Where the Rivers Meet the Sea – South Westland, New Zealand.
Much to my regret, it’s been a few years since I’ve been to the west coast. I lived there for a while about 9 years ago and I have an unexplainable kinship with the place. It does something for my soul that I struggle to put into words. I feel totally grounded there, calm, sort of connected. After spending a couple of days there I feel better, happier, rejuvenated.
Day one. Paul and I travelled together in convoy. Paul brought a couple of Kayaks, one of which came off the trailer en-route! Those moulded plastic Kayaks are very tough. The road was no match for it. The Kayaks were a great advantage for getting to gravel bars and across lagoons and just general access.
The fishing was challenging. It was new to me so I was feeling my way bit, trying to read the water and get a feel for a good approach. Before too long I got a nice 3.5lber on one of Paul’s magnificent streamers. With the falling tide a drop-off came into casting range and that’s where the fish took. I expected more in the same spot but apart from a couple of touches, nothing. We each had a few more hits as the morning progressed but nothing hectic. After that quiet spell I hooked a big fish on low tide. I was using my Di7 to get deep. When I hooked the fish I was experimenting with a rapid, jerky retrieve. After beaching the trout I noticed something hanging out of the rear end, I pulled it out to find a good size green crab! I never heard of trout eating crabs but why wouldn’t they? I’d be more surprised to learn that they don’t eat crabs! With the rising tide, the already slow fishing pretty much stopped. Don’t get me wrong though, slow fishing does not mean bad fishing. I had great day with better company in one of my favourite places on earth.
Day two. Jo Meder joined me in the morning and we hit for the same spot as Paul and I fished the day before. I was keen to learn whether time of day was more or less important that time of tide. I expected the time of tide to be more important but it turned out that the morning was best once again. The same time as the day before but the tide was an hour higher! The last hour to low tide did not work at all and this was best the day before. All the action came in the same hour for me, I had 2 trout and a flounder. They all ate Jo’s silicone smelt pattern. In the afternoon we went exploring. I drove down the true left bank of a nearby river but did not get a good feeling. The water didn’t scream fish so I drove roughly 40 minutes, mostly off-road to the other bank… It screamed fish. It pays to heed your instinct. Before long Jo was bent into a good one. The bar of silver took a white clouser fished deep. This was Jo’s best fish for a long time and made has 1200km round trip worth the effort. Soon after I was into one which took right on the corner between the heaving surf and the powerful river. Paul Macandrews streamer did the trick again! This time a bigger one to suit the heavier water. Jo managed one more and then it went quiet.
All up the fishing was epic over the 2 days. Mostly pretty slow but the anticipation was always positive. Changing tides and conditions could improve the fishing at any time. Aside from the fishing, and at least as important, was the location. I cannot tell you what a special, magical, beautiful, ruthless, tough, powerful, spectacular place this is… I’m trying but words fail to do it justice.
“Go west young man”
Ps. Paul and Jo, Thanks for the flies, the company and the craic!
Also, some big fish in SLTV down at the bottom!!
In this instalment of SLTV, Ep 14, Big Fish Week part 2. We have the biggest campfire ever on the west coast (the last time I was there I think!), The good fortune went my way this week… I catch some really big fish including a double, or was it all a dream??? Have a look!