What follows is a list of my favourite fish from the season. Not necessarily the biggest or the prettiest, but the most satisfying for one reason or another. In fact it has surprised me while constructing this list how many of the bigger fish have been left off. They’re certainly satisfying and look great in photos. But these are the fish I’ll remember.
5) Kicking off the list was a very solid rainbow taken on a tough day. To be honest any one of a number of fish could have filled this spot. The fish were feeding selectively on swimming mayflies and couldn’t be tempted by anything else. Once hooked this fish proceeded to take me for the ride of my life through the pool. There aren’t many stronger fish in the rivers than a football shaped rainbow.
4) This was a brown taken blind in a small stream. It was a strong fish and good looking to boot. Andrew snapped a great shot of it.
3) This fish was an unlikely conquest. Al and I left home at midday and rocked up to the river feeling relaxed. In a riffle at the tailout of the run I spotted a smudge moving upstream. I figure I had spooked it, but covered it anyway. It was with more than a little surprise that I watched a snout poke out of the water to take my klinkhammer. What followed was a very determined fight from a fit fish. Eventually Al secured it in the net and proceeded to snap a photo with a Canon P+S camera from the 1980s that he’d acquired for $2 that morning.
2) I was tossing up between these last two. My number two was also my biggest fish for the season, and my biggest rainbow ever by over a pound. It was a seriously good fish taken in atrocious conditions. It fought hard, if unspectacularly and I was unbelievably pleased to have caught it.
1)But my number 1 had the whole package. It was the total experience. Andrew S and I set off after work and headed north. By the time we pulled up at the stream I’d had 1/2 dozen beers (don’t worry, he was driving) and was in a merry mood. The weather was superb so we donned our jandals and set out for a streamside stroll. The first few fish were spooked in glorious fashion…followed by more…and more. It wasn’t until we came to a bend in the stream and spotted a fish rising 20metres further up that our hope grew. I was on point, so assumed the position. I didn’t dare approach too much more given the behaviour of the previous fish so it was going to be a long cast. The alcohol settled the nerves and the cast was perfect. I thoroughly enjoy the casting side of fly fishing, so a fish caught with a special cast is always that little bit more valuable to me. It’s vividly seared in my mind the sight of the golden fish rising vertically to intercept my fly. As I set the hook it absolutely erupted, tearing off upstream at some pace. In the water it had looked like a nice fish, maybe around 4lbs. After an absurdly strong fight, during which the pitfalls of wearing jandals fishing became apparent to Andrew and I (Andrew, I believe, still has the scars to prove it), a rather bigger than expected fish came to the net. The whole experience of catching this fish was topped off by its appearance. It was short, but incredibly round and heavy. In absolutely perfect condition with substantial giraffe like spots dotting its body. For me it was the fish of the season and one of the most satisfying and enjoyable fish I’ve ever caught.
Frog Hair – a product soon to be supplied by Riverworks.
It took me a while to come around to the stuff, but I’m there now. This is how it happened…
Some time during the middle of the fishing season Rob sent me some new tapered leaders and tippet material to try out.
I was a bit dubious to begin with. When it comes to my set up there are two main things I need to have absolute faith in. Hooks, and tippet. You can get by with a less than perfect rod, but I won’t compromise when it comes to the hooks and tippet I use, for obvious reasons.
So this stuff shows up in a courier package, I divvied it up and gave Jack his share. From there it sat in my vest for a while… Even though Rob was keen for us to try it out and get back to him with the results, I wasn’t quite ready just yet.
I’d been using the same brand for a few years now. I had, and still have, absolute faith in it. I can count on one hand the amount of times it has failed on a fish. It takes a lot for me to move away from that.
The first time I used Frog Hair was on a day when jack and I were in the High Country chasing big fish. The fish were as spooky as anything you have ever come across and we were having a tough time. Just before lunch we spotted another fish, and I made the call to change things up a bit and tied some 4x (6lb) Frog Hair on as tippet material.
The cast landed as it should, and to mine and Jack’s surprise the fish actually took the fly. Unfortunately when I struck the line came shooting back at me… an inspection revealed the line had snapped. At that point in time I was none too happy, and the Frog Hair went back into the vest for a while after that.
A few weeks later and we were in the deep south. Again I was fishing with Jack, and again the fish were playing hard to get. This time it was Jack who decided to take the plunge. He tied on the mighty Frog Hair in an attempt to get the result which had so far eluded us for the day. This time around the Frog Hair proved a success… the first fish took the fly, put up one hell of a fight, and was successfully landed…. with a wind knot in the tippet to boot!
With my confidence restored I replaced my leader and tippet with Frog Hair and we both went on to have a pretty successful day. The fish we caught were as hard fighting as you can expect to find anywhere, so the line was well tested. I’ll even own up to discovering a wind knot in my line after I landed a fish later in the day.
I used Frog Hair for the remainder of the season without any issues. I’ll have no problem using it from now on… we got off to a rough start, but now I’m a believer.
Keep an eye out for this magic string in your local tackle shop. It shouldn’t be too far away. here are some photos of some of the fish we’ve caught on Frog Hair so far. (You may have seen these fish already)
A video clip from a trip earlier this season. You’ve seen the photo’s now here it is in motion…
Cheers to Mike Kirkpatrick for stitching it all together.
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…
So far I really liked it here. We were in a good place.
This was the day when Chris decided to chill out around camp and muck about with his bow. So while he was doing this, Jack, Jeremy and I headed off upstream together.
The day started off overcast, and ended up remaining that way. Not that it mattered.
There are plenty of fish in the river. Finding them wasn’t an issue. However, we struggled to catch any for a while on the second day. Jeremy decided to wait back at a section of the river where there is a lot of still water. He told us to go ahead and he’d catch up later.
Jack and I continued on our way, and finally after much frustration, Jack fished to one which was rising at the top of a long, glassy run, and it took his dry.
Soon after that it was my turn to bring one to the net.
It was Jacks turn once again, and it seemed like we had found our rhythm at last.
We spent the next couple of hours taking turns picking fish off one after the other. It was pretty good fishing.
Later on Jeremy caught up with us. He’d had a pretty good time of things downstream too.
