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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 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.
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…
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.
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!
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…
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…
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!
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;
- Break my rod
- Knock myself out
- 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.
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!
I was starting to wonder if working 9-5 had many advantages from a fishing point of view. Then came a little something called Wellington Anniversary and a weekend filled with 3 days of backcountry fishing in some truly stunning spots.
I drove up after work on Friday and made it to the river rather late after being shouted a meal by the hitchhiker I picked up in Otaki (cheers Andrew!). It took a couple of red bulls to get me there, but excitement was peaking when I arrived. Isaac had been there for a couple of hours and jumped at the suggestion of a night fish. Fish is a rather inclusive term, as Isaac proceeded to demonstrate. Despite putting a bend in his rod this wasn’t quite what we were after:
A few casts later he got absolutely smoked by something that certainly wasn’t an eel. Unfortunately this was the pattern for the biggest fish of the trip.
Eventually, after removing my somewhat ambitious mouse fly and putting on a streamer, I struck into something solid. It wasn’t quite the spirited fight I hoped for, but more a dogged resistance. When the fish made it to the net we understood why.
Jandals all the way. It would have been a spectacular fish in good condition, but times didn’t favour it at the moment. Still…my trip was underway.
We struggled at our intended spot the following morning, so bounced around a few locations before settling on a river. Only problem was, how in gods name were we meant to get down to it? Our problem was solved in the form of Bob, who we serendipitously met on a dirt track in the middle of nowhere. He gave us a couple of hints which we eagerly took up.
After a bush bash and a half we arrived at the river and immediately got into fish on bright and flashy nymphs.
This bow was so pretty that I convinced Isaac to hold my fish for a photo…
After that I picked up a couple more rainbows that fought like banshees with a firecracker somewhere painful.
Then I notice Isaac has a pretty serious bend in his rod. And that this one was taking a little longer to get in than the others. Curious, I thought. So I landed my fish, took the snaps and went up to discover that he had a really rather good fish on the line. Two man netting team did the damage and he landed the fish of the trip.
We picked up a few more after that, but nothing of note. Except for that ENORMOUS bow that inhaled Isaac’s stonefly…but that’s not a happy story. I also learned the benefit of a wading stick after gracelessly pirouetting more times than I care to remember. Should have worn the wading boots!
The next day followed in a similar vein with a steady stream of good fish without anything spectacular. I dropped what was certainly the fish of the day after a confident rise to my royal wulff.
Isaac landed this nice fish after one hell of a battle.
They punch well above their weight!
By this stage I was getting rather frustrated at dropping a good fish, falling over and being inept at casting.
That afternoon we got the squall we had been expecting. Fishing through the rain I picked up a couple of OK fish and Isaac landed several good ones. Unfortunately the camera didn’t come out for that one.
The next morning awoke clear but with a bitter cold. After a quick trip around the campground to find someone with jumper leads to jump start Isaac’s car we hit the road. This was one of those rare trips where we saved the best till last. Bush bashing through overgrown tracks for two hours saw us eventually emerge battered and bruised to a crystal clear little stream with well defined pools and runs. The excitement was tangible.
Sneaking our way up the first run we sighted the quarry. This was the first chance for real sight fishing during the trip and we capitalised on it. Casting a large blowfly humpy with a trailing nymph ahead of a feeding fish brought about immediate results. The fish rose in the column intent on eating my dry. The take was slow and my strike was patient. It was at about this moment that Isaac started mumbling something about a tangle. That’s fine I thought, he could untangle his rig after I landed my fish. Then I looked down to see that this was a team effort tangle. As I hauled for the final cast I caught his fly which proceeded to loop around my line. Well, there’s nothing like an excuse to fight a fish hard. Giving line just wasn’t an option. After a few hairy moment I guided a great rainbow to the net.
Yep, this one made me happy.
Two pools up we came across a beautiful thing…free rising trout. I refused to let Isaac fish to this one with the nymph, so he reluctantly tied on a big rubber legged cicada. It only took two drifts before snout broke surface and the dance began. After catching mostly browns for the past few years I’d forgotten how good a real rainbow fight is. Isaac was sure enjoying this one.
After the fish was released we saw a sizeable eel doing the rounds and harassing the 10 or so fish in this pool. They seemed to forget about us while concentrating on the eel, and after he left them they promptly returned to the feed.
Making the most of this memory wipe I quickly landed two great bows in pretty quick succession.
The count, as we left that pool, stood at three great rainbows all caught whilst standing on the same rock.
Fish got a little fewer and further between after that, but they were there nonetheless. It seemed to be my day as an errant cast brought this fish to the fly.
By this stage it was late in the day and we had a long walk ahead of us. It was hard to turn around knowing we were leaving behind more great fishing, but the fact that we’d had such a great day so far made it that little bit easier. We did stop off briefly on the walk and Isaac managed to hook a solid bow from a difficult spot, but it stormed through the pool and utilised the prominent rock to full effect.
I was pretty stoked to see the car after that walk. Red bulls in the chilly bin went down a treat. It was a long drive home and a very welcoming bed.
Cheers Isaac for a great trip!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.