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…
First of all thank you all for your help and suggestions for the new wading jacket. We really appreciate our customers input.
It appears we definitely have 2 very separate camps here, 1 for the wading jacket similar to what is already on the market and 1 for the more compact, simple, packable shell. All I have to do now is convince Rob to do 2 jackets so everyone has an option!
I received a few jacket designs, which were all really good and well thought out. Here they are:
From Calum McKenzie, a keen young fisherman and outdoorsman:
From Lisa McKenzie:
From Daren Gamble:
Thanks very much guys for all the effort you put in.
Everyone’s ideas have been taken into consideration and will form a check list to help us design a wading jacket for our customers. The design process for this jacket will be blogged continuously and at every stage our readers will be included in the discussions and decisions relating to this. We want you guys to see and be involved in everything from the concept right through to production.
Thanks again and keep an eye out next month for the initial concept sketches, we will need your votes!
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!
Back in February I spent a day fishing a backcountry river with a couple of South African guys. Actually, only one of them survived the walk (it isn’t short…). Oh well, more fish for the two of us to fish to. Phil was the survivor, and he turned out to be a really top guy. Plus he could fish.
Things started slowly. We were fishing a coloured river, and although we could see fish they weren’t active in the cold morning temperatures. It wasn’t until the sun was a bit higher in the air that things started to change. It was like a switch flicked and flicked good. After lunch we fished to about 15 fish and hooked every single one of them. There was nothing small either. It was just magic. I dream of days like that. Oh, and the fly? Lets call it Andrew’s take on a cicada. Christ does it work.
For bizarre reasons that I won’t go into now, I’ve only got video of Phil fishing, and photos of my fish. So lets let the video do the talking for Phil…
As for me? I suppose I did alright.
Caught in the same lie that I pulled a much bigger fish from earlier in the season.
A casual cast revealed that this was not, in fact, a rock.
Last cast of the day. What a way to finish.
That was only about half of the fish from that day, it was truly spectacular. It’s days like this that I look back on with envy as I study for exams. No idea what’s happening with Uni after these latest aftershocks (btw hope that everyone out there is ok! All safe and sound at the wunder-flat). Apparently they’re letting us know tonight, but that doesn’t make it much easier to motivate myself to study. Andrew’s got a report for you guys coming up in the next week or so with another video from our season.
One last thing – if you haven’t already then join Riverworks (at http://www.facebook.com/riverworksnewzealand) and TwoTroutBums NZ (at http://www.facebook.com/twotroutbums.newzealandflyfishing) on Facebook. That way you’ll stay up to date and get all the good oil asap.
Till next time.
I’ve been pretty slack this season. I haven’t done any where near as much trout fishing as I’d hoped, But I thought I might as well make an effort on the last day of the season.
Trout at the tail end of the season have always been a little hard for me, usually not interested in anything as they’ve got other things on their minds………..This time I had a special fly that Jack tied for me, not something to be showing your mates, it goes against everything traditionalists stand for. I was confident I was gonna slay fish with it, after jack had told me several stories of how well this creation worked on the south island browns. I tried it on closing day. Jack, it spooks fish like nothing else, straight to plan B.
The day was awesome, no wind, bright and sunny, and the river was higher than usual but dropping and a beautiful clear emerald colour. Last time we fished here we were second on water and it was impossible to catch a fish, this time we made sure we were the first there.
The first 2 fish wouldn’t have a bar of anything and both spooked on the second cast, the cast’s were good and presentation was good, I just guess some fish are much harder than others.
The next fish was sitting in a funny spot, Id seen him here before but never managed to get him to look at anything, my cast was a little off, but he moved a long way for the nymph, his mouth opened, his head turned and I came up tight, he fought hard in the fast water and I could feel my leader on rocks, I got the feeling he’s been through this before and knew a few tricks. We managed to get him back into slack water and land him, a little slabby and scarred up quite badly, he still went a shade over 5lb.
Now it was Andrews turn. Andrew has been taking me out on his boat saltwater fly fishing. I found out he had never caught a brown trout before, so I was determined to pop that cherry. We found one feeding deep, a couple drifts and no dice. The fish started to become more active and started feeding the entire depth of the water column, we changed tactics and position to get a better drift and what do you know, before long Andrew was hooked up to a very active brownie who spent spent a lot of time in the air, Andrew was screaming like a school girl at a Justin Beiber gig. After a good scrap I netted a nice brownie around 4lbs, Andrew was ecstatic to say the least, few grip and grin shots and he put him back for next year.
