Five fish I’ll never forget. No matter ho hard I try.
This entry differs from what the other boys have done recently. I’ll put my top five together later on, but for now this is all about five of the most memorable fish I didn’t catch.
My apologies for the lack of images… but I guess you’ll understand why.
This happened the season before last. I was fishing the Canterbury High Country alone in the heat of summer and the Cicadas were in full swing. I’d caught one fish and lost another already that day on a Cicada pattern, and I had the feeling I was a good chance at catching anything I fished to that day.
I approached a run where I’d seen a pretty big fish a few weeks earlier, and my excitement level lifted. As I made my way to the top of the run I was buzzing with nervous energy, and there it was. I spotted a solid looking fish sitting in the prime spot.
I had to drop slightly to get into a good casting position, which meant I could no longer see the fish. I sent the cicada into the strike zone and hoped for the best. I didn’t need to wait long… the water erupted as the big brown slashed at the fly and I don’t even think I needed to strike, the fish had probably set the hook itself. A strong fight took place from there and I could tell the fish was a good one. It had plenty of length, and was strong and determined.
I got it in really close and was prepering to net it when it rolled on top and I saw its true size for the first and only time. It took off and the line pinged. My tippet hardly ever snaps, but it did on this occasion. I stood there and swore at the heavens for quite some time, until I was eventually able to pull myself back together and carry on for the day.
This is going back a few years. I think it was the start of the 2003-2004 season. The location isn’t too far away from where number 5 took place.
I had fished upstream all day and was on my way out, walking along the side of the river as I went whenever possible. As I came to a certain pool with a small creek pouring in I spied a fish sitting under the feed line. It looked like a pretty nice fish, and it wasn’t there a few hours earlier. I crept into position and started casting to the fish for what seemed like forever. It stayed where it was more or less, drifting slightly but never moving far. After god knows how many casts my indicator dipped under and I struck. I was most surprised when the line went tight and the mighty fish exploded from the water.
My surprise turned into heartbreak when the fish landed on my tippet. In one moment it was all over. I headed for the car thinking about what might have been.
This happened near the end of the 2002 – 2003 season, not long after I had shifted to Christchurch from Nelson.
I’d returned to Nelson for the wedding of some very good friends. While I was there for a few days I thought I should head out for a bit of fishing, I had some unfinished business that needed taking care of at a river nearby.
I’d fished the river a few times, and been alerted to a very nice looking fish which was resident in one of the pools by one of my mates who worked in the area. The trouble was that there was a fallen tree sharing the pool with the fish, keeping it safe. As time passed by, the tree swung closer and closer to the bank… until eventually it was out of the way enough that a chance at catching the fish became possible.
That day I’d caught four great fish on Cicadas. You couldn’t miss, they were moving a mile for them. I decided to drive up the road to the tree pool, and have a go at the big boy. Nervously I peeked over the edge of the bank trying to see where he was, but the light was poor and the water was covered with glare. I was a bit dejected at not being able to see the fish, but I went down to the water anyway.
I worked my way through the pool methodically, and into the fast water at the top. I’d never seen the fish holding this high up, but I fished it anyway. My indicator stopped, and when I struck I was fast into a fish. THE fish!
I worked hard to gain control, and just when I thought I had the advantage the fish leapt high out of the water and I watched in slow motion as my nymph tracked towards me through the air. The fish was free. After all of my previous unsuccessful attempts at capturing it, on this day I had come oh so close, yet I had failed again. This was to be the last time I would try to catch this fish, unfortunately the opportunity never again presented itself.
This is really going back a long time. I was 14 years old, and I hadn’t been fly fishing all that long. I was with my best mate Sam, and we were fishing our favourite river. He’d just caught his biggest ever trout, which was in the vicinity of 7 pounds, and in fact I would confidently say it was the biggest trout either of us had ever laid our young eyes on.
No more than a few hundred metres upstream from where Sam caught his fish from was a mighty pool. It was long, wide, and had plenty of depth in all the right places. It had a nice rapid entering in at the head and a solid rock bottom on the far side providing plenty of stablility.
As we neared the top we spotted a line up of about half a dozen fish, all suspended high in the water column and feeding away nicely. To this day I doubt I have ever seen another situation as perfect as this. I cast my basic rig consisting of a Hare and Copper nymph with wool indicator above the top fish, the biggest of them all. It didn’t hesitate to come across to my nymph and took it with all the confidence of the much smaller fish I was so used to catching. I responded to the indicator dipping with a solid lift of my Daiwa fly rod , and the line tightened.
This fish didn’t treact like the fish I was used to catching, infact I have never experienced the same reaction from a hooked fish in all the years that have passed since. This fish did not splash, or panic. It calmly swam across the river, slowly but surely taking line with it as it went, and took up a position on the bottom. I stood there next to Sam on the side of the river in absolute bewilderment, I had no idea what to do. Several minutes passed, the fish shook its head from time to time, and eventually my line snapped.
Even though I had minimal experience with fish of any size at that point in my life, I knew I had just been attached to something special. With all the years gone past since then, I realise even more now just how special that fish was. If I was to hook that same fish again today I would be in a far better position to land it than what I was back then, but it was incredibly powerful, and nothing is certain. One thing I can say for sure is that fish is lucky it got away, for if I had landed it as a 14 year old boy, there is no doubt I would have taken it home with me to mount on the wall.
This one sits in a similar ball park to number two. It was a bit of a toss up for which sat where in the grand scheme of things… but I decided this one could take the top spot.
It was December 2009. A couple of days after Christmas. I had arranged to take my mate Paul from Timaru and his Dad with me for a day on the water. The fish were in top condition that season, and I knew that where we were going we would have a decent shot at a good fish. It had rained a bit and the water was running a bit high, with enough colour for it to work in our favour.
The day started with a hiss and a roar when Paul caught his first ever fish on a fly. At 8 pounds it wasn’t one to be scoffed at… I made sure I let him know how many years it took for me to catch one that big.
Soon after I briefly hooked and lost one which was about the same size as what Paul landed. A short distance upstream I spotted another fish sitting near our edge which Paul insisted I fish to. I fished at this one for quite some time, and every so often I saw it clearly through a window in the water, it was a big fish.
Many, many casts, and about seven fly changes later I got a result. I set the hook into a very angry fish. It took off at warp factor 6 across the swollen river and angled upstream, taking all my fly line and a good part of my backing with it. I couldn’t do a whole lot to start with, but eventually I gained some back and my fly line came closer to where it needed to be.
