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 2011/12 Fish of the Season winner is MIKE!
Congratulations to Mike , it was an extremely tight contest, with only three votes separating 1st and 2nd place but Mike’s Kingy was able to just tip it at the end. Well done Mike your prize will be in the mail soon.
Keep your eyes peeled because we will be running more contests on here in the near future, so there will be plenty more chances to win. Keep taking photos in your Riverworks gear and keep chasing those big fish.
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…
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!
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.
I had some unfinished business with a certain place on the side of Lake Tarawera. Two weeks ago I fished it quickly prior to an engagement party, needless to say I didn’t fare too well in the given hour. After hearing a few current reports of well conditioned fish being pulled out I was well and truly fevered.
The plan was quickly hatched with a mate and we set off through the rain to Rotorua. A quick stop at Hunting and Fishing to get Jeremy a new licence and some more info had us talking more smack than ever. The handbrake had barely engaged and I was out of the car. Waders on, jacket on, rods were assembled double time and so began a damn good fishing session.
Looking down on the spot it was super fishy. Overcast skies, patchy rain, getting dark shortly… Fly fishing porn some might say. I waded out near the drop off and stripped line from my reel. The first cast was ironed out and once the next one found its mark I relaxed into the zone. Tap, tap, WHACK! What, too soon! I was almost caught out as a silver pig belly flopped back into a hole in the water. This thing was determined to give me a hiding and in an instant the line came tight on the reel. A right scrap ensued and after a few attempts the Rainbow was coming over the lip.
It looked nice and juicy so decided that I’d keep one for the smoker. Fish from some of these Rotorua lakes have the best flesh and this was no exception. My new found habit of dropping fish when having photos taken was proven three times, thankfully over the grass this time. Part of the reason I’m smiling is due to the laughter.
Next up was Jeremy. We were yarning away and next thing his face lights up as the rod bucks down. This wasn’t the biggest fish but once again in bloody good nick, it fought well and gave him the run around near the weeds. Some quick snaps and it swam off, slightly confused.
By now the light had begun to change and while tucking into some sammies Jeremys rod tip goes again. Without hesitation he got to work and shortly later the tip sprang back up, fish gone. I think you can see the pain on his face in this photo.
On darkness my rig was changed to a floating line and small lumo doll fly. By this stage the lake had turned to glass and we were trying our best not to stir it up too much. It must have paid off because next thing I feel a very gentle knock, then nothing. Weed? Ten seconds later the knock is back followed by a familiar tug and we’re hooked up. This fish felt good but had limited fighting ability, it was walked to the bank and when the lights went on I realised why, obesity problems. This thing was the best conditioned fish I’d seen in a while. Unfortunately it had hoovered the fly deep and the demands from friends saw it knocked on the head also.
After a little more trying we decided to call it a night, content with all the events of the evening. Now I just need to sort some gear out for this weekends snapper mission in the Firth. Fingers are crossed they behave, my flyrod will be there for the ride.
Over the weekend I shot down to Taupo to have yet another crack at the Trout population. Unfortunately the rain forecast earlier in the week never came to much, the rivers remained relatively low and clear. I figured it was a good opportunity to iron out a few things and stretch the arms in the lead up to October 1. With this in mind I planned to fish a few rivers to keep things interesting.
After consulting the Old Man, Taupo fishing reports and a mate it was obvious the Hinemaiaia was fishing well. The car was loaded up on Friday night and we sat down to watch the rugby with a few beers. Before the crack of dawn a knock on the door signalled the start of the day, so much for a sleep in! Dad and I scoffed down some breakfast and hit the road to the Hine. It pays to get in there early and we were rewarded with an empty car park.
We dropped into the water where there have been numbers of trout in shallow before the masses drive them out to deeper holes and riffles. Sure enough they were there but casting to them is near on impossible so we pushed up river to a good looking run that also holds well. Shortly after and following hot on Dads heels I had my first victim. Well it thought differently anyhow and spat the dummy mid flight, a spirited little Bow that had lost a bit of condition since entering the river. Oh well, not to worry, there’ll be more. Bam, on again. This time the hook up lastest all of 2 seconds so I never really got to gauge it’s size.
Finally after another hit I got one to stick. The trout took full advantage of the strong current and promptly took off in it. Once behind a rock and sitting comfortably in the back eddy I lay the rod over and pulled it into my waiting net. Out came the camera for a photo shoot when I noticed a massive wound that couldn’t be photoshopped. The pic below is a Trout caught two weeks prior in the same spot, same size but far more photo worthy. It was so cold that morning my reel froze solid!
