Archive for the ‘Expedition’ Category

Me and Robbie Mcphee.

April 28th, 2015 No comments

As the rain got heavier the steep track from the hut was looking increasingly foreboding. I was trying to politely rush Robbie along, “Oh, your waiting on me are you?” he said, relaxed, as always. “We better move or we wont get up the hill” I said. We left the hut, wipers on full, low range gear box engaged. With only a couple of minor slips we were up the hill and onto the plateau. Relieved to be over that hurdle, we continued. The farm track had turned to mud and was as slippery as all fuck. The only option was to drive out at a snails pace. This I did. To err on the side of caution I stayed on the side of the track that didn’t have a 300m drop on it. This lead me to slipping off into a ditch. We got out of the truck into the pissing rain and gathered what rocks we could find to wedge under the wheels. After about 30 miserable minutes getting soaked and straining my back lifting big rocks, we got the truck out of the ditch and continued. Sitting in the truck, soaked, back hurting, I just wanted to get out of the place. Robbie briefly had the same idea but shortly after he said “Well, were here to fish, aren’t we?”. That we were! The words hardly left his mouth when we slipped off the track again, a sudden jolt into the ditch. I turned to Robbie to see if he was okay, he looked a bit shook with a mark on his forehead and the rear view mirror had turned around. He was getting a little whiter and his head hurt a bit but he was fine. Due to the decline in the track the truck popped out of this one no worries at all. Another kilometre or 2 down the track we were at a good point to drop into the river to fish a favourite pool of ours. We gathered some motivation, put on some dry clothes and started the long and steep decent through terraced hillside, beech forest and into a gorge. On arrival, the river was clear but the rain kept coming. We knew our time was limited, the river was bound to blow out. We saw 2 trout, Robbie got one and I got the other. Then at the head of the pool I saw another. As I fished to him he became harder and harder to see as the river got dirtier. He made four pretty full on but failed attacks at my streamer and then fecked off. It was time we did too, we did not want to get stuck on the wrong side of the rapidly rising river! I took a few quick blind shots up into the head of the pool with a heavily weighted streamer, got a cracking 7lber and then we left the gorge. We climbed back up the mountainside to the truck. On the drive out we had no more slips and managed to fish for another couple of hours when we got to the safety of the non-gorge.

The Hilux has been through the mill lately. 4x4ing is certainly something one gets better at. Like anything, when you have nobody to teach you the learning curve is not very steep! I think I need full on mud tires instead of my All Terrain ones. Also dif-lock, a winch, a snorkel, some proper tow ropes and as Robbie advised, a lesson! I’ll keep trying and hopefully I wont kill the truck doing it.




When Trout Eat Mice…

April 15th, 2015 4 comments

The Mouse year of all mouse years!

North Canterbury is enjoying what is probably its biggest ever mouse plague. The trout have been gorging on mice all season and on some rivers double figure trout are now common. I heard of an angler catching 17 doubles this season, another 28 and the most insane figure of all, a friend of mine, who I won’t name because I think he prefers anonymity, had 42 when we last spoke over a week ago. His best was 16.5 weighed on a digital scale. He saw one weigh in at 17.75.

Jeff and I decided to have a crack before the season ends. To be honest, I was not that keen on going at first, even with the prospect of catching a very large trout. I thought there would be anglers everywhere and the fishing would be painful because of it, getting jumped on every turn. Jeff twisted my arm, I phoned a friend up there and that fired me up a bit more. We were going. We’d take it whatever way we found it, even if that meant only having a pool or two to ourselves. We’d just join in the madness!

After a 7 hour drive we arrived at 2am and made camp. There were signs that the area had been busy with campers with all the rectangular patches of flattened grass, but we could see no other tents in the darkness.

The next day we realised that there were indeed lots of anglers about. We carefully selected our water each day and managed, both by design and good fortune, to have almost uninterrupted fishing over the 4 days and nights. Luckily on day one, even though we blanked during the day, we found 2 perfect pools for night fishing. Each day consisted of a 9am start, fish all day, back to camp around 6, have a beer or 2 and a snack as darkness fell, head off into the darkness to our 2 pools for a night fish, back to camp for dinner and beers and bed around 2am. If we knew that a total lunar eclipse was forecast for one of the nights, we would have been on the water for its duration. Unfortunately we were already back at camp when it begun and neither one of us could have been motivated to venture back out again. We just enjoyed it from our camp-fire!

We got a mixed bag weather wise; pissing rain, gales, blue skies, warm sun, icy mornings. We fished hard day and night over braided river and tight gorges to make the most of our time there. The mission was to catch a double figure brown which we succeeded in. I might go back before the season is out!

