What follows is a list of my favourite fish from the season. Not necessarily the biggest or the prettiest, but the most satisfying for one reason or another. In fact it has surprised me while constructing this list how many of the bigger fish have been left off. They’re certainly satisfying and look great in photos. But these are the fish I’ll remember.
5) Kicking off the list was a very solid rainbow taken on a tough day. To be honest any one of a number of fish could have filled this spot. The fish were feeding selectively on swimming mayflies and couldn’t be tempted by anything else. Once hooked this fish proceeded to take me for the ride of my life through the pool. There aren’t many stronger fish in the rivers than a football shaped rainbow.
4) This was a brown taken blind in a small stream. It was a strong fish and good looking to boot. Andrew snapped a great shot of it.
3) This fish was an unlikely conquest. Al and I left home at midday and rocked up to the river feeling relaxed. In a riffle at the tailout of the run I spotted a smudge moving upstream. I figure I had spooked it, but covered it anyway. It was with more than a little surprise that I watched a snout poke out of the water to take my klinkhammer. What followed was a very determined fight from a fit fish. Eventually Al secured it in the net and proceeded to snap a photo with a Canon P+S camera from the 1980s that he’d acquired for $2 that morning.
2) I was tossing up between these last two. My number two was also my biggest fish for the season, and my biggest rainbow ever by over a pound. It was a seriously good fish taken in atrocious conditions. It fought hard, if unspectacularly and I was unbelievably pleased to have caught it.
1)But my number 1 had the whole package. It was the total experience. Andrew S and I set off after work and headed north. By the time we pulled up at the stream I’d had 1/2 dozen beers (don’t worry, he was driving) and was in a merry mood. The weather was superb so we donned our jandals and set out for a streamside stroll. The first few fish were spooked in glorious fashion…followed by more…and more. It wasn’t until we came to a bend in the stream and spotted a fish rising 20metres further up that our hope grew. I was on point, so assumed the position. I didn’t dare approach too much more given the behaviour of the previous fish so it was going to be a long cast. The alcohol settled the nerves and the cast was perfect. I thoroughly enjoy the casting side of fly fishing, so a fish caught with a special cast is always that little bit more valuable to me. It’s vividly seared in my mind the sight of the golden fish rising vertically to intercept my fly. As I set the hook it absolutely erupted, tearing off upstream at some pace. In the water it had looked like a nice fish, maybe around 4lbs. After an absurdly strong fight, during which the pitfalls of wearing jandals fishing became apparent to Andrew and I (Andrew, I believe, still has the scars to prove it), a rather bigger than expected fish came to the net. The whole experience of catching this fish was topped off by its appearance. It was short, but incredibly round and heavy. In absolutely perfect condition with substantial giraffe like spots dotting its body. For me it was the fish of the season and one of the most satisfying and enjoyable fish I’ve ever caught.
Just a quick pic to ram home why Alex, Andrew S and Andrew M should be planning a trip North… While you boys are wrapping up the end of season, I’m wrapping up warm. The calibre of these lake side fish are very impressive and the fish below is testament.
Matt, Jeez and I fished a Rotorua lake last night and while we got skunked we did witness this fine specimen caught next to us. To be fair, it was a quiet night and this was confirmed by the ranger out patrolling the usual hot spots.
If that doesn’t spur you 3 on then there’s something wrong with you.
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.
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’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.
First cast back in the South Island…
Yep, that’ll do.
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…
Just a quick one from me, in keeping with the duration of the trip.
Headed up country immediately after my Nana’s 80th birthday festivities drew to a close on Sunday. I had a special guest with me this time: dad.
After sorting out the lodgings we quickly hit the river, although the first hour or two was rather fruitless with few fish seen. As the light diminished the fishing increased. Things took a definite turn for the better when we came across a deep corner pool riddled with snags. At the head holding high in the column just off the lip was a golden shape. For the briefest moment I thought it was just another log, except logs don’t rise. I shimmied into position and put the perfect cast over it with a #14 parachute adams. And…nothing. And again…nothing. The third was slightly wayward, and met with similar determined resistance. A change of tactics was called for. Off with the dainty mayfly, on with a big ugly terrestrial. It only took one cast. A determined, if unspectacular, fight ensued with the most effort exerted keeping the fish from the countless snags. After a couple of dashes from the shallows the battle concluded with a stonking brown safely in the net.
A reason to smile.
I’m far from an elitist, but I’ll always value a fish on the dry just a little bit more.