The next 2 fish behaved the same as the first 2, 2 casts and gone. Then we spotted one feeding the width of the river, he was probably the most active fish Ive seen there, I guided Andrew into his location, as he false casted his nymph and indicator the fish came up and took a dry! he rose again and again, Andrew changed up his rig. Andrews new dry and dropper combo did the trick after “several” good casts, and another good brownie of 4lb was netted.
That was the last fish spotted for the day, and what a day. Andrew kept telling me it was his best days trout fishing yet. I was happy to help get Andrew his first browns. We couldn’t have asked for a better day really, maybe some bigger fish……….
I was testing a new prototype fly rod, an 8’6″ 5 weight, and what a honey of a rod! I can’t wait for these to hit the market, my very expensive high end rod will be getting retired! Keep an eye on the blog, we will keep you all updated with the design and testing of some new fly rods.
The weather’s changing, and so’s the fishing. I’ve been back in Christchurch for a little over a week now and still haven’t had my first lecture. Two classes are being taught online and one has been postponed. All of this means that I have precisely one lecture per week. Ridiculous. If only the season wasn’t drawing towards its end.
I’ve managed to get out a few times since getting back, however none have been overly successful.
The first trip can be described rather simply.
Day 1: Andrew misreads the weather forecast. We walk out.
Day 2: Isaiah has an allergic reaction to a wasp. We walk out.
Day 3: I get my truck stuck. A tractor pulls us out.
I did vent a wee bit of frustration at a particularly stubborn fish that wasn’t playing ball.
Not my proudest moment.
We did manage a couple of fish in between the wind and the rock throwing.
A true trophy to start the day.
Look, it’s a real fish.
I spotted this fish from approximately 2m away.
The next day, after the incident with the wasp was dealt with, I managed this monster.
That was pretty much it for that trip.
St Paddy’s day saw me in absolutely fine form. I’m not going to go into what I got upto that night, but suffice to say I had one hell of a hangover the next day.
Nothing like a bit of fishing to ward off hangovers though, so I took to the rivers with that old stalwart…the Grinch.
The fishing was a bit slow, but we both managed to connect to fish. Unfortunately Andrew’s fish, which naturally was larger than mine, did the dirty on him and snapped him off.
I managed a couple to the net before we commenced the walk home.
I’m not totally sure what I’m upto in this picture.
Satisfying fish. Filthy tactics.
That’s all for now. This weekend I’m heading into Fiordland for the first time with Chris Dore and Jeremy. Should be a sweet trip. Hopefully I’ll have a great report for you guys following that trip.
Locally Produced: Zane caught this 11lb brown trout in Murchison with his friend Tony Entwistle.
The variety and diversity of angling opportunity is probably unmatched.
MURCHISON fishing guide Peter Carty once wrote that ‘‘fishing is a disease. It’s not usually fatal and there’s no known cure for it, but the therapy is wonderful.’’
I couldn’t agree more and often think back to when Pete and I began our guiding careers together in the mid-80s around the Nelson Lakes and Murchison areas.
They were halcyon days and we were just the latest in a long line of anglers intent on exploring and enjoying the rivers of Murchison. I still fish these rivers and Murchison has become a playground for anglers from all over the world.
Murchison is situated on the Four Rivers Plain – the flood plain of the Buller River, which flows through the centre of town, fed by tributaries the Mangles, Matiri and Matakitaki.
The thing that has always impressed me about the Murchison area is the people, and we anglers are lucky that Murchison landowners are so generous with access to the rivers. Developing relationships with many of these local families, watching their kids grow up, and enjoying good times along the way have made the fishery even more special in my mind.
Murchison is probably best known for the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that ripped the place apart on June 17, 1929, causing 17 deaths and untold mayhem. The landscape still bears the scars of this massive quake. The Mirfin family has a connection to the tragedy, with my grandfather’s elder sister, Jessie, being married to Murchison farmer Charlie Morel when the earthquake struck. Charlie was killed by a huge mudslide and flying roofing iron. According to witness Samuel Busch, the mudslide crossed the Matakitaki River from the west and wiped out Morel’s house at the Six Mile. A gentleman to the last, Charlie’s last words were, according to family folklore, ‘‘Save yourself Jessie, I’m done for.’’