This is where it really turned pear shaped. I watched my backing knot as it neared the tip top of my rod, and as the two made contact, time slowed down as I witnessed the knot disintegrate with my own eyes. The trailing fly line flailed off into the current, still attached to my big angry fish. I stoood on the riverbank swearing while Paul and his dad watched in disbelief, before I dropped everything and tore off into the current searching for the trailing line in desperation and anger.
I didn’t find the end of my line, which meant I didn’t get my fish. It put somewhat of a dampener on my day. This is the one which takes the cake.
All of these fish have caused me to lose sleep at some point, but if I’m completely honest I’d have to say I probably wouldn’t change any of them given the chance. Thats a big call I know, but it wouldn’t be the same if we landed them all, would it?
I like to save the best for last. If I could do it all the time I would, I like having something to look forward to.
The final day of the season rolled around quicker than I expected. It had been yet another great few months spent wandering about the South Island, and it was all but over.
My time off work was all but over too, the next day was my first day back after a month off. As strange as it may sound, I was actually looking forward to going back to work, for a number of reasons – restoring the bank balance being one of them.
The forecast for the final day of the season was far from ideal, with strong gusty wind predicted in most places accessible from here. I guess it was a fitting way to finish. What to do?
Although I’d experienced more than my share of fishing during the past 6 months and 29 days, my gut feeling told me to get out there one last time. If for no other reason than to see what happened. I felt like there was unfinished business that needed attending.
The alarm went off early on April 30th. It was pretty cold and miserable to start with. I nearly pulled the pin and went back to bed. It took every ounce of self – control not to.
I chose to visit a place with few fish, in the hope of finding some good ones. I ended last season with a great fish, and I was keen to repeat the effort this year.
When I eventually arrived at the river the wind was really bad. It was absolutely howling. It was so bad I thought about flagging it and trying to find somewhere more sheltered nearby. I decided against moving on and stayed with plan A.
It took a while, but eventually I found a fish. Best of all, it looked to be feeding. The adrenaline started right at that moment, and I was a wreck as I attached a dry fly and dropper rig. I dropped down to the river and changed my set up again slightly, I figured the dropper length I’d set was too long and the nymph was probably too heavy.
With that sorted finally I set about laying line on water. This was the next issue, the bushes behind me and the still howling wind conspired against me to turn an otherwise simple task into a difficult one.
My first couple of attempts resulted in my line being stuck in a bush. I kept as calm as I could while I unhooked it, and eventually I nailed the cast, and the dry fly indicator hit the spot. I knew I was in the money.
The Humpy bobbed along in the current. I couldn’t see the fish clearly through the wind ruffled surface, and it felt like forever had passed, but eventually the nymph reached the red zone and the dry twitched sideways slightly.
I lifted the rod and resistance was met in the form of a solid thud. A moment later the fish rolled onto its side, stunned. It then took off to the bottom of the pool at lightning speed. I quickly crossed the river to get in a better position, and the fish pulled up at the top of the rapids, seemingly reluctant to head downstream any further. I sidestrained the fish in close and that was when I caught my first glimpse of its shoulder. It was an impressive sight indeed. From there I was pretty ruthless with my approach and was able to land the fish surprisingly quickly.
I don’t mind admitting I screamed like schoolgirl when I landed this fish. I screamed so much it made my voice a bit hoarse for the rest of the day, but I didn’t care.
Getting the photo was tricky. I can set the camera up on the tripod pretty quickly, but it was so windy I thought the whole lot was going to finish up in the river. Fortunately the expensive stuff didn’t, however, some of the less expensive stuff did… but nothing which mattered much.
Here it is…. the reward for my efforts.
The winning combination isn’t exactly revolutionary. I used a size 12 red Humpy as the indicator, with a size 14 Pheasant Tail nymph hung underneath. It was simple, but effective.
I released the fish and packed up my gear. That was it for the season of 2011-202. There was no way I could finish the season in a better way than that. I really had managed to save the best for last this time.
A while back I devised a plan to convince Matt into a weekend of fishing in the Central North Island, that was the easy part. I was overdue a good concentrated dose of fly chucking so we schemed, planned, googled, schemed some more and had plans A to F sussed. What I didn’t plan for was contracting a cold in the lead up. Being a good Kiwi lad I told myself I could beat it, no way was it going to get in the way of a good trip.
We pulled into Taupo on Friday night and did the prerequisite shop – I still don’t know where the bread rolls ended up! We set up camp at the Old mans house and tweaked our final arrangements over some Pilseners. Seriously, how many times can one tie a new leader and fuss over gear? An early start had us on our way with a quick stop for a healthy pie in Turangi. With that on board we carried on driving.The river of choice was looking very inviting from the road so we quickly set up for the walk over some farmland to access the lower reaches.Or so we thought…Having hunted around for an hour to find the supposed “there’s a way down but it’s a bit hard to find” track, we gave up and headed to another point we thought would be achievable. Hallelujah, it was just as Mr Google suggested, a little bit easier than the last spot. I was pretty happy about finally hitting the stoney riverbed.A quick scoff and assembly of our gear and we were ready for the fish of our dreams. This water was seriously lush. Soon we came to a great looking pool that had to hold something, something big and hungry. For a second I forgot I wasn’t feeling too flash. Not a touch, nothing to spot or even spook. We had planned for a low fish count so carried on.The water was super clear and cold, I found that out when I took a dunking while crossing a hairy piece of water above some rapids. Thankfully my foot found a hold and I managed to get back upright before going deeper into the pool. A word of note – if it’s dodgy buddy up, make sure your jacket is over your waders and closures are pulled tight. Wear a wading belt at all times, you can’t put it on in the rapids. If you get fully swept off your feet keep calm and drift feet first, bum down. You’ll eventually wash into calmer waters without snagging a foot on anything. Hopefully you’ll never have to put this into practice.
I wasn’t surprised when I dropped again. This time distracted by some noisy Whio. Damn, this was going to be a long slippery walk. And it was, this river was living up to its name. Devoid of any fish we pushed upriver and had lunch. We reassessed and made the decision to high tail it out, fishing any hotspots along the way.
We blanked, oh well, it happens sometimes. It was an ambitious plan B after all. The scenery did make up for it though. A quick fish in a new river just before dark had the same result! We checked into the backpackers and dried out while my voice impersonated Barry White.
The next day dawned frosty and brisk. It was nice to eat porridge and gear up beside a still burning fire place. The next port of call was Matts pick. The scramble in was according to him “easier than yesterday”. Thankfully it was. Again we found some stunning water that cried out for trout. We’re going back early season. Take a look at what’s on offer below.Soon enough we made the call to exit and go find some fish. I had a beat that produced fish in the past so we began the drive home in order to stop there. Plan E.