It was an incredible trip. I think it’s pretty well described in the photo’s below. Thanks, Jeff, for making it happen!

The Schnide

If you’re in no way competitive “The Schnide” wont effect you at all. Personally, I’m a little competitive. I want to fish well alongside my fishing partner. I want us both to have a great day. “The Schnide” is a term used by a few fella’s who guide in Western Alaska. The term describes that rut we find ourselves in from time to time, when nothing we do seems to work. It’s compounded by the fact that our fishing buddy is catching but were not!  There are few rules to help you out of “The Schnide”.

1. Don’t loose your cool. It will pass.

Actually, that’s it, One rule!

It can be difficult not to let it get to you. For example, on Jeff and my recent trip to North Canterbury, Jeff caught 2 very big fish to my zero on the first night. Of course I was delighted that he was getting it right but I also felt a little sting that I couldn’t put it together myself. The next day first blood to Jeff once again, and another big fish. At that point I had to keep my cool. Because I was in “The Schnide” no fish were turning up on my bank, If I was to swap banks with Jeff then there would be no fish on that side either but they’d show up on the bank I left, that’s the way it is. You just have to wait it out. When a shot does present itself (and it will) you must have the confidence to fish as well as you’re able to nail the chance. If you don’t, “The Schnide” gets deeper and harder to climb out of. I’ve seen fella’s so deep in “The Schnide” that they’re beaten before they even cast. I did not want to be that person. Jeff very graciously offered me a shot at a fish on his bank. Pickings were lean that day so I came across, took the shot, got the fish and “The Schnide” was over. A good fishing buddy can  help you out of “The Schnide”, so maybe the second rule could be, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”!

Tight lines and screaming reels!


Knowing your water…

April 9th, 2015 3 comments

I had some great fishing a couple of weekends ago on a difficult river. A river that demands intimate knowledge more than most. Slowly but surely I’m attaining that knowledge and where I once blanked quite often, now I rarely do. On my last trip I picked up fish blind in riffles, I sight fished a few and hooked a couple of free risers. A fantastic, well rounded day.

More recently Jeff and I went chasing big trout about a days drive north. I already had these pics selected for the blog so before I start on the big fish mission I’ll put this little one out. Watch this space! There will be big trout in the next one… very big!

Tight lines..


Old boots & Old friends…

March 25th, 2015 No comments

Recently I had an encounter with a trout I’d caught about 18 months ago. The fact that I had caught him before meant that I had no great need to catch him again, or so I thought before our re-encounter. I knew where he lived, during a day on the river I was never too pushed If I fished that pool or not. On this day I did get to the pool, I scoped it up and down and didn’t see him. I did see a smaller trout of about 4lbs but never managed to get a shot to that one. When I was leaving the pool I spotted my old friend in a slack back eddy at the head of the pool. He was cruising around sipping down dries like a 3lb brown in a Mataura backwater.. But this was no 3lber! He may well be a double by now considering he was 9.25lbs when I caught him. I didn’t hesitate in getting into position well away from the trout, my heart rate increasing. I quickly removed my nymphs so I had a single size 12 dry left on the cast, my go-to dry. I felt no need to put on a smaller one. The tippet was 4x, so nice and fine. The fish turned on his beat and I sent in my cast. I was as happy as I could have been with my shot.. I landed the fly well in front of the fish and a little to his right so that on approach to the fly most of the tippet would be on the other side of the fly. He cruised towards it, raised up in the water column just a little and then continued under my fly. After seeing my offering he went into high alert moving out of the slack water into moving water. Still maybe catchable but much more difficult. I changed tactics and put a nymph on. First attempt with the nymph and I picked up some scrub on my back-cast which landed beside my old friend. With that, he was gone. He didn’t bolt off, just cruised into the depths. I was haunted by him that night, every time I’d close my eyes I’d see that head on profile with pectoral fins like a jet plane, changing to a huge pink and green flank as he turned. Now I have to catch him again. (This is fly-fishing!)

I’ve had plenty other great days on the water since my last report. Jeff and I pushed into some new terrain and found more trout than we expected. We did pretty well, catching fish on dries and nymphs.

I caught up with my great friend Bob Toffler last weekend before he headed back to the States for another northern hemisphere season. We had a wonderful meal together cooked by Bob’s partner, Carol. The following day, Iza, Bob and I fished the Mataura where the hatch lasted from morning until evening! It was fantastic fun. I got to know Bob on a visit to the US about 13 years ago. He told me that he fishes in NZ every season, and he invited me to join him during my planned NZ visit. I took him up on his offer and we’ve been friends ever since meeting up a few times a season. Through Bob, I met Guy; through Guy, I met Paul and the rest is history still in the making.

