up with some fresh water action then attempt some SWF the next day. He had a river near Te Kuiti in mind that was long overdue a visit.
After one too many Friday bbq indulgences I was ready to roll nice and early. We headed South with a quick stop to pick up our companion for the day. Andrew was just as keen and we soon had his gear in the truck en route to one of the regions holy grails.
There’s one thing I’m really enjoying about the Waikato and that is the diverse range of flyfishing opportunities. This river was to be a first for Matt and I. Andrew having fished it a few times prior in the lower reaches.
A quick look-see over the bridge and we were kitting up in short order. The trout were visible within minutes and after spotting a “gimme” Matt was casting to a somewhat stubborn brown. It sulked under a bank after it got annoyed by us.
Hopping and crawling under cow fences we pushed on. We soon found out some of them were hot after one sent Matt sideways and had us in fits of laughter. This seemed to be the tipping point for the day and things started looking up.
There were trout in every pool and they all had breakfast on their minds. The boys cast at some fish I’d spotted while hiding in the trees above. Andrew picked up a fish after busting one off previously lower down due to no chance of a net job.
What we hadn’t banked on was the amount of walking we were going to do. So in the interest of making a long story short I’ll let the pictures speak more from here in.
The river was producing pool after pool of good, solid fish that were more than ready to receive our offers. Not to mention the scenery, it was one of those days that will be etched in the mind for a while yet.
This pool was also a honey. I sat and watched the trout feeding before finally moving in for the kill, only to drop the fly a few meters short and to the side. The fish turned and raced after it so fast I got too excited and smashed my tippet on the strike!
That was one river that will be forever on my favourites list. It had so many attributes and ticked all the boxes for me. We walked back to the truck absolutely buggered and pretty chuffed with scoring a near perfect day on the water.
The following day saw Matt and I bowl over to Waihi. We were in search of some Saltwater flats style fishing. Kingfish were on the target species list, well anything was to be honest. I’d been hearing reports of good fishing in shallow water and also had softbaits at the ready for a stealth mission.
Lets put it this way, the weather dictated our locations. We didn’t pick up much at all after doing a few recces near markers, in the channels and over the sand flats. But it was so fishy, we scratched our heads a bit and had almost given up hope until the tide changed and the harbour came to life.
Our saving grace were a few snapper pulled from 2 meters of water on fresh fly caught Kahawai. Just as I was considering throwing them a fly the bite dropped off and we had to leave. I’m going to be getting into this more as I can see the potential excitement of this type of fishing. Just need the gods to be good and we’ll be hooked up in no time.
This week is bollocks on the weather front. Unless you like standing at a river mouth on a dark stormy night, which is exactly what I intend to do tomorrow. I hope to have more pictures and stories to tell for the next installment.
Say what? I’ll explain soon.
Over the last few days I’ve been MIA with my Dad in the central North Island. We had a few rivers to go searching and had made the proper arrangements to gain access into some highly regarded water. As it turns out my Grandfather and him occasionally frequented these areas many moons back.
So after getting to Taupo on Wednesday I promptly went straight to the Waitahanui lower reaches for a look at some XXL Browns. As thought they were in there and they were not interested, it takes some luck and constant drifts to get them to even sniff a fly. I felt I was fulfilling my duties as a “guardian” to them. As Andrew Christmas wisely said in a recent report, “some anglers or locals may think I’m mad giving away information like this but with anglers on the rivers these fish will stay safer than if the river was left quiet for a few days….if you get my drift”. The number is 0800 POACHING by the way.
Thursday dawned fairly fine but as we got deeper into the National Park the cloud cover thickened, not ideal for spotting fish. We looked at a few areas on our river of choice, only seeing one rise and a small fish. Something didn’t feel right as we’d tried most methods, areas and flies with nothing coming our way. I’m sure to go back though as now I have unfinished business.
We pushed on and made our way to Owhango to sort some accommodation for the night, the pub there is as rural as it gets and well worth staying at. After a quick feed of burgers we went to the nearby section of the Whakapapa for an evening fish. Once we’d found a spot to fish we sat down and observed the pool for a bit. Soon enough I had my favourite fly combo working the edge of the current near the head of the pool. It only took a couple of drifts to see the dry disappear and everything come up tight. A short dogged battle and a nice looking brown was to the net.
This continued for the next 40 minutes with 3 more fish succumbing to the dry/dropper. One greedy fish even had both flies embedded in it’s mouth! The fish had started rising and made for some good fun as it got darker.
The next day we’d decided to have a look around some smaller rivers nearby. Apparently they hold sparse amounts of large fish but we never saw any despite our best efforts, another stream that I will explore more in depth.
Next port of call was the infamous Big O to see if it was going to give up any monsters. Apart from the 2 junior Trout I caught it produced a muddy, sore arse and a broken rod! Yep, turns out 4 divided into 6 is 0.6666667. A deceptive, sloping patch of mud took my feet out from under me quicker than I could react and the rod was bitch-slapped on the water. I had a bad feeling about the tip section after a tungsten bead came flying back from a tree and sconed it a few trips back, not a nice sound. Thankfully we’d packed a spare, although it was an absolute dog.
