What follows is a list of my favourite fish from the season. Not necessarily the biggest or the prettiest, but the most satisfying for one reason or another. In fact it has surprised me while constructing this list how many of the bigger fish have been left off. They’re certainly satisfying and look great in photos. But these are the fish I’ll remember.
5) Kicking off the list was a very solid rainbow taken on a tough day. To be honest any one of a number of fish could have filled this spot. The fish were feeding selectively on swimming mayflies and couldn’t be tempted by anything else. Once hooked this fish proceeded to take me for the ride of my life through the pool. There aren’t many stronger fish in the rivers than a football shaped rainbow.
4) This was a brown taken blind in a small stream. It was a strong fish and good looking to boot. Andrew snapped a great shot of it.
3) This fish was an unlikely conquest. Al and I left home at midday and rocked up to the river feeling relaxed. In a riffle at the tailout of the run I spotted a smudge moving upstream. I figure I had spooked it, but covered it anyway. It was with more than a little surprise that I watched a snout poke out of the water to take my klinkhammer. What followed was a very determined fight from a fit fish. Eventually Al secured it in the net and proceeded to snap a photo with a Canon P+S camera from the 1980s that he’d acquired for $2 that morning.
2) I was tossing up between these last two. My number two was also my biggest fish for the season, and my biggest rainbow ever by over a pound. It was a seriously good fish taken in atrocious conditions. It fought hard, if unspectacularly and I was unbelievably pleased to have caught it.
1)But my number 1 had the whole package. It was the total experience. Andrew S and I set off after work and headed north. By the time we pulled up at the stream I’d had 1/2 dozen beers (don’t worry, he was driving) and was in a merry mood. The weather was superb so we donned our jandals and set out for a streamside stroll. The first few fish were spooked in glorious fashion…followed by more…and more. It wasn’t until we came to a bend in the stream and spotted a fish rising 20metres further up that our hope grew. I was on point, so assumed the position. I didn’t dare approach too much more given the behaviour of the previous fish so it was going to be a long cast. The alcohol settled the nerves and the cast was perfect. I thoroughly enjoy the casting side of fly fishing, so a fish caught with a special cast is always that little bit more valuable to me. It’s vividly seared in my mind the sight of the golden fish rising vertically to intercept my fly. As I set the hook it absolutely erupted, tearing off upstream at some pace. In the water it had looked like a nice fish, maybe around 4lbs. After an absurdly strong fight, during which the pitfalls of wearing jandals fishing became apparent to Andrew and I (Andrew, I believe, still has the scars to prove it), a rather bigger than expected fish came to the net. The whole experience of catching this fish was topped off by its appearance. It was short, but incredibly round and heavy. In absolutely perfect condition with substantial giraffe like spots dotting its body. For me it was the fish of the season and one of the most satisfying and enjoyable fish I’ve ever caught.
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.
The day started well…
This solid rainbow took a well weighted colubriscus after several presentations. It was the first fish we saw. I was happy.
This happiness, however, was not to continue.
Andrew and I were planning on putting some serious leg work in and heading up up up. All was going well until we concluded that the gorge was impassable, so we’d have to take the alternate route around. Quite how it happened I’ll never know, but for some ungodly reason Andrew and I found ourselves on opposite sides of the river both following what we thought was ‘the track’. As it transpires my ‘track’ turned out to be nothing more than a blaze trail put in place to get to the pest traps. It was absurdly hard going. There was no defined path, just sporadic animal tracks that all of a sudden gave way to waist high falls through rotten logs. I pushed on for longer than I should have, assuming Andrew had to be ahead of me. Eventually, after managing to injure myself in some unprecedented ways, I beat a retreat. Back at camp I wrote a message in ash on our egg carton, and decided to try and salvage something from the day. After all, it couldn’t get worse, right?
I wasn’t sure quite what section of river Andrew might be fishing or whether he was ahead of me or behind me, so I decided to try and do a deep wade to get myself into a position to fish a bit of awkward to access water. The wade was particularly deep at one point, so I decided to shimmy my way across a couple of rocks. Then all of a sudden I hear an odd noise followed by a thud. I turned, just in time to see my Pelican waterproof camera case falling from my now split bag. The image of the case hitting a rock, splitting open and my Canon G11 sinking to the bottom of the river is seared in my memory. After retrieving the camera I simply sat on a rock in disbelief.
Eventually I gathered myself, crossed the river and started slowly making my way upstream. My heart wasn’t really in it, so I wasn’t hopeful when I spotted a smudge sitting a foot from the edge. I had to sit on a log to fish to this fish, so there was a little novelty to the attempt. My first cast was perfect. My second saw the wee beadhead pheasant tail rocket into the water about 6 inches to the right of the fishes face. He ate. The fight was uneventful, but the capture of my first brownie (and quite a solid one at that) of the trip raised my mood slightly. As for the pictures, well…you get the idea.