Finally after all that walking and scenic imbibing I looked up river to see Matts rod being worked by a cranky brown. Oh yes, by this time I had lost my voice and only managed a little yelp of joy as I ran up river. Some quick net work had the fish in the bag.We partied right there on the riverbank.This opened the floodgates and we soon found rhythm. I spotted a good looking brown in the shallows feeding happily until my size 16 Hare and Copper variant glanced its lip. What came out of the water looked fair decent and in prime condition. After dropping the fish I discovered Matt had sabotaged me and left my net downstream. Upon my return he’d picked up a stunning Searunner.
We pushed up, pricking fish and landing a few others along the way. Even spotting a few more in the murky water. I was having a tough time making the fish stick to my flies and saw another brown thrash the surface as the hook pulled free. This was put down to my lack of voice, there was no way I could yell STRIKE! inside my head.After we made it to our designated limit we raced back down the track to the truck. With 2 hours of light left we knew there was a good section of the Whanganui on the way home that would finish the trip off in style.There certainly were fish in here and we had a blast taking Rainbows from their usual haunts. Any old fly seemed to be doing the trick but one in particular for Matt had him converted. The takes were hard and fast, even I managed to bank a lovely model for the camera.With that monkey off my back we called it a day. The drive home in the dark was a tease knowing that we were crossing bridge after bridge of fine water. There’s always next time.
This weekend I hope to charge the Waitahanui, an old favourite. Nothing beats Birthday fishing.
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.
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!
Last weekend saw a break in the weather and the better halves were out of town. Holy shit, what to do, where to fish. So many options and so little precious time. Matt and I made a plan to mix it up with some fresh water action then attempt some SWF the next day. He had a river near Te Kuiti in mind that was long overdue a visit.
After one too many Friday bbq indulgences I was ready to roll nice and early. We headed South with a quick stop to pick up our companion for the day. Andrew was just as keen and we soon had his gear in the truck en route to one of the regions holy grails.
There’s one thing I’m really enjoying about the Waikato and that is the diverse range of flyfishing opportunities. This river was to be a first for Matt and I. Andrew having fished it a few times prior in the lower reaches.
A quick look-see over the bridge and we were kitting up in short order. The trout were visible within minutes and after spotting a “gimme” Matt was casting to a somewhat stubborn brown. It sulked under a bank after it got annoyed by us.
Hopping and crawling under cow fences we pushed on. We soon found out some of them were hot after one sent Matt sideways and had us in fits of laughter. This seemed to be the tipping point for the day and things started looking up.
There were trout in every pool and they all had breakfast on their minds. The boys cast at some fish I’d spotted while hiding in the trees above. Andrew picked up a fish after busting one off previously lower down due to no chance of a net job.
What we hadn’t banked on was the amount of walking we were going to do. So in the interest of making a long story short I’ll let the pictures speak more from here in.
The river was producing pool after pool of good, solid fish that were more than ready to receive our offers. Not to mention the scenery, it was one of those days that will be etched in the mind for a while yet.
This pool was also a honey. I sat and watched the trout feeding before finally moving in for the kill, only to drop the fly a few meters short and to the side. The fish turned and raced after it so fast I got too excited and smashed my tippet on the strike!
That was one river that will be forever on my favourites list. It had so many attributes and ticked all the boxes for me. We walked back to the truck absolutely buggered and pretty chuffed with scoring a near perfect day on the water.
The following day saw Matt and I bowl over to Waihi. We were in search of some Saltwater flats style fishing. Kingfish were on the target species list, well anything was to be honest. I’d been hearing reports of good fishing in shallow water and also had softbaits at the ready for a stealth mission.
Lets put it this way, the weather dictated our locations. We didn’t pick up much at all after doing a few recces near markers, in the channels and over the sand flats. But it was so fishy, we scratched our heads a bit and had almost given up hope until the tide changed and the harbour came to life.
Our saving grace were a few snapper pulled from 2 meters of water on fresh fly caught Kahawai. Just as I was considering throwing them a fly the bite dropped off and we had to leave. I’m going to be getting into this more as I can see the potential excitement of this type of fishing. Just need the gods to be good and we’ll be hooked up in no time.
This week is bollocks on the weather front. Unless you like standing at a river mouth on a dark stormy night, which is exactly what I intend to do tomorrow. I hope to have more pictures and stories to tell for the next installment.
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…
Following on from the last post… day two of three in the deep south.
It was a considerably slower start to the next day. It was a bit like coming out of a long hibernation instead of waking up from a night of sleeping.
Fortunately Chris has this fancy pants coffee plunger attachment to go with his jetboil thingee, and we were all fortunate to experience the revival that only a morning coffee can offer.
The conversation was thrilling first thing in the morning.
Lunch was packed up after that, the fishing gear was organised and we were on our way – nearly. First of all we needed to find somewhere to keep the beer cold until the end of the day. Jeremy was right on it.
We split the group in half for this day. Chris drew the short straw and had to go with super pooper, while I went with Jeremy. After we parted ways Jeremy and I walked for a while to our designated starting point. For the record, we were fishing one of the tributaries for the day.
It took a wee while, but finally a fish flashed in the current under Jeremy’s fly. It didn’t take on that drift, but the next presentation did the trick and the fish grabbed the fly. We were on the board for the day!
I spent the next while experiencing some tough times, through a combination of misfortune and bad decision making. I missed a couple of takes because of poor line control in tough currents, and snapped off on a good fish when I tried to skull drag it in too soon.
Jeremy got this one fishing blind. It flew out of the water when he struck and landed on a rock… it must have knocked itself out for a bit because it floated upside down for a while. It didn’t seem to be permanently damaged though, it came to in my hand and swam away as strong as ever. Hopefully it recovered properly.
After what felt like forever, I finally caught a fish. It wasn’t this one by the way… it was a horrible thing. I was getting ready to cast at one midway through the pool when I spotted the degenerate fish in the tailout more or less at my feet. I flicked the cicada over the fish, basically dapping it… and the fish snared the fly with its third attempt. I think it just needed the first two to get its eye in.
Anyhow, after that I heaved a long cast into the belly of the pool where I saw some movement. Straight away the rainbow pictured came to the surface and ate the cicada imitation. I set the hook hard and the fish did its thing. Fortunately this one stuck.
At the top of the rapid feeding that pool was another nice run, and it had a couple of fish.
This is one of them. Jeremy got it on the gay white thing. (Its a cicada imitation of sorts)
A while later I had another opportunity. The fish was sitting in very shallow, slow moving water on the edge of the river. I put a parachute fly in front of it and it accepted straight away. It did a kind of fishy burnout / skid when it felt the hook and took off. Water was going everywhere.
It put up a good scrap, but relented with a bit of pressure and came in for a photo after a while.