Things went pretty quiet for a bit once we reunited with Jeremy, but after a while we made it to a stunning piece of water.
Jack kicked it off by hooking into a good fish. While he was hooked up I cast to another fish feeding in the eye. I hooked up too.
So there we were, standing only metres apart and both hooked up to a big rainbow trout each. My one burst out of the water every few seconds for the first bit, and continued to do so less frequently as it tired. Just when I thought I had the battle won, the hook popped out. I stood there, shouting. I wasn’t very pleased. Jack was still hooked up. Lucky for him, he landed his one!
As I stood there feeling sorry for myself and thinking about how unfair the world can be sometimes, I spotted another fish. At first I thought it was the one which had just thrown my hook… but it wasn’t.
I cast to the fish, and it surged forward onto the size 16 hare and copper. This one went like a rocket too. It took some beating, but this time I won. It was a fat fish, and obviously very fit. This was my biggest of the day and finished up being my biggest for the trip.
That was a pretty good way to finish up. A great fish each from the same pool.
Together we walked back along the track after that. About halfway back to camp Jeremy disappeared away from the track for another look at a piece of water he’d fished earlier in the day.
Jack and I had a look off the track a couple of times too. I managed to donate some new jewellery to one fish along the way, and hooked up on the most atrocious looking pink streamer ever to swim a New Zealand river. I really wanted to catch that last fish, just to say I’d caught something on that particular streamer. I guess I’ll just have to wait for that moment.
That night around the campfire was another good one. Although I wouldn’t recommend kids trying it at home, the fire was started in the same fashion as the night before… it’s very effective.
We sat on our log in front of that fire, soaking up the warmth as we fed on soup, steak, rice and veges. This was followed up with chocolate and whisky. We weren’t really doing it tough down there.
Well there goes day two. Jack will cover day three soon.
It’s been a couple of weeks since we got back from our adventure down south. Unfortunately essays have prevented me from posting this earlier.
The whole trip seemed to come around rather quickly and I was in a bit of a surprise to realise it was 1am with the plane leaving in 7 hours and no bags packed. After a rushed pack and a short sleep I met Andrew and Jeremy at the airport. We arrived in Queenstown shortly after and made our way to Chris’s place after a quick stop for a beer and Ferg (Double ferg with blue cheese).
Andrew and I took turns tying abomination flies on Chris’s vice…
While Jeremy stared into space. I think his mind was elsewhere.
That night we ate an enormous pizza each and drank enough to feel merry. The alarm came round all too quickly and we jumped in the car, made our way to breakfast…
And then realised we’d forgotten a crucial item. We backtracked, then drove straight into te anau. A second breakfast followed, before we boarded the boat and took in the scenic views of what has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. After a short walk we made our way to our campsite and commenced building the mancamp.
We were in for 4 days and 3 nights, so it pays to take a little time to get things sorted. It’s not easy to do when you’ve got superb fishing so close by though!
Andrew and I decided to head down and fish our way back to camp whilst Jeremy and Chris fished up. It didn’t take long before we found a fish sipping of the surface in a riffle. It was covering so much ground to feed that putting a cast in front of it was far from a given. After a couple of attempts it took Andrew’s nymph and the game began. A decent bit of sideways pressure saw the fish succumb and Andrew had his first ever Fiordland trout.
It didn’t take long before I got on the board as well with a slightly smaller silver specimen. Further upstream in a big deep pool Andrew got broken off by what appeared to be a very good fish. My turn again saw a nice fit fish to the net after it had inhaled my dry while feeding in the eye of a pool.
Things were going very nicely with three fish to the bank on the first afternoon. I hooked and lost another while Andrew covered a few more fish to no avail. Then in a small pool created by a branch sticking in against a bank I spotted a smudge. Andrew worked his way up the pool as we couldn’t spot the fish precisely. As the flies drifted over the lip the smudge reappeared and swung. I shouted strike just as Andrew lifted the rod. What followed was a classic example of attempting to net a very strong fish in completely inappropriate water. The nearest beach was a decent walk away, so we attempted to net it mid riffle. Given the fact that we succeeded I won’t comment on alternatives, but suffice to say that it’s not the best form.
Andrew with the fish of the day.
After that we made our way back up to camp. Andrew took a leaf out of all teenage delinquents books and started a fire with aerosol deodorant. Once the fire was going we set our minds to dinner – Steak, mashed potatos and peas. Good god was it good.
I went out for a night fish that night and hooked a couple of fish, but didn’t manage to land them. All in all it was a very good first day.
Andrew will be along in a few days time with the next installment.
Popped out for a quick fish with Ryan last Saturday. I’d had a hell of a week with Uni – couple of big assignments including one on freshwater allocation in New Zealand (a difficult topic for a flyfisher to preserve impartiality). So I was feeling a little tired getting up at 5am. Thankfully my reactions weren’t too off as approaching the river I had to swerve fairly wildly to avoid a flying kayak (seriously). That got the blood pumping.
We arrived at the river to bracingly fresh air. The conditions were overcast above us, but the sun was poking its way out on the horizon. A substantial backwater saw our first target cruising an erratic beat. Ryan put several good casts out there, but unfortunately on every beat the fish would move just wide of the fly and hadn’t seen it. We decided to double team him, so I put on a double emerger setup. Placing our flies so as to cover both of his frequented beats, it was on this loop that he saw my flies. Ever so ever so slowly he rose up to intercept my soft hackle just beneath the surface. Strike, and thump thump…freedom. The hook had obviously hit something hard in his mouth, failed to penetrate and straightened slightly. It was disappointing, but given how long we’d fished to him it was very satisfying to get the take.
We continued upwards without seeing much. A little further up we saw why… A couple of fisherman were ahead of us. We paced our way upstream to see what the go was. Eventually we caught up to them and learned that they’d parked at the same spot as we had had, assumed that we’d gone downstream and walked sufficiently far up stream to get in ahead of us. Now I don’t want to be too critical, because it’s easy to get these things wrong. But I just wanted to take this opportunity to point out a couple of useful little etiquette points. 1) If you arrive to your chosen destination and discover that there’s another fisherman parked up there, don’t assume they’ve gone downstream. There’s about a 90% chance that they’ll be fishing upstream. Obviously this can be a little location dependent, and perhaps I should have left a note stating our intentions, but typically it’s a much more intelligent assumption to presume anglers have gone upstream. 2) If some anglers are walking up behind you clearly trying to catch up to you don’t keep walking and pretend you haven’t seen them. Stop and talk to them and then you’ll be able to reach a compromise that should make both parties happy.
