Five fish I’ll never forget. No matter ho hard I try.
This entry differs from what the other boys have done recently. I’ll put my top five together later on, but for now this is all about five of the most memorable fish I didn’t catch.
My apologies for the lack of images… but I guess you’ll understand why.
This happened the season before last. I was fishing the Canterbury High Country alone in the heat of summer and the Cicadas were in full swing. I’d caught one fish and lost another already that day on a Cicada pattern, and I had the feeling I was a good chance at catching anything I fished to that day.
I approached a run where I’d seen a pretty big fish a few weeks earlier, and my excitement level lifted. As I made my way to the top of the run I was buzzing with nervous energy, and there it was. I spotted a solid looking fish sitting in the prime spot.
I had to drop slightly to get into a good casting position, which meant I could no longer see the fish. I sent the cicada into the strike zone and hoped for the best. I didn’t need to wait long… the water erupted as the big brown slashed at the fly and I don’t even think I needed to strike, the fish had probably set the hook itself. A strong fight took place from there and I could tell the fish was a good one. It had plenty of length, and was strong and determined.
I got it in really close and was prepering to net it when it rolled on top and I saw its true size for the first and only time. It took off and the line pinged. My tippet hardly ever snaps, but it did on this occasion. I stood there and swore at the heavens for quite some time, until I was eventually able to pull myself back together and carry on for the day.
This is going back a few years. I think it was the start of the 2003-2004 season. The location isn’t too far away from where number 5 took place.
I had fished upstream all day and was on my way out, walking along the side of the river as I went whenever possible. As I came to a certain pool with a small creek pouring in I spied a fish sitting under the feed line. It looked like a pretty nice fish, and it wasn’t there a few hours earlier. I crept into position and started casting to the fish for what seemed like forever. It stayed where it was more or less, drifting slightly but never moving far. After god knows how many casts my indicator dipped under and I struck. I was most surprised when the line went tight and the mighty fish exploded from the water.
My surprise turned into heartbreak when the fish landed on my tippet. In one moment it was all over. I headed for the car thinking about what might have been.
This happened near the end of the 2002 – 2003 season, not long after I had shifted to Christchurch from Nelson.
I’d returned to Nelson for the wedding of some very good friends. While I was there for a few days I thought I should head out for a bit of fishing, I had some unfinished business that needed taking care of at a river nearby.
I’d fished the river a few times, and been alerted to a very nice looking fish which was resident in one of the pools by one of my mates who worked in the area. The trouble was that there was a fallen tree sharing the pool with the fish, keeping it safe. As time passed by, the tree swung closer and closer to the bank… until eventually it was out of the way enough that a chance at catching the fish became possible.
That day I’d caught four great fish on Cicadas. You couldn’t miss, they were moving a mile for them. I decided to drive up the road to the tree pool, and have a go at the big boy. Nervously I peeked over the edge of the bank trying to see where he was, but the light was poor and the water was covered with glare. I was a bit dejected at not being able to see the fish, but I went down to the water anyway.
I worked my way through the pool methodically, and into the fast water at the top. I’d never seen the fish holding this high up, but I fished it anyway. My indicator stopped, and when I struck I was fast into a fish. THE fish!
I worked hard to gain control, and just when I thought I had the advantage the fish leapt high out of the water and I watched in slow motion as my nymph tracked towards me through the air. The fish was free. After all of my previous unsuccessful attempts at capturing it, on this day I had come oh so close, yet I had failed again. This was to be the last time I would try to catch this fish, unfortunately the opportunity never again presented itself.
This is really going back a long time. I was 14 years old, and I hadn’t been fly fishing all that long. I was with my best mate Sam, and we were fishing our favourite river. He’d just caught his biggest ever trout, which was in the vicinity of 7 pounds, and in fact I would confidently say it was the biggest trout either of us had ever laid our young eyes on.
No more than a few hundred metres upstream from where Sam caught his fish from was a mighty pool. It was long, wide, and had plenty of depth in all the right places. It had a nice rapid entering in at the head and a solid rock bottom on the far side providing plenty of stablility.
As we neared the top we spotted a line up of about half a dozen fish, all suspended high in the water column and feeding away nicely. To this day I doubt I have ever seen another situation as perfect as this. I cast my basic rig consisting of a Hare and Copper nymph with wool indicator above the top fish, the biggest of them all. It didn’t hesitate to come across to my nymph and took it with all the confidence of the much smaller fish I was so used to catching. I responded to the indicator dipping with a solid lift of my Daiwa fly rod , and the line tightened.
This fish didn’t treact like the fish I was used to catching, infact I have never experienced the same reaction from a hooked fish in all the years that have passed since. This fish did not splash, or panic. It calmly swam across the river, slowly but surely taking line with it as it went, and took up a position on the bottom. I stood there next to Sam on the side of the river in absolute bewilderment, I had no idea what to do. Several minutes passed, the fish shook its head from time to time, and eventually my line snapped.
Even though I had minimal experience with fish of any size at that point in my life, I knew I had just been attached to something special. With all the years gone past since then, I realise even more now just how special that fish was. If I was to hook that same fish again today I would be in a far better position to land it than what I was back then, but it was incredibly powerful, and nothing is certain. One thing I can say for sure is that fish is lucky it got away, for if I had landed it as a 14 year old boy, there is no doubt I would have taken it home with me to mount on the wall.
This one sits in a similar ball park to number two. It was a bit of a toss up for which sat where in the grand scheme of things… but I decided this one could take the top spot.
It was December 2009. A couple of days after Christmas. I had arranged to take my mate Paul from Timaru and his Dad with me for a day on the water. The fish were in top condition that season, and I knew that where we were going we would have a decent shot at a good fish. It had rained a bit and the water was running a bit high, with enough colour for it to work in our favour.
The day started with a hiss and a roar when Paul caught his first ever fish on a fly. At 8 pounds it wasn’t one to be scoffed at… I made sure I let him know how many years it took for me to catch one that big.
Soon after I briefly hooked and lost one which was about the same size as what Paul landed. A short distance upstream I spotted another fish sitting near our edge which Paul insisted I fish to. I fished at this one for quite some time, and every so often I saw it clearly through a window in the water, it was a big fish.
Many, many casts, and about seven fly changes later I got a result. I set the hook into a very angry fish. It took off at warp factor 6 across the swollen river and angled upstream, taking all my fly line and a good part of my backing with it. I couldn’t do a whole lot to start with, but eventually I gained some back and my fly line came closer to where it needed to be.
