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.
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’d always been meaning to go fishing with Shagger, otherwise known as Grunt Futtick. The main obstacle to this taking place was that he moved to Australia a couple of years ago.
Anyhow, Shagger moved back about a month ago. He’s not doing a whole lot at the moment apart from hunting, fishing, so we planned an overnight trip for last week. As usual, the weather forecast was poor.
My car is currently out of action, so it was up to Shagger to get us there. He turned up about half an hour earlier than I expected on Tuesday morning with a beaming smile on his face. I don’t know what he’d been up to, but whatever it was he was in good spirits.
We set off into the rain in the hope the weather forecasters had it wrong for the day. They hadn’t, and it rained most of the way to the river. However the rain stopped when we were near the end of the road and we started our walk in overcast but dry conditions.
The river was crystal clear, but there was no backdrop to speak of so we couldn’t really see in. Shagger started fishing the first run with a nymph and indicator set up before deciding to change it slightly. He kindly offered for me to fish the remainder of the run while he mucked around with his set up, and with my first cast I hooked up. Shagger couldn’t believe it and neither could I.
We saw a few more quite quickly. Most of them were spooked because we got too close to them, but the one which we spotted first came to Shagger’s fly and took it. Something went wrong though, because it didn’t stick when he struck.
The rest of the day was spent mainly blind fishing because of the heavy rain and poor spotting conditions. We both hooked and lost a couple of fish each, only to come unstuck each time after a few seconds. Later in the day I was fishing a promising looking run with a side current entering from the right when I hooked up again.
The fish looked pretty big in the water, and fought with plenty of power. I could feel the shaking of its head vibrating through the line, and a couple of times when it came near the surface it looked very impressive.
It didn’t turn out quite as big as I thought, but it was a great fish. The first one was good, but this one was great, it really made my day.
Unfortunately Shagger didn’t land anything that day, but we are going back for more soon. Hopefully next time the weather will play its part.
I was all worn out and chafed up more than I thought was possible when we finished the three hour walk to the truck, and it was raining as heavily as it had been all day. We made the call to flag the overnighter and we started heading for home.
Cheers for a great day out Shagger, I’m looking forward to going there again.
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!
I know its not fly fishing, but, I was recently invited out for a fish with local salt fly gun Andrew Marshall.
We were armed to the hilt with salt fly, jigging and trolling gear, unfortunately the weather didn’t allow for any salt flying, but we did get into some good Kingies on the jigs.
My first ever Kingie, around 11kg, not massive, but I was stoked to pop that cherry, the raw power of these fish is amazing!
Andrew landed a 15kg specimen, and another mate Brad got into a 23kg horse on some seriously light gear.
I dont imagine we’d have much luck trying to land these on fly rods, but we might be silly enough to try it one day…………………………
Andrew informs me there have been a few Albacore Tuna caught out wide, a great target for the fly rod, watch this space!
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Alex and I have just been out for a quick flick in the harbour…