The next wee while saw a few fish sighted, usually too late. Dad was unlucky not to rise a couple of fish that he covered well. Finally, with darkness well on its way we approached another corner pool with more than one impediment to casting. Dad opted out, so there I was standing up to my neck in grass watching (well really listening to) a fish rise just feet away. It was almost dapping, but it sure brought about results. This time the #14 para adams certainly wasn’t rejected. What the previous fight lacked in spectacle this one more than made up for in aerobatics. I think the fish spent more time in the air than the water. But the trusty #5 absorbed it all and the fish soon succumbed to the constant pressure.
Another superbly conditioned brown.
After that we retired for the night, got a filthy feed of chinese takeaways and returned to our room where we were embraced wholeheartedly by cold beer.
The next day saw an early start, which turned out to be well worthwhile as not 5 minutes after we started we noticed another angler 100 metres or so downstream of us. On about the fifth cast of the day Dad caught the fish of the day. In fact, barring one small model I picked up, it was the only fish of the day. It rose confidently to eat his cicada and burst downstream as soon as it felt the bite of steel. I had to employ some boot camp tactics to get dad chasing it as at one point there was over 30 metres of backing out. I’ve seen fish fight harder than this, but I’ve never seen them fight so one dimensionally. It just swam in one direction, downstream, for the duration of the fight. Once we’d caught up to it the netting was practically a formality.
Dad once again demonstrates his propensity to make 4lb fish look tiny.
This proved to be the only real highlight in what was otherwise a very quiet day. The trip home was interrupted only by a brief stop for kebabs and a briefer stop for coffee. Great to get out on the water with dad and catch a few fish!
I 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!
Say what? I’ll explain soon.
Over the last few days I’ve been MIA with my Dad in the central North Island. We had a few rivers to go searching and had made the proper arrangements to gain access into some highly regarded water. As it turns out my Grandfather and him occasionally frequented these areas many moons back.
So after getting to Taupo on Wednesday I promptly went straight to the Waitahanui lower reaches for a look at some XXL Browns. As thought they were in there and they were not interested, it takes some luck and constant drifts to get them to even sniff a fly. I felt I was fulfilling my duties as a “guardian” to them. As Andrew Christmas wisely said in a recent report, “some anglers or locals may think I’m mad giving away information like this but with anglers on the rivers these fish will stay safer than if the river was left quiet for a few days….if you get my drift”. The number is 0800 POACHING by the way.
Thursday dawned fairly fine but as we got deeper into the National Park the cloud cover thickened, not ideal for spotting fish. We looked at a few areas on our river of choice, only seeing one rise and a small fish. Something didn’t feel right as we’d tried most methods, areas and flies with nothing coming our way. I’m sure to go back though as now I have unfinished business.
We pushed on and made our way to Owhango to sort some accommodation for the night, the pub there is as rural as it gets and well worth staying at. After a quick feed of burgers we went to the nearby section of the Whakapapa for an evening fish. Once we’d found a spot to fish we sat down and observed the pool for a bit. Soon enough I had my favourite fly combo working the edge of the current near the head of the pool. It only took a couple of drifts to see the dry disappear and everything come up tight. A short dogged battle and a nice looking brown was to the net.
This continued for the next 40 minutes with 3 more fish succumbing to the dry/dropper. One greedy fish even had both flies embedded in it’s mouth! The fish had started rising and made for some good fun as it got darker.
The next day we’d decided to have a look around some smaller rivers nearby. Apparently they hold sparse amounts of large fish but we never saw any despite our best efforts, another stream that I will explore more in depth.
Next port of call was the infamous Big O to see if it was going to give up any monsters. Apart from the 2 junior Trout I caught it produced a muddy, sore arse and a broken rod! Yep, turns out 4 divided into 6 is 0.6666667. A deceptive, sloping patch of mud took my feet out from under me quicker than I could react and the rod was bitch-slapped on the water. I had a bad feeling about the tip section after a tungsten bead came flying back from a tree and sconed it a few trips back, not a nice sound. Thankfully we’d packed a spare, although it was an absolute dog.
After all that debacle and not hearing many positive reports from campers we left and made our way to Grace Rd on the Tongariro. We saw more fish in the allotted hour than we’d seen in 2 days. Some of these were big and one or 2 were freaking huge! If only it was near on dark and they had come on the feed…
All up it was a good trip into some great country with me ol’ mate. If only the fish had been a little more obliging.
This week is my last week off so I’m hoping to get out for one last day of freedom, I’m thinking Rotorua needs some attention. Not to mention a couple of days up at the tip of Coromandel this weekend, almost forgot about that. Oh, and the trip from ‘Nam is fast approaching, watch this space.
Finally we have sunshine…
It seems like every time I’ve been able to go fishing so far this season it is either raining, or has been raining, usually rather heavily. Not this time though. The rain stopped last week, and the forecast was for fine weather and light winds.