This is where it really turned pear shaped. I watched my backing knot as it neared the tip top of my rod, and as the two made contact, time slowed down as I witnessed the knot disintegrate with my own eyes. The trailing fly line flailed off into the current, still attached to my big angry fish. I stoood on the riverbank swearing while Paul and his dad watched in disbelief, before I dropped everything and tore off into the current searching for the trailing line in desperation and anger.
I didn’t find the end of my line, which meant I didn’t get my fish. It put somewhat of a dampener on my day. This is the one which takes the cake.
All of these fish have caused me to lose sleep at some point, but if I’m completely honest I’d have to say I probably wouldn’t change any of them given the chance. Thats a big call I know, but it wouldn’t be the same if we landed them all, would it?
Frog Hair – a product soon to be supplied by Riverworks.
It took me a while to come around to the stuff, but I’m there now. This is how it happened…
Some time during the middle of the fishing season Rob sent me some new tapered leaders and tippet material to try out.
I was a bit dubious to begin with. When it comes to my set up there are two main things I need to have absolute faith in. Hooks, and tippet. You can get by with a less than perfect rod, but I won’t compromise when it comes to the hooks and tippet I use, for obvious reasons.
So this stuff shows up in a courier package, I divvied it up and gave Jack his share. From there it sat in my vest for a while… Even though Rob was keen for us to try it out and get back to him with the results, I wasn’t quite ready just yet.
I’d been using the same brand for a few years now. I had, and still have, absolute faith in it. I can count on one hand the amount of times it has failed on a fish. It takes a lot for me to move away from that.
The first time I used Frog Hair was on a day when jack and I were in the High Country chasing big fish. The fish were as spooky as anything you have ever come across and we were having a tough time. Just before lunch we spotted another fish, and I made the call to change things up a bit and tied some 4x (6lb) Frog Hair on as tippet material.
The cast landed as it should, and to mine and Jack’s surprise the fish actually took the fly. Unfortunately when I struck the line came shooting back at me… an inspection revealed the line had snapped. At that point in time I was none too happy, and the Frog Hair went back into the vest for a while after that.
A few weeks later and we were in the deep south. Again I was fishing with Jack, and again the fish were playing hard to get. This time it was Jack who decided to take the plunge. He tied on the mighty Frog Hair in an attempt to get the result which had so far eluded us for the day. This time around the Frog Hair proved a success… the first fish took the fly, put up one hell of a fight, and was successfully landed…. with a wind knot in the tippet to boot!
With my confidence restored I replaced my leader and tippet with Frog Hair and we both went on to have a pretty successful day. The fish we caught were as hard fighting as you can expect to find anywhere, so the line was well tested. I’ll even own up to discovering a wind knot in my line after I landed a fish later in the day.
I used Frog Hair for the remainder of the season without any issues. I’ll have no problem using it from now on… we got off to a rough start, but now I’m a believer.
Keep an eye out for this magic string in your local tackle shop. It shouldn’t be too far away. here are some photos of some of the fish we’ve caught on Frog Hair so far. (You may have seen these fish already)
I like to save the best for last. If I could do it all the time I would, I like having something to look forward to.
The final day of the season rolled around quicker than I expected. It had been yet another great few months spent wandering about the South Island, and it was all but over.
My time off work was all but over too, the next day was my first day back after a month off. As strange as it may sound, I was actually looking forward to going back to work, for a number of reasons – restoring the bank balance being one of them.
The forecast for the final day of the season was far from ideal, with strong gusty wind predicted in most places accessible from here. I guess it was a fitting way to finish. What to do?
Although I’d experienced more than my share of fishing during the past 6 months and 29 days, my gut feeling told me to get out there one last time. If for no other reason than to see what happened. I felt like there was unfinished business that needed attending.
The alarm went off early on April 30th. It was pretty cold and miserable to start with. I nearly pulled the pin and went back to bed. It took every ounce of self – control not to.
I chose to visit a place with few fish, in the hope of finding some good ones. I ended last season with a great fish, and I was keen to repeat the effort this year.
When I eventually arrived at the river the wind was really bad. It was absolutely howling. It was so bad I thought about flagging it and trying to find somewhere more sheltered nearby. I decided against moving on and stayed with plan A.
It took a while, but eventually I found a fish. Best of all, it looked to be feeding. The adrenaline started right at that moment, and I was a wreck as I attached a dry fly and dropper rig. I dropped down to the river and changed my set up again slightly, I figured the dropper length I’d set was too long and the nymph was probably too heavy.
With that sorted finally I set about laying line on water. This was the next issue, the bushes behind me and the still howling wind conspired against me to turn an otherwise simple task into a difficult one.
My first couple of attempts resulted in my line being stuck in a bush. I kept as calm as I could while I unhooked it, and eventually I nailed the cast, and the dry fly indicator hit the spot. I knew I was in the money.
The Humpy bobbed along in the current. I couldn’t see the fish clearly through the wind ruffled surface, and it felt like forever had passed, but eventually the nymph reached the red zone and the dry twitched sideways slightly.
I lifted the rod and resistance was met in the form of a solid thud. A moment later the fish rolled onto its side, stunned. It then took off to the bottom of the pool at lightning speed. I quickly crossed the river to get in a better position, and the fish pulled up at the top of the rapids, seemingly reluctant to head downstream any further. I sidestrained the fish in close and that was when I caught my first glimpse of its shoulder. It was an impressive sight indeed. From there I was pretty ruthless with my approach and was able to land the fish surprisingly quickly.
I don’t mind admitting I screamed like schoolgirl when I landed this fish. I screamed so much it made my voice a bit hoarse for the rest of the day, but I didn’t care.
Getting the photo was tricky. I can set the camera up on the tripod pretty quickly, but it was so windy I thought the whole lot was going to finish up in the river. Fortunately the expensive stuff didn’t, however, some of the less expensive stuff did… but nothing which mattered much.
Here it is…. the reward for my efforts.
The winning combination isn’t exactly revolutionary. I used a size 12 red Humpy as the indicator, with a size 14 Pheasant Tail nymph hung underneath. It was simple, but effective.
I released the fish and packed up my gear. That was it for the season of 2011-202. There was no way I could finish the season in a better way than that. I really had managed to save the best for last this time.
The 2011/12 Fish of the Season winner is MIKE!
Congratulations to Mike , it was an extremely tight contest, with only three votes separating 1st and 2nd place but Mike’s Kingy was able to just tip it at the end. Well done Mike your prize will be in the mail soon.
Keep your eyes peeled because we will be running more contests on here in the near future, so there will be plenty more chances to win. Keep taking photos in your Riverworks gear and keep chasing those big fish.
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.
This is the fourth and final instalment from our trip south. Thanks to Chris Dore for providing a good portion of the photographs for this entry.