A little after this Andrew and I bumped into each other. He commiserated with me over the demise of my camera and we commenced our assault on the river in earnest.
It wasn’t until we came to a major bend in the river that created a large swirling pool that the action heated up. Andrew pulled a good fish from the head of the pool that had been rising consistently. It was a horrible drift because of the swirling currents, but eventually the fish ate his wee nymph. It then tore madly around the pool until he subdued it.
I figured that had to be the end of that pool after the antics of Andrew’s fish. However, a fish in the far side continued to rise. It was moving a long way to feed, so it felt like all I had to do was put the cast in the right place. I did, and it ignored it. It wasn’t until near the end of the drift when the fly started to skate along the surface that the fish tore backwards and engulfed it. I’d like to have hooked it this way, as the aggression was rather neat. Sadly the hook never set. Until the next cast when my nymph got eaten. Fool me once…
It wasn’t the best conditioned fish, but it had been a while between drinks.
We continued searching upstream to no avail. Deciding to hedge our bets and head upstream fast while there was still light we skipped a lot of water. But the gamble paid off. Arriving at a pool we’d seen several fish in the day prior it didn’t take long before we’d spotted on. The fish was cruising a slow beat and inspected Andrew’s fly very closely before refusing it. All of a sudden we realised there was a second fish about 3 metres behind. I can’t remember whether Andrew had to cast again or whether he simply continued the drift, but this time his tiny nymph was intercepted. This fish fought like a trooper. A large log bisected the pool and on numerous occasions I thought the fish had made it there. But Andrew fought it hard and there’s only so long a fish can resist such constant pressure. Eventually a great rainbow was brought to the net.
A little further upstream I got another chance and after getting the drift right I was connected to a silver bullet. It wasn’t quite the scrap that Andrew experienced, but a fit well conditioned rainbow will always give you a run for your money.
With darkness descending we headed back to camp to enjoy the now traditional steak, mash and peas topped off with gravy.
We caught some great fish that day, but unfortunately for me it was a tainted day. Taking all the possible precautions and still drowning my camera was a real slap in the face. Still, you can’t be too upset when you’ve still got 3 more days of fishing ahead of you.
Over to Andrew for the final wrap up…
It’s been a couple of weeks since we got back from our adventure down south. Unfortunately essays have prevented me from posting this earlier.
The whole trip seemed to come around rather quickly and I was in a bit of a surprise to realise it was 1am with the plane leaving in 7 hours and no bags packed. After a rushed pack and a short sleep I met Andrew and Jeremy at the airport. We arrived in Queenstown shortly after and made our way to Chris’s place after a quick stop for a beer and Ferg (Double ferg with blue cheese).
Andrew and I took turns tying abomination flies on Chris’s vice…
While Jeremy stared into space. I think his mind was elsewhere.
That night we ate an enormous pizza each and drank enough to feel merry. The alarm came round all too quickly and we jumped in the car, made our way to breakfast…
And then realised we’d forgotten a crucial item. We backtracked, then drove straight into te anau. A second breakfast followed, before we boarded the boat and took in the scenic views of what has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. After a short walk we made our way to our campsite and commenced building the mancamp.
We were in for 4 days and 3 nights, so it pays to take a little time to get things sorted. It’s not easy to do when you’ve got superb fishing so close by though!
Andrew and I decided to head down and fish our way back to camp whilst Jeremy and Chris fished up. It didn’t take long before we found a fish sipping of the surface in a riffle. It was covering so much ground to feed that putting a cast in front of it was far from a given. After a couple of attempts it took Andrew’s nymph and the game began. A decent bit of sideways pressure saw the fish succumb and Andrew had his first ever Fiordland trout.
It didn’t take long before I got on the board as well with a slightly smaller silver specimen. Further upstream in a big deep pool Andrew got broken off by what appeared to be a very good fish. My turn again saw a nice fit fish to the net after it had inhaled my dry while feeding in the eye of a pool.
Things were going very nicely with three fish to the bank on the first afternoon. I hooked and lost another while Andrew covered a few more fish to no avail. Then in a small pool created by a branch sticking in against a bank I spotted a smudge. Andrew worked his way up the pool as we couldn’t spot the fish precisely. As the flies drifted over the lip the smudge reappeared and swung. I shouted strike just as Andrew lifted the rod. What followed was a classic example of attempting to net a very strong fish in completely inappropriate water. The nearest beach was a decent walk away, so we attempted to net it mid riffle. Given the fact that we succeeded I won’t comment on alternatives, but suffice to say that it’s not the best form.
Andrew with the fish of the day.
After that we made our way back up to camp. Andrew took a leaf out of all teenage delinquents books and started a fire with aerosol deodorant. Once the fire was going we set our minds to dinner – Steak, mashed potatos and peas. Good god was it good.