In this instance the guy was pretty reasonable. We asked them how far they were planning on fishing, they said 2km. So we walked 2km upstream and started fishing. It just so happened that the pool we started at contained about 8 rainbows feeding very erratically. We covered the fish without much result before something clicked in my head: swimming mayflies. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier. I chucked on my own bastardisation of Pete Carty’s Oniscigaster nymph, which instantly got results. I’ve found the best tactic for fish feeding on these flies is to fish without an indicator and just a single nymph cast upstream to the far side of the fish. Once it hits the water begin to twitch it back in a strip-stop motion. I’ve found the fish seem to hit the fly on the stop after tracking it during the strip, so don’t be afraid to hold the stop period for a little while.
My cast dropped in upstream of the fish, which looked about 3-4lbs in the water, twitch…stop…twitch… smash! I saw the fish’s mouth open and strip struck. It was like something exploded. The fish tore wildly downstream and had me straight into my backing. In all my fishing I’ve never actually seen my backing before. But I saw it about three times on this fish. The battle took a fair while, with the fishes brawn dominating. But it couldn’t keep it up all day and under constant pressure it finally succumbed. The day had suddenly become a very good one…
Turned out it was a bit bigger than 3-4lbs… Truly beautiful fish that had some immense shoulders on it.
Working our way back up the pool we found that most of the fish had returned to feeding – the hatch was simply too tempting. Ryan targeted a fish just slightly downstream of him. On about the fourth cast he got a take, which didn’t stick, but because he strip struck rather than yanked the fly through the air the fish wasn’t too put off. A couple of casts later everything stuck and Ryan was connected to a thunderbolt. The fish took to the air several times and had a few searing runs, but Ryan played it strong and eventually beached a great fish.
A new P.B. rainbow for Ryan. Again, this fish was about as broad as any I’ve seen.
On the way back we dropped in to the water the other guys had been fishing and spotted a smaller fish feeding in the same erratic fashion. Ryan covered it and after a couple of casts got its attention. The fly was higher in the column than we’d thought, but upon seeing the mouth go Ryan struck and came up solid. I’d used the long fight on Ryan’s other Rainbow to show Ryan how to use rod angles to control a fish, and he put them into great use here stopping the fish pretty quickly.
It certainly wasn’t as big as the others we’d caught, but it was a nice little finish to the day.
Driving home we had a few interesting experiences including the graphic reality of the roar, homicidal grannies and the delight of discovering the two new Whittakers chocolates in a dinky little country general store (despite the fact that they hadn’t made it to countdown yet).
Heading into Fiordland next week – can’t wait!
I’d been starting to get a little disenchanted with my fly-fishing. The weather and the fish just didn’t seem to want to play ball. Sure, we were still picking up fish but they didn’t seem to be of the same calibre as previous seasons. I knew I just needed one good day – some sunshine and a big fish.
Over the weekend I was struck by a rather irritating fever – just bad enough to make me want to lie in bed all day, not bad enough to justify it. So I was a little hesitant about my chances of fishing on Monday. I thought about it for a long time… and, surprisingly enough, decided to go.
When we arrived it seemed like things were destined to repeat the pattern of overcast days with tough spotting conditions. And that’s certainly how things started out. We crept along the edges and managed to spot a couple. I covered one, then Andrew covered another. He certainly got a more positive reaction, but the end result was the same – nada. The next pool up Andrew spotted a smudge holding close to the bank – we were standing about 2metres from this fish and still couldn’t confirm that it was piscine. Until it swung. From close range, with about a foot of flyline out, I drifted a blowfly humpy over it. It rose and slashed at the fly. I waited…then struck. It was a little bit like a pocket rocket exploding at launch. The aerial acrobatics were instant, and then the booster engaged and we were on our way downstream. It was one of the smallest fish I’ve caught since coming back to the South Island, but also one of my favourites. It had risen confidently and fought like a champion – and to top things off it was beautiful. Solid to the point of being chubby with a myriad of leopard like x shaped spots on a pale buttery body.
The blowfly was embedded well.
A very nice start.
We saw a few more fish, but it wasn’t until Andrew attempted a new tactic that things changed. I don’t think he’s named his method yet, but it was effective. Basically, as I understand it, you cast your fly out a couple of metres just to clear some line, untangle the remaining line from the bushes, notice a substantial boil around where your fly landed, then simultaneously strike and clear the tangled line. If you can pull it off as well as he did then I’ll be impressed.
The efficacy can’t be questioned.
The fish seemed to be getting bigger?
A couple of pools further up a very substantial shape shot forward to intercept Andrew’s fly and appeared to erupt on the surface – surely he’s hooked it? But the mystified look on his face, quickly followed by a flash of anger, explained things. How it failed to hook up I’m not sure.
The sun was just starting to poke through the clouds as I approached a run with a good permanent bank. The angle of the sun meant sighting it was nigh on impossible, but it looked too good to ignore. I took one side, Andrew took the other. As it transpired I picked right. As I was prospecting my way up the run, just starting to get into the money zone, my fly was intercepted by something that felt very solid. It lacked the fireworks of my initial fish, but there was a lot of weight strumming through my 5wt. The fight was determined, if unspectacular. Until it came to the netting. I’d expect a broken finger is a bit of a hindrance when netting, but as soon as Andrew saw the fly pop out of the beached fishes mouth he pounced on the fish and secured it using a move I think I saw on a wrestling show. I was stoked. The fish was as solid as expected.
The pattern continued, the fish got bigger.
Sadly, this was the last fish. I won’t mention that fish that Andrew covered that definitely would have continued the pattern…it would just bring up bad memories.
That day was exactly what I needed. I feel content, my faith is restored. Until Friday anyway.
Well we went fishing again this week… twice.