That’s all for now, Enjoy the pics and feel free to subscribe if you’re new here and you like what you see!

Oh, and Happy 40th to Mike Wilkinson! He looks a day over 39. The party meant I didn’t fish on Sunday last! I doubt any one else did either… Jeff?


Still waters run deep…

March 10th, 2015 1 comment

In high summer in NZ it pays not to depend completely on flowing water as the source of your fishing. Rivers get low, fish numbers tend to decrease as a result. River and stream options get fewer between December and the end of March. This is certainly true here in Central Otago. I’d say it’s also true to some extent in most districts. Luckily for me I don’t discriminate at all between bodies of water I like to fish. Recently I went to mine and Kevins secret dams. The top dam was great! Very low with plenty healthy cruisers about. There is a small stream flowing out of the top dam and into the bottom dam about a kilometre away. I went for a look.. On arrival about 1000 geese, swans and ducks got off the main part of the dam. This dam is in 2 parts; a small containment of water in the vicinity of the stream mouth makes the first part, the second is a much larger body of water (where the birds were) connected by a gap in an earth bank. Usually the part near the stream mouth does not hold many fish but on this day it did. On approach to the dam via the stream I saw about 10 fish feeding in the extremely dirty, murky water. Most fish were in the 4lb- 6lb class with some bigger. I took my time and worked on them one at a time. They were not easy. With all the weeds,  feathers and stuff on the surface and the lack of clarity in the water, just getting them to see the fly was the greatest challenge. When I believed that they did see it they did not always respond to it. I landed 3 in the couple of absorbing hours between 4 and 6lbs. These were all incredible fish. Fat, beautifully coloured and marked and very strong. I got one on a spider which I put in the path of a cruiser, one on a small damsel; I made him chase it, and one on a bright orange fly; bright to be seen in the murk. I changed fly often to suit every individual trout. Before I left to go home I had a look in the main body of the dam. It was pea green with virtually no viz. The heat of the summer and the shit of 1000 game birds had caused an algal bloom. I guess this is why the fish favoured the relative clarity and cleanliness of the water near the stream mouth.

I described the water to Guy and he said he had no interest in that kind of fishing. I get it. The water is dirty! If a splash got into your mouth you’d be wise to spit it out quickly. I don’t care though. In fact, I love it. It’s a million miles from stereotypical NZ water but to me it has something great to offer. The fish are fantastic, they feed on or near the top quite a lot, the fishing is challenging and absorbing; so much so that it removes me from the shit, weed and slime!

I’ve had a look at many more still waters recently, they don’t generally suffer low water summer conditions like rivers do. I’ve been having a ball on them. If I was a wealthy angler coming to NZ, I’d be chatting to my guide about a still water option and that’s for sure.

Feel free to contact me with any questions through the comments section or via email at

Tight Lines!


The Piscatorial Pot…

February 24th, 2015 No comments


          1. Of or relating to fish or fishing

          2. Involved in or dependent on fishing

Months ago I agreed to run one of our fishing club events. Mike had an idea that there needed to be more events close to home so Lake Dunstan seemed perfect. It’s my home water so I was happy to organise it. I was unsure of what to do to make the day unique and enjoyable so I thought back to some Irish competitions. I had never fished the “Piscatorial Pot” on Lough Corrib but always wanted to. Both my father and John O Malley won it recently which may have helped it spring to mind.  I decided to steal that idea but needed a little more…  The Irish angling legend, Jackie Coyne, runs a competition on Lough Roisin Dubh at the end of every fishing season. Over the course of the day every angler gets an hour in a lakeboat. I also decided to adopt that idea and a new competition was born. The Piscatorial Pot (NZ).

A scrap of Macrocarpa with the lettering freehand routed into it made the base. A little stain, oil and rustication for effect. 10 minutes on ebay and I had a piss pot. Put them together and we have a perpetual pis-pot.

There were not too many fish caught over the day but Colin Kelly managed a solid fish of 3.25lbs making him the winner. James Waggett was not too far behind with a 2.5lber. Colin has been a member of the club for years and is never afraid to put in the hard yards. Spin gear or fly, kayak or bank, river or lake, Colin will be there in the thick of it. I was happy to present him with The Piscatorial Pot.. though, I’m not so sure that he was as happy to receive it!!!

We all had a great day on the water. Afterwards we enjoyed the craic, good food and beer or two.

