What follows is a list of my favourite fish from the season. Not necessarily the biggest or the prettiest, but the most satisfying for one reason or another. In fact it has surprised me while constructing this list how many of the bigger fish have been left off. They’re certainly satisfying and look great in photos. But these are the fish I’ll remember.
5) Kicking off the list was a very solid rainbow taken on a tough day. To be honest any one of a number of fish could have filled this spot. The fish were feeding selectively on swimming mayflies and couldn’t be tempted by anything else. Once hooked this fish proceeded to take me for the ride of my life through the pool. There aren’t many stronger fish in the rivers than a football shaped rainbow.
4) This was a brown taken blind in a small stream. It was a strong fish and good looking to boot. Andrew snapped a great shot of it.
3) This fish was an unlikely conquest. Al and I left home at midday and rocked up to the river feeling relaxed. In a riffle at the tailout of the run I spotted a smudge moving upstream. I figure I had spooked it, but covered it anyway. It was with more than a little surprise that I watched a snout poke out of the water to take my klinkhammer. What followed was a very determined fight from a fit fish. Eventually Al secured it in the net and proceeded to snap a photo with a Canon P+S camera from the 1980s that he’d acquired for $2 that morning.
2) I was tossing up between these last two. My number two was also my biggest fish for the season, and my biggest rainbow ever by over a pound. It was a seriously good fish taken in atrocious conditions. It fought hard, if unspectacularly and I was unbelievably pleased to have caught it.
1)But my number 1 had the whole package. It was the total experience. Andrew S and I set off after work and headed north. By the time we pulled up at the stream I’d had 1/2 dozen beers (don’t worry, he was driving) and was in a merry mood. The weather was superb so we donned our jandals and set out for a streamside stroll. The first few fish were spooked in glorious fashion…followed by more…and more. It wasn’t until we came to a bend in the stream and spotted a fish rising 20metres further up that our hope grew. I was on point, so assumed the position. I didn’t dare approach too much more given the behaviour of the previous fish so it was going to be a long cast. The alcohol settled the nerves and the cast was perfect. I thoroughly enjoy the casting side of fly fishing, so a fish caught with a special cast is always that little bit more valuable to me. It’s vividly seared in my mind the sight of the golden fish rising vertically to intercept my fly. As I set the hook it absolutely erupted, tearing off upstream at some pace. In the water it had looked like a nice fish, maybe around 4lbs. After an absurdly strong fight, during which the pitfalls of wearing jandals fishing became apparent to Andrew and I (Andrew, I believe, still has the scars to prove it), a rather bigger than expected fish came to the net. The whole experience of catching this fish was topped off by its appearance. It was short, but incredibly round and heavy. In absolutely perfect condition with substantial giraffe like spots dotting its body. For me it was the fish of the season and one of the most satisfying and enjoyable fish I’ve ever caught.
A video clip from a trip earlier this season. You’ve seen the photo’s now here it is in motion…
Cheers to Mike Kirkpatrick for stitching it all together.
The day started well…
This solid rainbow took a well weighted colubriscus after several presentations. It was the first fish we saw. I was happy.
This happiness, however, was not to continue.
Andrew and I were planning on putting some serious leg work in and heading up up up. All was going well until we concluded that the gorge was impassable, so we’d have to take the alternate route around. Quite how it happened I’ll never know, but for some ungodly reason Andrew and I found ourselves on opposite sides of the river both following what we thought was ‘the track’. As it transpires my ‘track’ turned out to be nothing more than a blaze trail put in place to get to the pest traps. It was absurdly hard going. There was no defined path, just sporadic animal tracks that all of a sudden gave way to waist high falls through rotten logs. I pushed on for longer than I should have, assuming Andrew had to be ahead of me. Eventually, after managing to injure myself in some unprecedented ways, I beat a retreat. Back at camp I wrote a message in ash on our egg carton, and decided to try and salvage something from the day. After all, it couldn’t get worse, right?
I wasn’t sure quite what section of river Andrew might be fishing or whether he was ahead of me or behind me, so I decided to try and do a deep wade to get myself into a position to fish a bit of awkward to access water. The wade was particularly deep at one point, so I decided to shimmy my way across a couple of rocks. Then all of a sudden I hear an odd noise followed by a thud. I turned, just in time to see my Pelican waterproof camera case falling from my now split bag. The image of the case hitting a rock, splitting open and my Canon G11 sinking to the bottom of the river is seared in my memory. After retrieving the camera I simply sat on a rock in disbelief.