We were nearly done in this particular part of the world for now. It was time to head somewhere else.
Day four saw us quietly packing up the campsite and heading back along the track at a rather sedate pace.
We stopped where a tributary stream entered the main river. Jeremy and I headed downstream with the intention of fishing back up, Jack headed upstream on his own, while Chris disappeared into the tributary with his bow.
There was a notable absence of fish in the stretch Jeremy and I fished. We didn’t see nearly as many as we expected. Despite the lack of fish Jeremy managed to catch one anyway, as he has a habit of doing. I think Jeremy is some kind of fish – catching genius. He could pull a fish from a puddle in the gutter if he tried hard enough.
Later that evening we arrived back into Queenstown and stopped off to collect our much anticipated, pre ordered Fergburger. Then we headed on up to Chris’ place where we promptly smashed our respective orders to pieces.
I’d ordered the Big Al, with fries and aioli. Looking back on it now, the fries were overkill really… in fact I knew at the time I didn’t really need to eat the whole lot, but I didn’t want to show any sign of weakness in front of my peers so I pushed through the pain barrier and finished what I set out to start.
That night I had a pretty good sleep on the couch, once a bit of time had passed and my food baby settled down a bit.
The next morning we were woken by Chris. He got up and started walking around at some ungodly hour. I don’t even think the man uses an alarm, he just wakes up.
Slowly I gained consciousness and coherency, and then Chris, Jack, and I packed the truck with our gear for yet another couple of days on the river. Jeremy stayed behind – he mentioned something about cleaning Chris’ carpet and having catch a plane in the afternoon….
The first day of phase two was taken at a leisurely pace. It was a nice change from the norm. We headed south from Chris’ place – this was to be the day Jack and I fished the mighty Mataura for the first time. I’m not usually one for saying where I fish, but I think I’ll be ok to disclose the location this time.
I felt it was very important to catch a fish on this monumental day in my fly fishing career, and thankfully I wasn’t to be disappointed. Although the insect activity was minimal that day, which made things slightly more difficult, I ended up catching a couple of fish that day, as did Jack and Chris.
I don’t know how I would have felt if I blanked on the Mataura? Probably not all that happy I suspect.
That evening we stayed at Simon Chu’s trout cottage in Lumsden. The cottage is a really cool place, reading the visitor’s book reveals that many well – known anglers have passed through over the years, and it is something of a shrine to all things fly fishing. Many thanks Simon for allowing us to stay there.
Once again the next morning it was Chris who was out of bed first, really, really early this time! He brewed the coffee though, so getting up wasn’t as difficult as it may have otherwise been. The coffee was a minor incentive to drag myself from the warmth of my sleeping bag.
As painful as it was to begin with, we needed to get away in good time to secure our stretch of river for the day. When we arrived at our destination our early start was rewarded with an empty carpark.
It was pretty fresh that morning. I guess it was a good thing we had a reasonable walk before we would start fishing and were able to warm up pretty quickly.
That day ended up being pretty tough. I managed a nice fish in the morning… but that was all for the most part. Later on I momentarily hooked and lost a couple of fish in the same run near the end of the day. This saw me nearly lose the plot altogether, I displayed some of my less refined behaviour for a few seconds there – and that was that. It was near dark when we got back to the truck, and it was time to head back for a feed. Not a moment too soon either.
Somehow between the three of us we managed to forget our lunch for the day, so we were looking forward to food. We were really looking forward to it. Luckily for us, Lumsden is the home of the Mayfly Café, and based on the evidence of that night – they make great food.
We ordered ourselves a pizza each, and we weren’t at all disappointed. In fact we were very impressed. The pizza I ate was so big that it hurt me to finish it. I still finished it though. That’s pretty good value for 15 bucks if you ask me.
The next day Jack and I had to catch a plane in the afternoon. It was time to go home. I had the pleasure of watching Jack put on his wet fishing boots at the airport for the flight home in order to bring his luggage down to the weight restriction. I was kind enough to photograph it for you all to see too…
The final hurdle after that was actually getting on the plane and taking off. The flight was delayed for over an hour, and then we had to wait for about half an hour once on board for some people’s gear to be removed… I think they got booted off or something? Who knows – it took a long time though!
Eventually I was home, and pleased to be there. Two weeks of tents and couches was enough for now. For a couple of days at least…
The season was nearly finished… but not quite. There was still time to throw a few more casts.
As always, watch this space for more to come!
So far I really liked it here. We were in a good place.
This was the day when Chris decided to chill out around camp and muck about with his bow. So while he was doing this, Jack, Jeremy and I headed off upstream together.
The day started off overcast, and ended up remaining that way. Not that it mattered.
There are plenty of fish in the river. Finding them wasn’t an issue. However, we struggled to catch any for a while on the second day. Jeremy decided to wait back at a section of the river where there is a lot of still water. He told us to go ahead and he’d catch up later.
Jack and I continued on our way, and finally after much frustration, Jack fished to one which was rising at the top of a long, glassy run, and it took his dry.
Soon after that it was my turn to bring one to the net.
It was Jacks turn once again, and it seemed like we had found our rhythm at last.
We spent the next couple of hours taking turns picking fish off one after the other. It was pretty good fishing.
Later on Jeremy caught up with us. He’d had a pretty good time of things downstream too.
Things went pretty quiet for a bit once we reunited with Jeremy, but after a while we made it to a stunning piece of water.
Jack kicked it off by hooking into a good fish. While he was hooked up I cast to another fish feeding in the eye. I hooked up too.
So there we were, standing only metres apart and both hooked up to a big rainbow trout each. My one burst out of the water every few seconds for the first bit, and continued to do so less frequently as it tired. Just when I thought I had the battle won, the hook popped out. I stood there, shouting. I wasn’t very pleased. Jack was still hooked up. Lucky for him, he landed his one!
As I stood there feeling sorry for myself and thinking about how unfair the world can be sometimes, I spotted another fish. At first I thought it was the one which had just thrown my hook… but it wasn’t.
I cast to the fish, and it surged forward onto the size 16 hare and copper. This one went like a rocket too. It took some beating, but this time I won. It was a fat fish, and obviously very fit. This was my biggest of the day and finished up being my biggest for the trip.
That was a pretty good way to finish up. A great fish each from the same pool.
Together we walked back along the track after that. About halfway back to camp Jeremy disappeared away from the track for another look at a piece of water he’d fished earlier in the day.
Jack and I had a look off the track a couple of times too. I managed to donate some new jewellery to one fish along the way, and hooked up on the most atrocious looking pink streamer ever to swim a New Zealand river. I really wanted to catch that last fish, just to say I’d caught something on that particular streamer. I guess I’ll just have to wait for that moment.