Things slowed down for a bit, and the light became such that spotting was very difficult. We still found the fish, but is was much harder than before. I spotted one from a high bank and showed it to Jeremy, he went down into the water and managed to sneak into a position where he could see the fish. First cast with a green caddis hung under the gay white thing saw the fish grab the nymph and Jeremy was on again. This one put up a great scrap. It took some beating, but Jeremy was up to the task.
We’d agreed at the start of the day to meet where we split up at 6pm. By now it was around 5, and we were starting to find fish quite frequently. We decided to give it another 15 minutes.
I duffed another one soon after Jeremy’s fish. I cast my parachute fly up and it started dragging immediately, just under the surface. The fish snatched at the fly anyway, but I failed to connect with it. I got a bit grumpy for a few seconds at that point and let the world know how I felt.
Another one was found not far from that, and Jeremy again did what he had to and successfully landed another brown. It was now closer to 5:30 than 5:15… we still didn’t want to leave, so we didn’t.
We continued on upstream, reasoning that the others probably would have been late anyway, and they would figure we were ok and leave us to it. The last piece we came to had a couple of fish in it, and although they were feeding happily enough they were a bit on the fussy side.
I had two refusals from separate fish after very long and deliberate inspections. In the end I had to go old school and tied on a standard size 14 Greenwells Glory. It worked a treat too. The rainbow hit it like a sledge hammer and fought with the same degree of enthusiasm.
The fly was way down by the gill rakers on this one. He really wanted that fly bad.
It was then that Jeremy and I decided enough was enough and turned around. It was after 6, and if we didn’t stop there we would have gone on forever. It was a good walk back to the main track, and we were nearly back when we met Chris and the Lion King on the track. They were armed with binoculars and had come to see where we were. They told us if they couldn’t see us then they were going to drink all the beer themselves… how caring.
They had an interesting time on the section of river they fished. Chris caught a few, and Rodney had 10 takes without landing a single fish. He managed to smoke all of his cigarettes throughout the day too, so he was a happy man by the time we got to him.
That night Jeremy was on cooking duty again since he caught the biggest and most fish for the day. We just sat and watched as we drank our beer and chatted away to an Australian angler who had turned up in the hut during the day. He even gave Rodney a cigarette!
That was it for day two. Another great day out exploring new water.
The trip was nearly finished. Only one day to go.
The next instalment isn’t far away…
I haven’t put much up here lately, mainly because I haven’t been out much. I was at work the other day and a guy by the name of “Big Paws Hensley” asked me when I would be putting up another report, I assured him I would get one done as soon as I could. (He’s a big man and I don’t want to make him angry)
So here goes nothing…
After what seemed like forever, I finally had a few days available to get out for a fish. There was only one problem… it was blowing gale force almost everywhere. The forecast was for it to remain that way for a couple of days, so I decided to wait it out.
After three days of sitting at home the weather was finally settled enough that I wouldn’t feel like snapping my rod across my knee. I summoned the ever available Shagger to accompany me on the trip, and I collected him at the horrific hour of 4am on the Monday, along with a mountain bike borrowed from Rodney McSuperchrist.
Once Shagger was on board it was straight to the nearest BP for some gas and the mandatory Wild Bean coffee. Then it was full steam ahead to destination #1, with Shagger entertaining me with his war stories the whole way.
It was worse than cold when we exited the car and mounted the bikes. It was close to freezing. Fortunately we warmed up reasonably quickly riding with full packs on.
It was a pretty misty, gloomy start to the day. We were hanging on the hope the sun would burn through by the time we started fishing, I’ve been to the valley a few times, and its pretty tough trying to find fish there in overcast conditions.
After a couple of hours slogging away we locked the bikes up and were ready to start fishing. Our wishes for better light had been granted and the valley was in full sunshine without any hint of wind. It didn’t take very long to find fish.
This fish responded immediately to a deer hair cicada. It is the smallest fish I’ve ever caught from the river, but it was a positive start to the day.
Shagger got onto another fish in the same run.
This one wasn’t huge either, but it pulled plenty of string. It nearly had Shagger’s backing through the top eye of the rod at one stage.
Soon after that I found a fish while walking along a high bank. Shagger was otherwise occupied at the time, so I crept down to river level and put the cicada over the fish. It responded the same way as the others had done, and we became attached at opposite ends of the line.
Shagger emerged from the bushes looking about two kilograms lighter and just in time to assist with a photo of my second victim.
The second smallest fish I’ve ever caught from the river.
After that another fish was spotted near the top of the same run, feeding nicely in shallow water against the near edge. I stayed put while Shagger moved into position behind the fish. At that point I realised I hadn’t captured many fish on video so far this season, so I set the camera up for the action that was to follow.
The fish came to the cicada on the second cast and Shagger hooked up. After a long tug of war he netted it safely downstream.
Soon after that we came to a run which seemed to be teeming with fish. They were literally only a few metres apart and all of them were feeding. Some of them spooked from being disturbed by others, but we spent quite a while at that run hooking and landing fish after fish.
This one must have been through some hard times… As you can see, it had a really munted head.
Shagger hooked and landed another nice fish which then pulled a Houdini act as we were setting up for the photo. (Becoming an all too common occurrence for the two of us)
After we finished reaping the riches of that piece of water we didn’t see anything for a while, until we came to another run which was long and wide, with a high bank on the true left. We stalked along the bank and found a fish holding tight against the edge over the brown rocks. It was hard to see, but it was there, and it looked to be larger than what we had caught so far.
It took a few attempts, but eventually the brownie lifted to the cicada and I set the hook. The fish got a bity stroppy at this point and used all the dirty tricks.
It took a fair bit of time and pressure, but eventually the fish was subdued to the point he could be netted.
It was bigger than the others, but had seen better days. He could use a Mac Attack or two to help him put on some condition. I might take one with me for him the next time I’m passing by. This one had a scuffed up head too for some reason?
It clouded over pretty quickly after that and spotting became very difficult. We found the odd fish, but more often than not they were being spooked as we got too close.
It wasn’t all bad though, it seemed that some fish were allowing us to get pretty close in the diminished light. The next fish caught was cast at from 90 degrees off a bank.
They weren’t as keen to come to the top by now, so a certain little nymph was atached as a dropper to do the job, and it worked well.
Things went quiet after that for quite some time, until right near the end of the day when the fish became active again, taking from the top. Unfortunately they were also a bit skitterish, and were quite easily spooked at this time. The light wasn’t helping much. The fish were all moving quite rapidly and it was hard to pinpoint their location until they broke the surface.
Only one more fish was taken that day. It was caught blind on that same nymph.
This one could also do with some Macca’s or something similar. It looked like it had been on the Jenny Craig diet for a while.