Eventually I gathered myself, crossed the river and started slowly making my way upstream. My heart wasn’t really in it, so I wasn’t hopeful when I spotted a smudge sitting a foot from the edge. I had to sit on a log to fish to this fish, so there was a little novelty to the attempt. My first cast was perfect. My second saw the wee beadhead pheasant tail rocket into the water about 6 inches to the right of the fishes face. He ate. The fight was uneventful, but the capture of my first brownie (and quite a solid one at that) of the trip raised my mood slightly. As for the pictures, well…you get the idea.
A little after this Andrew and I bumped into each other. He commiserated with me over the demise of my camera and we commenced our assault on the river in earnest.
It wasn’t until we came to a major bend in the river that created a large swirling pool that the action heated up. Andrew pulled a good fish from the head of the pool that had been rising consistently. It was a horrible drift because of the swirling currents, but eventually the fish ate his wee nymph. It then tore madly around the pool until he subdued it.
I figured that had to be the end of that pool after the antics of Andrew’s fish. However, a fish in the far side continued to rise. It was moving a long way to feed, so it felt like all I had to do was put the cast in the right place. I did, and it ignored it. It wasn’t until near the end of the drift when the fly started to skate along the surface that the fish tore backwards and engulfed it. I’d like to have hooked it this way, as the aggression was rather neat. Sadly the hook never set. Until the next cast when my nymph got eaten. Fool me once…
It wasn’t the best conditioned fish, but it had been a while between drinks.
We continued searching upstream to no avail. Deciding to hedge our bets and head upstream fast while there was still light we skipped a lot of water. But the gamble paid off. Arriving at a pool we’d seen several fish in the day prior it didn’t take long before we’d spotted on. The fish was cruising a slow beat and inspected Andrew’s fly very closely before refusing it. All of a sudden we realised there was a second fish about 3 metres behind. I can’t remember whether Andrew had to cast again or whether he simply continued the drift, but this time his tiny nymph was intercepted. This fish fought like a trooper. A large log bisected the pool and on numerous occasions I thought the fish had made it there. But Andrew fought it hard and there’s only so long a fish can resist such constant pressure. Eventually a great rainbow was brought to the net.
A little further upstream I got another chance and after getting the drift right I was connected to a silver bullet. It wasn’t quite the scrap that Andrew experienced, but a fit well conditioned rainbow will always give you a run for your money.
With darkness descending we headed back to camp to enjoy the now traditional steak, mash and peas topped off with gravy.
We caught some great fish that day, but unfortunately for me it was a tainted day. Taking all the possible precautions and still drowning my camera was a real slap in the face. Still, you can’t be too upset when you’ve still got 3 more days of fishing ahead of you.
Over to Andrew for the final wrap up…
It’s been a couple of weeks since we got back from our adventure down south. Unfortunately essays have prevented me from posting this earlier.
The whole trip seemed to come around rather quickly and I was in a bit of a surprise to realise it was 1am with the plane leaving in 7 hours and no bags packed. After a rushed pack and a short sleep I met Andrew and Jeremy at the airport. We arrived in Queenstown shortly after and made our way to Chris’s place after a quick stop for a beer and Ferg (Double ferg with blue cheese).
Andrew and I took turns tying abomination flies on Chris’s vice…
While Jeremy stared into space. I think his mind was elsewhere.
That night we ate an enormous pizza each and drank enough to feel merry. The alarm came round all too quickly and we jumped in the car, made our way to breakfast…
And then realised we’d forgotten a crucial item. We backtracked, then drove straight into te anau. A second breakfast followed, before we boarded the boat and took in the scenic views of what has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. After a short walk we made our way to our campsite and commenced building the mancamp.
We were in for 4 days and 3 nights, so it pays to take a little time to get things sorted. It’s not easy to do when you’ve got superb fishing so close by though!
