The day started well…
This solid rainbow took a well weighted colubriscus after several presentations. It was the first fish we saw. I was happy.
This happiness, however, was not to continue.
Andrew and I were planning on putting some serious leg work in and heading up up up. All was going well until we concluded that the gorge was impassable, so we’d have to take the alternate route around. Quite how it happened I’ll never know, but for some ungodly reason Andrew and I found ourselves on opposite sides of the river both following what we thought was ‘the track’. As it transpires my ‘track’ turned out to be nothing more than a blaze trail put in place to get to the pest traps. It was absurdly hard going. There was no defined path, just sporadic animal tracks that all of a sudden gave way to waist high falls through rotten logs. I pushed on for longer than I should have, assuming Andrew had to be ahead of me. Eventually, after managing to injure myself in some unprecedented ways, I beat a retreat. Back at camp I wrote a message in ash on our egg carton, and decided to try and salvage something from the day. After all, it couldn’t get worse, right?
I wasn’t sure quite what section of river Andrew might be fishing or whether he was ahead of me or behind me, so I decided to try and do a deep wade to get myself into a position to fish a bit of awkward to access water. The wade was particularly deep at one point, so I decided to shimmy my way across a couple of rocks. Then all of a sudden I hear an odd noise followed by a thud. I turned, just in time to see my Pelican waterproof camera case falling from my now split bag. The image of the case hitting a rock, splitting open and my Canon G11 sinking to the bottom of the river is seared in my memory. After retrieving the camera I simply sat on a rock in disbelief.
Eventually I gathered myself, crossed the river and started slowly making my way upstream. My heart wasn’t really in it, so I wasn’t hopeful when I spotted a smudge sitting a foot from the edge. I had to sit on a log to fish to this fish, so there was a little novelty to the attempt. My first cast was perfect. My second saw the wee beadhead pheasant tail rocket into the water about 6 inches to the right of the fishes face. He ate. The fight was uneventful, but the capture of my first brownie (and quite a solid one at that) of the trip raised my mood slightly. As for the pictures, well…you get the idea.
A little after this Andrew and I bumped into each other. He commiserated with me over the demise of my camera and we commenced our assault on the river in earnest.
It wasn’t until we came to a major bend in the river that created a large swirling pool that the action heated up. Andrew pulled a good fish from the head of the pool that had been rising consistently. It was a horrible drift because of the swirling currents, but eventually the fish ate his wee nymph. It then tore madly around the pool until he subdued it.
I figured that had to be the end of that pool after the antics of Andrew’s fish. However, a fish in the far side continued to rise. It was moving a long way to feed, so it felt like all I had to do was put the cast in the right place. I did, and it ignored it. It wasn’t until near the end of the drift when the fly started to skate along the surface that the fish tore backwards and engulfed it. I’d like to have hooked it this way, as the aggression was rather neat. Sadly the hook never set. Until the next cast when my nymph got eaten. Fool me once…
It wasn’t the best conditioned fish, but it had been a while between drinks.
We continued searching upstream to no avail. Deciding to hedge our bets and head upstream fast while there was still light we skipped a lot of water. But the gamble paid off. Arriving at a pool we’d seen several fish in the day prior it didn’t take long before we’d spotted on. The fish was cruising a slow beat and inspected Andrew’s fly very closely before refusing it. All of a sudden we realised there was a second fish about 3 metres behind. I can’t remember whether Andrew had to cast again or whether he simply continued the drift, but this time his tiny nymph was intercepted. This fish fought like a trooper. A large log bisected the pool and on numerous occasions I thought the fish had made it there. But Andrew fought it hard and there’s only so long a fish can resist such constant pressure. Eventually a great rainbow was brought to the net.
A little further upstream I got another chance and after getting the drift right I was connected to a silver bullet. It wasn’t quite the scrap that Andrew experienced, but a fit well conditioned rainbow will always give you a run for your money.
With darkness descending we headed back to camp to enjoy the now traditional steak, mash and peas topped off with gravy.
We caught some great fish that day, but unfortunately for me it was a tainted day. Taking all the possible precautions and still drowning my camera was a real slap in the face. Still, you can’t be too upset when you’ve still got 3 more days of fishing ahead of you.
Over to Andrew for the final wrap up…
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!
