Archive for October, 2013

The tide that almost took my truck… Twice!

October 23rd, 2013 No comments

Jeff and I hit for the coast early on Saturday morning. There had been a deluge of rain on the coast for a few days so there were no guarantees the rivers or their mouths would be fishable. The weekend forecast was good so we decided to chance it. As expected, the rivers were high and coloured but some were fishable. There were so many whitebaiters about that the coastal fishing looked like it would be pretty annoying with us tripping over them and vice-versa. They have always been very friendly with me and never put out the notion that they own the place so, with respect, we left them to the river mouths and we chose a river.

It was a big, intimidating river; still bulging after the rain but dropping and clearing. There is only one thing to do when faced with such a river and that’s take it on. Don’t waste much time talking about it, just do it.

We took it on with 2 set-ups. Jeff with a streamer, me with a dry-double nymph rig. Before long we spotted one which we did not get. It’s always good just to see a fish in a high, unfamiliar river. It boosts confidence. Not long after I spotted one in tough light, I only just saw the sweep of a tail. I got that fish. Jeff got one in the next pool on a streamer so we were both off the mark. The rest of the day went well. We had a few more fish on all methods, blind and sighted. When we got to a very tough gorge we decided to get out since we simply didn’t know what lay ahead and it was late in the day. We had an hour or 2 on the coast before nightfall after most of the whitebaiters had had enough. Jeff got one bright fish.

One of the my favourite things about the coast is camping with the roar of the ocean and having a raging fire from the abundant driftwood. We drove out to Haast Spit which is just such a location. I have camped here a few times without incident and I expected this time to be the same. On the way to the spot I knew, the track suddenly disappeared. I tried to feel my way around all the debris on the sand but then sank into it! “Bollocks” I said. The sand was grey, damp and in the tidal zone. With the tide rising there was no time waste. With Jeff pushing, and some tactical driving (at least I like to think so!) we got out relatively easily but we were lucky.. It could have been a disaster. A foot to the left and I think we’d have been air-locked into the sand. After that bit of excitement we made it to the camp spot. The sea was roaring and then a full moon broke from the clouds.. I had a moment where I though we should leave. With a spring tide approaching (which I did not notice when I checked the tide times) and the strong on shore wind, something didn’t feel right. I’ve learned something about myself over the years. The reason I take an odd risk is to see if I’ll get caught, and if I do, what will the consequences be?.. this is sort of in my subconscious and I’ve only recently learned it. It’s like something else takes control, giggling as it does so. I put my hesitation aside as I got the fire going and Jeff pitched his tent.

The rain came in hard and the wind blew, but the fire was hot and the beer was cold so we were happy. We were relaxed, chatting about the day and life in general when a wave broke a little close for comfort.. I shone the lights of the car which was facing out to sea. “Fuck” I said. The tide was close and the waves were big and messy. By my reckoning the tide was still an hour from full. Should we flee now? No, We’ll wait a while anyway (giggling inside). I got up to photograph a wave which skirted our camp but instead I ran and jumped onto the spare wheel on the back of the truck as a wave crashed through our camp. It hit the truck, the tent and almost put the fire out. Okay, now I was worried, we were worried. Looking behind us the tide was on the other side of the spit. we were almost surrounded by water. There was probably a route out through the driftwood but we decided to stay. We were on a relatively high point. We’d see it out. Many more waves crashed near camp. We sat on the bonnet facing the sea and watched on high alert, and waited. “I think were out of the woods now”  was said many times but the truth was that we weren’t. The tide was high and very close to camp for hours. It seemed like forever. We weren’t out of the woods. Another wave went through the camp about an hour after the first and another after that. If we were parked farther down the beach things would have been worse.. I might have had to try to get out. Our saving grace was the fact that I knew roughly when high tide was, but it all could not have been any closer! We were lucky too..

Finally the tide receded, the rain stopped and  the wind died. We polished of the box of beer, high on adrenaline and life with a cranking fire and a bright moon..

Day 2 on the river was much like day 1.


Badger with the bow and arrow cast & Craig the glisteriser!

October 7th, 2013 2 comments

There is a phrase skiers use after a really tough day skiing, They say, “we left it all on the mountain”.  That’s how Craig, Badger and I felt after our day on the river on Saturday. We left it all on the river.

We started early but were beaten to our desired spot by a spin fisherman and a fly-fisherman. I spoke to them and they didn’t really know what their intentions were. When I said I’d like to walk down and fish back up, they then decided that that was their plan too. Annoying, but they were there first and I’ll always respect the rights of the first angler to the river.

We went up river into some tough terrain and covered enough water for a full day fishing in half a day. The reason for this was the lack of fish. There were few opportunities to stop and fish so we just walked, climbed and searched.. At lunch time we assessed the situation. Do we continue up, or get out and try another place on a very crowded river? The going was tough, Badger had fallen in 3 times and his boots were breaking up and there were dam all fish. We decided to get out and take our chances elsewhere.

Farther down river there were vehicles at all the accesses. We picked one with only one car at it as we could see 2 anglers downstream so we thought we were in luck. We fished up. I saw, hooked and landed a fish straight away. Then I crossed and got another. Could we be so lucky as to be first here on the opening weekend at 1pm? It seemed so.. but then we spied 3 anglers walking down! We went and had a chat. They had been through this section already and their day was cut short by 2 anglers walking down from an access farther up. There were people everywhere! We continued up since fish were clearly out on the feed again and picked up 2 more. We went pretty hard in our afternoon session and had another big walk out.. We were all shattered at the end of the day. We sort of packed 2 days into one so it was not surprising.

The plan was to stay and camp but Badgers boots fell to bits so we went back to Cromwell. I had a spare pair that had only seen 6 seasons. Honestly, with fatigue and the number of people about I was happy to get out of it. I have a feeling Badger and Craig were too.

Day 2 we took on medium sized river with lots of runs and riffles. There were very few fish about which was surprising because it is usually a good early season bet. I picked up one fish that rose in front of me. After that we got out and tried a small creek. Not many fish as expected but we all got a difficult shot or 2 each. The highlight of the weekend was Badger taking on a fish under trees with no room for a back or roll cast. After manoeuvring himself lowly and slowly as close as possible to the fish he took aim with a bow and arrow cast and fired. The fish confidently ate his dry, the strike was well timed.. but the fish came off just as badger was about to horse it out of the roots!

Apart from picking up a cold on Friday night which has been getting progressively worse, It was a great weekend. We all got to know each other a little better and we will fish together more often I hope. The craic was good and there wasn’t a squidgy in sight!


Let battle continue…

October 1st, 2013 4 comments

My West Coast plans were dashed last Saturday morning when I got to lake Hawea and saw a “Haast Pass Closed” sign… I should have checked first I suppose, but I heard during the week that it was open so I didn’t question it. It really knocked the wind out if my sails. Where to go instead? I tried the makerora mouth but struggled to cross a shitswamp. My heart was simply not in it and this was enough to deter me. I looked at The Neck on Lake Hawea on the way back but I was not in the form for blind buggering. Sight fishing was out of the question with the conditions. I hit the Clutha Channel where it enters Dunstan on the way home. I gave in maybe 40 minutes and I’d had enough. It’s funny, I had my heart set on the coast and nothing else would do.

On Sunday I had a productive day sorting out my tying kit and tying a few flies for the rivers, many of which are open again today. Today being opening day is a big deal for the many who put the rods away for the winter. For me, and a few others around here like me, the season just continues. I didn’t miss a weekend on the water all winter! Maybe one come to think of it..

Have a great 2014 season everyone.. I plan to go harder than last year.