The last time I fished with Shagger it was in the pouring rain, and we decided to have another go in the week leading up to Christmas, in the hope that we wouldn’t get as wet and cold, and that we may even be able to spot some fish. Our wish for better conditions had been granted. It was time to get amongst it.
We drove to the end of the road where we mounted the horses of steel and continued towards the day’s destination. After an hour or so we couldn’t ride any further so it was time to travel on shanks’ pony for the remaining distance.
The river was in great condition and it wasn’t too long until we found fish. Shagger was first up and he didn’t disappoint at all. The fish was moving around a bit, but as soon as Shagger covered it with the cicada it came up and took confidently.
The fish took Shagger a way down the river, never really doing anything spectacular, but refusing to come easily to the net. It fought the typical fight of a big heavy fish.
Unfortunately the fish was a bit sneakier than we expected it to be and shot out from the net after it was unhooked just as it was about to be lifted for the grip n grin picture. It really took off like a rocket.
There was another fish feeding in the run above us. I climbed down the bank to make the cast and it took the first presentation of the cicada dry. This one fought differently from Shaggers fish, it leapt a couple of times and released a few bursts of energy by tearing off into midstream at times throughout the fight.
My first netting attempt was a bit sloppy and it got back into the current, but I got him on the second attempt.
It was built differently from the first one, but it weighed the same.
It was right about the time when I released the fish that it occurred to me Shagger might not be familiar with the finer points of getting the focus set on my camera… so I gave him a 10 second midstream tutorial…
This was as good a start to a day as any I could remember. It was suggested that we could be in for a great day if the fishing continued in the same fashion. As it turned out, we spoke too soon. The fishing soon became very frustrating.
Shagger fished at the next one, which was actually sitting below where I had just hooked my fish from. It must have moved in there while we were downstream. This fish obliged in the same way as the first two did, but only stayed hooked for a few seconds.
Can you see the fish?
We found another one further along the same run on the other side which I crossed over for, but it soon disappeared after only a couple of presentations.
After that we went through a long period where the fish were very spooky, and the ones which took did so in an unusual manner. They were nipping at the fly rather than taking confidently. The fresh boot prints explained to me why they were behaving this way.
The wind picked up throughout the day. It was blowing quite strongly behind us and made it difficult to load the back cast and place a fly accurately… so much for the forecast of light wind, although I got the feeling the wind we were experiencing was on the lighter side of the scale for the valley.
Time went by with a few fish cast at and not caught, until we came to the run which was to become our saviour for the day. It started off when I hooked one on a blowfly pattern which snapped me off. I was a bit angry, but reasoned that at least it was a solid hook up. Shagger then fished at one which took the fly but didn’t stick… again. Once again it was my turn, I hooked up, and at last I landed another fish.
It was a great feeling to get one to the net finally.
It was a shade smaller than my first one.
Another one was found a short way up, at first we thought it might have been the fish I just released, but it lifted to Shagger’s dry fly and took it, so apparently not.
This one also stayed hooked and made it into the net. This fish was a real warhorse… it looked as thoughit had survived through some hard times.
This was the biggest fish for the day and Shagger’s biggest fish for some years. He was stoked and so was I.
It looked like things were turning for the better.
After that, Shagger brought another one to the net, however, it wasn’t using any traditional method. He used the bum jacking technique… the fish was just sitting there minding its own business when dirty old Shagger snagged it in the rear with his sunken fly. The poor fish got one hell of a fright and took off for the other side, taking all the fly line and plenty of backing with it.
To his credit Shagger pulled it in quickly to save it any undue stress, but he insisted on having a photo with it. Who was I to say no?
We carried on for another hour or so, but we stopped seeing fish at that run. Eventually we turned around for the long trip back to the truck. It took a long time to get there, and I was one very tired boy by the time we rested the bikes down.
We (Shagger) cooked up a feed of steak, onions and packet pasta in the back of the truck, before heading towards greener pastures elsewhere.
I have no idea how long it took us to get there, but it felt like forever until we were setting up camp for the night. I slept very well that night, Shagger confirmed this in the morning when he mentioned the amount of snoring that had been coming from me. I was a bit second hand to start with when I woke up, but after a while I limbered up enough to be of some use and went to work cooking up the bacon and eggs breakfast I had been looking forward to so much.
It was a pretty gentle start to that days fishing. The sun was already on the water by the time we arrived and it didn’t take long to find a fish.
Shagger tried a few different patterns over it, but it wouldn’t budge. The next few fish were pretty much the same… they were very still and sitting in strange places. There were a lot of footprints around. Perhaps the owners of those prints had a successful day on the river a day or two before?