Tuesday was pretty tough going, with most of the fish we found not really willing to play our game.
The weather forecast for today was looking pretty good, so we decided to have another go, and hopefully maker a better job of things.
It isn’t always about the fish though, all I really wanted was a good day out. As it turned out, it was a pretty fun day on the river.
As usual, the weather wasn’t quite as good as it could have been… it was a bit grey all over, but at least it wasn’t windy.
It wasn’t all that long and Jack found a fish against our bank. It took a couple of casts, but the fish played ball.
That’s a pretty good bend in the rod. This fish went hell for leather from the beginning.
A pretty good start to the day really.
We carried on up and I hooked one myself, which also went hell for leather… unfortunately my disability prevented me from landing the fish. Yup, my busted finger got in the way and became tangled in the line and the fish broke me off. It continued jumping for quite a while afterwards, obviously it wasn’t all that keen on the new addition to its face.
I didn’t let that speedbump get me down, I found another fish. Just as I was casting to it another one came down towards me so I redirected and put the fly in front of it. As it got near I lifted the fly off the bottom and the fish swam onto it and opened its gob right up. I struck, and it was game on again.
I quickly suggested to jack he might want to be on my side of the river to fish for the other one, which, coincidentally looked to be about twice the size of the one I had on the end of my line. I kindly hung on to my fish for dear life while jack made his way over… my fly line got tied around some bushes during the fight, so even if I wanted to let the fish take line I wouldn’t have been able to. How my rod didn’t snap in half I’ll never know…
I landed it on a small clump of dirt, not ideal really but it was the best I could do. It wasn’t a great location for a photo either.
The big boy must have been a bit stirred up from all the commotion, because he took off pretty quickly when we made our way up to him. Not to worry, we’ll find him again.
At one point we had to negotiate a bit of matagouri bush, which involved climbing halfway up the side of a rather large hill. At some point along the side of the hill Jack found a fish in the water, and since I was closest, he nominated me to climb down and smash through the bushes to try and catch it.
I did catch it. However, it looked way bigger from up on the hill. It was a nice enough little brownie, but didn’t quite warrant the effort required for a photo at that point.
I had yet another turn after that. By now the sun was trying to poke through the clouds, and the conditions were really good. I was fishing the eye of a nice pool when I hooked a bohemoth of a rainbow.
Look at him, what a beauty!
I had to really show this fish who was the boss… I think it got the picture pretty quickly.
In the end I just let him away with a warning, and he swam free to think about what had just taken place.
Time for Jack to give it a crack.
He had to throw a long cast, virtually to the other side. He got it right straight away and was on again.
This really is a pretty cool place to be on a nice day.
This fish was a bit like a bat straight out of hell too, it took some beating.
We both hooked another rainbow each after that. They were of similar size to this one and they both got off. My one escaped just after I told Jack I would make it jump for the camera… and his one escaped just as quickly. The precise moment Jack’s one popped off, the wind went from non existent to about warp factor 3 in an instant.
We’d had our fun for the day, and it was time to go home…
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…
I was starting to wonder if working 9-5 had many advantages from a fishing point of view. Then came a little something called Wellington Anniversary and a weekend filled with 3 days of backcountry fishing in some truly stunning spots.
I drove up after work on Friday and made it to the river rather late after being shouted a meal by the hitchhiker I picked up in Otaki (cheers Andrew!). It took a couple of red bulls to get me there, but excitement was peaking when I arrived. Isaac had been there for a couple of hours and jumped at the suggestion of a night fish. Fish is a rather inclusive term, as Isaac proceeded to demonstrate. Despite putting a bend in his rod this wasn’t quite what we were after:
A few casts later he got absolutely smoked by something that certainly wasn’t an eel. Unfortunately this was the pattern for the biggest fish of the trip.
Eventually, after removing my somewhat ambitious mouse fly and putting on a streamer, I struck into something solid. It wasn’t quite the spirited fight I hoped for, but more a dogged resistance. When the fish made it to the net we understood why.
Jandals all the way. It would have been a spectacular fish in good condition, but times didn’t favour it at the moment. Still…my trip was underway.
We struggled at our intended spot the following morning, so bounced around a few locations before settling on a river. Only problem was, how in gods name were we meant to get down to it? Our problem was solved in the form of Bob, who we serendipitously met on a dirt track in the middle of nowhere. He gave us a couple of hints which we eagerly took up.
After a bush bash and a half we arrived at the river and immediately got into fish on bright and flashy nymphs.
This bow was so pretty that I convinced Isaac to hold my fish for a photo…
After that I picked up a couple more rainbows that fought like banshees with a firecracker somewhere painful.
Then I notice Isaac has a pretty serious bend in his rod. And that this one was taking a little longer to get in than the others. Curious, I thought. So I landed my fish, took the snaps and went up to discover that he had a really rather good fish on the line. Two man netting team did the damage and he landed the fish of the trip.
We picked up a few more after that, but nothing of note. Except for that ENORMOUS bow that inhaled Isaac’s stonefly…but that’s not a happy story. I also learned the benefit of a wading stick after gracelessly pirouetting more times than I care to remember. Should have worn the wading boots!
The next day followed in a similar vein with a steady stream of good fish without anything spectacular. I dropped what was certainly the fish of the day after a confident rise to my royal wulff.
Isaac landed this nice fish after one hell of a battle.
They punch well above their weight!
By this stage I was getting rather frustrated at dropping a good fish, falling over and being inept at casting.
That afternoon we got the squall we had been expecting. Fishing through the rain I picked up a couple of OK fish and Isaac landed several good ones. Unfortunately the camera didn’t come out for that one.
The next morning awoke clear but with a bitter cold. After a quick trip around the campground to find someone with jumper leads to jump start Isaac’s car we hit the road. This was one of those rare trips where we saved the best till last. Bush bashing through overgrown tracks for two hours saw us eventually emerge battered and bruised to a crystal clear little stream with well defined pools and runs. The excitement was tangible.