Andrew and I decided to head down and fish our way back to camp whilst Jeremy and Chris fished up. It didn’t take long before we found a fish sipping of the surface in a riffle. It was covering so much ground to feed that putting a cast in front of it was far from a given. After a couple of attempts it took Andrew’s nymph and the game began. A decent bit of sideways pressure saw the fish succumb and Andrew had his first ever Fiordland trout.
It didn’t take long before I got on the board as well with a slightly smaller silver specimen. Further upstream in a big deep pool Andrew got broken off by what appeared to be a very good fish. My turn again saw a nice fit fish to the net after it had inhaled my dry while feeding in the eye of a pool.
Things were going very nicely with three fish to the bank on the first afternoon. I hooked and lost another while Andrew covered a few more fish to no avail. Then in a small pool created by a branch sticking in against a bank I spotted a smudge. Andrew worked his way up the pool as we couldn’t spot the fish precisely. As the flies drifted over the lip the smudge reappeared and swung. I shouted strike just as Andrew lifted the rod. What followed was a classic example of attempting to net a very strong fish in completely inappropriate water. The nearest beach was a decent walk away, so we attempted to net it mid riffle. Given the fact that we succeeded I won’t comment on alternatives, but suffice to say that it’s not the best form.
Andrew with the fish of the day.
After that we made our way back up to camp. Andrew took a leaf out of all teenage delinquents books and started a fire with aerosol deodorant. Once the fire was going we set our minds to dinner – Steak, mashed potatos and peas. Good god was it good.
I went out for a night fish that night and hooked a couple of fish, but didn’t manage to land them. All in all it was a very good first day.
Andrew will be along in a few days time with the next installment.
The Fish Of The Season competition has come to a close. We have had some truly great entries that weren’t included in the final list. Sadly we could only choose 5 and these are our picks.
So now’s the time to choose your favourite. Click on the image to have a closer look.
Voting closes Monday 21st of May at 7pm.
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…
Just a quick one from me, in keeping with the duration of the trip.
Headed up country immediately after my Nana’s 80th birthday festivities drew to a close on Sunday. I had a special guest with me this time: dad.
After sorting out the lodgings we quickly hit the river, although the first hour or two was rather fruitless with few fish seen. As the light diminished the fishing increased. Things took a definite turn for the better when we came across a deep corner pool riddled with snags. At the head holding high in the column just off the lip was a golden shape. For the briefest moment I thought it was just another log, except logs don’t rise. I shimmied into position and put the perfect cast over it with a #14 parachute adams. And…nothing. And again…nothing. The third was slightly wayward, and met with similar determined resistance. A change of tactics was called for. Off with the dainty mayfly, on with a big ugly terrestrial. It only took one cast. A determined, if unspectacular, fight ensued with the most effort exerted keeping the fish from the countless snags. After a couple of dashes from the shallows the battle concluded with a stonking brown safely in the net.
A reason to smile.
I’m far from an elitist, but I’ll always value a fish on the dry just a little bit more.
The next wee while saw a few fish sighted, usually too late. Dad was unlucky not to rise a couple of fish that he covered well. Finally, with darkness well on its way we approached another corner pool with more than one impediment to casting. Dad opted out, so there I was standing up to my neck in grass watching (well really listening to) a fish rise just feet away. It was almost dapping, but it sure brought about results. This time the #14 para adams certainly wasn’t rejected. What the previous fight lacked in spectacle this one more than made up for in aerobatics. I think the fish spent more time in the air than the water. But the trusty #5 absorbed it all and the fish soon succumbed to the constant pressure.
Another superbly conditioned brown.
After that we retired for the night, got a filthy feed of chinese takeaways and returned to our room where we were embraced wholeheartedly by cold beer.
The next day saw an early start, which turned out to be well worthwhile as not 5 minutes after we started we noticed another angler 100 metres or so downstream of us. On about the fifth cast of the day Dad caught the fish of the day. In fact, barring one small model I picked up, it was the only fish of the day. It rose confidently to eat his cicada and burst downstream as soon as it felt the bite of steel. I had to employ some boot camp tactics to get dad chasing it as at one point there was over 30 metres of backing out. I’ve seen fish fight harder than this, but I’ve never seen them fight so one dimensionally. It just swam in one direction, downstream, for the duration of the fight. Once we’d caught up to it the netting was practically a formality.
Dad once again demonstrates his propensity to make 4lb fish look tiny.