I managed to hook one fish which was sitting at the bottom of a very heavy run. I had to change to a massive stonefly to get a result, and the fish only stuck for a few seconds.
We made the call to bail out and try somewhere neither of us had fished before. The water had far less clarity there, and the wind was rather strong, but we were both confident of catching what we could find.
It took a while, but we found a fish sitting near the edge. Shagger put a dry fly over it and the fish came up immediately. Shagger struck, hooked up… then lost the fish. Not to worry, it was more promising than what we had seen at the other place.
Soon afterwards I found one in a small channel. It too took the dry on the first presentation, but this one stayed on. It scrapped like a demon despite its small size, but it was hooked well enough that I could bring it to the net.
We found another one for Shagger a short way upstream and it was the same deal. The fish took on the first cast and he landed it after another spirited fight.
One more fish was hooked, but it snapped the leader like it was cotton… I don’t think it was very big, it just had a lot of energy. I guess I will never really know?
Despite the smaller size of the two fish we caught, It was good fun catching them. I can see myself there again at some stage, hopefully when the water is a bit cleaner though.
And that was it. Two more great days out on the water, and I can’t wait to do it again…
I’m going back to work now for a few days, so I won’t be fishing anytime soon. Hopefully you all have a safe Christmas and the weather stays good so you can get after some fish at some stage.
While I’m still madly busy with the end of year duties I haven’t neglected the fishing and have managed to get out a few times. Even though the weather this weekend meant we only looked at the Whakatane bar, gutted!
The trip I had sussed with the old man went ahead on a rainy Sunday earlier in the month. We picked the newly opened reaches of the Ngongotaha river to fish. I arrived around 7am after a quick drive from Hamilton and was greeted by Morri who was just getting sorted after his drive North from Taupo. We were surprised the park was empty and wasted no time getting to the water.
Upon approaching the first pool we stopped and looked into the water. The spot I normally see a few fish sitting in was empty so we crossed the river to start searching the first runs. Just as I was mentioning to Dad to be alert for big browns in the edges we noticed a rather large tail stir up the water and vanish deeper into the safety of the bank/snag. It wasn’t long before we saw a fish feeding in the run and threw a couple of drifts over it until it caught wind and did the old Houdini.
It was still raining and my glasses were fogging up something chronic. While I sorted them out Dad had another flick at a fish sitting in the shallows of a bend, occasionally moving back and forth chewing on nymphs. Whammo, the recovering Rainbow smashed the fly and took off straight up to a big log. After giving the fish some slack it swam back up and off the log much to our delight, some more risky runs and it was near the bank for netting. I jumped down the bank and into the water, putting the net under our first conquest for the day. The smile on Dads face as he helped me back up the small cliff said it all.
That was to be the theme for the rest of the day. We each landed a mix of nice fresh run rainbows to 4lb and some recovering darker jacks that inhaled flies with no hesitation. The big brown wasn’t the only one we saw, we counted at least 6 lurking around in log jams, under bank edges and vegetation. One of them even stuck around to let me bounce a massive black streamer right on its nose. It was incredibly dominant and kept its mouth shut while it was pestered. The river also had a lot of fish that appeared to still be spawning that were very spooky and not that interested in eating.
The pick of rigs was the dry/dropper as it is super subtle on the spooky fish and also keeps the dropper out of the snags which abound the river. This is part of the reason I love fishing the Ngongotaha, it’s a pokey, fun wee river with a reputation for large fish. We also did a quick recce around the lower reaches of a few nearby rivers, spotting some hefty fish that were very reluctant to take our offerings. One fish in particular is the reason I’m going back for a night fish hopefully this week, it was much larger than the ones seen earlier in the day!
The following weekend some mates and I had a charter booked for Raglan. It was to be my first trip over the notorious bar and into the wild west. This day the bar was very docile and Shanan soon had Game On racing out to Gannet Rock, once there we hit the sign with an array of jigs and after a few fishless drops we settled into the idea of a snapper fish closer in. Once anchored up the fish began to slowly come on the chew. Our lucky angler Richard from Hunting and Fishing Waikato lead the charge with decent gurnard and a nice sized pannie lining the bottom of a freakishly big icebox. We kept up with our share, adding sharks and tangles much to Shanans delight, also taking a few kahawai, legal snapper and gurnard.
After a while we lifted anchor, even managing some gear back off the rope. A quick squirt to a nearby reef and scout around had us over some more kingi sign. The first drift was unsuccessful but the next one had us hooked up. And hooked up. And hooked up. It was calamity as I watched our mate Riki take his first ever king flanked by 2 pros doing battle. My only words of advice to him were to hold on to my rod, I was glad he listened because later on he got absolutely dusted on 80lb braid. We each boated a few kingis in the quick fire session.
