Surfing Browns, Huckleberry Finn & 30 Blank Free Days for Joe Creane…
After 5 internet free weeks travelling around the South Island with my Dad, I’m back.. Dad flies out today after 30 blank free days on river and lake. The fishing was great because we worked hard for it. New Zealand fishing rewards an angler for effort as much as having the fundamentals correct. Our day’s together were simple. We got up at 7 or 8 and had a quick breakfast. One of us (usually Dad) would make us a sandwich each for lunch. After 8-10 hours on the water we would return to our accommodation and one of us (usually Dad, but this was less one sided than the sandwich making!) would cook dinner. A few beers and then bed.
We changed the format of this trip a little. In the past we would spend a lot of time driving to many different waters. This time we tried to find good locations within easy striking distance of good water and stay put for a while. Mossburn for example, A great location but the holiday park was pretty average at best. I like basic but the cold concrete floor, uncomfortable old school chairs,tiny flickering tv and a door that sounded worse that a cat being stepped on every time it was opened and closed eventually broke me down. The fishing was great though. Dad had his personal best brown not too far away. He was almost 8lbs. We had about 50 big browns that week.
Another place we spent some time was at Buscot Station Backpackers 9ks North of Omarama. This is one of the best Backpackers I have stayed in anywhere. Tony owns the place and Kev helps out. After a long day on one of many nearby rivers or lakes we would come “home” to Buscot. Dinner was never a problem in the well equipped kitchen. Steak, veg and roast potatoes every night, usually with a bottle of wine and, if we were lucky, Tony playing the Piano. The beds were comfortable and the rooms spotless. We had freshly laid eggs for breakfast every day. Take my advise and stay here! You will not want to leave..
Back to fishing talk.. Still water fishing has been teaching me lots lately. I have been successfully using many methods and developing new ones. Let me elaborate! All the usual methods have been working so I wont bore you with those but one of the new things for me is fishing at close quarters to the fish using spiders. Suddenly for no apparent reason I knew spiders would be deadly even though i never really used them before. I fished them around lake edges instead of my usual #16 unweighted nymph suspended under a dry. Now I had no dry as an indicator so I was watching the fish more closely than ever, sometimes striking only because the fish was in roughly the right place, or it changed direction and slowed down, or stopped, or something obvious like i could see it’s mouth open and close. Then I started to notice mannerisms like one kick of the tail to approach the fly usually ended in a take, Slow constant swimming movements were less sure and sometimes ended in a refusal. This close quarter fishing was fascinating and I wanted to get closer and thus the “Huckleberry Finn” method was born. In my head Huckleberry Finn is an adventurer with rough clothes and a cloth tied at 4 corners draped over a stick to carry his belongings. Sometimes he sits beside a lake under a tree with a bit of string tied to the stick trying to catch a fish. That’s what I found myself doing to get closer than ever to the fish! I used the willows which line many lake edges as cover. This heavy cover makes casting Impossible but it makes it easy to get very close to the fish. Once in position unhitch the fly, reel in until 2 or 3 foot of tippet is under the rod tip and then put the fly right in front of the fish or in his beat and wait for fireworks. The direction of the strike has be considered before the take to avoid smashing your rod off a willow limb. I learned lots from this method and on one great morning I had 11 on the HF while dad also had 11 while blind wolley buggering!
That same day another type of close quarter fishing presented itself to us. With 11 fish each and the wind getting up to about a force 6 we decided to go somewhere more sheltered. I was just about to put the rod in the car when I noticed a fish feeding in the swash of a breaking wave right beside me. I unhitched the fly and slammed it down beside him and he nailed it.. We walked on and realised this was not a once off. There were lots of fish doing this and we started catching them. We finished up with 18 each for the day on 3 completely different methods!
I have seen these “surfers” before but never to this extent, Partly because I didn’t look no doubt. I needed more and luckily this wind got up from the same direction every afternoon and the fish were there on cue. A lot of the fish were on the thin side and very opportunist but there were plenty cracking fish to keep us interested. On the days when the waves were not too big, dries provided great sport. Nymphs and spiders worked equally well but were not as much fun. On one insanely intense afternoon when the wind turned into a gale and one could dam near bodyboard on the swells breaking ashore, the fish were still there being pounded by the waves feeding away. No skinny fish though, All good ones with occasional Rainbows coming in from the back from time to time. It was unreal to see where the browns were effortlessly feeding. We could only see them every so often through the white water breaking onto shingle and large rocks. The fish were hard to spook and casts were short and aggressive into the gale with large weighted flies. The fish just needed to be able to get the fly into its mouth before the wave whipped it away.
I have never heard anybody talk about my Huckleberry Finn method or Surfing Browns so I’m learning those methods from scratch. I reckon the HF would be lethal for willow grubbers!
If you get a chance fish with your Father, Son, Mother, daughter whatever.. It’s Important!
By the way, I filmed the HF method in action but my piece of shit laptop can barely play it let alone edit it. If there is a philanthropist flyfisherman among you please sponsor me a mac. It’s never easy being self sponsored!