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.
I mentioned a while ago that I was lucky enough to have the entire month of April off. Well, it was awesome. I did a lot of fishing.
There is a whole bunch of stuff which will be appearing on here in the next while… including the report from a great trip we had down south, which Jack is going to kick off in the next few days. Watch this space!
To keep you going until then, This is a report is from a few days ago. It puts things a bit out of synch… but never mind.
Once we arrived back from our trip south I stayed at home for a few days. I needed to recover, and I also needed to learn how to sleep in a bed again after so long sleeping in a tent.
Once I was sorted out I figured I may as well get back out there and make the most of the last days of the season, and my remaining time off work.
Again I packed up for an overnighter, loaded the mountain bike onto the rack, and headed off into the distance towards the hills. The venue for this particular adventure was one of my old stomping grounds from a few years back.
A few hours later I met Mike, and from there we drove in convoy to the end of the road. After that it was onto the bikes for an hour or so. It was just enough time for me to work up a pretty good sweat and made me realise how much I need to spend a bit more time on the bike.
That night was pretty cold, and I struggled to sleep properly in my tent. The forecast was for overcast conditions, but the next morning the sky was cloud free. There was also a pretty crisp frost coating the ground thrown into the mix for good measure.
The sun couldn’t hit the valley soon enough that morning. The temperature definitely wasn’t helping, my fingers were barely able to function in the cold, and my feet weren’t doing much better.
I hooked a fish pretty early on, which threw the hook after only a few seconds. I hooked another one soon afterwards, which did the same. It wasn’t really the start I’d been hoping for.
After my second fish got away Mike hooked one cruising the same run. This one didn’t get away, and we’d officially opened the account for the trip.
That day turned out to be pretty tough. I hooked another two fish without landing either, and Mike had a couple which went wrong too. Frustration was the order of the day.
That night we sat around the campfire and enjoyed the finest of three course bush meals. We had soup as a starter, followed by steak, potatoes and gravy, peas and corn for the main, and then a custard and fruit desert.
We both agreed that if the weather closed in the next morning we would abort mission and head out. Neither of us were feeling very motivated at that point to fish in the rain.
The second night was considerably warmer than the first, and I managed to get plenty of sleep. I woke up feeling pretty good, much better than on the first day. On top of all that the weather was good. It looked as though we would have a look at the river after all.
We didn’t fish very far, but we saw plenty of fish and fared a lot better than the previous day.
Because of the current from the side with good visibility I had to cross the first run of the day to fish to the first target, while Mike stayed on the other side to spot for me. To his credit he did a great job, and before I knew it I was solidly hooked up. Finally!
I landed the fish, and at that moment I wasn’t all that far from being ecstatic. The memory of my failure from the previous day virtually disappeared… because at last I had actually caught a fish!
A short distance upstream Mike fished at another one which ended up spooking and screaming up and down the run. As we started to move on we noticed another one sitting slightly higher up the run. Mike offered it to me. Hesitantly, I said yes to fishing to it. I mentioned it was probably spooked after what the other fish had just done, and as I unhooked my nymph the fish swung to the left to feed. On seeing this, Mike called me names, and my confidence grew.
It took about three casts to get the drift right. The fish again moved out to the left, but this time it was for my nymph and not a natural.
This one took to the air straight away and kept on jumping right to the bitter end. Each time it cleared the water we could both see it was a shovel nosed Jack. Initially I didn’t think it was all that big, but once I had it in the shallows I saw it was in great condition. This was a real bonus on top of the one from earlier.
That wasn’t the end of the action for the day. Just as we walked slowly along an edge discussing the subject of fish feeding on mice, another one was spotted. Mike put the cast in the right place and was rewarded with a take. This was another pretty good fish.
Not long after that we called it a day. It was time to pack up and get back on the bikes and then the long drive home.
So that was one trip. Wait until you see what else we got up to this month!
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.
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!