Immediately after the earthquake, my grandfather Ash and his twin brother, Bryce, managed to ride and carry pushbikes through the mangled one lane Buller Gorge road from Reefton in a futile attempt to help their sister. Later, it took 18 months with pick, shovel and saw to re-open this vital link to the West Coast. Ironically, the road works and repair to the land after the earthquake created many jobs and insulated Murchison from the worst effects of the 1930s Depression.
The Buller River system is one of the world’s greatest brown trout fisheries. The variety and diversity of angling
opportunity is probably unmatched, with trout-filled small, medium and large freestone streams and rivers at virtually every point of the compass. Nearby are the waters of North Canterbury’s Waiau system to the south, the Grey and Inangahua catchments to the west, the Wairau catchment to the east, and the Motueka and its tributaries to the north.
The Buller River itself is a worthwhile fishery, but a shadow of its former glory due to the invasive alga didymo, which has choked the upper reaches above Murchison. Its stranglehold on the rivers of Murchison is expanding, but it isn’t the end of the world because the worst affected areas are the mainstem Buller and the Gowan River, which come out of Lakes Rotoiti and Rotoroa. Tributary streams that are not sourced from fertile lake waters seem to have fared much better. Virtually every river and stream in the Murchison area now has didymo, but even when its presence is heavy, the fishing can still be good, and excellent trout fishing can be had in areas that many anglers avoid.
The Matiri River is a great fishery for small to medium-size trout, but can be a little tough to fish these days, with a lot of didymo present, possibly due to the fertility effect of Lake Matiri.
The Matakitaki is a great blue river, alluvial in nature in its upper reaches and more confined within gorges as it makes its way to join the Buller atMurchison. A fabulous dry fly stream, it is also rich in gold and still mined to this day. Lately, the Matakitaki has been in the spotlight with Network Tasman looking at harnessing it for hydro-electricity generation, but the
river already has a rich history of intensive human use, including heavy mining activity in the late 1800s.
The Mangles River, along with its major tributary, the Tutaki, is a lovely fishery and I have great memories of wonderful days on-stream. There are some great scenic drives up these valleys, such as the track over the Braeburn saddle leading to Lake Rotoroa or the road through to the upper Matakitaki and Mataki Station.
Two other world-class Murchison rivers and Buller tributaries must also be mentioned. To the north is the small limestone river, the Owen, a bountiful fishery complete with challenging leopard-spotted browns. The Owen was
the apple of my eye when I was a boy, and it was where I learnt to fly fish and hunt with my father, Stuart.
To the south of Murchison is another great trout river, the Maruia and tributaries. The Maruia has always been revered as a fish factory, and this year the bonus for south bank tributaries such as the Maruia and Mataki has been some large mouse-fed trout, many into double-digit weights by imperial measurement.
However, there have been some low catch rates around Murchison the past few months. Many anglers and guides have told me their fishing has been the worst in living memory.
Fish and Game field officer Lawson says recent assessments of trout populations have shown up excellent quantities of medium and large fish. He believes that with so much trout food around this year, the fish don’t need to feed as often or for as long, making them less vulnerable to capture. Let’s hope this is the case and that the Murchison fishery is in good shape for future generations to enjoy.
The Murchison area, people, land, rivers and trout fishery will always be special in the minds of many. Recently Murchison dairy farmer Ken Caldwell struck a chord when he talked glowingly about his new farm in the area and described how he was ‘‘farming it already in my mind’’. Fly fishing addiction and love of rivers is no different and I, for one, will be fishing the trout streams of Murchison in my mind forever.
Zane Mirfin – http://www.strikeadventure.com
Dry flies and rainbows go together like bbq’s and beer: they could be made for each other.
I thought Wednesday would be a hard day to beat, but in terms of sheer enjoyment and satisfaction I think today took the cake. A few weeks back Andrew and I had offered to take Thomas, a keen young fisherman, out for a days fishing. Well today that day came about. Thomas has done a lot of spin fishing, but this was to be his first big fly fishing trip. It started off in classic fashion with me scoffing as many weetbix as I could stomach on four hours of alcohol induced sleep, before dashing off to pick up the others.
We got the river and were astonished to see no-one else there.
Turns out there was probably good reason. Our first choice was very borderline fishable, but we persevered for a few hours. The river yielded two mighty trophies for us though.
Andrew snared this behemoth…
Before I trumped him with this monster…
We’d had enough of that spot, so ate some kai and motored onwards to our next port of call. It didn’t take long…
Guess where we started…
Thomas’ biggest to date on a fly rod. It rolled back to take my bionic bug in classic rainbow fashion, and once hooked I handed over the reins.