This proved to be the only real highlight in what was otherwise a very quiet day. The trip home was interrupted only by a brief stop for kebabs and a briefer stop for coffee. Great to get out on the water with dad and catch a few fish!
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.
Firstly I feel I should apologise for my absence these past few months. It’s been hectic and I just haven’t been fishing often enough. Cheers heaps to those who took over the mantle and kept things ticking along.
I’ve barely been fishing since I got back to Wellington but, with the exception of a few false starts, I’ve been catching some very good fish on the few times that I’ve been out.
After finishing up at work for the year I headed over into the Wairarapa with dad for the day. The mission was to get Dad onto a fish. Sadly the mission remains unfulfilled. Dad fished really well and managed several takes, but for some reason they just weren’t connecting. It wasn’t until late in the day that I managed this brawler that punched well above its weight.
The day after Christmas Andrew from Hamills and I set off for a wee excursion. The weather was hot and he kindly offered to drive so I spent the trip imbibing some quality IPAs. By the time we got to our fishing location I was half chopped. Couldn’t help wondering if that was the reason we were spooking more than our usual share of fish. When we’d almost entirely given up hope we saw something that lit up our spirits. A rising fish. Because of the failing light we could only make it out when it rose or sat in the section lit up by stream. First cast with my #14 parachute adams was short, but the second was perfect. What proceeded was a worthy scrap. I got towed up and down the river by this fish while trying to keep it clear of sticks and weed in the water. Finally, after a false start or two, Andrew snared it in the net. I was chuffed.
I didn’t sleep at all well that night. I’m not sure whether it was the hayfever or the lack of sleeping bag/sleeping mat. I awoke around 5 30 and knew that I wasn’t getting back to sleep. The day started off slowly, and to be honest didn’t progress much beyond that. The highlight was a great rainbow caught in farcical style. My drift was well and truly over and I’d begun to wind the line back onto the reel when I feel a slight tug. Next second I’m approaching my backing as a silver bullet heads downstream for the horizon. I don’t really feel like I deserved this fish, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
The final installment of this somewhat disjointed post occurred just a couple of days ago. After trekking all over the North Island with Liz and crossing filthy river after filthy river it was with more than a modicum of relief that we arrived to find this river running clear. The sight of another car in the park didn’t help, but after encountering these guys on the river bank I promptly headed off for the pool above where they’d finished. I fished half heartedly on the way, but I knew darkness was approaching and this wasn’t somewhere you want to get caught out. On about my third drift the indicator hesistated, and I pounced. Sweet solid resistance. And then straight to the depths. A classic battle followed with the fish alternately leaping for the heavens or diving to the bottom of the pool. For the most it fought more like a browny. I’d get it into the shallows, then it’d head for the other side of the river. It was relief more than anything that followed my successful netting. The photo’s a shitty self timer and doesn’t really do justice to this magnificent fish. It’s a new P.B. rainbow for me by over a pound. It really was quite special.
That’s all for now team. Hopefully I’ll get out for a fish in the next couple of weeks. I’ve got some serious plans for my weekend, lets just hope the weather doesn’t get in the way.
This past week has been epic. I’ve had a few great days fishing with some other bits and pieces thrown in for good measure… and I’m not finished yet. There is still the weekend to come.
My epic week began last Thursday, very early last Thursday to be more specific. I picked Jack up at about 4am and we set off on a long drive to where we met with Tony. Mike, and Lester. At some stage during the winter the idea for this trip was first floated, and finally the time had come.
Mike has already made a couple of guest appearances on previous blog entries… and Tony, he’s popped up here and there on occasion too.
I’ve known Tony for many years now. I used to spend hours in his Rod and Gun shop when I was growing up in Nelson. I’ve been fortunate enough to bump into him from time to time over the past few years, but until now I’ve never had the opportunity to fish with him. The closest I came before this was when my great friend from school Sam’s father was kind enough to pay for Tony to guide the pair of us as teenagers. For that I will be eternally grateful, and I’ll never forget that day, but this time we would fish together.
We left Lester at the bottom of the valley to harass the fish down there while the rest of us humped packs upstream for a couple of hours to where we set up camp. After the tents were erected we had some lunch and ventured upstream in search of trout.