That night around the campfire was another good one. Although I wouldn’t recommend kids trying it at home, the fire was started in the same fashion as the night before… it’s very effective.
We sat on our log in front of that fire, soaking up the warmth as we fed on soup, steak, rice and veges. This was followed up with chocolate and whisky. We weren’t really doing it tough down there.
Well there goes day two. Jack will cover day three soon.
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.
I mentioned a while ago that I was lucky enough to have the entire month of April off. Well, it was awesome. I did a lot of fishing.
There is a whole bunch of stuff which will be appearing on here in the next while… including the report from a great trip we had down south, which Jack is going to kick off in the next few days. Watch this space!
To keep you going until then, This is a report is from a few days ago. It puts things a bit out of synch… but never mind.
Once we arrived back from our trip south I stayed at home for a few days. I needed to recover, and I also needed to learn how to sleep in a bed again after so long sleeping in a tent.
Once I was sorted out I figured I may as well get back out there and make the most of the last days of the season, and my remaining time off work.
Again I packed up for an overnighter, loaded the mountain bike onto the rack, and headed off into the distance towards the hills. The venue for this particular adventure was one of my old stomping grounds from a few years back.
A few hours later I met Mike, and from there we drove in convoy to the end of the road. After that it was onto the bikes for an hour or so. It was just enough time for me to work up a pretty good sweat and made me realise how much I need to spend a bit more time on the bike.
That night was pretty cold, and I struggled to sleep properly in my tent. The forecast was for overcast conditions, but the next morning the sky was cloud free. There was also a pretty crisp frost coating the ground thrown into the mix for good measure.
The sun couldn’t hit the valley soon enough that morning. The temperature definitely wasn’t helping, my fingers were barely able to function in the cold, and my feet weren’t doing much better.
I hooked a fish pretty early on, which threw the hook after only a few seconds. I hooked another one soon afterwards, which did the same. It wasn’t really the start I’d been hoping for.
After my second fish got away Mike hooked one cruising the same run. This one didn’t get away, and we’d officially opened the account for the trip.
That day turned out to be pretty tough. I hooked another two fish without landing either, and Mike had a couple which went wrong too. Frustration was the order of the day.
That night we sat around the campfire and enjoyed the finest of three course bush meals. We had soup as a starter, followed by steak, potatoes and gravy, peas and corn for the main, and then a custard and fruit desert.
We both agreed that if the weather closed in the next morning we would abort mission and head out. Neither of us were feeling very motivated at that point to fish in the rain.
The second night was considerably warmer than the first, and I managed to get plenty of sleep. I woke up feeling pretty good, much better than on the first day. On top of all that the weather was good. It looked as though we would have a look at the river after all.
We didn’t fish very far, but we saw plenty of fish and fared a lot better than the previous day.
Because of the current from the side with good visibility I had to cross the first run of the day to fish to the first target, while Mike stayed on the other side to spot for me. To his credit he did a great job, and before I knew it I was solidly hooked up. Finally!
I landed the fish, and at that moment I wasn’t all that far from being ecstatic. The memory of my failure from the previous day virtually disappeared… because at last I had actually caught a fish!
A short distance upstream Mike fished at another one which ended up spooking and screaming up and down the run. As we started to move on we noticed another one sitting slightly higher up the run. Mike offered it to me. Hesitantly, I said yes to fishing to it. I mentioned it was probably spooked after what the other fish had just done, and as I unhooked my nymph the fish swung to the left to feed. On seeing this, Mike called me names, and my confidence grew.
It took about three casts to get the drift right. The fish again moved out to the left, but this time it was for my nymph and not a natural.
This one took to the air straight away and kept on jumping right to the bitter end. Each time it cleared the water we could both see it was a shovel nosed Jack. Initially I didn’t think it was all that big, but once I had it in the shallows I saw it was in great condition. This was a real bonus on top of the one from earlier.
That wasn’t the end of the action for the day. Just as we walked slowly along an edge discussing the subject of fish feeding on mice, another one was spotted. Mike put the cast in the right place and was rewarded with a take. This was another pretty good fish.
Not long after that we called it a day. It was time to pack up and get back on the bikes and then the long drive home.
So that was one trip. Wait until you see what else we got up to this month!
Popped out for a quick fish with Ryan last Saturday. I’d had a hell of a week with Uni – couple of big assignments including one on freshwater allocation in New Zealand (a difficult topic for a flyfisher to preserve impartiality). So I was feeling a little tired getting up at 5am. Thankfully my reactions weren’t too off as approaching the river I had to swerve fairly wildly to avoid a flying kayak (seriously). That got the blood pumping.
We arrived at the river to bracingly fresh air. The conditions were overcast above us, but the sun was poking its way out on the horizon. A substantial backwater saw our first target cruising an erratic beat. Ryan put several good casts out there, but unfortunately on every beat the fish would move just wide of the fly and hadn’t seen it. We decided to double team him, so I put on a double emerger setup. Placing our flies so as to cover both of his frequented beats, it was on this loop that he saw my flies. Ever so ever so slowly he rose up to intercept my soft hackle just beneath the surface. Strike, and thump thump…freedom. The hook had obviously hit something hard in his mouth, failed to penetrate and straightened slightly. It was disappointing, but given how long we’d fished to him it was very satisfying to get the take.
We continued upwards without seeing much. A little further up we saw why… A couple of fisherman were ahead of us. We paced our way upstream to see what the go was. Eventually we caught up to them and learned that they’d parked at the same spot as we had had, assumed that we’d gone downstream and walked sufficiently far up stream to get in ahead of us. Now I don’t want to be too critical, because it’s easy to get these things wrong. But I just wanted to take this opportunity to point out a couple of useful little etiquette points. 1) If you arrive to your chosen destination and discover that there’s another fisherman parked up there, don’t assume they’ve gone downstream. There’s about a 90% chance that they’ll be fishing upstream. Obviously this can be a little location dependent, and perhaps I should have left a note stating our intentions, but typically it’s a much more intelligent assumption to presume anglers have gone upstream. 2) If some anglers are walking up behind you clearly trying to catch up to you don’t keep walking and pretend you haven’t seen them. Stop and talk to them and then you’ll be able to reach a compromise that should make both parties happy.
