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.