My new early (thanks Tina) Christmas present was still too shiny so I put a 5inch grub tail on and flicked it away from the jiggers. A couple of knocks later and I came up solid, the fish racing off as line peeled from the spool. I vaguely remember Richard pre-selling me some more braid as a joke. Just as I thought things were starting to go my way we drifted past a cray rope, the fish going straight around it. I watched the float go under and pop back up as the line parted from the fish, thankfully not too much new braid was lost.
Next cast was met with the same response and shortly after I was locked in with a hard fighting trevally. This thing was determined to get away but the new kit was well worth the purchase. After what seemed like 10 minutes and already having sore arms we finally saw colour, much to my relief. Some quick gaff work from Shanon and I had blooded my rod, stoked.
Well that is all that’s worth reporting on for now. I have pretty much sorted my next month for fishing plans so am hoping for good weather, willing fish and in particular sight fishing for kings on the fly at Leigh (please Santa).
Thanks for reading over the last year. Here’s wishing you all a Merry Christmas, keep safe out there and most of all have fun.
Here we go again… another trip report! I nearly feel guilty for the amount of fishing I have done recently, but only until I remind myself that I’m back to work on Monday. It’s a tough life.
After Robert and I finished fishing together he was planning to head further south in search of better weather. As it turned out, I managed an extra day out fishing with him before he left.
We set off early in the morning as per normal and drifted our way towards some water, hoping we could find some that was fishable. After the recent rainfall I didn’t know quite what we would find. I figured that anything would be better than nothing.
Robert, like many others do, came to New Zealand with the dream of catching big trout. He was lucky enough to catch one on his first day out which eclipsed his previous personal best, a fantastic beginning to his stay.
When I learned of his fish I told him he was very lucky to have caught one that big and he might be hard pressed to beat that during the remainder of his time here. He told me he didn’t mind. He was pleased just to have caught that fish. I admired the fact he was contempt with the fact he had already achieved his goal and intended to just enjoy the rest of his time here.
After driving for a while we came to a piece of water which although slightly high, was very fishable. We unpacked and set off for the day, not knowing what to expect.
Spotting was rather difficult due to a combination dirty water and glare, so we had to blind fish for a bit. No fish were found in the first two or three runs, but the next run provided the first piece of action for the day. I hooked a fish in the outside edge at the top of the run. It was a great place for a fish to hold, it was slightly deeper, had enough current to bring plenty of food through, and the fish wouldn’t need to work too hard to remain on station.
The fish never did anything spectacular while on the line, but it still managed to make its way to near the bottom of the run before I managed to net it.
It was a bit lean, but a nice fish regardless.
Robert had a couple of opportunities further upstream, but unfortunately the fish won both times. We had walked a long way for only three fish seen. I hoped we would find more before time ran out.
We came to the end of the beat where there is a very likely piece of water and I asked Robert if he wanted to fish it blind since we couldn’t see any fish. He told me to do it, so I set about covering the water as best I could.
I fished right into the top of the run, even further than I usually would. Just as the fly was drifting back through a fish lifted right near the top and I lifted the rod to feel solid weight. It was a bit chaotic to begin with, but I soon managed to get control of the situation and after a decent struggle with several bursts into the middle of the river, the fish was safely netted.
This one was a bit bigger than the first.
I have to say, I thought I had covered the water where the fish would be holding well before I got this take. I guess you learn all the time…
After that I suggested to Robert we go and check out a place I had found a fish on a previous occasion. As I suspected, he was keen. I explained that it was a bit of a long shot, because I had only ever seen a fish there once before.
It took a while to get there, but we made it eventually. I snuck along the bank behind the vegetation, using the height to my advantage. I spotted a rather large grey shape near our side. It looked pretty big, but the wind prevented me from seeing it clearly to start with. I told Robert to stay put, while I crept closer for a better look. When I got close enough, I could see it had a tail. Last time I checked rocks don’t come with tails, so I was reasonably sure it was indeed the target species.
A quick team talk then took place in the safety zone, where I suggested that Robert change things up a bit for this fish. As he was doing so he enquired how big the fish was. I felt this was one of those “need to know basis” occasions, I told him it was quite a nice fish. I didn’t lie to him, but this was a rather toned down version of what I was thinking inside my head at the time. I didn’t want to inject him with buck fever at this stage of the game…
The plan was that he would sneak back around a bush and down onto a grassy knob which he would then use as a casting platform. Robert moved into position and I was relieved to hear he could see the fish from where he knelt. That was one less thing to worry about.