Not much further up we spotted another fish. Andrew chucked his big Royal Wulff up, and the fish moved a good few feet to hoover it in. Once again, Thomas did the honours. Really good fight from this big bow.
Tom’s last fish came from a very stubborn fish, which I eventually snared with a wee woolly bugger. We took the opportunity to teach him how to play fish on the fly rod, showing him how to guide them into the slacker water.
Rainbows in heavy water, good times.
He played it well, and yet another rainbow fell to the young fella.
Andrew then proceeded to do what I thought to be impossible. He missed four strikes on one fish. By the end of it it had ceased to be frustrating and had simply become hilarious. Somehow I don’t think he agreed with me. However karma was to get its own back on me. We’d crossed some pretty heavy flows that day, so it was fitting that I would fall flat on my ass crossing a shallow braid. As soon as I felt myself falling I flung my rod up in the air and cradled Andrew’s precious camera. If there can be such thing as a coordinated fall on your ass then this was it.
The rod still worked though, as this wee bow will attest to. They just couldn’t get enough of our big dries.
That was it for the day. We stopped off on the way back for pies before dropping Thomas home. It was a fantastic day, despite the frustrating start. Watching Thomas chasing a big bow downstream at full pace was priceless, as was his smile when we finally got it in the net. Both Andrew and I agreed that it was a hell of a lot more fun than catching the fish ourselves!
Couple of days rest for me before a wee trip out with Ryan on Monday.
I’ve never been very good at studying. Particularly not when all I can think of is that instantaneous loss of tension that comes with losing a big fish. I don’t know about you guys, but whenever I lose a fish I can’t help but replay it over and over in my head. What should I have done? If I’d just put more pressure on to start with? If only I’d struck a little harder? Well after a few days thinking like that I realised there was only one thing I could do about it… I could seek redemption.
The day began at the ungodly hour of 3:15am when I awoke, crawled into a shower, realised we were out of gas, and thus hot water, and finally crawled out of the shower a cold shivering mess. I managed to force feed myself about 37 pieces of toast, knowing that I’d need the energy. Picked Andrew up and we were on the road bang on 4am. It was a long drive to get there and an equally long walk into the river. The goal was to walk downstream for a couple of hours, before fishing our way back up. Only problem was that we kept spotting fish on the way down, then trying to catch them despite having just walked straight in front of them. Needless to say we didn’t catch any like this.
Finally we reached our turn around point, a braided section that allowed us to cross the swollen river. I think we’d probably walked about 3 minutes before spotting a large brown cruising a piece of slack water. Andrew cast out his stonefly and got no reaction at all. I suggested that he gave it a little twitch, thinking the fish could easily take the large green fly for either a damselfly or a small bully. Well, that certainly got a response. The fish followed it, getting closer each time the fly moved…then finally striking… and promptly swimming off, leaving Andrew with a very perplexed look on his face. Ah well. Andrew blind fished his way up the pool before I spotted a large shape – worth a cover. First cast over it and bang, Andrew’s rod doubles over. Cool.
Good fight with a couple of jumps before the net closes over this cracker.
I think Andrew was quite happy?
Not a bad way to start off the day…
Well I was up next… I spotted a fish feeding on the lip. The slack water in between necessitated a fairly long cast. Out goes the flies… drifting down happily…and then past the fish. I was about ready to recast when Andrew made an excited sound and shouted for me to strike. Unfortunately my reaction was akin to a sloth and the other fish, which had come from between a spot in the rocks to take my fly, had spat it. It’s just a little bit frustrating when you’ve dropped a good fish lately, then missed the strike on another good fish. To add insult to injury a couple of casts later this same fish came up and had a go at my dry fly. Now whether it bumped my tippet on the way up or perhaps it simply missed the fly, I watched the dry completely avoid the fishes mouth. Bugger once more.
The run above this last one held several good fish, most of which showed complete disdain when presented with my offerings. A long bronze shape at the head of the pool turned down a couple of flies, but it simply couldn’t resist the mother of all, double tungsten beaded, rubber legged, purple stonefly.
Came pretty damn close to my backing, can’t even remember the last time that’s happened…
And the fish. The satisfaction of finally seeing the net close over a fish, and a good one at that, cannot be aptly put into words. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Equilibrium had been restored to the world yet again.
Prospecting a side braid a wee bit further up the river Andrew hooked another fiesty brown on the secret fly. This guy did the usual brownie scrap in the shallows before he too succumbed to the pressure.