We worked in tandem up to the cliff pool picking up a few fish along the way. This river currently has a lot of active spawning redds and care should be taken not to disturb. Especially with all the current debate raging on the state of the Taupo fishery, but that’s a whole different topic. Sure, I’ve found it a little tougher in the last couple of years but that’s fishing for you. Sometimes you strike it when it’s red hot, at other times you wonder why you bother. BUT, it will never take away from the fact that a day on the water is just plain good fun.
We had also decided the Waitahanui could be worth looking at so made the trip back over the hill. The agreement was to look at Peehi Manini Rd as there had been a good westerly blowing into the mouth over the last few days. It was only a quick look in and never saw a single Trout despite our best efforts. Maybe they were further up already. Golf was next up for the Old fullas daily activities so we parted ways at the house, I went onto pick up some more 6lb fluorocarbon, look at flytying gear (opps I meant buy) and carry on fishing.
My afternoon was going to be full as there were a few spots to hit. The Tongariro had a recreational release so I curiously peered over the road bridge to see if the infamous bridge pool was hotting up with the increase in volume. It was now dropping and had a good colour with pumice and debris flowing quickly downstream, nothing happening here. I gave the surrounding area a few of my flies and threw the towel in. I bet it was damn good 1st thing Sunday morning once the fish had made their way up.
Next up was a river that a fishing buddy had sworn me to secrecy over, so it won’t be named. It is however between the last two rivers mentioned and not really super secret. He’d just done well on it 1st thing Friday morning. When I got to it there had been a few anglers hammering it so the fish were very spooky. The bush and snags were good for practice though and not a single fly went awol in my time there.
With the sun getting lower in the sky I high tailed it back to the Waitahanui rip with hopes of a freshie for the smoker. I had my doubts about the westerly still blowing yet there were 3 guys out already. I got in line and proceeded to get slapped about by the waves. The sunsets are always nice there and you’re often distracted by a yank on the line, this time nothing came out and one by one we all went home. The cop at the booze stop told me some guys passed through earlier with a boat that had done well. Harling has started to produce mixed bags and is a good option for some bigger specimens in the coming months.
The following morning I did the Hinemaiaia solo. Dad had recently opened up his finger quite badly so sat this one out. After a casual wake up and change of boot laces I made it to the same beat from earlier. I worked through each section and leapfrogged other anglers on the way up finally spotting a good looking fish in the shallows. It was happy to watch a few changes of fly drift by until it snapped out and fell for the old globug routine. See ya, I watched its powerful tail flick down the rapids as I ran back down around the submerged tree I had just passed. Thankfully one of the other anglers was around to net it and did a good job pulling it out. On his scales it just hit 5.5lbs and was in full spawning stripes, it’s still out there if anyone wants it. Thanks to the guy from Pukawa Bay for your help, sorry I never got your name!
My last port of call was the Ngongotaha on the way home. As I got there the skies opened and I got pissed on solidly for an hour. I hadn’t fished the section just above the town bridge so went for a look. I could only make out one good fish sitting in a tricky spot but slid down the slippery bank as I lined up a bow and arrow cast, nearly putting the fly in my finger instead. It soon had me figured out and cruised off to find a log to hide under. Eventually I found form and struck into a flighty little Rainbow that came to the bank in short order. One more fish from under the noses of the local boys on the way back down had them laughing when I put it back, not quite meal worthy.
All up it was a good trip with loads of pre season conditioning thrown in. Bring on October 1, I will be match fit. Alex and I are going to have a few days fishing so should have a report for you all. Stay tuned, the whole team will be out and about so expect a busy wee blog in the next while. Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and tell your friends to get in the draw to win some spanky new XRT waders.
Good luck for the new season
I’m writing this one on behalf of the whole crew. We’ve just come back from a weekend in Turangi… the fishing was tough, but we had a great time.
I flew to Wellington last Wednesday afternoon and Jack picked me up from the airport. I’d never fished the North Island before, I was looking forward to finding out what it was like.
It was straight from the airport to Riverworks HQ to catch up with the guys, then we headed back into Wellington to stock up on a few bits and pieces for the trip. That evening Jack took me to Burger Fuel for a feed followed by gelato and beer from a cool little bar that I can’t remember the name of. I’ll definitely go back to all of these places the next time I’m in the neighbourhood – It was all good stuff.
Thursday morning the alarm went off at 5:30. Not ideal, but we had places to be. We had arranged to take a detour through Dannevirke on the way to Turangi and catch up with the famous Dundee family for a couple of hours. Incredibly, we managed to find the Dundees without getting lost. How we did that I’m still not quite sure..