That was all for the day. It was time to retire for the night and we would fish again the next day before returning home.
Shagger was in charge of the cooking that night. He whipped up a couple of “Back Country Cuisine” meals. It was my first experience of these, and lets just say they’ve got nothing on steak and pasta. But it was a feed nontheless, and I was grateful that Shagger went to the effort he did.
Sleep came easily that night, and I slept right through my alarm in the morning. I eventually woke up feeling a bit second hand from the previous days effort. We packed our gear up and set off for destination # 2.
The day was a good one. We had full sunshine and there was bugger all wind.
Once we started fishing it didn’t take long to find a fish. Shagger did a splendid job of fooling the fish with both nymph and dry fly on the same cast, and landed it after a good scrap.
There he goes…
That was a decent start. We continued on our way, spooking a couple of fish in the process of trying to catch them. We approached a deep pool which looked for all money like it would hold something, and sure enough it did. The thing is we only saw it when we were virtually standing over it. The combination of the water depth, light, and the paleness of the fish meant it was tough to see until you got really close to it.
The fish darted out into the curent, and I thought I had spooked it – until it returned and repeated the action. This one was very deep down, but it just so happens I have a few patterns in one of my boxes which were tied with this very situation in mind.
Shagger watched in disbelief as I attached the biggest, baddest nymph in my fly box to my tippet. I was riding bareback so to speak… (To coin a phrase from a certain well known angler who may or may not have appeared here on the Riverworks blog in the past) There was no point attaching an indicator to this rig. I wouldn’t describe it as casting, but whatever it was I did I managed to get the nymph in the water and in front of the fish. I saw it shoot sideways and when I lifted I felt that satisfying thud that only a fish can provide.
It was on for all money from that point onwards. The fish went deep and long – fast. I leant on it as hard as I dared and after a while I had the fish in a position where Shagger could trap it with the net.
This was hands down my favourite fish for the two days.
We continued upstream for a while after that without success. Shagger had a take but missed out, and that was about it. We turned around and headed for home.
The fish Shagger missed was back in place. He had taken his fly off at that point, so I cast to it with the biggest, baddest nymph. It spooked. However, there was another one in the run, over the other side of the river and downstream from where the first one held.
I launched the big bad nymph over to the fish, taking as much care as I could not to;
- Break my rod
- Knock myself out
- Knock Shagger out
Fortunately for all involved I managed to avoid all three of these things, and as a bonus I even placed the fly in front of the fish!
It was still operation bareback at this point, and we both watched in eager anticipation as the fish swung to intercept its prey. As it straightened up I lifted the rod in perfect harmony with Shaggers call of “Yup!”
This one fought hard too, but not quite hard enough.
A nice bonus on the way home.
We came across a couple of guys on the way back down the river. They hadn’t had much luck… they probably didn’t expect the river to have been fished already that day. We talked to them for a few minutes before continuing downstream.
We got to one of the runs where we had spooked a fish earlier in the morning, and I was surprised to see it was back. Shagger took my rod and tried a couple of nymphs over it before it appeared to spook. At that point he pulled the pin and gave me back my rod.
I watched as the fish returned to its spot, and I muttered under my breath as i began stripping line from the reel. I had a feeling about this one for some reason.
I cast over the fish, this time with a different nymph from the one I had caught the other fish on. Again we watched aas the fish swung to the right and again I lifted into solid resistance. Shagger said some of his special unkind words to me while I fought valiantly against my fishy foe. I wasn’t feeling the love.
Shagger soon softened and netted my fish, despite his explicit statement that he would neither net or photograph it for me.
We were both surprised and disgusted as the fish lay in the bottom of the net with something emerging from its vent. I still don’t know what it was…
Whatever it was, it got caught on the mesh and the remainder emerged from the fish.
It must have been welcome relief to get that one out. I’m pleased we used Shaggers net on this occasion too!
I guess it must have been a small fish, or eel or something? Whatever it was – it was disgusting.
That was the end of that. We high tailed it to the packs, and then the bikes after that. It was a horrible experience getting to the car, it took forever and I even crashed off my bike… falling from a bike isn’t too flash with a full pack on either. Not to worry, no harm done.
And the special nymph… the biggest, baddest nymph in town. If there is enough interest then I will reveal the identity of this creation, otherwise it can remain anonymous. If you’re keen to see it, then post a comment. If I get 10 or more requests, you’ll see the fly.
Anyhow, that is all for now. I’m heading south in the next few days, hopefully I’ll have something to report once I’m back.
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!
While I’m still madly busy with the end of year duties I haven’t neglected the fishing and have managed to get out a few times. Even though the weather this weekend meant we only looked at the Whakatane bar, gutted!
The trip I had sussed with the old man went ahead on a rainy Sunday earlier in the month. We picked the newly opened reaches of the Ngongotaha river to fish. I arrived around 7am after a quick drive from Hamilton and was greeted by Morri who was just getting sorted after his drive North from Taupo. We were surprised the park was empty and wasted no time getting to the water.
Upon approaching the first pool we stopped and looked into the water. The spot I normally see a few fish sitting in was empty so we crossed the river to start searching the first runs. Just as I was mentioning to Dad to be alert for big browns in the edges we noticed a rather large tail stir up the water and vanish deeper into the safety of the bank/snag. It wasn’t long before we saw a fish feeding in the run and threw a couple of drifts over it until it caught wind and did the old Houdini.
It was still raining and my glasses were fogging up something chronic. While I sorted them out Dad had another flick at a fish sitting in the shallows of a bend, occasionally moving back and forth chewing on nymphs. Whammo, the recovering Rainbow smashed the fly and took off straight up to a big log. After giving the fish some slack it swam back up and off the log much to our delight, some more risky runs and it was near the bank for netting. I jumped down the bank and into the water, putting the net under our first conquest for the day. The smile on Dads face as he helped me back up the small cliff said it all.
That was to be the theme for the rest of the day. We each landed a mix of nice fresh run rainbows to 4lb and some recovering darker jacks that inhaled flies with no hesitation. The big brown wasn’t the only one we saw, we counted at least 6 lurking around in log jams, under bank edges and vegetation. One of them even stuck around to let me bounce a massive black streamer right on its nose. It was incredibly dominant and kept its mouth shut while it was pestered. The river also had a lot of fish that appeared to still be spawning that were very spooky and not that interested in eating.
The pick of rigs was the dry/dropper as it is super subtle on the spooky fish and also keeps the dropper out of the snags which abound the river. This is part of the reason I love fishing the Ngongotaha, it’s a pokey, fun wee river with a reputation for large fish. We also did a quick recce around the lower reaches of a few nearby rivers, spotting some hefty fish that were very reluctant to take our offerings. One fish in particular is the reason I’m going back for a night fish hopefully this week, it was much larger than the ones seen earlier in the day!