After all that debacle and not hearing many positive reports from campers we left and made our way to Grace Rd on the Tongariro. We saw more fish in the allotted hour than we’d seen in 2 days. Some of these were big and one or 2 were freaking huge! If only it was near on dark and they had come on the feed…
All up it was a good trip into some great country with me ol’ mate. If only the fish had been a little more obliging.
This week is my last week off so I’m hoping to get out for one last day of freedom, I’m thinking Rotorua needs some attention. Not to mention a couple of days up at the tip of Coromandel this weekend, almost forgot about that. Oh, and the trip from ‘Nam is fast approaching, watch this space.
Well well, another year down huh. I must admit that my fly fishing has been a little on the back burner over the last 2 weeks. This I am well aware of and have booked in for some serious trouting in the coming week. Come Wednesday I’ll be based in Taupo for a few days and with any luck there’ll be some good adventures to be had. In the meantime I’ve included some of my recent holiday exploits (some fresh water, some salt).
It all began with an epic harling and jigging trip on Xmas eve with Dad in Lake Taupo. We boated around 20 fish in short order, most of which were in great shape and had brilliant orange flesh. I know some of you guys may think it’s cheating but when it’s your first day off and the lake is dead flat the purist in me takes a back seat.
My next major milestone was dropping the engagement bomb on Christmas day (she said yes!). So the next day we went wandering up one of my favourite little streams in Hawkes Bay. I knew it would be a little prickly getting in but wasn’t prepared to endure an ear bashing after coming to a wall of blackberry that was near on impenetrable. We beat a retreat and raced back down the road to plan B. This river is also a favourite and it had been a few years since my last visit, from memory it fishes best when you’re up early and not compteting with the spinners! Needless to say all the fish were rather flighty and I didn’t fare to well. It was a nice day though and good to see the old stomping ground.
Over New Years a group of us booked out Leigh Fishing Lodge, bloody awesome spot and some of the best hosts I’ve encountered. Although it started raining the day we arrived Keith and Lynn were exceptional at making everything hassle free. I’d recommend them to anyone heading up those ways. Thankfully we made do with the conditions even if one of the nights rainfall was the heaviest they’d encountered in many years. The marine reserve at Goat Island is even better than I remember and a great example of marine conservation up close and personal.
After returning from Leigh we set upon the start of our new landscaping project, soon enough I got sick of the shovel and we shot up to Tapu where Tina’s Dad was staying. The weather was still topsy turvy so we bowled out early on Saturday ahead of the approaching storm that ripped the stern off the Rena. We nailed some good Snapper while hovering near the working mussel barges and got thrown around the boat a fair bit, not to mention the rain… oh yeah, it rained, what a surprise!
I also discovered there is such a thing as too much burley. While scraping with a Rat Kingi in the discharge mess I got so much crap on my braid it jammed in the top eye of my softbait rod. It was no wonder the telltale needed clearing once we started motoring back. It would be fair to say this is the closest I’ve come to shooting fish in a barrel.
That is just a quick summary of the Summer so far and with the weather on the improve I’m amping to go hit the Rivers. Come Wednesday the flyrod will be the main priority, of course after I’ve finished stage 2 of the landscaping!
I hope you’re all having a good break and squeezing in as much fishing as possible. Keep safe.
While I’m still madly busy with the end of year duties I haven’t neglected the fishing and have managed to get out a few times. Even though the weather this weekend meant we only looked at the Whakatane bar, gutted!
The trip I had sussed with the old man went ahead on a rainy Sunday earlier in the month. We picked the newly opened reaches of the Ngongotaha river to fish. I arrived around 7am after a quick drive from Hamilton and was greeted by Morri who was just getting sorted after his drive North from Taupo. We were surprised the park was empty and wasted no time getting to the water.
Upon approaching the first pool we stopped and looked into the water. The spot I normally see a few fish sitting in was empty so we crossed the river to start searching the first runs. Just as I was mentioning to Dad to be alert for big browns in the edges we noticed a rather large tail stir up the water and vanish deeper into the safety of the bank/snag. It wasn’t long before we saw a fish feeding in the run and threw a couple of drifts over it until it caught wind and did the old Houdini.
It was still raining and my glasses were fogging up something chronic. While I sorted them out Dad had another flick at a fish sitting in the shallows of a bend, occasionally moving back and forth chewing on nymphs. Whammo, the recovering Rainbow smashed the fly and took off straight up to a big log. After giving the fish some slack it swam back up and off the log much to our delight, some more risky runs and it was near the bank for netting. I jumped down the bank and into the water, putting the net under our first conquest for the day. The smile on Dads face as he helped me back up the small cliff said it all.
That was to be the theme for the rest of the day. We each landed a mix of nice fresh run rainbows to 4lb and some recovering darker jacks that inhaled flies with no hesitation. The big brown wasn’t the only one we saw, we counted at least 6 lurking around in log jams, under bank edges and vegetation. One of them even stuck around to let me bounce a massive black streamer right on its nose. It was incredibly dominant and kept its mouth shut while it was pestered. The river also had a lot of fish that appeared to still be spawning that were very spooky and not that interested in eating.