The Dundees are great people. Their Family consists of Grant, Michelle, and their two sons Daniel and Sean. They have a farm up that way and spend a fair bit of time fishing the local river, with reasonable success.
Getting set up with the Dundees.
It was pretty windy that day which made casting tough, and the river had a touch of colour in it. However Jack hooked and landed a wee rainbow pretty quickly on a small nymph.
Jack and the Dundee boys
Dan Dundee is just learning to fly fish after cutting his teeth with the spinning rod. He is as keen as all young guys are when they are learning to fly fish and it’s great to see. We were all doing our thing when Dan let out an excited yell. I looked across to see him with a bent rod and a nice rainbow leaping out of the water attached to his line.
We all made for his direction and he pretty quickly had the fish on land. His first ever on the fly rod.
Dan Dundee lands his first fish on the fly!
Dan Dundee with Jack and his younger brother Sean
That was all the fishing action for the day. The wind came up stronger and we had to push on through to Turangi.
It was a pleasure to meet these guys and spend some time with them on the river. It was a priveledge that we were able to be there when dan caught his first one on the fly.He’ll never forget that moment and neither will we. Good stuff Dan!
We made it through to Turangi and got some accomodation sorted out before ducking off for my first taste of fishing the Big T.
The reports were reasonably good, there were meant to be a few fish in the river.
We made our way to the river and away we went. We walked downstream past several other anglers to a section of water which didn’t have anyone else fishing it. I rigged up a nymph with a great big indicator and a couple of split shot.
It wasn’t too long and Jack hooked up.
Jack caught one more and lost a few others. I only managed the one hook up, but dropped it pretty quickly. Still, it was good to feel a fish on the end of my line!
End of day one.
That night we met up with Tone from Taupo at the pub for a couple of beers. I had some streamers to give him to try out. Unfortunately I managed to set the hook from one of them right into my finger up to the bend… it wasn’t coming out easily either. It made a really sick crunching noise when I finally managed to pull it free. Let’s just say it wasn’t very nice and I don’t want to do it again!
Fish and chips was the food of choice for the evening. It was more or less inhaled at the cabin and we were off to sleep soon afterwards.
Breakfast the next morning wasn’t quite what the dietitians recommend.
The next day was tough going. We fished the whole day for little reward. We fished four different rivers, I hooked and lost one, we watched another angler catch a fish from a stream, and Jack caught a small one on the Tongariro which he refused to let me photograph!
It turns out this guy is also from Christchurch. He was in Turangi for a work social function… he made an early start with a couple of others. (Sorry mate – I didn’t catch your name!)
The general consensus from those we spoke with was that the fishing had gone cold again… There were a few disappointed people on the river that day.
That afternoon some more troops arived in the form of Rob, Alex, and Andrew Marshall. Beer, Burger King, and more beer with some Taupo hot – rodders was the order of the night.
The next morning we headed to a different river system for a look.
It turned out to be a good option. Rob hooked up early on, he landed and released his fish and was on again pretty quickly after that. Unfortunately i don’t have a picture because I was on the other side of the river at the time..
The boys… doing their thing
Jack, also doing his thing
The boys caught a few fish that day. Even I managed to break my North Island duck. I pulled a nice brownie from under a tree in a nice run.
We fished right to the limit point for winter fishing and Jack pulled a fish from the final pool.
We all sat on the side of the river at that top pool for about two hours… some talked, some slept, and some even went over for a cast from time to time.
That afternoon when we got back we were joined by Lucas, the final member of our party. I went with Jack for a couple of hours to meet with some others who were in the area, before returning to the cabins to drink a few beers and have more than a few laughs.
I’m glad I didn’t have to sleep in the room we were drinking beer in… it really stunk the next morning. Four guys who’ve all been eating junk food and drinking beer doesn’t make for a nice smelling room. It was disgusting!
That morning we headed back to the same river from the day before, but lower down.
Jack and Andrew Marshall – on point.
I crossed over and fished the same side as Alex, while the others were on the other side of the river. There were a few more fish caught that day… but I only managed to get pictures of fish Alex and I caught. I’m sure the others have more photos.
This brownie was pulled from a pocket at the top of a big papa slab.
Alex with the angry wee rainbow
That was all for the trip. All up it was a great time. Despite tough fishing at times, we pulled through and brought a few to land and had some fun. I can’t wait for the South Island edition this summer… I’m sure the others are looking forward to it just as much!