The following weekend some mates and I had a charter booked for Raglan. It was to be my first trip over the notorious bar and into the wild west. This day the bar was very docile and Shanan soon had Game On racing out to Gannet Rock, once there we hit the sign with an array of jigs and after a few fishless drops we settled into the idea of a snapper fish closer in. Once anchored up the fish began to slowly come on the chew. Our lucky angler Richard from Hunting and Fishing Waikato lead the charge with decent gurnard and a nice sized pannie lining the bottom of a freakishly big icebox. We kept up with our share, adding sharks and tangles much to Shanans delight, also taking a few kahawai, legal snapper and gurnard.
After a while we lifted anchor, even managing some gear back off the rope. A quick squirt to a nearby reef and scout around had us over some more kingi sign. The first drift was unsuccessful but the next one had us hooked up. And hooked up. And hooked up. It was calamity as I watched our mate Riki take his first ever king flanked by 2 pros doing battle. My only words of advice to him were to hold on to my rod, I was glad he listened because later on he got absolutely dusted on 80lb braid. We each boated a few kingis in the quick fire session.
My new early (thanks Tina) Christmas present was still too shiny so I put a 5inch grub tail on and flicked it away from the jiggers. A couple of knocks later and I came up solid, the fish racing off as line peeled from the spool. I vaguely remember Richard pre-selling me some more braid as a joke. Just as I thought things were starting to go my way we drifted past a cray rope, the fish going straight around it. I watched the float go under and pop back up as the line parted from the fish, thankfully not too much new braid was lost.
Next cast was met with the same response and shortly after I was locked in with a hard fighting trevally. This thing was determined to get away but the new kit was well worth the purchase. After what seemed like 10 minutes and already having sore arms we finally saw colour, much to my relief. Some quick gaff work from Shanon and I had blooded my rod, stoked.
Well that is all that’s worth reporting on for now. I have pretty much sorted my next month for fishing plans so am hoping for good weather, willing fish and in particular sight fishing for kings on the fly at Leigh (please Santa).
Thanks for reading over the last year. Here’s wishing you all a Merry Christmas, keep safe out there and most of all have fun.
I’d always been meaning to go fishing with Shagger, otherwise known as Grunt Futtick. The main obstacle to this taking place was that he moved to Australia a couple of years ago.
Anyhow, Shagger moved back about a month ago. He’s not doing a whole lot at the moment apart from hunting, fishing, so we planned an overnight trip for last week. As usual, the weather forecast was poor.
My car is currently out of action, so it was up to Shagger to get us there. He turned up about half an hour earlier than I expected on Tuesday morning with a beaming smile on his face. I don’t know what he’d been up to, but whatever it was he was in good spirits.
We set off into the rain in the hope the weather forecasters had it wrong for the day. They hadn’t, and it rained most of the way to the river. However the rain stopped when we were near the end of the road and we started our walk in overcast but dry conditions.
The river was crystal clear, but there was no backdrop to speak of so we couldn’t really see in. Shagger started fishing the first run with a nymph and indicator set up before deciding to change it slightly. He kindly offered for me to fish the remainder of the run while he mucked around with his set up, and with my first cast I hooked up. Shagger couldn’t believe it and neither could I.
We saw a few more quite quickly. Most of them were spooked because we got too close to them, but the one which we spotted first came to Shagger’s fly and took it. Something went wrong though, because it didn’t stick when he struck.
The rest of the day was spent mainly blind fishing because of the heavy rain and poor spotting conditions. We both hooked and lost a couple of fish each, only to come unstuck each time after a few seconds. Later in the day I was fishing a promising looking run with a side current entering from the right when I hooked up again.
The fish looked pretty big in the water, and fought with plenty of power. I could feel the shaking of its head vibrating through the line, and a couple of times when it came near the surface it looked very impressive.
It didn’t turn out quite as big as I thought, but it was a great fish. The first one was good, but this one was great, it really made my day.
Unfortunately Shagger didn’t land anything that day, but we are going back for more soon. Hopefully next time the weather will play its part.
I was all worn out and chafed up more than I thought was possible when we finished the three hour walk to the truck, and it was raining as heavily as it had been all day. We made the call to flag the overnighter and we started heading for home.
Cheers for a great day out Shagger, I’m looking forward to going there again.
A few months ago I was informed that Saturday 3rd December was the date set for my sisters wedding in Nelson. No sweat, I’d leave Christchurch on the Thursday, and have a day spare on the Friday before the wedding the next day.
I had to take care of a couple of things first thing on Friday, but after lunch I cunningly suggested an afternoon drive – to a river of all places.What better way to prepare for your sister’s wedding than by looking for a fish or two! Besides, I had just received my new Evolve Tussock XTI boots, I needed to test them out.
After a reasonable drive along a shingle road and a near death experience with an out of control four wheel drive coming the other way, we came to a picnic area. Off we went for a wander down to the water and after a bit of looking I spotted a fish hugging the bottom just out from where we stood on the stones. That was all the prompting I needed to race back to the car and set up my gear. I rigged it up with a Royal Wulff indicator and a brown Caddis nymph with a copper bead as the dropper.
I came up to where I had seen the fish and I couldn’t see it any more. I was worried I had spooked it, but I stood and looked for a while until I spotted it again cruising up along the bottom from downstream. It was pretty deep where the fish was holding, so I threw a cast a reasonable way above the fish which landed in a pile , hoping the nymph would sink quickly.
The first few went untouched, so i moved slightly up and tried another one slightly further into the fast water. I watched as the indicator dry flaoted downstream and when it was directly over the fish I saw it open its mouth. The indicator didn’t move, but I lifted the rod and it was fish on.
When I showed this next picture to my three and a half year old nephew Cameron, he asked me why I had a “Cheeky face” I guess I can’t argue with that.
It wasn’t the biggest fish ever, but I really enjoyed catching this one.
One fish seen for one fish caught. That was fine by me, so we headed back to my sister’s place.
The next day I was charged with the responsibility of driving one of the wedding cars – a 196o something Chevrolet Caprice… I didn’t have a problem with that at all… but I never considered the possibility of the steering wheel being on the wrong side. I’d never driven anything with the steering wheel on the left, so I had a practise run in the morning. It turned out to be pretty easy in the end and I managed to get us all there safely later that afternoon.
The wedding went smoothly and the next day was spent catching up with a few mates before heading back home on Monday after lunch. There had been a lot of rain fall on Sunday, and all of the rivers we passed on the way home were either very high or in flood. Not a good sign for my scheduled two days of fishing starting the next day… but more on that later.