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
After a busy few weeks with weddings, stag parties and just general time wasting I finally managed a free weekend to get into a few trout in the back country, the only problem was the weather……………
But I thought bugger it, better off fishing in the rain than sitting on my backside doing nothing. I put in a full day covering plenty of water, seeing a heap of trout, landing a couple, dropping a few more, and getting a wet backside.
The cicadas worked a treat
There were a few locals hanging about (look out the roar isn’t far away)
It was also a good chance to test some of our new hunting clothing, the New Prime Summer clothing is awesome! you can check it out here:
I layered up with prime summer and an Aspiring hunting jacket and was dry and comfortable the entire day. Despite being designed for hunting this gear works just as well for fishing.
The cicadas are chirping hard, get into it!
Locally Produced: Zane caught this 11lb brown trout in Murchison with his friend Tony Entwistle.
The variety and diversity of angling opportunity is probably unmatched.
MURCHISON fishing guide Peter Carty once wrote that ‘‘fishing is a disease. It’s not usually fatal and there’s no known cure for it, but the therapy is wonderful.’’
I couldn’t agree more and often think back to when Pete and I began our guiding careers together in the mid-80s around the Nelson Lakes and Murchison areas.
They were halcyon days and we were just the latest in a long line of anglers intent on exploring and enjoying the rivers of Murchison. I still fish these rivers and Murchison has become a playground for anglers from all over the world.
Murchison is situated on the Four Rivers Plain – the flood plain of the Buller River, which flows through the centre of town, fed by tributaries the Mangles, Matiri and Matakitaki.
The thing that has always impressed me about the Murchison area is the people, and we anglers are lucky that Murchison landowners are so generous with access to the rivers. Developing relationships with many of these local families, watching their kids grow up, and enjoying good times along the way have made the fishery even more special in my mind.
Murchison is probably best known for the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that ripped the place apart on June 17, 1929, causing 17 deaths and untold mayhem. The landscape still bears the scars of this massive quake. The Mirfin family has a connection to the tragedy, with my grandfather’s elder sister, Jessie, being married to Murchison farmer Charlie Morel when the earthquake struck. Charlie was killed by a huge mudslide and flying roofing iron. According to witness Samuel Busch, the mudslide crossed the Matakitaki River from the west and wiped out Morel’s house at the Six Mile. A gentleman to the last, Charlie’s last words were, according to family folklore, ‘‘Save yourself Jessie, I’m done for.’’
Immediately after the earthquake, my grandfather Ash and his twin brother, Bryce, managed to ride and carry pushbikes through the mangled one lane Buller Gorge road from Reefton in a futile attempt to help their sister. Later, it took 18 months with pick, shovel and saw to re-open this vital link to the West Coast. Ironically, the road works and repair to the land after the earthquake created many jobs and insulated Murchison from the worst effects of the 1930s Depression.
The Buller River system is one of the world’s greatest brown trout fisheries. The variety and diversity of angling
opportunity is probably unmatched, with trout-filled small, medium and large freestone streams and rivers at virtually every point of the compass. Nearby are the waters of North Canterbury’s Waiau system to the south, the Grey and Inangahua catchments to the west, the Wairau catchment to the east, and the Motueka and its tributaries to the north.
The Buller River itself is a worthwhile fishery, but a shadow of its former glory due to the invasive alga didymo, which has choked the upper reaches above Murchison. Its stranglehold on the rivers of Murchison is expanding, but it isn’t the end of the world because the worst affected areas are the mainstem Buller and the Gowan River, which come out of Lakes Rotoiti and Rotoroa. Tributary streams that are not sourced from fertile lake waters seem to have fared much better. Virtually every river and stream in the Murchison area now has didymo, but even when its presence is heavy, the fishing can still be good, and excellent trout fishing can be had in areas that many anglers avoid.
The Matiri River is a great fishery for small to medium-size trout, but can be a little tough to fish these days, with a lot of didymo present, possibly due to the fertility effect of Lake Matiri.
The Matakitaki is a great blue river, alluvial in nature in its upper reaches and more confined within gorges as it makes its way to join the Buller atMurchison. A fabulous dry fly stream, it is also rich in gold and still mined to this day. Lately, the Matakitaki has been in the spotlight with Network Tasman looking at harnessing it for hydro-electricity generation, but the
river already has a rich history of intensive human use, including heavy mining activity in the late 1800s.