Andrew is a strange man.
Well my turn on deck again, and it didn’t take long before we spotted another fish. One of the most refreshing aspects of the whole day was the sheer number of fish we saw – stark contrast to most of the rivers we had fished this season. This guy had the audacity to reject the secret fly, but soon succumbed to an outrageous creation of my own invention just a couple of casts later.
Mine’s bigger… er…tongue, that is.
One for the ladies…
After this fish we were feeling pretty damn good about the day, so took turns fishing at the rest of the fish we saw. I must have gotten lucky, cause the next fish that I fished to took a liking to the secret fly. There’s something enormously satisfying that follows a successful strike. That solid contact with the fish, and those few seconds where it hasn’t yet decided to tear off across the river. And then the bedlam when it realises it’s hooked and does everything in its power to get rid of it. I was in a bit of a tough position here, as one hundred metres downstream was a nasty logjam, and there was only one spot where landing a fish was particularly feasible. Oh well, let’s just hope it’s hooked well. Pressure goes on, and I manage to swing the fish into the shallows where Andrew pounces with the net.
Fantastic looking fish this one…
And another angle…
We kept plowing our way up the river with Andrew on strike. Unfortunately a few fish decided to do the dirty on him, spitting his fly in record time. A bit further up we came across a nice fish feeding on the edge of some fast water. While he was changing his fly I saw the fish rise. ‘Give a parachute adams a go, bro.’ I always offer helpful advice. Well, this was a rare occasion where the advice was in fact helpful, with the fish rising and taking the adams on its second drift. Andrew damn near hit his backing here, as the fish tore across the stream in very heavy water. Thankfully the hook and knots held, and he was able to beach another cracking fish.
This was quite a rare day, as Andrew actually smiled for some of the photos.
That was it on the fish front. We ate our last sandwich and packed down our rods beside the river, the dying sun beating down upon us. If it wasn’t for the fact that we knew we had a good hour and a half of tough walking ahead of us then it would’ve been nice to sit there a while longer and reflect on a day well spent.
Sadly there was no escaping the walk. We were exhausted by the time we reached the car. We’d arrived at around 7am, and only reached the car again at 6 50pm. It had been a big day, but it had been a very good day.My need to catch fish has been quelled (at least for now) and I might actually be able to get some work done.
I know I’ve said it several times now, but this actually will be the last decent report until the 9th of November. Might do a quick fly tying post later in the week, but other than that it’ll be study study study. I hate exams.
Surprise surprise, I went fishing again.
Had another early start, fuelling up with one of Andrew’s trademark fry ups. These breakfasts are pretty damn crucial if you plan to have a really big day on the river, heaps of beans, toast, eggs – all the good stuff. We headed off to a small stream which I had intended to fish on opening day, but due to high flows couldn’t. After a long drive filled with conversations not fit to print we arrived at our destination. The river was carrying a touch of colour, but was certainly fishable.
We did a bit of bush bashing to get down to the river and pottered our way up for a minute or two. Andrew made a passing comment about how fishy the eye of the pool ahead looked, and what do you know, there was a fish. I was first up today and commenced my attempts with a size 16 version of my go-to nymph. I wish I could say that the fish took it with wild abandon, however this was not the case. In fact the whole time I fished to it the brownie didn’t swing to take a natural once. Changed nymphs several times before settling for a fly I had received in a flyshop flyswap (Thanks HerkDrvr/JD). The weight on the fly just seemed right, plus it had that tinge of red which can so often trigger a response early season. My first cast went slightly wide but the second was drifting right over its nose. The fish didn’t appear to move a muscle. It just sat there finning in the current. Hang on, my indicator just dropped. STRIKE! It must have simply opened its mouth to intercept the passing nymph. Immediately after feeling the prick of the hook the fish took off for the other side of the river. I put as much pressure on it as I dared and managed to halt its progress. A dogged battle ensued in the middle of the stream before I began to get the upper hand. Finally the fish was in the net thanks to a graceless (but hella effective) swipe from Andrew. Upon examination the fly was barely imbedded right on the neb.
This is how close I was to losing it.
And the prey we seek.
That proved to be the one and only fish we saw in that stream for the day. After being bluffed a couple of times due to the heavy flow we ended up cutting our losses and heading back to the car to continue our day elsewhere.
