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.