Despite the strong headwind, his first cast fell true, as did the second, third, and fourth. They were perfectly positioned, but the fish wasn’t interested in the green caddis. I called a time out, and went to see Robert. I clipped off the caddis and replaced it with a dirty big brown stonefly nymph.
I could see well enough from my new position, so I stayed put while Robert continued casting. The first couple of presentations weren’t quite right and the fish didn’t move. The third one went further up and slightly to the left of the fish, Robert said to me at that time he thought the next one should go further over, just as he finished the sentence I saw the fish move positively to the left and gave my reply of “I don’t think you’ll need to” as the indicator dipped. Robert saw the same as me and ripped the hook home. There was a brief congratulation from me before my tone changed and I screamed at him to get across to the other side of the river. There was some nasty stuff on our side and he needed to be across the river to pull the fish free if it went for the gnarlyness beneath.
The fish ended up at the tail of the pool and caught up in some fast water which pulled it downstream even further. I followed in hot pursuit if Robert and his fish, eventually smashing my way across. When I lifted the net and Robert’s fish was inside, I screamed triumphantly as if it were my own. That was followed by a high five of mammoth proportions and general celebration.
Although I wouldn’t tell him at the time, I knew from the moment I saw this fish in the water it was bigger than what Robert had already caught. I wasn’t wrong. Robert was literally shaking as he looked at his prize, and the excitement on his face was priceless. I felt very privileged to be there for his special moment.
After the photographs were taken the fish was released to swim away into the current strongly. This was a cool thing that had just happened, very cool.
We walked back to where the rest of our gear was up on the bank and Robert decided he would leave it at that for the day, a perfect finish.
Just as we collected the gear I looked down through the wind ruffled surface into the top of the run and spotted another fish feeding in front of a large rock. Without even speaking, Robert handed me his rod and motioned me towards the river. I set off for my casting position while Robert set up his camera to film me as I fished.
I crept to the downstream side of the rock, and peeked out to the side where I could see the shape in the water. I was very close, but needed to be because of the obstruction.
The first cast into the wind was too short, as was the second. I added some extra spice to the third one and it fell where I wanted it to. I was very confident this would be the one… I wasn’t at all disappointed. The fish grabbed the stonefly as soon as it saw it and I was on. The fish didn’t muck around at all as it shot straight downstream and out of the pool into the fast water, with me following it as fast as possible.
I caught up to the fish in the fast water, and went toe to toe with it for a while until I was able to slip the net over its head.
This one was pretty big too.
After the pictures were taken the fish took off savagely into the distance. The perfect finish to the day had become even more perfect. What a great day. I doubt I’ll have another one like this for a while.
I’m back to work tomorrow for a few days then I have some bits and pieces to attend to over the next couple of weeks. Hopefully I’ll manage a day or two of fishing if I get the time. Here’s hoping I do…
Until next time… Tight lines all!
In hindsight it was probably a pretty stupid idea going fishing the night after the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup Final… I know I barely got any sleep, Matt got far less. He generously offered to cook me breakfast. I tell you, there aren’t many better smells to arrive at a house to than bacon and eggs. With the breakfast formalities underway it was time to hit the road. After a little while I had a sudden brainwave… Where the hell’s my vest? Upon realizing that my vest was still in Andrew’s car after Saturday I also noticed a certain someone’s study materials in the back of my car. Well I couldn’t go fishing in good conscience without dropping it off at her place first. After that it was a case of a very apologetic early wake up for Andrew, quickly grabbing my vest and finally getting on with the show.
We arrived to cold, windy conditions with the promising hint of sun peering over the peaks. A brief walk brought about our first encounter with our quarry. By this stage the wind was fair roaring, so I thought I’d be nice and let Matt have a go. The fish was feeding like mad, but try as we might we just couldn’t get a drag free presentation with the conflicting currents and the pervasive wind. Eventually the fish became aware, and took off. I encountered a fish feeding similarly just a few pools up, but my luck was barely any better. I managed to trick the fish into eating a small green caddis, however the hook pulled after almost no time.
Things carried on in this vein with Matt pricking a fish on the dry, and myself meeting with nothing but air after a big fish had taken my green caddis. After almost drowning myself attempting an ambitious river crossing to get at a fish (and spooking it in the process) I wasn’t feeling too positive about the day. This all changed when I spotted a smudge holding in fast water. Then the smudge rose. Cool. First presentation with my small parachute adams and the fish rose and scoffed it. I’ve never seen a brown trout tailwalking to quite the extent that this one did. When I eventually got it in I saw that the condition on the fish was absolutely outstanding.