In this instance the guy was pretty reasonable. We asked them how far they were planning on fishing, they said 2km. So we walked 2km upstream and started fishing. It just so happened that the pool we started at contained about 8 rainbows feeding very erratically. We covered the fish without much result before something clicked in my head: swimming mayflies. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier. I chucked on my own bastardisation of Pete Carty’s Oniscigaster nymph, which instantly got results. I’ve found the best tactic for fish feeding on these flies is to fish without an indicator and just a single nymph cast upstream to the far side of the fish. Once it hits the water begin to twitch it back in a strip-stop motion. I’ve found the fish seem to hit the fly on the stop after tracking it during the strip, so don’t be afraid to hold the stop period for a little while.
My cast dropped in upstream of the fish, which looked about 3-4lbs in the water, twitch…stop…twitch… smash! I saw the fish’s mouth open and strip struck. It was like something exploded. The fish tore wildly downstream and had me straight into my backing. In all my fishing I’ve never actually seen my backing before. But I saw it about three times on this fish. The battle took a fair while, with the fishes brawn dominating. But it couldn’t keep it up all day and under constant pressure it finally succumbed. The day had suddenly become a very good one…
Turned out it was a bit bigger than 3-4lbs… Truly beautiful fish that had some immense shoulders on it.
Working our way back up the pool we found that most of the fish had returned to feeding – the hatch was simply too tempting. Ryan targeted a fish just slightly downstream of him. On about the fourth cast he got a take, which didn’t stick, but because he strip struck rather than yanked the fly through the air the fish wasn’t too put off. A couple of casts later everything stuck and Ryan was connected to a thunderbolt. The fish took to the air several times and had a few searing runs, but Ryan played it strong and eventually beached a great fish.
A new P.B. rainbow for Ryan. Again, this fish was about as broad as any I’ve seen.
On the way back we dropped in to the water the other guys had been fishing and spotted a smaller fish feeding in the same erratic fashion. Ryan covered it and after a couple of casts got its attention. The fly was higher in the column than we’d thought, but upon seeing the mouth go Ryan struck and came up solid. I’d used the long fight on Ryan’s other Rainbow to show Ryan how to use rod angles to control a fish, and he put them into great use here stopping the fish pretty quickly.
It certainly wasn’t as big as the others we’d caught, but it was a nice little finish to the day.
Driving home we had a few interesting experiences including the graphic reality of the roar, homicidal grannies and the delight of discovering the two new Whittakers chocolates in a dinky little country general store (despite the fact that they hadn’t made it to countdown yet).
Heading into Fiordland next week – can’t wait!
A while back I got a message from Chris, one of the boys I used to go to school with way back in the day.
It turns out Chris has been into fly fishing for a wee while now. He has been spending a bit of time during the past couple of seasons fishing with Ben, who we also we went to school with.
The boys have even been reading the Riverworks Lifestyle blog!
It was long overdue, but today we finally got out for a fish together.
We didn’t travel all that far from home relatively speaking, so we left at a reasonable hour in the morning and found ourselves on the water just as the sun was peeking over the hills. The idea was to explore a piece of water none of us had fished before. Although most of the water we passed looked very promising, it turned out to be very disappointing indeed.
We saw one fish. (We didn’t catch it)
There ain’t no fish here…
Plan B was hatched after we came to the realisation that plan A sucked. We marched back to the car and took off up the road.
There were a few fish in the short stretch we fished, and they were as difficult as usual.
Right near the end we found one in the lower part of a pool which was feeding happily. Chris went forth and tried to entice it… unsuccessfully.
Ben went next, and after several fly changes he had it fooled.
It fought a good fight, and when it came to the net I could see why.
And there it is, Ben’s biggest trout.
It wasn’t long before this I’d been saying to Ben that often a single fish can make the entire day worthwhile. This was one of those fish.
It was time to leave after that. We had to get back to town, and I was losing my sanity fast as I became the food supply for several thousand sandflies.
We’re gonna do it all again before the season ends. Next time we’ll head somewhere with a few more fish, even if they are slightly on the smaller side.
Here is a little fish I caught a week or so ago, it was a fat wee pig. I caught it on a black terrestrial pattern.
Somehow I’ve managed to swing the whole month of April off… so I hope to get out fishing once or twice during that time. Watch this space…
I’d been starting to get a little disenchanted with my fly-fishing. The weather and the fish just didn’t seem to want to play ball. Sure, we were still picking up fish but they didn’t seem to be of the same calibre as previous seasons. I knew I just needed one good day – some sunshine and a big fish.
Over the weekend I was struck by a rather irritating fever – just bad enough to make me want to lie in bed all day, not bad enough to justify it. So I was a little hesitant about my chances of fishing on Monday. I thought about it for a long time… and, surprisingly enough, decided to go.
When we arrived it seemed like things were destined to repeat the pattern of overcast days with tough spotting conditions. And that’s certainly how things started out. We crept along the edges and managed to spot a couple. I covered one, then Andrew covered another. He certainly got a more positive reaction, but the end result was the same – nada. The next pool up Andrew spotted a smudge holding close to the bank – we were standing about 2metres from this fish and still couldn’t confirm that it was piscine. Until it swung. From close range, with about a foot of flyline out, I drifted a blowfly humpy over it. It rose and slashed at the fly. I waited…then struck. It was a little bit like a pocket rocket exploding at launch. The aerial acrobatics were instant, and then the booster engaged and we were on our way downstream. It was one of the smallest fish I’ve caught since coming back to the South Island, but also one of my favourites. It had risen confidently and fought like a champion – and to top things off it was beautiful. Solid to the point of being chubby with a myriad of leopard like x shaped spots on a pale buttery body.
The blowfly was embedded well.
A very nice start.
We saw a few more fish, but it wasn’t until Andrew attempted a new tactic that things changed. I don’t think he’s named his method yet, but it was effective. Basically, as I understand it, you cast your fly out a couple of metres just to clear some line, untangle the remaining line from the bushes, notice a substantial boil around where your fly landed, then simultaneously strike and clear the tangled line. If you can pull it off as well as he did then I’ll be impressed.
The efficacy can’t be questioned.
The fish seemed to be getting bigger?
A couple of pools further up a very substantial shape shot forward to intercept Andrew’s fly and appeared to erupt on the surface – surely he’s hooked it? But the mystified look on his face, quickly followed by a flash of anger, explained things. How it failed to hook up I’m not sure.
The sun was just starting to poke through the clouds as I approached a run with a good permanent bank. The angle of the sun meant sighting it was nigh on impossible, but it looked too good to ignore. I took one side, Andrew took the other. As it transpired I picked right. As I was prospecting my way up the run, just starting to get into the money zone, my fly was intercepted by something that felt very solid. It lacked the fireworks of my initial fish, but there was a lot of weight strumming through my 5wt. The fight was determined, if unspectacular. Until it came to the netting. I’d expect a broken finger is a bit of a hindrance when netting, but as soon as Andrew saw the fly pop out of the beached fishes mouth he pounced on the fish and secured it using a move I think I saw on a wrestling show. I was stoked. The fish was as solid as expected.