I went out for a night fish that night and hooked a couple of fish, but didn’t manage to land them. All in all it was a very good first day.
Andrew will be along in a few days time with the next installment.
The Fish Of The Season competition has come to a close. We have had some truly great entries that weren’t included in the final list. Sadly we could only choose 5 and these are our picks.
So now’s the time to choose your favourite. Click on the image to have a closer look.
Voting closes Monday 21st of May at 7pm.
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…
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…
Just a quick one from me, in keeping with the duration of the trip.
Headed up country immediately after my Nana’s 80th birthday festivities drew to a close on Sunday. I had a special guest with me this time: dad.
After sorting out the lodgings we quickly hit the river, although the first hour or two was rather fruitless with few fish seen. As the light diminished the fishing increased. Things took a definite turn for the better when we came across a deep corner pool riddled with snags. At the head holding high in the column just off the lip was a golden shape. For the briefest moment I thought it was just another log, except logs don’t rise. I shimmied into position and put the perfect cast over it with a #14 parachute adams. And…nothing. And again…nothing. The third was slightly wayward, and met with similar determined resistance. A change of tactics was called for. Off with the dainty mayfly, on with a big ugly terrestrial. It only took one cast. A determined, if unspectacular, fight ensued with the most effort exerted keeping the fish from the countless snags. After a couple of dashes from the shallows the battle concluded with a stonking brown safely in the net.
A reason to smile.
I’m far from an elitist, but I’ll always value a fish on the dry just a little bit more.
The next wee while saw a few fish sighted, usually too late. Dad was unlucky not to rise a couple of fish that he covered well. Finally, with darkness well on its way we approached another corner pool with more than one impediment to casting. Dad opted out, so there I was standing up to my neck in grass watching (well really listening to) a fish rise just feet away. It was almost dapping, but it sure brought about results. This time the #14 para adams certainly wasn’t rejected. What the previous fight lacked in spectacle this one more than made up for in aerobatics. I think the fish spent more time in the air than the water. But the trusty #5 absorbed it all and the fish soon succumbed to the constant pressure.
Another superbly conditioned brown.
After that we retired for the night, got a filthy feed of chinese takeaways and returned to our room where we were embraced wholeheartedly by cold beer.
The next day saw an early start, which turned out to be well worthwhile as not 5 minutes after we started we noticed another angler 100 metres or so downstream of us. On about the fifth cast of the day Dad caught the fish of the day. In fact, barring one small model I picked up, it was the only fish of the day. It rose confidently to eat his cicada and burst downstream as soon as it felt the bite of steel. I had to employ some boot camp tactics to get dad chasing it as at one point there was over 30 metres of backing out. I’ve seen fish fight harder than this, but I’ve never seen them fight so one dimensionally. It just swam in one direction, downstream, for the duration of the fight. Once we’d caught up to it the netting was practically a formality.
Dad once again demonstrates his propensity to make 4lb fish look tiny.
This proved to be the only real highlight in what was otherwise a very quiet day. The trip home was interrupted only by a brief stop for kebabs and a briefer stop for coffee. Great to get out on the water with dad and catch a few fish!
First of all thank you all for your help and suggestions for the new wading jacket. We really appreciate our customers input.
It appears we definitely have 2 very separate camps here, 1 for the wading jacket similar to what is already on the market and 1 for the more compact, simple, packable shell. All I have to do now is convince Rob to do 2 jackets so everyone has an option!
I received a few jacket designs, which were all really good and well thought out. Here they are:
From Calum McKenzie, a keen young fisherman and outdoorsman:
From Lisa McKenzie:
From Daren Gamble:
Thanks very much guys for all the effort you put in.
Everyone’s ideas have been taken into consideration and will form a check list to help us design a wading jacket for our customers. The design process for this jacket will be blogged continuously and at every stage our readers will be included in the discussions and decisions relating to this. We want you guys to see and be involved in everything from the concept right through to production.
Thanks again and keep an eye out next month for the initial concept sketches, we will need your votes!
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!
Firstly I feel I should apologise for my absence these past few months. It’s been hectic and I just haven’t been fishing often enough. Cheers heaps to those who took over the mantle and kept things ticking along.
I’ve barely been fishing since I got back to Wellington but, with the exception of a few false starts, I’ve been catching some very good fish on the few times that I’ve been out.
After finishing up at work for the year I headed over into the Wairarapa with dad for the day. The mission was to get Dad onto a fish. Sadly the mission remains unfulfilled. Dad fished really well and managed several takes, but for some reason they just weren’t connecting. It wasn’t until late in the day that I managed this brawler that punched well above its weight.