Sneaking our way up the first run we sighted the quarry. This was the first chance for real sight fishing during the trip and we capitalised on it. Casting a large blowfly humpy with a trailing nymph ahead of a feeding fish brought about immediate results. The fish rose in the column intent on eating my dry. The take was slow and my strike was patient. It was at about this moment that Isaac started mumbling something about a tangle. That’s fine I thought, he could untangle his rig after I landed my fish. Then I looked down to see that this was a team effort tangle. As I hauled for the final cast I caught his fly which proceeded to loop around my line. Well, there’s nothing like an excuse to fight a fish hard. Giving line just wasn’t an option. After a few hairy moment I guided a great rainbow to the net.
Yep, this one made me happy.
Two pools up we came across a beautiful thing…free rising trout. I refused to let Isaac fish to this one with the nymph, so he reluctantly tied on a big rubber legged cicada. It only took two drifts before snout broke surface and the dance began. After catching mostly browns for the past few years I’d forgotten how good a real rainbow fight is. Isaac was sure enjoying this one.
After the fish was released we saw a sizeable eel doing the rounds and harassing the 10 or so fish in this pool. They seemed to forget about us while concentrating on the eel, and after he left them they promptly returned to the feed.
Making the most of this memory wipe I quickly landed two great bows in pretty quick succession.
The count, as we left that pool, stood at three great rainbows all caught whilst standing on the same rock.
Fish got a little fewer and further between after that, but they were there nonetheless. It seemed to be my day as an errant cast brought this fish to the fly.
By this stage it was late in the day and we had a long walk ahead of us. It was hard to turn around knowing we were leaving behind more great fishing, but the fact that we’d had such a great day so far made it that little bit easier. We did stop off briefly on the walk and Isaac managed to hook a solid bow from a difficult spot, but it stormed through the pool and utilised the prominent rock to full effect.
I was pretty stoked to see the car after that walk. Red bulls in the chilly bin went down a treat. It was a long drive home and a very welcoming bed.
Cheers Isaac for a great trip!
We haven’t caught many on video so far this season unfortunately, however this is one that was. It was filmed earlier this season… it’s nothing terribly special, but something to look at nontheless. Thanks very much to Liz for coming along and filming for us.
This past week has been epic. I’ve had a few great days fishing with some other bits and pieces thrown in for good measure… and I’m not finished yet. There is still the weekend to come.
My epic week began last Thursday, very early last Thursday to be more specific. I picked Jack up at about 4am and we set off on a long drive to where we met with Tony. Mike, and Lester. At some stage during the winter the idea for this trip was first floated, and finally the time had come.
Mike has already made a couple of guest appearances on previous blog entries… and Tony, he’s popped up here and there on occasion too.
I’ve known Tony for many years now. I used to spend hours in his Rod and Gun shop when I was growing up in Nelson. I’ve been fortunate enough to bump into him from time to time over the past few years, but until now I’ve never had the opportunity to fish with him. The closest I came before this was when my great friend from school Sam’s father was kind enough to pay for Tony to guide the pair of us as teenagers. For that I will be eternally grateful, and I’ll never forget that day, but this time we would fish together.
We left Lester at the bottom of the valley to harass the fish down there while the rest of us humped packs upstream for a couple of hours to where we set up camp. After the tents were erected we had some lunch and ventured upstream in search of trout.
The water was much colder than I had remembered it being, I was standing on the opposite side of the river from the others feeling sorry for myself when I saw Tony begin stripping line from his reel. I figured this must be a good thing, I stayed put and watched as he put a few casts on the water. Tony then did something to his set up, and within a cast or two he was fast into the fish.
I stumbled through the water to the other side just in time for Jack to secure the fish in the net. I snapped away with my camera and the fish was returned to the water pretty soon afterwards.
Upstream further a fish was located near the far bank. Jack wasted no time getting over there and successfully managed to push the fish over to just in front of where we stood behind some bushes. The fish didn’t seem too keen on his nymph, and he kindly offered me the opportunity to try and persuade the fish into eating something.
I cast a streamer at the fish from where I stood on the bank, with the fish in front and a few metres downstream from me. The streamer swung down behind it and when I stripped it back past the fishes head it turned on the fly and smashed it. It wanted that thing dead. I watched for the mouth to close and I set the hook into the angry brown with plenty of background noise from a very animated audience. I was surprised at the reaction I got from the fish, as were the onlookers!
Just up from there Tony caught a great Rainbow which fought like holy hell. It went under a fallen tree and everything, but Tony did what Tony does, and landed the fish without even looking like losing it. It was beautiful to watch.
Mike caught the next one, but unfortunately I was lagging downstream a bit and missed it, so there are no photos of it.
At that stage it was getting pretty late, not to mention cold, but the fat lady hadn’t sung yet. A fish was found in a shallow edge of a run and Jack placed his dry fly right where it needed to go. The fish came up and grabbed the fly immediately, Jack waited for as long as necessary and set the hook well. It was a nice brown which capped the day well.
After that it was a quick march back to camp where we got the fire going and cooked dinner. We sat up for a while solving the problems of the world around the camp fire and then it was time for bed. It was about then I realised how envious I was that Tony and Mike had inflatable bed rolls and I didn’t… Nevertheless I slept adequately and woke to a freezing cold morning ready to go fishing again.
Breakfast was a good old fashioned One Square Meal bar. They aren’t exactly what you would categorise as fine dining, but they serve a purpose I guess.
The Friday was pretty chilly really. I don’t usually wear waders when I’m fishing a place like this, and on this day I really wished I had packed them for the trip. I must be getting old or something.
The fish weren’t doing much until around lunchtime. Tony talked about water temperature being the probable reason for the inactivity, I have no doubt he was right. Like I said, it was pretty cold.
Fortunately the recipe was right after lunch and we started to find active fish. Mike had the first opportunity and capitalised by catching a nice brown with a parachute dry. This one was caught on film by more than one camera, with everyone playing their part in the production. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product later on.
There was some tough going for a while from that point on, with the river very boisterous and lined with thick vegetation. After bush bashing our way through from the track, two feeding fish were located at the bottom of a run. Jack climbed in behind and got one to take his fly. I moved forward from my perch on a boulder with net in hand, just in time for the fish to swim straight towards me. I stuck the net down and it swam straight in – easy as you like. This one was caught on video too, but not photographed.