On the way through I needed to make a pit stop at Murchison. There was a friendly wee calf in a small paddock next to the road across from where we stopped. I’m pretty sure it was keen to eat my arm.
I’ll try and get another trip report up in the next couple of days. I’m back to work for a few days again starting tomorrow, then I’m off to Auckland for the Foo Fighters concert next week. I have a few more days off after I come back, so hopefully the weather allows me to get out for some more fishing.
Here we go again… another trip report! I nearly feel guilty for the amount of fishing I have done recently, but only until I remind myself that I’m back to work on Monday. It’s a tough life.
After Robert and I finished fishing together he was planning to head further south in search of better weather. As it turned out, I managed an extra day out fishing with him before he left.
We set off early in the morning as per normal and drifted our way towards some water, hoping we could find some that was fishable. After the recent rainfall I didn’t know quite what we would find. I figured that anything would be better than nothing.
Robert, like many others do, came to New Zealand with the dream of catching big trout. He was lucky enough to catch one on his first day out which eclipsed his previous personal best, a fantastic beginning to his stay.
When I learned of his fish I told him he was very lucky to have caught one that big and he might be hard pressed to beat that during the remainder of his time here. He told me he didn’t mind. He was pleased just to have caught that fish. I admired the fact he was contempt with the fact he had already achieved his goal and intended to just enjoy the rest of his time here.
After driving for a while we came to a piece of water which although slightly high, was very fishable. We unpacked and set off for the day, not knowing what to expect.
Spotting was rather difficult due to a combination dirty water and glare, so we had to blind fish for a bit. No fish were found in the first two or three runs, but the next run provided the first piece of action for the day. I hooked a fish in the outside edge at the top of the run. It was a great place for a fish to hold, it was slightly deeper, had enough current to bring plenty of food through, and the fish wouldn’t need to work too hard to remain on station.
The fish never did anything spectacular while on the line, but it still managed to make its way to near the bottom of the run before I managed to net it.
It was a bit lean, but a nice fish regardless.
Robert had a couple of opportunities further upstream, but unfortunately the fish won both times. We had walked a long way for only three fish seen. I hoped we would find more before time ran out.
We came to the end of the beat where there is a very likely piece of water and I asked Robert if he wanted to fish it blind since we couldn’t see any fish. He told me to do it, so I set about covering the water as best I could.
I fished right into the top of the run, even further than I usually would. Just as the fly was drifting back through a fish lifted right near the top and I lifted the rod to feel solid weight. It was a bit chaotic to begin with, but I soon managed to get control of the situation and after a decent struggle with several bursts into the middle of the river, the fish was safely netted.
This one was a bit bigger than the first.
I have to say, I thought I had covered the water where the fish would be holding well before I got this take. I guess you learn all the time…
After that I suggested to Robert we go and check out a place I had found a fish on a previous occasion. As I suspected, he was keen. I explained that it was a bit of a long shot, because I had only ever seen a fish there once before.
It took a while to get there, but we made it eventually. I snuck along the bank behind the vegetation, using the height to my advantage. I spotted a rather large grey shape near our side. It looked pretty big, but the wind prevented me from seeing it clearly to start with. I told Robert to stay put, while I crept closer for a better look. When I got close enough, I could see it had a tail. Last time I checked rocks don’t come with tails, so I was reasonably sure it was indeed the target species.
A quick team talk then took place in the safety zone, where I suggested that Robert change things up a bit for this fish. As he was doing so he enquired how big the fish was. I felt this was one of those “need to know basis” occasions, I told him it was quite a nice fish. I didn’t lie to him, but this was a rather toned down version of what I was thinking inside my head at the time. I didn’t want to inject him with buck fever at this stage of the game…
The plan was that he would sneak back around a bush and down onto a grassy knob which he would then use as a casting platform. Robert moved into position and I was relieved to hear he could see the fish from where he knelt. That was one less thing to worry about.
Despite the strong headwind, his first cast fell true, as did the second, third, and fourth. They were perfectly positioned, but the fish wasn’t interested in the green caddis. I called a time out, and went to see Robert. I clipped off the caddis and replaced it with a dirty big brown stonefly nymph.
I could see well enough from my new position, so I stayed put while Robert continued casting. The first couple of presentations weren’t quite right and the fish didn’t move. The third one went further up and slightly to the left of the fish, Robert said to me at that time he thought the next one should go further over, just as he finished the sentence I saw the fish move positively to the left and gave my reply of “I don’t think you’ll need to” as the indicator dipped. Robert saw the same as me and ripped the hook home. There was a brief congratulation from me before my tone changed and I screamed at him to get across to the other side of the river. There was some nasty stuff on our side and he needed to be across the river to pull the fish free if it went for the gnarlyness beneath.
The fish ended up at the tail of the pool and caught up in some fast water which pulled it downstream even further. I followed in hot pursuit if Robert and his fish, eventually smashing my way across. When I lifted the net and Robert’s fish was inside, I screamed triumphantly as if it were my own. That was followed by a high five of mammoth proportions and general celebration.
Although I wouldn’t tell him at the time, I knew from the moment I saw this fish in the water it was bigger than what Robert had already caught. I wasn’t wrong. Robert was literally shaking as he looked at his prize, and the excitement on his face was priceless. I felt very privileged to be there for his special moment.
After the photographs were taken the fish was released to swim away into the current strongly. This was a cool thing that had just happened, very cool.
We walked back to where the rest of our gear was up on the bank and Robert decided he would leave it at that for the day, a perfect finish.
Just as we collected the gear I looked down through the wind ruffled surface into the top of the run and spotted another fish feeding in front of a large rock. Without even speaking, Robert handed me his rod and motioned me towards the river. I set off for my casting position while Robert set up his camera to film me as I fished.
I crept to the downstream side of the rock, and peeked out to the side where I could see the shape in the water. I was very close, but needed to be because of the obstruction.
The first cast into the wind was too short, as was the second. I added some extra spice to the third one and it fell where I wanted it to. I was very confident this would be the one… I wasn’t at all disappointed. The fish grabbed the stonefly as soon as it saw it and I was on. The fish didn’t muck around at all as it shot straight downstream and out of the pool into the fast water, with me following it as fast as possible.
I caught up to the fish in the fast water, and went toe to toe with it for a while until I was able to slip the net over its head.
This one was pretty big too.
After the pictures were taken the fish took off savagely into the distance. The perfect finish to the day had become even more perfect. What a great day. I doubt I’ll have another one like this for a while.
I’m back to work tomorrow for a few days then I have some bits and pieces to attend to over the next couple of weeks. Hopefully I’ll manage a day or two of fishing if I get the time. Here’s hoping I do…
Until next time… Tight lines all!
