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…
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…
In hindsight it was probably a pretty stupid idea going fishing the night after the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup Final… I know I barely got any sleep, Matt got far less. He generously offered to cook me breakfast. I tell you, there aren’t many better smells to arrive at a house to than bacon and eggs. With the breakfast formalities underway it was time to hit the road. After a little while I had a sudden brainwave… Where the hell’s my vest? Upon realizing that my vest was still in Andrew’s car after Saturday I also noticed a certain someone’s study materials in the back of my car. Well I couldn’t go fishing in good conscience without dropping it off at her place first. After that it was a case of a very apologetic early wake up for Andrew, quickly grabbing my vest and finally getting on with the show.
We arrived to cold, windy conditions with the promising hint of sun peering over the peaks. A brief walk brought about our first encounter with our quarry. By this stage the wind was fair roaring, so I thought I’d be nice and let Matt have a go. The fish was feeding like mad, but try as we might we just couldn’t get a drag free presentation with the conflicting currents and the pervasive wind. Eventually the fish became aware, and took off. I encountered a fish feeding similarly just a few pools up, but my luck was barely any better. I managed to trick the fish into eating a small green caddis, however the hook pulled after almost no time.
Things carried on in this vein with Matt pricking a fish on the dry, and myself meeting with nothing but air after a big fish had taken my green caddis. After almost drowning myself attempting an ambitious river crossing to get at a fish (and spooking it in the process) I wasn’t feeling too positive about the day. This all changed when I spotted a smudge holding in fast water. Then the smudge rose. Cool. First presentation with my small parachute adams and the fish rose and scoffed it. I’ve never seen a brown trout tailwalking to quite the extent that this one did. When I eventually got it in I saw that the condition on the fish was absolutely outstanding.
It wasn’t a big fish, but you’d struggle to find many in better condition.
Barely 500metres further up the stream we encountered one of the best patches of pocket water fishing I’ve had in a long time.
Matt made it look easy by pulling this fish out on one of the first casts.
I then proceeded to fish at a fish that kept popping in and out of the current, and in and out of my visibility. Spotting two big fish rising one pocket over I crossed to fish at them. At this point I should note that I’d been having a rather problematic time with my pants. They just kept falling down. When I hit the right cast (not easy when the casting position dictates that you can only cast leader into a nor’wester) the fish rose without hesitation to my grey klinkhammer. Hammer time. What ensued was quite possibly one of the most comical experiences to have transpired on a river. As soon as I hooked the fish the swirling current at the base of the pocket had dragged my line down, tangling it with the fittings on my boots. At this point my pants decided to fall down. Proper down. Here I was with a big fish jumping madly on the surface, my line wrapped around my boots and my pants around the ankles. Matt said he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Personally I felt more like crying. Somehow with one hand I grabbed my pants and hoisted them up, then managed, despite my inflexibility, to lift my foot into the air and clear the line. All this whilst standing in waist deep fast flowing water. After that the rest was just a formality.
At the time I had a slightly inkling that this may have been the same fish Andrew caught a year beforehand. Upon getting home and checking the spots it was confirmed.
My guess is that they were feeding on these fellows.
I won’t go into details with what happened in a big pool a little further up. Suffice to say I was left nearly in tears as a rather large fish flipped me the bird before popping the hook and lazing about in the shallows. I attempted an overly ambitious swipe with the net, but to no avail. I will be back.
The next pool up saw a rather bizarre experience. A fish sitting in a small alcove and popping out only occasionally into the current took a liking to my most successful creation over winter – the Deviant fly. Matt was fishing to it, and it took his fly not once…not twice…but seven times. I’ve never seen anything like this before. On the seventh the hook bit and a long hard fight ensued.
A great end to the day.
It was a long walk back, and a couple of very tired lads that made it back into Christchurch late in the evening.
Back in February I spent a day fishing a backcountry river with a couple of South African guys. Actually, only one of them survived the walk (it isn’t short…). Oh well, more fish for the two of us to fish to. Phil was the survivor, and he turned out to be a really top guy. Plus he could fish.
Things started slowly. We were fishing a coloured river, and although we could see fish they weren’t active in the cold morning temperatures. It wasn’t until the sun was a bit higher in the air that things started to change. It was like a switch flicked and flicked good. After lunch we fished to about 15 fish and hooked every single one of them. There was nothing small either. It was just magic. I dream of days like that. Oh, and the fly? Lets call it Andrew’s take on a cicada. Christ does it work.