We ended up deciding to have a potter up a delightful small stream that neither of us had fished in the past. Started slowly without seeing much. I was on one side of the stream with Andrew on the other. Suddenly he exclaimed ‘****’, the bow wave heading upstream explaining to me the cause of his frustration. Not much further up he spotted a fish apparently unaffected by the spooked fish’s antics. First cast over it with a small colubriscus and bang, fish on.
A good bend in the rod.
We pottered up a bit further before spotting a fish sitting just back from a branch in the tail out of a pool.
Spot the fish.
I couldn’t quite rustle up Andrew’s first cast magic, and ended up changing my flies several times before finally hooking the fish on a small #16 grey and brown nymph. It put up a pretty damn good scrap given the confines of the small stream, but eventually it too succumbed to the pressure.
A great fish for such a small stream.
Grip and grin.
We prospected our way up for another 15 minutes before Andrew again spotted a fish. It was sitting just off a swirling back current, clearly darting into the swirl to feed. Andrew pitched his nymph into the back current and we enjoyed a great visual of the fish moving a good metre to take his nymph. This proved to be the scrap of the day, really making his reel sing.
Hey there fish.
After this we continued our way up, but didn’t see another fish. Possibly they were having their afternoon tea break, but the glare was pretty crappy. We turned back, content with our efforts. I tried to make friends with the old lady in the tea room on the way home, she was not friendly back.
This may well be my last report for a couple of weeks. I’ve got 3rd year law exams starting in just a couple of weeks, so for the first time ever I may have to prioritise something over fishing. Keep the comments coming guys, and be sure to subscribe in order to stay posted.
There’s just something about Turangi. Fly-fishing has permeated the entire town. Sure, the fishing isn’t what it used to be, but it’d be rude not to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. I made plans to head up with Andrew and Joel for a couple of days. Plans is probably overly generous, the whole trip was very spontaneous with minimal planning (as you’ll soon see).
I’d like to say that we spent the whole drive talking about fishing, but the reality is that when 3 guys get together girls is typically the topic of conversation. Although Joel did spend a while ogling my flybox. We made it up there and set about trying to find some accommodation. Remember what I said about planning? After a fruitless session at the mouth of the TT we decided to settle for the luxury accommodation option…the car. The logistics of sleeping 3 guys in a small car is not easy. I think I drew the short straw as I was curled up across the backseat while the others reclined their seats. There was one concerning moment when I cramped up in the middle of the night and wildly kicked out, nearly putting my foot through the window.
The next morning saw a tired group fishing the middle reaches. It didn’t take long before the local expert, Joel, hooked up to a nice 3lb jack. I then displayed remarkable skill in hooking a fish without realising it.
These fresh bows are quite something. 3lb fish tow you right round the pool in the strong current. I fish quite heavy drags in order to get fish to the net quickly and with a minimum of distress, so it was good to see the new reel handle it without a sweat. On the way back to the river I decided that I really needed my morning wash, so took a small unintentional swim. Bugger me that river is cold. It was a good test for my new pelican camera case though, as no water leaked through it. A few minutes later I found out that Andrew shares my skill at hooking fish, as he wasn’t quite sure whether he had one on or not until his reel started screaming. The noise seemed to induce some sort of catatonic state as his smile didn’t leave for at least an hour.
While I only managed 1 more fish, Joel proceeded to show off by catching 3 more before the fishing slowed.
A move up river brought immediate results. I hooked 3, landing two, out of a deep slow flowing pool. One fish was particularly satisfying, as it required a long downstream presentation with a heap of stack mends.The next spot was a bit of a partyzone, with 7 other anglers trying to fish the same pool.
I managed another nice bow out of here, but the number of anglers was a bit of a deterrent, so we headed off to find solitude (a rare occurrence on the big T). Walking through the trout centre we debated the likeliness of being caught if we dropped our line (accidentally of course) into the small creek flowing through there – I reckon a hare and copper might look enough like a pellet to do well.
He’s got the river pretty well sorted, so it wasn’t much surprise when he pulled 5 fish out of the one pool. The best was this picture perfect 6.25lb brownie.
I’d like to say I did the same, but truth be told I just got grumpy.
There was a breeze blowing downstream which wreaked havoc with my tracking leading to a number of flies lost in bushes behind. After a couple of unlucky misses Andrew managed a nice bow late on in the piece.
With the sun setting we beat our retreat. Dinner was a formal affair of fish and chips eaten in the car and washed down with a service station ice cream.
All up it was a great trip, good company, good weather and good fishing. However, next time I’ll be sure to book accommodation!