Cicada Time

Right now it’s cicada time here in NZ. Some hatch from forests, some from barren grasslands, some are very big, some are quite small but trout love ‘em all. On Saturday Iza and I took out the Wakatipu Anglers Club boat to fish a piece of shoreline on Lake Wakatipu that has treated me well over the years. Conditions were good. We had a breeze which varied in strength but was fairly consistent and able to push a few bugs onto the water. I drove the boat into quite a big chop to get to the area we wanted to fish. I set the boat up for kilometres of shore drift, an occasional pull-start to keep us tight to the shore and we were fishing. Iza quickly hooked and lost a really good fish by this shores standards, about 3lbs. Shortly after she hooked and landed one… then another.. then another and so it continued until she had 11! Casting, striking and playing fish all nicely in tune. By 4pm we got off the lake, the wind was shifting all over the place, dropping and gusting and the rain was bucketing down. We finished with 18.. (yes, she out-fished me!)

Something interesting to note for our day afloat was that we did not see a single cicada on the wing or in the water all day. Neither did we see any trout free-rising yet we landed 18, all on chunky dry cicadas. The takes were all confident sips, no slashes or smashes and easily missed in the wave.. On a few occasions I didn’t see the rise until it was as big as a dinner plate, some Iza didn’t see until her rod was bent. This is not an unusual phenomenon. I remember fishing with my father, Joe Creane, on Lough Corrib years ago. Mayfly time but no fly on the water and nothing rising. 10 boats in the bay catching very few, all stripping wets. Dad and I had 13 on dries (most on a size 10 adams). It’s not the first time I’ve seen this in NZ either. Fly on the water or not, trout will recognise a large dry as food at certain times of year.. It might be worth fishing one in October or any time for that matter! I bet you’d be pleasantly surprised..

That’s it for now.. If you want to win The Piscatorial Pot, Join the club.. The Wakatipu Anglers Club that is..


Variety is the spice of trout fishing…

February 11th, 2015 2 comments

I think the reason I can immerse myself so completely in NZ trout fishing is in it’s diversity. The diversity lies in the location, the method used to catch the trout and the trout itself. Within an hour or so of my base in Cromwell I can be in the arid, rocky moonscape of Poolburn or Manorburn dams, the lush rain-forested rivers of Glenorchy, the meandering waters through the green fields of the Maniototo, any number of gorges from the easy going to the gut busting, the Mataura and it’s many tributaries, any one of the Southern Lakes; a little more drive time and I’m on the Coast, East or West. Gin clear water, river mouths, surf, lakes; some of which are tannin and some clear, some big some small. These examples just scratch the surface.

In any one of these locations an angler can put a multitude of methods and techniques into action. A single size 18 dry on the Mataura to a 3″ streamer at the Haast River mouth for example. You could also swing a 3″ streamer on the Mataura of course… and this means that every location could potentially work with any method so the list of “method” and “type of water” combinations is vast. It pays to think outside the box a little. Much of the early fishing in NZ was with wet-flies fished down and across. It still works! Though I rarely use it. If I could only sight fish I’d probably get a little bored of it, Just the same if blind nymphing was the only option. Variety of methods versus water keeps it interesting!

Here in Central, the only option of species to catch is brown and rainbow trout (and a few perch) but with the number of ways to catch them it’s like having numerous species. Most importantly for me though, it’s the individuality of the trout themselves. Each one is different to the next, especially with browns. Their own differences, sometimes subtle sometimes complete, is definitely a major part of why I simply don’t and won’t get sick of this. Fishing for really beautiful fish is now an addiction just like big fish hunting.  Have a look at the photo’s below, Every fish in it is a genetically identical yet completely different. I’m so thankful for this diversity among trout. If they were all the same I don’t think I’d be half as keen as I am.

Some good stuff planned this weekend!

Tight lines..


Ignorance is bliss!

February 4th, 2015 1 comment

I had fished the river once on a southbound mission on the West Coast with Paul. We had just finished fishing and filming an epic journey to one of the most remote rivers in NZ ( and the 8 days that followed were fishless.. including the day on this river. So, I knew about it. I knew it could be good but in my limited experience on it it wasn’t. I had no idea where I fished it all those years ago. I looked on the map and picked a random access. Down the road Iza and I went, through a gate, crossed a creek and to the river. I took a stroll 100m up river and saw 3 trout which I didn’t catch. This reminded me of the difficult fishing I had that day while Paul was writing a front page for Sexyloops.. I though that was what we were in for the following day. I prepared myself for difficult fish but it turned out that they were not that tough at all. We had a ball!