The water was much colder than I had remembered it being, I was standing on the opposite side of the river from the others feeling sorry for myself when I saw Tony begin stripping line from his reel. I figured this must be a good thing, I stayed put and watched as he put a few casts on the water. Tony then did something to his set up, and within a cast or two he was fast into the fish.
I stumbled through the water to the other side just in time for Jack to secure the fish in the net. I snapped away with my camera and the fish was returned to the water pretty soon afterwards.
Upstream further a fish was located near the far bank. Jack wasted no time getting over there and successfully managed to push the fish over to just in front of where we stood behind some bushes. The fish didn’t seem too keen on his nymph, and he kindly offered me the opportunity to try and persuade the fish into eating something.
I cast a streamer at the fish from where I stood on the bank, with the fish in front and a few metres downstream from me. The streamer swung down behind it and when I stripped it back past the fishes head it turned on the fly and smashed it. It wanted that thing dead. I watched for the mouth to close and I set the hook into the angry brown with plenty of background noise from a very animated audience. I was surprised at the reaction I got from the fish, as were the onlookers!
Just up from there Tony caught a great Rainbow which fought like holy hell. It went under a fallen tree and everything, but Tony did what Tony does, and landed the fish without even looking like losing it. It was beautiful to watch.
Mike caught the next one, but unfortunately I was lagging downstream a bit and missed it, so there are no photos of it.
At that stage it was getting pretty late, not to mention cold, but the fat lady hadn’t sung yet. A fish was found in a shallow edge of a run and Jack placed his dry fly right where it needed to go. The fish came up and grabbed the fly immediately, Jack waited for as long as necessary and set the hook well. It was a nice brown which capped the day well.
After that it was a quick march back to camp where we got the fire going and cooked dinner. We sat up for a while solving the problems of the world around the camp fire and then it was time for bed. It was about then I realised how envious I was that Tony and Mike had inflatable bed rolls and I didn’t… Nevertheless I slept adequately and woke to a freezing cold morning ready to go fishing again.
Breakfast was a good old fashioned One Square Meal bar. They aren’t exactly what you would categorise as fine dining, but they serve a purpose I guess.
The Friday was pretty chilly really. I don’t usually wear waders when I’m fishing a place like this, and on this day I really wished I had packed them for the trip. I must be getting old or something.
The fish weren’t doing much until around lunchtime. Tony talked about water temperature being the probable reason for the inactivity, I have no doubt he was right. Like I said, it was pretty cold.
Fortunately the recipe was right after lunch and we started to find active fish. Mike had the first opportunity and capitalised by catching a nice brown with a parachute dry. This one was caught on film by more than one camera, with everyone playing their part in the production. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product later on.
There was some tough going for a while from that point on, with the river very boisterous and lined with thick vegetation. After bush bashing our way through from the track, two feeding fish were located at the bottom of a run. Jack climbed in behind and got one to take his fly. I moved forward from my perch on a boulder with net in hand, just in time for the fish to swim straight towards me. I stuck the net down and it swam straight in – easy as you like. This one was caught on video too, but not photographed.
Next it was my turn. There was a fish feeding in shallow water just in front of a big rock further up the run on the far side from where Jack hooked his fish. I snuck up behind the rock and formulated my plan. I tied on a Humpy dry fly with a Pogo style nymph as a dropper. The second cast brought the result I was after and I had my fish.
I crossed a heavy piece of water for a Brown feeding hard on the far side. Unfortunately when I was altering my set up it spooked inexplicably and went doggo before I had even finished tying my knots. All was not lost however, for there was a Rainbow in the deep water high in the water column and rising freely. The first good placement of the black Jack parachute saw the rainbow come up and grab it. I set the hook and that’s when hell broke loose… I sidestrained hard to try and drag it into the left braid where there few hazards. Unfortunately I only came close to getting it all the way to safety, which wasn’t quite enough. The fish managed to get it’s head and shot through the chute into the heavy current I’d battled across to get there in the first place. Once it was in there I didn’t stand a chance, the tippet pinged a boulder at speed and the fish was history.
Sometime after that Mike and I rounded the corner to find Jack fast into a good fish with Tony looking on. The Rainbow was pretty stubborn and wouldn’t come in easily. It was the type of thing you would expect to see from a Brown, a real tug of war. It was a great looking fish.