For bizarre reasons that I won’t go into now, I’ve only got video of Phil fishing, and photos of my fish. So lets let the video do the talking for Phil…
As for me? I suppose I did alright.
Caught in the same lie that I pulled a much bigger fish from earlier in the season.
A casual cast revealed that this was not, in fact, a rock.
Last cast of the day. What a way to finish.
That was only about half of the fish from that day, it was truly spectacular. It’s days like this that I look back on with envy as I study for exams. No idea what’s happening with Uni after these latest aftershocks (btw hope that everyone out there is ok! All safe and sound at the wunder-flat). Apparently they’re letting us know tonight, but that doesn’t make it much easier to motivate myself to study. Andrew’s got a report for you guys coming up in the next week or so with another video from our season.
One last thing – if you haven’t already then join Riverworks (at http://www.facebook.com/riverworksnewzealand) and TwoTroutBums NZ (at http://www.facebook.com/twotroutbums.newzealandflyfishing) on Facebook. That way you’ll stay up to date and get all the good oil asap.
Till next time.
This report is from a few weeks back.
Last November Jack and I bumped into Mike for the first time when we were on our trip. We were on our third day, walking into a river near Murchison. We had a chat with him for a bit, and he seemed like a decent bloke. Mike was on a mountain bike that day, and we were grateful when he offered to leave a lot of water to fish. He told us to let him know how we got on that day once we were back home, and we did. After a couple of emails back and forth he still seemed like a decent bloke, we agreed to meet up for a fish at some stage.
Fast forward a few months to mid April, after a few earthquakes and other false starts where either of us weren’t able to make it because of work or whatever other reason, we finally got to catch up for that fishing trip.
I finished work at 7am on the Thursday. I had about 3.5 hours sleep, quickly packed some gear into the car and headed to Nelson. After checking in with the family I went around to Mikes to catch up and find out what the plan was for the coming days.
The weather forecast was terrible, but we decided to go anyway. After all you won’t catch them sitting on the couch. (At least I don’t think you will)
The next morning was an early start. We packed up and were away, heading for what we hoped would be reasonable weather and clear water. An hour or so later the inflatable was loaded up and we were nearly there.
That afternoon it rained steadily and the river began to discolour as we fished the lower reaches. We found a few fish, which were unresponsive, before we met with an angler coming downstream who had already fished this section. After a brief chat we decided to head upstream for a while and look for fish which hadn’t been harrassed already that day.
As luck would have it, we found some. There were at least three fish in the first run, but they weren’t going to come easy. After several fly changes I tricked one with a size 16 Coloboriscus nymph, which the fish took very slowly and deliberately. A good scrap followed and I landed a nice rainbow.
It was great to get one on the board.
Mike hooked up on one in the same run shortly after, but unfortunately it snapped off. He had another take from a fish in the same run, but that didn’t stick either.
A couple of runs upstream Mike fished at another fish which took his soft hackle nymph delicately, but again didn’t connect. He was understandably frustrated. I persuaded him to tie on the dirty fly (Alex, you know this one) and try it on the fish, which was still there, although was no longer moving. To his surprise, it took the dirty fly. But adding to his frustration, it didn’t connect either.
Before we moved on, I wanted to try one last tactic. I hate leaving fish sitting there, so instead of throwing a rock at it I did the next best thing and tied on what can only be described as an abomination, which I bombed across the fish.
I’ve seen some special stuff with this fly, but this comes close to taking the cake. The fish turned and accelerated towards the abomination. The abomination got very close to the edge so I stopped stripping. The abomination just hung there in the slack water, and whack. The fish smashed it right at our feet. The pair of us looked at each other in disbelief, and I landed a nice looking brownie soon after.
I never really expected to see that fish in my net, but it goes to show that you never really know. Anything is worth a try sometimes.
It was time for us to disappear after that, the late season light was fading fast and we needed to get back to the hut for a feed.
The next morning we woke to a grey sky, and after a one square meal each for breakfast headed to where we’d stopped the previous evening. We arrived to clearer water than we had left, and saw a fish immediately to which Mike offered me first go.
I opted to cast from where I stood instead of crossing the cold river for fear of getting cold, and the fish responded by chasing the fly halfway across the current and taking it. Unfortunately I only managed to hook up for a couple of seconds before the fish was free.
The next fish were feeding actively in slow moving water. I never looked like catching them.