The day after Christmas Andrew from Hamills and I set off for a wee excursion. The weather was hot and he kindly offered to drive so I spent the trip imbibing some quality IPAs. By the time we got to our fishing location I was half chopped. Couldn’t help wondering if that was the reason we were spooking more than our usual share of fish. When we’d almost entirely given up hope we saw something that lit up our spirits. A rising fish. Because of the failing light we could only make it out when it rose or sat in the section lit up by stream. First cast with my #14 parachute adams was short, but the second was perfect. What proceeded was a worthy scrap. I got towed up and down the river by this fish while trying to keep it clear of sticks and weed in the water. Finally, after a false start or two, Andrew snared it in the net. I was chuffed.
I didn’t sleep at all well that night. I’m not sure whether it was the hayfever or the lack of sleeping bag/sleeping mat. I awoke around 5 30 and knew that I wasn’t getting back to sleep. The day started off slowly, and to be honest didn’t progress much beyond that. The highlight was a great rainbow caught in farcical style. My drift was well and truly over and I’d begun to wind the line back onto the reel when I feel a slight tug. Next second I’m approaching my backing as a silver bullet heads downstream for the horizon. I don’t really feel like I deserved this fish, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
The final installment of this somewhat disjointed post occurred just a couple of days ago. After trekking all over the North Island with Liz and crossing filthy river after filthy river it was with more than a modicum of relief that we arrived to find this river running clear. The sight of another car in the park didn’t help, but after encountering these guys on the river bank I promptly headed off for the pool above where they’d finished. I fished half heartedly on the way, but I knew darkness was approaching and this wasn’t somewhere you want to get caught out. On about my third drift the indicator hesistated, and I pounced. Sweet solid resistance. And then straight to the depths. A classic battle followed with the fish alternately leaping for the heavens or diving to the bottom of the pool. For the most it fought more like a browny. I’d get it into the shallows, then it’d head for the other side of the river. It was relief more than anything that followed my successful netting. The photo’s a shitty self timer and doesn’t really do justice to this magnificent fish. It’s a new P.B. rainbow for me by over a pound. It really was quite special.
That’s all for now team. Hopefully I’ll get out for a fish in the next couple of weeks. I’ve got some serious plans for my weekend, lets just hope the weather doesn’t get in the way.
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.
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.
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.
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…
It’s nearly finished now, but today is Jacks birthday.
So, we went fishing of course. My apologies for the lack of pictures for this one, the weather was pretty bad all day. I didn’t quite fancy having the camera out for too long in the torrential rain.
Unfortunately it wasn’t the birthday fishing trip Jack had hoped for, today was the day of the fish (plural) that got away. It started right off the bat when I lost one in the first run after only a few seconds. I handled it very well at that stage. I just continued doing my thing. Soon after that Jack had the same thing happen to him a couple of pools up. Likewise, he too handled it rather well. It was early days after all…
I hooked another one about ten minutes later. I thought for all money I was stuck tight to this fish, but I was wrong. It popped the hook too. I was frustrated by this one, but I contained it within.
A few hundred metres upstream Jack and Ryan took the high road while I battled the river. As I struggled my way along I saw a fish ewas pretty close to where I stood, the rain was obviously helping here. I tried a few flies at this one until I found the right recipe. This time I was in for sure… nope. It got away as well. This time I was more vocal in the way I expressed my anger. (I had moved along from disappointment by now)
Jack spotted a fish sitting very close to where he was standing and managed a take on a dry fly, I was pretty surprised to see it take from the top considering the amount of rain that was falling. Jack hooked up for a reasonable time but again the fish threw the hook.
Next up Jack actually caught a fish. Unfortunately it is probably close to the smallest in the river. We didn’t bother with a photo because of the rain at the time.
After that it was my turn again, I fished to one close in for a while, it refused a couple of different nymphs before finally coming up for the Royal Wulff – the fly which was there the entire time! The number of times I’ve had this happen is amazing. I still can’t figure it out?
Anyway, I waited for what felt like 5 minutes too long before striking and it did the trick. I hooke the fish and even better than that I hooked it well enough to land it, just. The river was pretty wild here, and i was a bit scared of what might happen if we were to venture downstream, so I fought the fish in a rather disgusting manner. I pretty much just hung onto it and sent birthday boy forward to do his thing with the net.
Amazingly, it worked.
And no, I don’t have pinkeye. I’m just a bit tired – getting up at 5am for a few days in a row does that to me.
Now for the grand finale. Jack spotted a fish over on the far side of the river. He was here earlier in the season and has unfinished business in this pool, so he marched through the fast water at the bottom end risking life and limb as he went. He employed the tactics we had discussed prior to his departure and although it took a while, he eventually connected with a fish. A rather solid fish I might add. I couldn’t see everything from my vantage point, but I didn’t miss it when his rod straightened, nor did I miss it when he let his feeling known to the world.
Unfortunately, today was one of those days which could have been great if we made the most of our chances, but I guess that is fishing, isn’t it?