It wasn’t a big fish, but you’d struggle to find many in better condition.
Barely 500metres further up the stream we encountered one of the best patches of pocket water fishing I’ve had in a long time.
Matt made it look easy by pulling this fish out on one of the first casts.
I then proceeded to fish at a fish that kept popping in and out of the current, and in and out of my visibility. Spotting two big fish rising one pocket over I crossed to fish at them. At this point I should note that I’d been having a rather problematic time with my pants. They just kept falling down. When I hit the right cast (not easy when the casting position dictates that you can only cast leader into a nor’wester) the fish rose without hesitation to my grey klinkhammer. Hammer time. What ensued was quite possibly one of the most comical experiences to have transpired on a river. As soon as I hooked the fish the swirling current at the base of the pocket had dragged my line down, tangling it with the fittings on my boots. At this point my pants decided to fall down. Proper down. Here I was with a big fish jumping madly on the surface, my line wrapped around my boots and my pants around the ankles. Matt said he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Personally I felt more like crying. Somehow with one hand I grabbed my pants and hoisted them up, then managed, despite my inflexibility, to lift my foot into the air and clear the line. All this whilst standing in waist deep fast flowing water. After that the rest was just a formality.
At the time I had a slightly inkling that this may have been the same fish Andrew caught a year beforehand. Upon getting home and checking the spots it was confirmed.
My guess is that they were feeding on these fellows.
I won’t go into details with what happened in a big pool a little further up. Suffice to say I was left nearly in tears as a rather large fish flipped me the bird before popping the hook and lazing about in the shallows. I attempted an overly ambitious swipe with the net, but to no avail. I will be back.
The next pool up saw a rather bizarre experience. A fish sitting in a small alcove and popping out only occasionally into the current took a liking to my most successful creation over winter – the Deviant fly. Matt was fishing to it, and it took his fly not once…not twice…but seven times. I’ve never seen anything like this before. On the seventh the hook bit and a long hard fight ensued.
A great end to the day.
It was a long walk back, and a couple of very tired lads that made it back into Christchurch late in the evening.
What a weekend. After two weeks of flat-tack, nose in the books torture I knew I’d enjoy this weekend, but I think I underestimated just how much.
Saturday morning saw me get up after 3 hours sleep. Andrew and I were taking a special guest on a fishing trip into the backcountry. Being the Saturday of Labour weekend we figured a very early start was in order. It wasn’t. After a long drive during which certain members of the crew drifted in and out of consciousness we turned up to find no other cars in sight. Walking through bog at 7am is a really wonderful experience. Believe it or not, I’m not being sarcastic. After thrashing myself writing essay after essay getting into the backcountry was a relief. Life was very good.
Andrew kicked things off nicely by catching the first fish we saw. A couple of fly changes were all it took to see the tell tale roll as the fish took his nymph. After a start like this it’s easy to get complacent, to assume you’re in for a cracker day. It was tough. I missed a strike on the dry in a small pocket, and then missed a possible strike on a rather large fish holding in a deep side braid. The fish moved, the indicator went down, but somehow I’m still not convinced it took my fly.
We all got a little distracted watching a stonefly emerge from its shuck. For some reason you see a lot of adult mayflies in New Zealand, but relatively few adult stoneflies (despite the abundance of stonefly nymphs).
By this stage we were a little perturbed. We’d fished this stretch at almost exactly the same time last year, with dramatically differing results. What’s more, we’d seen about 10 times as many fish. The leading theory we came up with was that a party had thrashed the water the day before and the fish had not yet resumed normal feeding behaviour.
Nevertheless, Andrew persevered prospecting the fast water and was rewarded for his efforts.
Just upstream of this I spotted a fish holding in a small braid off the main flow where the current ran hard against the bank. Did it want my offerings? Hell no. I moved up and was about to initiate phase 2: attack phase. Just as I’d tied on something big, bad and heavy I spotted a movement in the current about three metres ahead of me. It was one of those fish with light sides and a green back. A fish that looked very solid in the water. Motioning to Liz to drop down I retied my original flies on and made a presentation to the right of the fish. It moved, inspected my dry and then refused it. One more I thought, this time to the left. No mistakes this time as the fish lifted and took the generic black dry from the surface. It was like striking into a freight train. Before you start wondering, it wasn’t massive. But Christ it was solid! I had my dry tied straight to 8lb tippet and I needed every ounce of it! As soon as it felt the bite of the hook it headed straight across the flow and under a rock. I just couldn’t move it. To be honest I thought it had broken me off and snagged me. I think Liz was sensing my concern, but she still laughed as I ploughed across the pool and attempted to use different angles to budge the fish. In the end I decided to play dirty. I grabbed the tippet and started tugging on it. Now this isn’t a ploy I’d typically use, but in this case it was necessary. I felt the telltale thud, thud, thud and knew that somewhere beneath this rock the fish was still attached. In an effort to drown me the fish, which I was quickly gaining a lot of respect for, bolted straight downstream causing me to pirouette gracelessly in the water; straight downstream, and under another rock. Thankfully this time it wasn’t so stubborn, and with a little more pressure I was able to swing it into the waiting net.