Another Rainbow was hooked after Jack released his fish, this time by Mike. The fish nearly exploded from the water when it took the dry, and was equally explosive in taking off downstream into the rapids. Unfortunately it too snapped the tippet, it could well have been the fish of the trip.
Tony got his turn after that. He spotted a Rainbow on the edge of the current and enticed it up to his parachute dry. When the fish felt the hook it took off like a rocket and gave the 4 weight Tony was using a really good workout.
Despite the commotion that had just been, there were still two feeding fish remaining in the pool. Jack hooked one after several attempts, and it promptly took off to the opposite side of the pool and all the way to the top into some white water. It was spectacular stuff!
That run took its toll on the fish though, and it was landed without issue once the line was regained.
The third fish was still in position, so I decided to have a crack. To my surprise, I got it to take and hooked up briefly before it spat the hook, and I spat the dummy.
It was time to head back to camp. Along the way Jack found a fish on the far side of the river which he had fished to earlier in the day. He kindly offered me the chance to go across the river to try and catch it which I gratefully accepted. I battled across the icy current in the hope that my efforts would not be for nothing. When I got there I was pleased to find I could see the fish, albeit not perfectly.
A Grey Wulff was at the sharp end this time, and even though I couldn’t see it very well, I figured that when the fish rose it must have been to my fly, so I struck accordingly. It was a pleasant realisation to find it had all gone to script. I leant on the fish as much as I dared and netted it quickly before battling my way back through the ice water to Jack and Tony for a photo. As you can see where my weight was resting on my legs, it wasn’t even close to being warm in there.
Dinner that night was well earned. Steak and pasta in the back country is hard to beat…
The sleep that night was better than the night before. The next morning was far warmer too, I struggled to get out of the sleeping bag at first. Eventually I stumbled out of the tent in time for Mike to serve up a feed of bacon and eggs. That was something worth getting out of bed for right there!
This was to be the last day. The fishing wasn’t much good as it turned out, we found only a handful of fish in the small amount of water we covered, and most of them weren’t willing to play ball.
Tony was unlucky to break off on one at the beginning, and the rest spooked, until we found a couple in a back eddy facing downstream in the swirling current. The guys offered me the chance at the fish. I wasn’t going to say no.
I elected to fish for the back one, it looked like the bigger of the two. It was relatively deep down so I rigged up a stonefly and bead head caddis combo with an indicator before heading around the back of a fallen tree into position. Using the tree as cover I crept as far as I dared and flung the double nymph combo into the current, the indicator dipped and I was on. The fish headed down towards the rapid at the tail of the pool, I leant on it hard sideways and steered it into a small backwater where Jack netted it for me.
That was it. It was time to pack up and head home. The walk out was every bit as tough if not tougher than the walk in, but it was worth every drop of sweat just to have spent the time fishing with these guys.
I’m extremely grateful that Tony and Mike were willing to spend their time fishing with Jack and I. It was great talking with them and watching them fish, like the title says, these guys are legends. Thank you guys, I really hope we can do it again someday.
I’ll try to get the next instalment of my epic week on here as soon as I can… I’m heading away for the weekend though, fishing again, so it might be a few days yet!
Take care, until next time… tight lines all.
I’m writing this one on behalf of the whole crew. We’ve just come back from a weekend in Turangi… the fishing was tough, but we had a great time.
I flew to Wellington last Wednesday afternoon and Jack picked me up from the airport. I’d never fished the North Island before, I was looking forward to finding out what it was like.
It was straight from the airport to Riverworks HQ to catch up with the guys, then we headed back into Wellington to stock up on a few bits and pieces for the trip. That evening Jack took me to Burger Fuel for a feed followed by gelato and beer from a cool little bar that I can’t remember the name of. I’ll definitely go back to all of these places the next time I’m in the neighbourhood – It was all good stuff.
Thursday morning the alarm went off at 5:30. Not ideal, but we had places to be. We had arranged to take a detour through Dannevirke on the way to Turangi and catch up with the famous Dundee family for a couple of hours. Incredibly, we managed to find the Dundees without getting lost. How we did that I’m still not quite sure..
The Dundees are great people. Their Family consists of Grant, Michelle, and their two sons Daniel and Sean. They have a farm up that way and spend a fair bit of time fishing the local river, with reasonable success.