It took a while to locate more fish after this, but we eventually came to a long run which Mike assured me usually held fish. By now it was raining hard, the water surface was very broken and much harder to see into than it had been. Looking carefully as we went, we found a fish feeding hard off the surface near the other side of the river. It looked like he was on emergers.
Mike crossed over, and the fish disappeared.
Just as Mike decided to come back over to my side I saw a nice looking fish just upstream from where I stood. I yelled out to him and he told me to have a go for it. I did as he requested and my line came up tight on the first cast.
The rain was too heavy for me to take the camera out, so we used Mikes waterproof one instead. It was so wet we couldn’t get the lens dry, so the picture isn’t as clear as usual.
The fish was released and we returned upstream to near where it had been hooked. We looked and saw the rising fish was back on the other side…
Mike didn’t bother to cross back over. Instead he offered it to me. I cast from where I stood, just like I did for the first fish of the morning. As soon as I got the cast in the right place the emerger – sipping rainbow charged across the river towards us in angry pursuit of my fly, and we were soon connected.
This fish was all messed up inside it’s mouth. It looked like it had been fighting with other fish or something?
The day before we watched as two fish attacked each other and tumbled downstream locked together as they battled. It was impressive stuff to see.
We turned back soon after that because of the rapidly rising river. The plan was to go back to the run where we found fish late the previous day, because we knew it held fish and we wouldn’t have to cross the river in the event that it became too high.
Mike hooked a fish on a nymph, and lost it. Then he hooked another, this one he landed.
There wasn’t much elation associated with this fish, it was more like relief.
After that it was a quick march back to the hut and back into the boat. We arrived at the truck just on dark and headed back to Nelson. It was great fishing with Mike, even if it rained for most of it. Next season we’ll try to do it again properly, and maybe even get some video footage. Fingers crossed for better weather!
Speaking of video, watch this space for the second of our video clips from the past season. I’ll post it in a few days time.
It’s been a long time coming…but the report is very nearly here. Unfortunately this isn’t it. This is just a teaser to get your interest peaked. Enjoy the pictures…
This was just the first day of eight, so you can be sure that there are many many more big fish and great photos to come. You’ll have to wait until the first issue of the new FortyOne Degrees magazine for the full report. Trust me, it’ll be worth it.
Just a quick post from me, mainly because I haven’t really got anything too significant to say (not that that has ever stopped me in the past…)
I’ve been fishing a couple of times, with a resounding lack of success sadly. Last saturday Andrew and I busted our asses driving to and then tramping into a fairly remote river. We’d had great success here last year, but this year didn’t match. We simply didn’t see the numbers we saw last year. I’ve since been enlightened by a learned fellow that more fish hold for longer in this stream after a mouse year (i.e. last year). Over the course of the whole day we saw probably 5 or 6 fish, admittedly they were all of a very good size. I realised that Andrew had hooked one when I heard him exclaim profanities at losing it seconds later. I was to suffer an altogether more tortuous fate a little later in the day. We spotted a fish feeding in a deep gut in the tailout of a pool, which I covered with a dirty double bunny. We’d had remarkably little interest in nymphs, so streamers were the logical choice. On about the 2nd or 3rd pass the fish bolted forwards, spooked I assumed, until the line grew taught and the fish dived deep into the pool. I proceeded to do a beep test across the river (If any of you don’t know what a beep test is then the New Zealand education system has failed you) before the fish bolted downstream through some rapids. I was feeling pretty confident as I had fairly hefty tippet on and had been putting some serious pressure on the fish. Ah, almost beached…just gotta get the net under it. And then slack. That awful feeling that resonates in the pit of your stomach. Euphoria turns to despair. Delight to disaster. I watched as a 6-7lb brownie lay stunned in the flow, before making good his escape. This proved to be the last catchable fish we were to see for the trip. The walk back wasn’t aided when I slipped over not once, but twice, caning both my leg and knee in the process. The perfect preparation for a long walk out…
Desperate for redemption I snuck out with a mate to a couple of local spots, intending to capitalise on the bright sunshine and lack of wind. Enter storm. As soon as we got to the river the whole place gusted furiously. The enthusiasm soon waned and I started to take a couple of photos.
I thought this one was kinda neat in an evocative and moody way.
And another… (We’ll pretend he was hooked up to a fish and not a tree…)
That’s all for now I’m afraid. Reports might be a bit sparse from now until the 9th of November as I have some rather painful exams to get through. However, once they’re over then I should be fishing as much as my bank balance allows. Expect a heap of reports and cool photos.