Sometimes, things aren’t all plain sailing. Usually when I have plenty of time to go fishing the weather doesn’t do me any favours. Earlier this week was no exception.
Robert Hakkanson hails from Sweden, he has been religiously following the Riverworks Lifestyle blog since its inception. Robert is a super keen fly fisherman and has been in regular contact with both Jack and I for the past few months while he hasbeen preparing for his trip of a lifetime.
Last week he landed in Christchurch for his long awaited trip to New Zealand.
Jack and I were half way through a feed of burgers and chips on the way back home from our trip with Tony and Mike when Robert called my cell phone. He had been fishing already and had a great time by the sound of what he was saying.
I told him I would need to get home and make an evaluation before I knew where we were at and then get back to him. I didn’t like what I saw when I looked at the forecast, it looked pretty bad everywhere. I decided we would need to venture further than normal to give us a chance, so I called Robert and let him know what the rough plan was.
We left on Monday afternoon, so we would be in the right place for an early start on Tuesday. It rained solidly for the entire drive, it was more than a little concerning that the rivers we were passing had as much water in them as I had ever seen before. There was more than one occasion I thought about turning back for home, but I figured we might as well give it a shot. I didn’t have anything else to do and neither did Robert.
We nearly missed out at the back packers that night, because they were pretty well full due to road closures. What a disaster that would have been. However, we squeezed in to a room (One with two beds) and awoke early the next morning ready to go.
The plan was to drive as far as we could, then walk the rest of the way to what I hoped would be water that was fishable. I was both surprised and disappointed to find the road had disappeared a short way into the journey, the river had washed it away. We were going to be walking further than I thought.
We stopped along the way briefly and managed to find a Brown for Robert to fish to. He tried a couple of different flies before I tied on a whopping big stonefly. The fish seemed to like it and grabbed it on the first drift. Robert hooked it briefly before it became unhitched. Not a bad start, but it could have been better!
A couple of hours later we arrived to a very full, dirty river. At that point I told Robert we had to catch one. We couldn’t walk all that way for nothing!
We walked up for a bit before dropping into a pool where I hoped to find a fish. Eventually I found one, right near the edge off the bank we stood on. Robert generously offered me the chance to catch it, since he had already hooked one on the way there. I used his rod, because it was better set up for this situation. I attached a brown stonefly and waited for the fish to get into position. Robert was on station with the camera and filming as I poked the rod through the bushes and flicked the leader out. I was so close that there was less than a rod length protruding from the tip.
The fish saw the stonefly and made its way over, I watched from right above as it opened its mouth over the fly and I set the hook. The fish bolted downstream and I had to quickly thread the rod through a series of bushes until I was in the clear and able to follow the fish properly. Robert followed behind and filmed what he could. We got to the bottom of the pool and it was all good until I took my net from the back of my vest and realised it wasn’t quite right. I’d tied a knot in it to stop it from getting caught in everything during the walk, but forgot to undo it until now…
Robert came to the rescue, he came rushing out from behind the camera with another net, and we were back in business.
That was a great start. We had one to the bank. Whatever happened after that didn’t matter so much.
We had to walk for a while before we found another couple of fish. They were feeding very close together on the edge of a long run. The fish were easy enough to see initially in the sunlit river, but a small patch of cloud covered the sun for a time and made things slightly more difficult.
Robert crossed over armed with a couple of secret weapons. The first one didn’t work, but the second one did the trick. I nearly blew a vocal cord calling the strike when the fish took. I was stoked to see Robert connected to the brown, and he was even happier.
I charged across and helped him out with the net. It was the same size as my fish, but cleaner looking. The photo shoot then took place before the fish slipped through Roberts’s fingers and back home.
After we finished up with Robert’s fish we saw that the other one was still in position. Again I borrowed Robert’s rod and set about presenting a nymph. Secret weapon number two didn’t work on this one, so I changed to the very sophisticated pattern known as a Bead head Hare and Copper. The fish liked this fly and took it as soon as it hit the zone. I set the hook and the dog fight began.
The fish kept deep for a lot of the time and the leader came pretty close to some big rocks on a few occasions, but I managed to keep it clear and the fish finished up in the net. That made three out of three from the river so far. This day was getting better and better!
The river was clearing quite quickly throughout the day and the fish became tougher to catch. We fished to a couple for quite a while with no result, and another was hooked and lost.
Robert did well to spot a fish in a side braid when it lifted in the water column. He threw a caddis nymph at it and got a result straight away.
It was a great looking fish, and Robert got this one all by himself. It was a very good effort from him.
We arrived at a nicely structured run and found a fish feeding well in shallow water on the near edge. It looked like a sitter at the start, but after about half a dozen fly changes I was beginning to wonder.
In the end I fired a Royal Wulff into it’s feeding lane and the fish had half a look. I tried again and this time the fish nosed the fly for what seemed like forever before slowly breaking the surface and taking the fly. I waited, and waited, then set the hook. Sadly the fish made it into the fast water below me and the weight of the current was too much. The fish was free…
As we walked along the run I saw a fish very briefly in heavy water near the centre of the river. This fish was for Robert. He tried a couple of different flies without success, I had the feeling they weren’t heavy enough to get the job done. Secret weapon number two was attached and it did the trick. Robert hooked up solidly, but when he was moving along the rocks he stumbled and jerked the rod, just enough to snap the tippet. Bummer…
We were already past our agreed turn – around time for the day, but I wanted to look in a big pool I knew wasn’t too far away. When we got there we immediately saw three fish. One was close, one centre pool, and one on the far side.
Robert went across to the one on the far side, while I tried for the one which was closest. To cut a long story short, after a lot of casting with different stuff, I tied on the whopper stonefly from earlier in the day and threw it in front of the fish. Straight away it moved over and took the nymph, I struck, hooked the fish, and lost it. Then I lost it myself. A barrage of terrible words flowed from my mouth, welcome to NZ Robert.
As always, there always has to be one last fish. In this case, I found one not too far upstream and spent a few minutes on it. It took a few different flies, but it ended up taking… secret weapon number two!
It was another great fish and gave a good fight. It was a perfect way to end the day.
It was a very long walk back to the car after that, more than three hours in fact. It felt like longer…
That night we had a grand feed and a couple of beers, and stayed at the same place as the night before. The next morning we hoped to fish for a while before returning home, but the weather came in hard and stopped us from doing that.
As it turned out, the Tuesday was the only window for us to get out in a patch of crap weather. We put in a lot of leg work, and got the reward. We couldn’t help but feel it was one out of the bag.
Thanks Robert for a great day out. It was a pleasure to fish with you.