Here are the best pics from our northbound trip up the coast in early Jan.. I’m way behind on my blog! I might just have to omit the last month to catch up.. but some great things happened up to 9lbs… well, 8.75!


Blind Fishing..

January 19th, 2015 7 comments

There are those who only want to catch trout on a dry and those who only want to sight fish. These are two great ways to catch a trout, no doubt about that, but its not the only way. Far from it! I’m not going to list out all the methods one can use to catch a trout but I’ll mention one. Blind fishing. Blind fishing is fishing likely water with a dry, nymph, wet fly or streamer on river or lake. I want to touch on blind nymphing on rivers. Some NZ rivers are thought of as sight fishing only but very few truly are. No matter how good a spotter you are you wont see all the fish even in the clearest of water. I remember fishing the Oreti about 12 years ago and trying to spot fish. All I did was spook them. I started realising that I was spooking them from a specific type of water so I started blind fishing that type of water. Quickly I landed some fish. This started a steep learning curve for me, partly because I was novice spotter so blind fishing made sense but also because blind fishing just worked! On certain rivers I could blind fish a pool more quickly and productively than trying to spot it. In more recent years I’ve been relying more on my eyes than on blind fishing but I have never forgotten the value of prospecting a deep riffle or bouldery run. Blind fishing is still a major part of my angling. I believe the trick is to move quickly, no more than 2 or 3 blind casts in any area then move up at least a leader length. Try to get the most out of your drift to get the nymphs to maximum depth. A trout will often take at the very end of the drift as the nymphs raise up in the water. Much blind fishing will take place in deeper runs or riffles so if one looks fishy, don’t be afraid to change over to a weighted nymph rig to suit the depth, even in summer!

I think the biggest bonus of blind fishing is the quality of the fish you’re likely to catch. I have a theory that relates to regularly fished rivers. The fish that are easy to see are quite often recovering after being caught a day or so before. They may be feeding but due to being caught recently their energy levels are not so high and they favour easy, slow water to recover fully. There, they are also easy to be seen! They get caught again and the cycle continues, each time they get caught they get a little more worn out. Their markings fade, condition decreases, they get darker because their eyesight worsens; they perceive their surroundings to be darker than they are so they in turn darken to blend in. A self propagating fuck-up. A dark fish is easy for an angler to see. I won’t cast to an unusually dark fish for this reason. —– A fish caught blind from a deep run is usually a fit powerhouse. They have to be to thrive in such water. Their markings are sharp and striking, they may well never have been caught before because most anglers will walk past them on a “sight” fishing river. I have proved this theory to myself time and time again. Blind fishing has great rewards!

The pictures below show a good cross section of recent fishing adventures.. More to come from the New Year mission up the West Coast where Iza and I fished some of the clearest water I’ve seen..

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Harihari Coastal Walkway…

January 7th, 2015 2 comments

The fishing never stops but writing about it has taken a downturn lately. It’s just been really hard to find the time! Here is a snippet from a recent week on the West Coast..

Iza and I decided on the Harihari Coastal Walk as an activity during our week out west. To be honest, walking for the sake of walking bores me to tears. I walk to get somewhere, to do something, a means to an end. That said, if a walk is really spectacular I can have my arm twisted (or if Iza wants to go).. We gathered up what we needed for the walk and set off to the track. At the beginning of the 2.5 hour loop there was a sign advising safe times to walk to avoid high tide, there was also mention of the Poerua River Mouth. This got me thinking..  We were leaving at the worst possible time to avoid high tide but in my reckoning, the best time to fish the mouth. How could I not bring a rod on this walk? I nipped back to the truck and grabbed the 8wt and minimal tackle. High tide was no problem as the rocks were easy to scramble over and the seas were calm.

On arrival at the mouth a quick glance told me how to fish it. I started up river a little and worked it down with a di5 and a couple of streamers until the surf got uncomfortable. I fished the top of the tide and about an hour of the ebb. The fishing was good! I had one good kahawai and a couple of browns. One was a spectacular golden trout. It’s unusual to catch fish like this from a river mouth but there was a huge tannin stained lagoon flowing in on the opposite bank and I assume that’s where this fish came from. That lagoon would definitely be worth an explore too. I may have to come back. I did check out the river farther upstream but it seemed void of life and extremely flood prone and unstable.

After a great 1.5 hours on a beautiful beach we finished the walk which I actually really enjoyed. Rich in history and very varied with coastline, rivers, native bush and forest, mountain views, great company and of course fishing!

Fella’s, If  your passing Hari Hari take her for a beautiful walk and don’t forget the rod!


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