Now that’s what I call a fight. It was backcountry fishing at its best. Big, strong fish on dry flies.
After that the day somewhat petered out. I had a couple of glances from a fish sitting in the shallows. Then a bit of bush bashing, not one but two unplanned swims, and a very deep and dodgy river crossing brought us to the only pool on this stretch that we saw fish in. That said, it held four of them. I managed to stuff up three of them and Andrew fluffed the fourth. A solid fish feeding at the back of the line up happily engulfed my stonefly, but no resistance was felt on the strike. The second fish spooked first cast after the antics that unfolded below it. The third took my colubriscus without hesitation. Some frightening pressure was required to keep it in the pool. A swim through rapids entailed if it got out, and I wasn’t going to let that happen.
Just as it was nearing the bank the hook popped (it became a theme for this weekend – more on that later). If you look at the trajectory of my line you’ll get an idea of the amount of pressure I had on that fish. A couple of new decorations in the tree.
Andrew spotted a fish feeding in a small pocket further up, and after a couple of fly changes procured a strike. Sadly he too met nothing but air.
We bashed our way further up, looked in all the likely spots and finally finished things with a wee river crossing…
One member of the party decided to cross a little further upstream.
I wasn’t laughing…honest.
That night I went to probably the strangest party of my life. It was like entering a cult. Suffice to say I didn’t stay for very long. Sleep came easy and uninterrupted.
That’s all for now. I’ll chuck the second instalment up in a few days…
The weather has been pretty awful since opening… it’s been raining more or less non stop.
Yesterday I decided to just take a couple of hard pills and I ventured into the high country to see what I could find.
First of all I found dirty water, and lots of it. So I went further. Eventually I found some water which wasn’t quite as dirty as the rest… so away I went.
Over 3 hours later of walking and blind fishing the murky water in the rain and I was ready to pack it in. Then I spotted a fish. I was high up on a bank and I could see it on the near side in the bottom third of the big pool. I could tell it was big, and my heart began thumping inside my chest. I looked at the angry, swollen rapid that emptied the pool and tried to figure a game plan for if I successfully hooked the fish. It seemed to me that, if it decided to go downstream, I would need to rely on a fair bit of luck to get home with this one.
I crept down to water level and prepared to cast.
I couldn’t see the fish from where I stood because of all the glare. I snuck forward and caught another glimpse of the fish, then went back into casting position. Three times I snagged up in trees behind me before my line hit the water for the first time… somehow I managed to keep my cool each time. The first cast went untouched, and the second. I thought I’d blown it.
I wound in and crept forward again expecting the fish to be long gone, but it was still there. I cast from where I could see the fish and it moved lazily to my fly, I saw its mouth open and when it closed again I slammed the hook home.
The fish rolled on the top and I leaned into it hard. I gave it nothing in case it made it to the fast water. Then I dragged it upstream slightly and into a shallow patch over a sandy bottom where I slipped the net over its head before it could take off.
This fish is the fattest I’ve caught in quite some time. It was a pig.
Unfortunately I was by myself, so the pictures aren’t exactly A grade… better than nothing though.
I left the fish in the net while I got the camera ready, and when I looked back at it there were a whole lot of earthworms in my net. The fish had been gorging itself on them, and it was so full that it regurgitated them in the net. No wonder it didn’t fight too much.
I carried on for quite some time after that, but failed to see another fish, even though the water looked really good. It was a long and cold walk back to the car in the wind and rain.
On the way home I stopped off for a quick look in a piece of dirty water. It was pretty filthy, but I couldn’t help myself.
I found a pool where a small stream was putting some cleaner water into the main flow. It mixed quickly with the dirty stuff, but it looked as good as anything around. I figured that I would probably hang out there if I was a fish, so i sent my fly into the current and hoped for the best.
Sure enough, there was a fish in there. I hooked it and landed it quickly. Fortunately for me and my net this one didn’t spew any earthworms.
That’s all for now. Its been a great start to the season so far… I’ve got a few more days before I have to go back to work, so hopefully I’ll be able to catch a few more fish soon. Fingers crossed for better weather!