Getting set up with the Dundees.
It was pretty windy that day which made casting tough, and the river had a touch of colour in it. However Jack hooked and landed a wee rainbow pretty quickly on a small nymph.
Jack and the Dundee boys
Dan Dundee is just learning to fly fish after cutting his teeth with the spinning rod. He is as keen as all young guys are when they are learning to fly fish and it’s great to see. We were all doing our thing when Dan let out an excited yell. I looked across to see him with a bent rod and a nice rainbow leaping out of the water attached to his line.
We all made for his direction and he pretty quickly had the fish on land. His first ever on the fly rod.
Dan Dundee lands his first fish on the fly!
Dan Dundee with Jack and his younger brother Sean
That was all the fishing action for the day. The wind came up stronger and we had to push on through to Turangi.
It was a pleasure to meet these guys and spend some time with them on the river. It was a priveledge that we were able to be there when dan caught his first one on the fly.He’ll never forget that moment and neither will we. Good stuff Dan!
We made it through to Turangi and got some accomodation sorted out before ducking off for my first taste of fishing the Big T.
The reports were reasonably good, there were meant to be a few fish in the river.
We made our way to the river and away we went. We walked downstream past several other anglers to a section of water which didn’t have anyone else fishing it. I rigged up a nymph with a great big indicator and a couple of split shot.
It wasn’t too long and Jack hooked up.
Jack caught one more and lost a few others. I only managed the one hook up, but dropped it pretty quickly. Still, it was good to feel a fish on the end of my line!
End of day one.
That night we met up with Tone from Taupo at the pub for a couple of beers. I had some streamers to give him to try out. Unfortunately I managed to set the hook from one of them right into my finger up to the bend… it wasn’t coming out easily either. It made a really sick crunching noise when I finally managed to pull it free. Let’s just say it wasn’t very nice and I don’t want to do it again!
Fish and chips was the food of choice for the evening. It was more or less inhaled at the cabin and we were off to sleep soon afterwards.
Breakfast the next morning wasn’t quite what the dietitians recommend.
The next day was tough going. We fished the whole day for little reward. We fished four different rivers, I hooked and lost one, we watched another angler catch a fish from a stream, and Jack caught a small one on the Tongariro which he refused to let me photograph!
It turns out this guy is also from Christchurch. He was in Turangi for a work social function… he made an early start with a couple of others. (Sorry mate – I didn’t catch your name!)
The general consensus from those we spoke with was that the fishing had gone cold again… There were a few disappointed people on the river that day.
That afternoon some more troops arived in the form of Rob, Alex, and Andrew Marshall. Beer, Burger King, and more beer with some Taupo hot – rodders was the order of the night.
The next morning we headed to a different river system for a look.
It turned out to be a good option. Rob hooked up early on, he landed and released his fish and was on again pretty quickly after that. Unfortunately i don’t have a picture because I was on the other side of the river at the time..
The boys… doing their thing
Jack, also doing his thing
The boys caught a few fish that day. Even I managed to break my North Island duck. I pulled a nice brownie from under a tree in a nice run.
We fished right to the limit point for winter fishing and Jack pulled a fish from the final pool.
We all sat on the side of the river at that top pool for about two hours… some talked, some slept, and some even went over for a cast from time to time.
That afternoon when we got back we were joined by Lucas, the final member of our party. I went with Jack for a couple of hours to meet with some others who were in the area, before returning to the cabins to drink a few beers and have more than a few laughs.
I’m glad I didn’t have to sleep in the room we were drinking beer in… it really stunk the next morning. Four guys who’ve all been eating junk food and drinking beer doesn’t make for a nice smelling room. It was disgusting!
That morning we headed back to the same river from the day before, but lower down.
Jack and Andrew Marshall – on point.
I crossed over and fished the same side as Alex, while the others were on the other side of the river. There were a few more fish caught that day… but I only managed to get pictures of fish Alex and I caught. I’m sure the others have more photos.
This brownie was pulled from a pocket at the top of a big papa slab.
Alex with the angry wee rainbow
That was all for the trip. All up it was a great time. Despite tough fishing at times, we pulled through and brought a few to land and had some fun. I can’t wait for the South Island edition this summer… I’m sure the others are looking forward to it just as much!