The pattern continued, the fish got bigger.
Sadly, this was the last fish. I won’t mention that fish that Andrew covered that definitely would have continued the pattern…it would just bring up bad memories.
That day was exactly what I needed. I feel content, my faith is restored. Until Friday anyway.
Well we went fishing again this week… twice.
Tuesday was pretty tough going, with most of the fish we found not really willing to play our game.
The weather forecast for today was looking pretty good, so we decided to have another go, and hopefully maker a better job of things.
It isn’t always about the fish though, all I really wanted was a good day out. As it turned out, it was a pretty fun day on the river.
As usual, the weather wasn’t quite as good as it could have been… it was a bit grey all over, but at least it wasn’t windy.
It wasn’t all that long and Jack found a fish against our bank. It took a couple of casts, but the fish played ball.
That’s a pretty good bend in the rod. This fish went hell for leather from the beginning.
A pretty good start to the day really.
We carried on up and I hooked one myself, which also went hell for leather… unfortunately my disability prevented me from landing the fish. Yup, my busted finger got in the way and became tangled in the line and the fish broke me off. It continued jumping for quite a while afterwards, obviously it wasn’t all that keen on the new addition to its face.
I didn’t let that speedbump get me down, I found another fish. Just as I was casting to it another one came down towards me so I redirected and put the fly in front of it. As it got near I lifted the fly off the bottom and the fish swam onto it and opened its gob right up. I struck, and it was game on again.
I quickly suggested to jack he might want to be on my side of the river to fish for the other one, which, coincidentally looked to be about twice the size of the one I had on the end of my line. I kindly hung on to my fish for dear life while jack made his way over… my fly line got tied around some bushes during the fight, so even if I wanted to let the fish take line I wouldn’t have been able to. How my rod didn’t snap in half I’ll never know…
I landed it on a small clump of dirt, not ideal really but it was the best I could do. It wasn’t a great location for a photo either.
The big boy must have been a bit stirred up from all the commotion, because he took off pretty quickly when we made our way up to him. Not to worry, we’ll find him again.
At one point we had to negotiate a bit of matagouri bush, which involved climbing halfway up the side of a rather large hill. At some point along the side of the hill Jack found a fish in the water, and since I was closest, he nominated me to climb down and smash through the bushes to try and catch it.
I did catch it. However, it looked way bigger from up on the hill. It was a nice enough little brownie, but didn’t quite warrant the effort required for a photo at that point.
I had yet another turn after that. By now the sun was trying to poke through the clouds, and the conditions were really good. I was fishing the eye of a nice pool when I hooked a bohemoth of a rainbow.
Look at him, what a beauty!
I had to really show this fish who was the boss… I think it got the picture pretty quickly.
In the end I just let him away with a warning, and he swam free to think about what had just taken place.
Time for Jack to give it a crack.
He had to throw a long cast, virtually to the other side. He got it right straight away and was on again.
This really is a pretty cool place to be on a nice day.
This fish was a bit like a bat straight out of hell too, it took some beating.
We both hooked another rainbow each after that. They were of similar size to this one and they both got off. My one escaped just after I told Jack I would make it jump for the camera… and his one escaped just as quickly. The precise moment Jack’s one popped off, the wind went from non existent to about warp factor 3 in an instant.
We’d had our fun for the day, and it was time to go home…
Last weekend Rob came down from Wellington for some fishing with Jack and I. We had the plan sorted… and then it rained. A lot!
Despite the weather, we still went fishing. It just meant we had to travel further than we wanted to, a lot further as it turned out.
It seemed appropriate that most of the pictures were taken in black and white. It matches the doom and gloom that followed us wherever we went for the three days…
The first day was spent on a river which was very high, but usually remains reasonably fishable after even very heavy rain. There wasn’t a lot of photography taking place that day though, the rain kept coming on and off throughout the day. The camera was tucked away safely for most of the time… except for when Rob caught a fish.
That was all for the day as far as it went for fish on the bank. They were tough to find in the conditions, but at least it was a start.
That evening we headed off in search of cleaner water. After nearly a couple of hours we eventually found some. We arranged accomodation for the night, and headed off to the pub for some sustenance by way of steak sandwiches, burgers, and beer.
That night I slept pretty well, as did the other boys I believe. I’m not so sure about our Mexican friend who was unfortunate enough to have to share the room with us that night… the snoring might possibly have been a bit much for him to handle.
The next day dawned reasonably fine, although it quickly clouded over. It seemed like whatever we did to avoid bad weather, it was going to find us anyway. It wasn’t looking flash as we headed for the river. We arrived to an empty carpark and as we started getting ready patches of blue sky began to show through the cloud cover. It looked far better than before, but we resigned ourselves to the fact the weather might change a bit during the day.
The river had a touch of colour in it, but it wasn’t really a problem. We were reasonably confident we could find fish.
Jack found a fish, and after a couple of fly changes it took his nymph. Unfortunately it didn’t stay on for long… it spat the hook pretty quick.
Rob was next in the batting order.
It didn’t take long for him to connect with a fish.
This one stayed on.
It looked like it had been on the lean cuisine diet for a wee while, but at least it was a fish caught.
After that we walked for a bit without seeing much, then I found a fish holding in a small bit of pocket water against a solid bank. I managed to put a fly in front of it and it took, but like Jack’s fish it came off pretty quickly.
At this point in the day, it was almost threatening sunshine.
Not far upstream from here we split up for a bit. Jack took one side of the river while I went on the other side with Rob. It turned out that jack was on the wrong side!
If you have a close look at my right hand, you’ll appreciate that catching this fish was a bit harder than usual. I broke my middle finger right down near the knuckle three days earlier. Casting wasn’t very much fun… but where there is a will there is definitely a way!
Soon after that we found another one which Rob fished to. It was on the move, but as soon as it saw the fly it accepted nicely.
We carried on for quite a while after that, but didn’t manage to land any more fish for the day.
It was a decent walk back to the car, but not as bad as some of our past hikes to the car. We ate and drank at the same place as the evening before, and stayed another night. The Mexican dude was gone when we arrived back, I hope he didn’t leave because of us…
The next day we opted for a smaller piece of water. For whatever reason though, the fish weren’t willing to co-operate, and we blanked. We didn’t even look like getting a fish that day, but it was a day out nontheless…
Not long after lunch we had to pack up and head back to Christchurch so Rob could make his flight back to Wellington. It’s a shame the trip was a bit of a fizzer as far as the weather and fishing went, but we still managed to have a few laughs and made the most of a crap situation. Cheers guys…
Day three… time for the final countdown.