The Mangles River, along with its major tributary, the Tutaki, is a lovely fishery and I have great memories of wonderful days on-stream. There are some great scenic drives up these valleys, such as the track over the Braeburn saddle leading to Lake Rotoroa or the road through to the upper Matakitaki and Mataki Station.
Two other world-class Murchison rivers and Buller tributaries must also be mentioned. To the north is the small limestone river, the Owen, a bountiful fishery complete with challenging leopard-spotted browns. The Owen was
the apple of my eye when I was a boy, and it was where I learnt to fly fish and hunt with my father, Stuart.
To the south of Murchison is another great trout river, the Maruia and tributaries. The Maruia has always been revered as a fish factory, and this year the bonus for south bank tributaries such as the Maruia and Mataki has been some large mouse-fed trout, many into double-digit weights by imperial measurement.
However, there have been some low catch rates around Murchison the past few months. Many anglers and guides have told me their fishing has been the worst in living memory.
Fish and Game field officer Lawson says recent assessments of trout populations have shown up excellent quantities of medium and large fish. He believes that with so much trout food around this year, the fish don’t need to feed as often or for as long, making them less vulnerable to capture. Let’s hope this is the case and that the Murchison fishery is in good shape for future generations to enjoy.
The Murchison area, people, land, rivers and trout fishery will always be special in the minds of many. Recently Murchison dairy farmer Ken Caldwell struck a chord when he talked glowingly about his new farm in the area and described how he was ‘‘farming it already in my mind’’. Fly fishing addiction and love of rivers is no different and I, for one, will be fishing the trout streams of Murchison in my mind forever.
Zane Mirfin – http://www.strikeadventure.com
Dry flies and rainbows go together like bbq’s and beer: they could be made for each other.
I thought Wednesday would be a hard day to beat, but in terms of sheer enjoyment and satisfaction I think today took the cake. A few weeks back Andrew and I had offered to take Thomas, a keen young fisherman, out for a days fishing. Well today that day came about. Thomas has done a lot of spin fishing, but this was to be his first big fly fishing trip. It started off in classic fashion with me scoffing as many weetbix as I could stomach on four hours of alcohol induced sleep, before dashing off to pick up the others.
We got the river and were astonished to see no-one else there.
Turns out there was probably good reason. Our first choice was very borderline fishable, but we persevered for a few hours. The river yielded two mighty trophies for us though.
Andrew snared this behemoth…
Before I trumped him with this monster…
We’d had enough of that spot, so ate some kai and motored onwards to our next port of call. It didn’t take long…
Guess where we started…
Thomas’ biggest to date on a fly rod. It rolled back to take my bionic bug in classic rainbow fashion, and once hooked I handed over the reins.
Not much further up we spotted another fish. Andrew chucked his big Royal Wulff up, and the fish moved a good few feet to hoover it in. Once again, Thomas did the honours. Really good fight from this big bow.
Tom’s last fish came from a very stubborn fish, which I eventually snared with a wee woolly bugger. We took the opportunity to teach him how to play fish on the fly rod, showing him how to guide them into the slacker water.
Rainbows in heavy water, good times.
He played it well, and yet another rainbow fell to the young fella.
Andrew then proceeded to do what I thought to be impossible. He missed four strikes on one fish. By the end of it it had ceased to be frustrating and had simply become hilarious. Somehow I don’t think he agreed with me. However karma was to get its own back on me. We’d crossed some pretty heavy flows that day, so it was fitting that I would fall flat on my ass crossing a shallow braid. As soon as I felt myself falling I flung my rod up in the air and cradled Andrew’s precious camera. If there can be such thing as a coordinated fall on your ass then this was it.
The rod still worked though, as this wee bow will attest to. They just couldn’t get enough of our big dries.
That was it for the day. We stopped off on the way back for pies before dropping Thomas home. It was a fantastic day, despite the frustrating start. Watching Thomas chasing a big bow downstream at full pace was priceless, as was his smile when we finally got it in the net. Both Andrew and I agreed that it was a hell of a lot more fun than catching the fish ourselves!
Couple of days rest for me before a wee trip out with Ryan on Monday.