Next it was my turn. There was a fish feeding in shallow water just in front of a big rock further up the run on the far side from where Jack hooked his fish. I snuck up behind the rock and formulated my plan. I tied on a Humpy dry fly with a Pogo style nymph as a dropper. The second cast brought the result I was after and I had my fish.
I crossed a heavy piece of water for a Brown feeding hard on the far side. Unfortunately when I was altering my set up it spooked inexplicably and went doggo before I had even finished tying my knots. All was not lost however, for there was a Rainbow in the deep water high in the water column and rising freely. The first good placement of the black Jack parachute saw the rainbow come up and grab it. I set the hook and that’s when hell broke loose… I sidestrained hard to try and drag it into the left braid where there few hazards. Unfortunately I only came close to getting it all the way to safety, which wasn’t quite enough. The fish managed to get it’s head and shot through the chute into the heavy current I’d battled across to get there in the first place. Once it was in there I didn’t stand a chance, the tippet pinged a boulder at speed and the fish was history.
Sometime after that Mike and I rounded the corner to find Jack fast into a good fish with Tony looking on. The Rainbow was pretty stubborn and wouldn’t come in easily. It was the type of thing you would expect to see from a Brown, a real tug of war. It was a great looking fish.
Another Rainbow was hooked after Jack released his fish, this time by Mike. The fish nearly exploded from the water when it took the dry, and was equally explosive in taking off downstream into the rapids. Unfortunately it too snapped the tippet, it could well have been the fish of the trip.
Tony got his turn after that. He spotted a Rainbow on the edge of the current and enticed it up to his parachute dry. When the fish felt the hook it took off like a rocket and gave the 4 weight Tony was using a really good workout.
Despite the commotion that had just been, there were still two feeding fish remaining in the pool. Jack hooked one after several attempts, and it promptly took off to the opposite side of the pool and all the way to the top into some white water. It was spectacular stuff!
That run took its toll on the fish though, and it was landed without issue once the line was regained.
The third fish was still in position, so I decided to have a crack. To my surprise, I got it to take and hooked up briefly before it spat the hook, and I spat the dummy.
It was time to head back to camp. Along the way Jack found a fish on the far side of the river which he had fished to earlier in the day. He kindly offered me the chance to go across the river to try and catch it which I gratefully accepted. I battled across the icy current in the hope that my efforts would not be for nothing. When I got there I was pleased to find I could see the fish, albeit not perfectly.
A Grey Wulff was at the sharp end this time, and even though I couldn’t see it very well, I figured that when the fish rose it must have been to my fly, so I struck accordingly. It was a pleasant realisation to find it had all gone to script. I leant on the fish as much as I dared and netted it quickly before battling my way back through the ice water to Jack and Tony for a photo. As you can see where my weight was resting on my legs, it wasn’t even close to being warm in there.
Dinner that night was well earned. Steak and pasta in the back country is hard to beat…
The sleep that night was better than the night before. The next morning was far warmer too, I struggled to get out of the sleeping bag at first. Eventually I stumbled out of the tent in time for Mike to serve up a feed of bacon and eggs. That was something worth getting out of bed for right there!
This was to be the last day. The fishing wasn’t much good as it turned out, we found only a handful of fish in the small amount of water we covered, and most of them weren’t willing to play ball.
Tony was unlucky to break off on one at the beginning, and the rest spooked, until we found a couple in a back eddy facing downstream in the swirling current. The guys offered me the chance at the fish. I wasn’t going to say no.
I elected to fish for the back one, it looked like the bigger of the two. It was relatively deep down so I rigged up a stonefly and bead head caddis combo with an indicator before heading around the back of a fallen tree into position. Using the tree as cover I crept as far as I dared and flung the double nymph combo into the current, the indicator dipped and I was on. The fish headed down towards the rapid at the tail of the pool, I leant on it hard sideways and steered it into a small backwater where Jack netted it for me.
That was it. It was time to pack up and head home. The walk out was every bit as tough if not tougher than the walk in, but it was worth every drop of sweat just to have spent the time fishing with these guys.
I’m extremely grateful that Tony and Mike were willing to spend their time fishing with Jack and I. It was great talking with them and watching them fish, like the title says, these guys are legends. Thank you guys, I really hope we can do it again someday.
I’ll try to get the next instalment of my epic week on here as soon as I can… I’m heading away for the weekend though, fishing again, so it might be a few days yet!
Take care, until next time… tight lines all.
It’s nearly finished now, but today is Jacks birthday.
So, we went fishing of course. My apologies for the lack of pictures for this one, the weather was pretty bad all day. I didn’t quite fancy having the camera out for too long in the torrential rain.
Unfortunately it wasn’t the birthday fishing trip Jack had hoped for, today was the day of the fish (plural) that got away. It started right off the bat when I lost one in the first run after only a few seconds. I handled it very well at that stage. I just continued doing my thing. Soon after that Jack had the same thing happen to him a couple of pools up. Likewise, he too handled it rather well. It was early days after all…
I hooked another one about ten minutes later. I thought for all money I was stuck tight to this fish, but I was wrong. It popped the hook too. I was frustrated by this one, but I contained it within.
A few hundred metres upstream Jack and Ryan took the high road while I battled the river. As I struggled my way along I saw a fish ewas pretty close to where I stood, the rain was obviously helping here. I tried a few flies at this one until I found the right recipe. This time I was in for sure… nope. It got away as well. This time I was more vocal in the way I expressed my anger. (I had moved along from disappointment by now)
Jack spotted a fish sitting very close to where he was standing and managed a take on a dry fly, I was pretty surprised to see it take from the top considering the amount of rain that was falling. Jack hooked up for a reasonable time but again the fish threw the hook.
Next up Jack actually caught a fish. Unfortunately it is probably close to the smallest in the river. We didn’t bother with a photo because of the rain at the time.
After that it was my turn again, I fished to one close in for a while, it refused a couple of different nymphs before finally coming up for the Royal Wulff – the fly which was there the entire time! The number of times I’ve had this happen is amazing. I still can’t figure it out?