We woke up pretty early in the morning, too early in fact.
I hated it, but Superchrist hated it more.
The plan was to up sticks early and get to where we needed to be before someone else got there. The plan was a good one, because we had only been parked for about two minutes before another vehicle loaded with anglers arrived at our access point. They did a gangsta slow drive by before parking up and tearing off upstream in double quick time.
It was pretty fresh that morning. We got sorted pretty smartly, wrote a not with our intentions for the windscreen, and away we went downstream. The plan was for Chris and Jeremy to fish upstream from a confluence stream, with Rodney and I walking about an hour further and fishing back up.
We walked reasonably quickly to the confluence stream, partly to keep warm, and partly because we were keen to get started. Unfortunately there was a wee surprise in store for us when we arrived at the confluence…
It was blown to bits. There had obviously been a small pocket of bad weather somewhere which had exploded into the top end of the tributary. That stuffed the plan to walk further downstream… we would have to fish together for the day.
As you can see, there was quite a contrast between one stream and the other.
Not to be deterred at all, we pushed forward. It wasn’t all that long before Chris was casting to a fish. He asked Rodney and i how far away it was, and from where we stood it looked quite far, so that is what we relayed. It turns out the fish wasn’t actually as far away as we said it was. Oopsy, sorry Chris! Anyway, it didn’t matter because Chris put a hook through its head anyway.
Its a beautiful thing isn’t it.
Jeremy sat in the grass watching the world go by for a while.
I just wandered around with my pet bug.
Jeremy must have been onto something just sitting in the grass for all that time, because as soon as he went back to the water he dragged a fish out. He is making a real habit of this.
Superchrist and I decided to try some of what Jeremy was doing. we must have been doing it wrong though, because all that happened was Jeremy caught another fish.
And it was a good one too…
Soon after that I had a go at a fish. It came up and took my humpy dry fly on the first cast, I waited… waited… and struck. No resistance at all. I was wild. I said some of my best fishing language and threw my rod like a javelin into the grass. Meanwhile Superchrist was laughing like a demented hyena in the grass behind me and doing his best to wind me up even more.
We went past a few more which we didn’t catch for one reason or another, and soon enough it was my turn to fish again.
By now it had warmed up considerably and the light was getting a bit better. Chris and Jeremy spotted one close to our bank which Rodney and I couldn’t see from our position. I got into the water to cast at the fish and Rodney started sledging me from his position on the bank.
Being the mature person that I am, I ignored his taunts and just focussed on the task at hand. First I tried a parachute, and the fish followed it a long way before refusing it. The next thing I tried was a psychadelic cicada imitation. I plopped it about a metre wide of the fish and it went right for it.
This time when it took I struck and felt solid weight on the line. I think I even let out a bit of noise indicating my happiness at the time.
As you can tell, Rodney was really helpful while I played the fish. The sledging continued for most of it.
And here it is. How do you like my fishnet stocking?
Pretty much straight away after that we found another one for Rodney Rude to fish to. I thought he needed to cool down a bit, so I made sure I splashed some water over him just before he cast.
It must have been magic water or something, becasue he hooked the fish…
And landed it too!
He was so happy he had to pash the fish before he put it back.
It was a boy fish…
Then it was time for Chris to cash in on the mid afternoon feeding activity. After refusals on about three different patterns, a blowfly did the job.
This one was pretty chunky.
We were so happy for Chris that we all started to dance on the bank.
That was the end of the fishing really. We saw a few more, but they were acting far differently from the other fish we had seen that day.
We arrived back to the vehicle to find an anonymous note expressing the disappointment of other anglers. I guess you just need to get to the river early if you want first dibs on a stretch for the day.
That night we returned to Queenstown and demolished some of the finest local cuisine (Fergburger!) If you haven’t had it… just get there!
That was that. The boys trip south 2012 was over and out. It was a great three days of fishing with some good boys, we had plenty of laughs and caught some pretty good fish along the way. I’m back at work now for a few days, but we’ve got another wee plan cooking for the next week or so.
I can’t wait.
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…
As I mentioned, I had a few days fishing in the South… it was a great trip.
This time there were four of us. There were a few cameras flying around for the duration of the trip, and as a result the images used here are a mixture of those taken by all involved. It took a while at the end to sort out what was what and make sure everyone had a copy of all the pictures.
First of all we had Lionel, aka Rodney McSuperchrist, you may or may not recognise him from previous appearances. Then there was Jeremy, whom I have been meaning to fish with for a while now, and I believe has also made an appearance in one or two of Jack’s past reports. Obviously I was there too… and last but not least we had Chris. He’s a pretty well known angler and guide, but more importantly – he’s the local guy with all the knowledge!
I was already in Queenstown before the others got there. Sunday night saw the arrival of Jeremy first, followed by a quick trip to the supermarket for supplies. Lionel eventually turned up and we all made our way to Chris’ place for the night.
Early the next morning… business time!
Just like the saying goes, pictures say more than words. Because I have so many images at my disposal I decided to ease up on the writing part and let you see for yourself how it all unfolded. Here goes nothing.
The first day had a slightly cloudy beginning, but it didn’t take too long for the sun to begin poking through.
Once the sun was on the water we started to see fish reasonably easily.
I found one hard against our bank and Jeremy went to work.
And it worked well…
With the first one out of the way we continued along our merry way. There was plenty of banter to keep things interesting.
Another fish was found sooon after Jeremy released his one and it was time for Superfly to wield his wand.
He didn’t disappoint. He hooked up first cast.
He even landed it successfully…
So far so good. The day was looking rather promising.
Then it was my turn. There were a couple of fish in here. The cicada I was using was inspected by a fish for a very long time before being refused, so I changed over to a parachute. Again it was inspected for what felt like forever, but this time the fish didn’t turn away and delicately sipped it in.
I hooked up, and after a decent tug of war the fish came in.
This fish went some way towards exorcising one of the demons from last season.
I can’t quite remember what was going on here, but there must have been a fish in there somewhere that I didn’t end up catching.
And here is Rodney pointing out a rock to Jeremy and I…
Chris had a turn next and he hooked up on a nice fish.
Yep, Rodney does have two nets. I think he was planning the “Tango” slap netting method?
His technique worked, and Chris was victorious…
A pretty standard, solid fish from the river I believe.
After that Superchrist had another go and connected with a fish for quite a while, until it threw the hook near the net.
And then Jeremy…
But his one stayed stuck and came to the net.
I saw one against the near edge in the shallows, so I cut the nymph away and got right to it.