The pick of rigs was the dry/dropper as it is super subtle on the spooky fish and also keeps the dropper out of the snags which abound the river. This is part of the reason I love fishing the Ngongotaha, it’s a pokey, fun wee river with a reputation for large fish. We also did a quick recce around the lower reaches of a few nearby rivers, spotting some hefty fish that were very reluctant to take our offerings. One fish in particular is the reason I’m going back for a night fish hopefully this week, it was much larger than the ones seen earlier in the day!
The following weekend some mates and I had a charter booked for Raglan. It was to be my first trip over the notorious bar and into the wild west. This day the bar was very docile and Shanan soon had Game On racing out to Gannet Rock, once there we hit the sign with an array of jigs and after a few fishless drops we settled into the idea of a snapper fish closer in. Once anchored up the fish began to slowly come on the chew. Our lucky angler Richard from Hunting and Fishing Waikato lead the charge with decent gurnard and a nice sized pannie lining the bottom of a freakishly big icebox. We kept up with our share, adding sharks and tangles much to Shanans delight, also taking a few kahawai, legal snapper and gurnard.
After a while we lifted anchor, even managing some gear back off the rope. A quick squirt to a nearby reef and scout around had us over some more kingi sign. The first drift was unsuccessful but the next one had us hooked up. And hooked up. And hooked up. It was calamity as I watched our mate Riki take his first ever king flanked by 2 pros doing battle. My only words of advice to him were to hold on to my rod, I was glad he listened because later on he got absolutely dusted on 80lb braid. We each boated a few kingis in the quick fire session.
My new early (thanks Tina) Christmas present was still too shiny so I put a 5inch grub tail on and flicked it away from the jiggers. A couple of knocks later and I came up solid, the fish racing off as line peeled from the spool. I vaguely remember Richard pre-selling me some more braid as a joke. Just as I thought things were starting to go my way we drifted past a cray rope, the fish going straight around it. I watched the float go under and pop back up as the line parted from the fish, thankfully not too much new braid was lost.
Next cast was met with the same response and shortly after I was locked in with a hard fighting trevally. This thing was determined to get away but the new kit was well worth the purchase. After what seemed like 10 minutes and already having sore arms we finally saw colour, much to my relief. Some quick gaff work from Shanon and I had blooded my rod, stoked.
Well that is all that’s worth reporting on for now. I have pretty much sorted my next month for fishing plans so am hoping for good weather, willing fish and in particular sight fishing for kings on the fly at Leigh (please Santa).
Thanks for reading over the last year. Here’s wishing you all a Merry Christmas, keep safe out there and most of all have fun.
I had some unfinished business with a certain place on the side of Lake Tarawera. Two weeks ago I fished it quickly prior to an engagement party, needless to say I didn’t fare too well in the given hour. After hearing a few current reports of well conditioned fish being pulled out I was well and truly fevered.
The plan was quickly hatched with a mate and we set off through the rain to Rotorua. A quick stop at Hunting and Fishing to get Jeremy a new licence and some more info had us talking more smack than ever. The handbrake had barely engaged and I was out of the car. Waders on, jacket on, rods were assembled double time and so began a damn good fishing session.
Looking down on the spot it was super fishy. Overcast skies, patchy rain, getting dark shortly… Fly fishing porn some might say. I waded out near the drop off and stripped line from my reel. The first cast was ironed out and once the next one found its mark I relaxed into the zone. Tap, tap, WHACK! What, too soon! I was almost caught out as a silver pig belly flopped back into a hole in the water. This thing was determined to give me a hiding and in an instant the line came tight on the reel. A right scrap ensued and after a few attempts the Rainbow was coming over the lip.
It looked nice and juicy so decided that I’d keep one for the smoker. Fish from some of these Rotorua lakes have the best flesh and this was no exception. My new found habit of dropping fish when having photos taken was proven three times, thankfully over the grass this time. Part of the reason I’m smiling is due to the laughter.
Next up was Jeremy. We were yarning away and next thing his face lights up as the rod bucks down. This wasn’t the biggest fish but once again in bloody good nick, it fought well and gave him the run around near the weeds. Some quick snaps and it swam off, slightly confused.
By now the light had begun to change and while tucking into some sammies Jeremys rod tip goes again. Without hesitation he got to work and shortly later the tip sprang back up, fish gone. I think you can see the pain on his face in this photo.
On darkness my rig was changed to a floating line and small lumo doll fly. By this stage the lake had turned to glass and we were trying our best not to stir it up too much. It must have paid off because next thing I feel a very gentle knock, then nothing. Weed? Ten seconds later the knock is back followed by a familiar tug and we’re hooked up. This fish felt good but had limited fighting ability, it was walked to the bank and when the lights went on I realised why, obesity problems. This thing was the best conditioned fish I’d seen in a while. Unfortunately it had hoovered the fly deep and the demands from friends saw it knocked on the head also.
After a little more trying we decided to call it a night, content with all the events of the evening. Now I just need to sort some gear out for this weekends snapper mission in the Firth. Fingers are crossed they behave, my flyrod will be there for the ride.