Anyway, I waited for what felt like 5 minutes too long before striking and it did the trick. I hooke the fish and even better than that I hooked it well enough to land it, just. The river was pretty wild here, and i was a bit scared of what might happen if we were to venture downstream, so I fought the fish in a rather disgusting manner. I pretty much just hung onto it and sent birthday boy forward to do his thing with the net.
Amazingly, it worked.
And no, I don’t have pinkeye. I’m just a bit tired – getting up at 5am for a few days in a row does that to me.
Now for the grand finale. Jack spotted a fish over on the far side of the river. He was here earlier in the season and has unfinished business in this pool, so he marched through the fast water at the bottom end risking life and limb as he went. He employed the tactics we had discussed prior to his departure and although it took a while, he eventually connected with a fish. A rather solid fish I might add. I couldn’t see everything from my vantage point, but I didn’t miss it when his rod straightened, nor did I miss it when he let his feeling known to the world.
Unfortunately, today was one of those days which could have been great if we made the most of our chances, but I guess that is fishing, isn’t it?
Part of me hates to admit it, but Jack is right. He did catch the same fish as I caught last year.
Honestly though, I am pleased the fish is alive and reasonably well. It looks like it has been involved in a mighty scrap during spawning season – it was only missing one part of its face last year, not two! It did well to live through the big flood in December.
Here is how it looked nearly one year ago.
The crusade continues.
In case anybody out there is wondering whether Jack is still alive… just so you know, he is. He’s pretty busy at the moment studying and writing essays etc.. That’s why you haven’t heard from him too much lately. However, he did manage to find enough time to come fishing yesterday!
After approximately four hours sleep I woke to the shrill sound of my cell phone alarm, I did my best to make sure I had everything I needed for the day before collecting Jack from around the road. For some reason he wasn’t at his place, he’d texted me an address for where I could find him the night before.
With the amount of sleep I’d had it was necessary to add a large dose of caffeine to the bill when the car was filled at the gas station. It hit the spot, and we were on the way.
We weren’t too sure where we’d stop. It would more or less come down to how windy it was in any given place. As it turned out, we found somewhere early on which wasn’t too bad. We stopped there and agreed that we would fish a short stretch, and if the wind came up as we expected it to then we would bail out and find somewhere more sheltered. This place is top secret, it is unlikely anybody reading this will recognise it and because I’ve been sworn to secrecy I can’t disclose the location. If someday you are fortunate enough to discover this place, then you are very lucky indeed!
The run we intended to fish first had another good looking piece of water beneath it, so we walked down to it and before too long Jack found a fish. Even better – he invited me to fish for it.
His rod was set up more appropriately than mine for the situation, so I took it across the river with me for the task at hand.
The first nymph I tried didn’t work. I can’t even remember what it was now, but I think it was too light and not getting deep enough. I changed to a green caddis with a black tungsten bead and it took first cast. The fish gave a good account of itself before being landed without any problems. It was a pretty good start to the day.
After that we crossed the river and climbed the bank. Straight away Jack saw another fish. This time it was his turn to get across and pretty soon after that he was connected to the fish. It was slightly smaller, but that didn’t matter. We were going great guns so far.
Another victim for the green caddis
It was pretty keen to leave when given a chance at freedom. What about that look on Jack’s face?
We continued on upstream after that and saw a few more fish. For some reason we stopped catching them though. We were pretty good at putting them off their breakfast though. We didn’t fail at that.
The last run we came to is one which I have a vivid memory of. It’s not a happy memory either. Jack went along one side while I was on the other. Just as I was nearly at the top of the run I hooked into a fish. I looked across to see Jack wandering into the distance with his back to me so I called him back. He crossed over to me near the bottom of the run where I netted the fish. It was a solid fish, but it didn’t make up for what happened there last season.
The wind was nearly howling by now, so we took off in search of somewhere more sheltered. Fortune was with us again, because we didn’t have to go far.
Along the way Jack discovered this one finning away and tricked it into eating a Coloboriscus imitation.
We found a few fish in our new spot, but not many. At least we could see what was there though and we didn’t need to worry about battling the elements.
After some failure, Jack spotted a fish in a pool as we crossed at the tail. It was good work on his part, because there was a lot of glare on the water and it was a tough one to see. He was seeing them much better than me on this day that’s for sure – I’ll use the excuse that I was tired.
Anyway, the pool has some sentimentality attached to it so it was my fish to catch. I pitched the green caddis up and I saw the fish lift in the water. When I set the hook and it was all on. The fish dove deep and went along a rock ledge on the far side, I had to really lean into it to lift it from the bottom. After a couple of good minutes the fish tired enough for me to secure it and I was a very happy man.
It was quite overcast by now. The forecast rain wasn’t far away and there were thousands of sandflies attempting to dine out on the exposed skin of my arms and Jacks legs. We went upstream further towards where we suspected there would be more fish. Just as we were walking along and engaged in one of our many riverside discussions I noticed a fish surfing the pressure wave in front of a rock near the tail of a small run. I performed the appropriate stop, drop, and roll while directing Jack to follow my lead.
I looked over my shoulder from on the ground and saw him walking a wide arc back downstream. He wasn’t wasting any time to get into position for this one.
There were two main obstacles to catching this fish.
- Although it was feeding very actively, there was a consoderable drop directly below its lie and it was going to be hard work to gat a good drift
- There was a tree in the water right next to the fish, it would go in there for sure if given half a chance
With the latter pouint in mind, I offered the best advice I could of “If it takes, rip its head off” from my seated position on the bank opposite the fish. My advice did not go unnoticed, Jack managed to get the required drift and set the hook. He did a great job of clearing the fish from close to the tree as soon as he hooked it and after that he was home and hosed. The fish gave a good fight but there was nowhere for it to go once it was clear of the obstuction.
That was all for the day. We retreated to the car and headed for home. Not bad for a Monday.
Its that time again… the 2011 – 2012 season has officially begun.What an epic beginning it was.
It goes a little something like this…
A couple of weeks back the plan was developed. On Thursday afternoon Jack came to my place and we went off to the supermarket to buy the food for the trip. Early Friday morning saw me collecting Jack from his place, and from there we went straight to McDonalds for a healthy breakfast of hash browns and massive mcmuffins to kick start our trip.