It very slowly took the first cast and I set the hook. I love this picture of the rod hooped over…
This was the fish of the day so far…
After a small quiet patch we came to a great looking piece of water. Rodney went close to another one but missed out. Jeremy offered me the chance at the next fish but I turned it down, the next thing you know he is hooked up again.
Superchrist was pretty helpful with this one.
I really should have taken him up on the offer!
This one overtook the title of fish of the day.
Soon after that we turned around and marched back to the vehicle. It had been a pretty long day and we were all very tired, but there was more to do yet. From there we drove for over an hour to our next destination. We arrived to find a less than friendly tramper in the hut and after we got set up it was time for dinner.
Superchrist only wanted beer for dinner, but we eventually talked him into having a feed of steak and pasta with us.
That was the first day of three. That night we slept well in the comfort of the hut and woke at a more reasonable hour the next morning for day two. I’ll try to get that report up ASAP…I’m just waiting on a few more pictures.
Watch this space…
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.
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 was starting to wonder if working 9-5 had many advantages from a fishing point of view. Then came a little something called Wellington Anniversary and a weekend filled with 3 days of backcountry fishing in some truly stunning spots.
I drove up after work on Friday and made it to the river rather late after being shouted a meal by the hitchhiker I picked up in Otaki (cheers Andrew!). It took a couple of red bulls to get me there, but excitement was peaking when I arrived. Isaac had been there for a couple of hours and jumped at the suggestion of a night fish. Fish is a rather inclusive term, as Isaac proceeded to demonstrate. Despite putting a bend in his rod this wasn’t quite what we were after:
A few casts later he got absolutely smoked by something that certainly wasn’t an eel. Unfortunately this was the pattern for the biggest fish of the trip.
Eventually, after removing my somewhat ambitious mouse fly and putting on a streamer, I struck into something solid. It wasn’t quite the spirited fight I hoped for, but more a dogged resistance. When the fish made it to the net we understood why.
Jandals all the way. It would have been a spectacular fish in good condition, but times didn’t favour it at the moment. Still…my trip was underway.
We struggled at our intended spot the following morning, so bounced around a few locations before settling on a river. Only problem was, how in gods name were we meant to get down to it? Our problem was solved in the form of Bob, who we serendipitously met on a dirt track in the middle of nowhere. He gave us a couple of hints which we eagerly took up.
After a bush bash and a half we arrived at the river and immediately got into fish on bright and flashy nymphs.
This bow was so pretty that I convinced Isaac to hold my fish for a photo…
After that I picked up a couple more rainbows that fought like banshees with a firecracker somewhere painful.
Then I notice Isaac has a pretty serious bend in his rod. And that this one was taking a little longer to get in than the others. Curious, I thought. So I landed my fish, took the snaps and went up to discover that he had a really rather good fish on the line. Two man netting team did the damage and he landed the fish of the trip.
We picked up a few more after that, but nothing of note. Except for that ENORMOUS bow that inhaled Isaac’s stonefly…but that’s not a happy story. I also learned the benefit of a wading stick after gracelessly pirouetting more times than I care to remember. Should have worn the wading boots!
The next day followed in a similar vein with a steady stream of good fish without anything spectacular. I dropped what was certainly the fish of the day after a confident rise to my royal wulff.
Isaac landed this nice fish after one hell of a battle.
They punch well above their weight!
By this stage I was getting rather frustrated at dropping a good fish, falling over and being inept at casting.
That afternoon we got the squall we had been expecting. Fishing through the rain I picked up a couple of OK fish and Isaac landed several good ones. Unfortunately the camera didn’t come out for that one.
The next morning awoke clear but with a bitter cold. After a quick trip around the campground to find someone with jumper leads to jump start Isaac’s car we hit the road. This was one of those rare trips where we saved the best till last. Bush bashing through overgrown tracks for two hours saw us eventually emerge battered and bruised to a crystal clear little stream with well defined pools and runs. The excitement was tangible.
Sneaking our way up the first run we sighted the quarry. This was the first chance for real sight fishing during the trip and we capitalised on it. Casting a large blowfly humpy with a trailing nymph ahead of a feeding fish brought about immediate results. The fish rose in the column intent on eating my dry. The take was slow and my strike was patient. It was at about this moment that Isaac started mumbling something about a tangle. That’s fine I thought, he could untangle his rig after I landed my fish. Then I looked down to see that this was a team effort tangle. As I hauled for the final cast I caught his fly which proceeded to loop around my line. Well, there’s nothing like an excuse to fight a fish hard. Giving line just wasn’t an option. After a few hairy moment I guided a great rainbow to the net.
Yep, this one made me happy.
Two pools up we came across a beautiful thing…free rising trout. I refused to let Isaac fish to this one with the nymph, so he reluctantly tied on a big rubber legged cicada. It only took two drifts before snout broke surface and the dance began. After catching mostly browns for the past few years I’d forgotten how good a real rainbow fight is. Isaac was sure enjoying this one.
After the fish was released we saw a sizeable eel doing the rounds and harassing the 10 or so fish in this pool. They seemed to forget about us while concentrating on the eel, and after he left them they promptly returned to the feed.
Making the most of this memory wipe I quickly landed two great bows in pretty quick succession.
The count, as we left that pool, stood at three great rainbows all caught whilst standing on the same rock.
Fish got a little fewer and further between after that, but they were there nonetheless. It seemed to be my day as an errant cast brought this fish to the fly.
By this stage it was late in the day and we had a long walk ahead of us. It was hard to turn around knowing we were leaving behind more great fishing, but the fact that we’d had such a great day so far made it that little bit easier. We did stop off briefly on the walk and Isaac managed to hook a solid bow from a difficult spot, but it stormed through the pool and utilised the prominent rock to full effect.
I was pretty stoked to see the car after that walk. Red bulls in the chilly bin went down a treat. It was a long drive home and a very welcoming bed.
Cheers Isaac for a great trip!
Not much has been happening for me lately. I’ve had a couple of half assed days out on the water, but that’s about as far as it goes.
These fish are my most recent. They didn’t come easliy! They were caught on separate days, both were taken on a cicada.
I really nailed the self timer shot on this one didn’t I !
This fish was one of three I saw in the pool. The only three fish I saw in the river all day. It inspected the cicada for a long time before slowly breaking the surface and inhaling the fly. Once hooked it went absolutely ballistic and scared everything else in the pool. Never mind, it made the day.
I’m looking forward to seeing what Jack is able to conjure up from his three day trip. In the mean time, I’m off fishing tomorrow. The plan is to stay out for a couple of days and do some exploring. Here’s hoping for some reasonable weather, and fishing!