We were on our way at last. I always have the feeling I’ve forgotten something, and an hour into the drive I realised this that this time I actually had left something important at home. I’d left the sandwiches behind. They were supposed to be our lunch for that day as well as the next. It was too far to go back and get them, so we would just have to stop and buy something somewhere.
We arrived at the start point for the journey late in the morning where we met with our mate Mike Kirkpatrick from Nelson. We first met Mike on the river last season during our November trip. We kept in touch after that, and some of you may remember a previous report of a trip I went on with Mike near the end of last season.
From there it was a solid couple of hours four wheel driving and mountain biking to the hut where we were to base ourselves for the weekend. Along the way we saw plenty of great looking fish which were begging to be caught. We all agreed the fish must have known it was the day before the trout season. They were feeding like crazy.
This is how we roll..
We organised our gear in the hut and had some lunch (Scones, not sandwiches) before heading up to where we would fish the next day on a reconnaissance mission. It was a beautiful day and all three of us liked what we saw.
Mike observing the promised water of tomorrow
More on this one later…
This one was about 5 metres upstream from the last one
We wandered the river for a couple of hours and returned to the hut full of enthusiasm from what we had seen. Dinner that night was venison curry and rice followed by chocolate and some fancy pants whisky which Jack brought with him to celebrate the new season.
Telling lies in the hut
As always, the sleep you get in a hut is as good as you’ll get anywhere. I slept like a log and from what I could gather, Jack and Mike did the same. Saturday morning dawned fine and after a quick breakfast and tidy up we were on our merry way down to the river. The time had come.
We all set our gear up at the bottom of a big run with a creek feeding in at the top. Mike suggested I try my luck.
After searching the lower part of the run I launched a cast into the heavier stuff at the top where the creek came in and I saw a big dark shape coming towards my fly. Instinct took over at that point and I lifted the rod into the weight of a solid brownie. I was on!
It was a quick fight. Jack went in like a hound dog when given the command to go forward with the net. I let out a fair bit of noise once it was secured in the mesh and we even high fived. Unfortunately Mike captured all of this on his video camera.
The season was officially underway
From memory, this is the fastest I’ve ever caught a fish in a new season. Its fair to say I was pumped for quite a while after this.
A while later we came to the pool where we saw the two fish in the pictures from the day before. By now it was completely overcast and it didn’t look like the forecast rain was very far away.
Mike started fishing at the bottom fish while I filmed. Several fly changes later it was still feeding, but I had stopped filming. This fish was locked on to something and so far we hadn’t figured out what.
I’d hate to think how many different patterns and sizes of fly that fish saw, but it was a lot. Eventually after Jack covered it with about 15 drifts with one fly it opened wide and accepted the offering.
Hooked up after a thousand and one presentations!
Jack landed the solid brown within a couple of minutes and he too was officially welcomed into the 2011 – 2012 season with a couple of handshakes.
The next one was fished at for quite some time before it eventually spooked away. They were being very fussy, and it looked like we would have to work hard for them.
Mike missed a take on a fish in a small pool. He was a bit gutted, but there were more to be found further upstream. The light wasn’t as good as the day before when we came for our walk, but we knew roughly where they would be.
It wasn’t too much longer and Mike was casting at another good looking fish. This time there was no need for him to change his fly, it swung to the left on the first cast and took his possum fur nymph.
Soon after that Mike was holding his first victim.
By now the weather had set in and the camera had to be stowed away in the pack. It would be brought out to take pictures of fish, but that was all. The next fish we found was rising. In all my years I can’t recall a time when I witnessed a fish caught on a dry fly on opening day, but that was all about to change.
Jack threw a pink posted parachute over the rising fish and up it came. The strike hit home and after a spirited battle I lifted a very golden fish into the net. I was more than a little jealous that he’d caught it on a dry.
From there we found another one rising. This one was in a narrow pool with a solid rock wall on the far side. It was darkened somewhat by the overhanging trees and the fish was hard to see a lot of the time. Fortunately it kept poking its face above the water to reveal its whereabouts whenever we lost sight of it.
It wasn’t all plain sailing. Mike had to cover the fish several times before it finally took his dry. This fish fought a very stubborn and dogged fight for several minutes before it could be lasnded. It was a great fish, caught in a great way.
It was my turn again after that. We were approaching a pool which I was going to fish, but on the way there we found a fish feeding in the run below.
I took up position and after a couple of casts I was in business again. I leant into the fish as it tried to get among the cutty grass overhanging on the near bank. Once again Jack did a splendid job of securing the fish. I don’t think Mike has ever seen people land fish the way we do. It isn’t always pretty, but I like to think of it as very efficient and effective.
The successful fly being filmed
The big pool had a couple in there, but a big tree stopped Mike and Jack from being able to fish at them effectively. The run above held another fish which didn’t look like it was up to much until Jack put a nymph in the right place. The fish was swinging to the right every time it fed, and as soon as the fly went through the right channel, it was once again business time.
Mr Kos’ third victim of the day
By this stage it was getting late, and we didn’t want to be walking back to the hut in the dark, but there was one more run which we knew would have fish.
After a few more minutes crashing our way up the stream we came to the run, and found a couple of fish. The first one spooked after a couple of fly changes, but the second eventually took a size 16 nymph after refusing other patterns. It was landed quickly and the formalities completed just as fast before it was released.
Last fish for the day
After that it was a quick march through the rain back to the hut. We ate steak and pasta that night and we talked about the day and how special it had been. We caught plenty of fish, but not many of them came easily. All but two required at least one fly change for success.
It rained heavily right through the night and the river came up an incredible amount. The next day the water was unfishable and we only just managed to make it out through the high water. I guess the timing had been right for us really. If the rain arrived a day earlier it would have been a different story.
That is as good a start to a fishing season as any I’ve ever had before. It was a great couple of days away, in a great place, with great people, and we caught some truly special fish.
I can’t wait for tomorrow. I’m going fishing again!
In February this year we disappeared into the High Country for a couple of days for what turned out to be a great time. We walked a lot of miles, caught plenty of fish, and even made some friends while we were there!
This is the last of our videos from last season. Hopefully in a couple of weeks time when the new season begins we will be getting some more footage.
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!