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Posts Tagged ‘Dave Scadden boats’

A Wilderness Float Trip Adventure…

June 12th, 2020 No comments

Every now and then the prospect of a fishing trip is incredibly exciting – more than the average trip. I get that buzz if I’m going abroad to experience a new fishery, or exploring new water, maybe in a new wilderness area. I think the key word is new. Seeing a piece of water for the first time is always exhilarating. A trip myself and Bryan put together last January was one of these. One of these with bells on! Not just one piece of water to explore but lots. We pooled our resources and planned a wilderness float trip. NZ was our oyster! Where do we go? After studying google earth for ages I had an idea. I knew very little about the chosen system which included lakes, rivers, streams and backwaters but that was the point. Some real adventure! We took plenty safety precautions. We went in with one sat phone and a PLB each, life jackets, raft repair kit, plenty food and first aid kits. The NZ wilderness is no place to take lightly. The river looked pretty safe to raft on google earth. Once everything was prepared and packed, it was time to hit the road to get the helicopter into the wilds!

On arrival, the pilot came out to greet us. As we chatted he gestured towards the raft fully assembled on the trailer and asked if that was the pack raft – sarcastically of course. There was a breakdown in communications in our correspondence. They thought pack rafts and we though they could sling-load the 40kg raft in. It turned out that they can’t sling load with passengers and even if they could it would be a very slow and therefore expensive trip. No problem though! We disassembled the raft and the pilot easily got it onto the back seats and into the pod on the side of the helicopter. We were off!

The flight in was spectacular. They always are. Mountains, rivers, forest and then our destination became visible. The weather was good and excitement was hard to contain. We landed and got our bearings. We had a rough plan for the 3 days. I had marked every place of interest on NZ topo 50. To fit them all in we had to get cracking. Once I reassembled the raft the trip was underway..

The fishing on day one was pretty poor. Lovely lake flats with only a few small trout. Then a river to explore. Lots of potential and reasonable numbers of mostly old looking trout – spooky trout! Some of the spookiest. We blanked on that river, but it was a magical spot and I’ll certainly have another go sometime. A few riffles and runs but mostly glass calm, slow moving pools. There were some stunning big lake like pools too but these were inaccessible due to treacherous soft silt.

After fishing the river we had a pretty major piece of water to cover to get to camp. Lots of rowing and drifting. The rain had come in as we fished the stream and it kept coming. As we travelled down the system the un-forecasted rain got heavier. Our gear and ourselves were getting soaked, even through rain gear. Camping outside was not too appealing at this stage but thankfully there was a backcountry hut not too far downstream. We jumped out now and again to fish likely water but the rain was getting to the point that the hut really started to beckon. With the GPS function on NZ Topo 50 it was easy to find the hut. We pulled up the raft and secured it to a tree well up a sandy bank in case the river rose with the rain. Once we got the gear into our home for the night we could relax a bit. I got the fire going while Bryan put on the spuds, then we hung up all the wet gear – almost everything! We demolished a couple of rib eyes with black beans and spuds. Some nice wine too. We slept well to the sound of rain even if we were a little anxious about the state of the river in the morning.

Day 2. The raft was still safely secured to the tree. The river had doubled in size over night but was perfectly clear and fishable. This was a huge relief since the rain didn’t quit until after we ate breakfast. With great excitement we took on the river. We started blind fishing all likely water and Bryan quickly got a nice 3lber to put us on the board. Then I hooked and lost a better fish and sighted another. As the sun broke through the clouds the cicadas started chirping and the trout responded. We had a spectacular few hours of fishing in the afternoon. One spot took us ages to pass because every time our flies passed the drop-off a trout would eat the fly. Dream fishing. All beautiful, healthy 3 to 7lb trout and mostly on a large Stu’s Cicada. The water was quite diverse in its make up. Lots of bouldery pocket water, some large pools, sandy glides, cut banks and fallen trees. A real wild river. We were sad to have to leave it to continue our mission downstream but we had more water to explore in our limited timeframe. The thrill of new water never waned and once we were back on the raft we couldn’t wait to see what was around the next bend. Before we made it to the next camp spot we had some good fishing on a small, tannin tributary. Very interesting spot. I got a follow from the same fish to my streamer about 10 times without an eat. Bryan had a nymph a foot under a dry. I suggested that I’d tease the trout in and then remove my fly quickly so that Bryan could cast to the fish. It worked a charm and the trout took the nymph while wondering where the glister disappeared to!

Back on the raft it was time to think about making camp. We had heard about a bushman living somewhere in the valley and that he didn’t mind a visitor. When we saw smoke coming from a chimney we decided to go and investigate. Sure enough it was Bruce. He opened the door with a big smile on his face and invited us into his house – which he said nobody owned and we were welcome to stay. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth we did stay. The craic was great! We took out our bag of wine and filled up everyones cup, steaks on the pan, cheese and crackers to start. This was one of those unforgettable experiences and we both knew it and made the most of it. Bruce regaled us with stories about many topics from eels to DoC to politics to topless women. We tried to take it all in while adding a story or two of our own.

Day 3. In the morning we had breakfast together before taking on our respective days. There were a few flags on my map yet to explore. Bruce was able to put me wise about which ones to avoid – not because there were no trout there necessarily, but due to the logistics of bush-bashing in to them. We said goodbye to Bruce but he said he’d be down to the helicopter later to chat to the pilot and to see us off. He took off down the river with his 15hp while we took a more leisurely pace. Over the day we found some really nice water. A pool with a waterfall that really must be right up the with the most beautiful places I’ve caught a trout, a backwater off the main river with lots of eager but pretty small trout. The size really didn’t matter to us though. The location and the quality of the fishing more than made up for that. Then a tiny spring creek with some quality trout that we didn’t catch and finally another lake edge to explore while we waited for the chopper. About half way through the day the rain made another appearance and quickly closed in to the extent that we weren’t sure if the helicopter could fly. Bryan got on the sat phone when they were a bit late only to get no solid information – they weren’t sure either! The pilot was stuck somewhere due to the weather and fuel was an issue. A short time later we heard the helicopter in the distance. He landed and seemed a little panicked by the weather closing in and fuel was indeed an issue. The helicopter had no pod on the side this time, so we quickly loaded everything onto the back seat of the helicopter. It was a tight enough squeeze but no problem. After we said farewell to Bruce it was time to go. Bryan and I both fitted in the front. At first the pilot thought he’d have to drop us to a road about 50ks from my truck but thankfully as we flew we caught a gap in the weather and made it back to the heliport. Absolutely pissing rain again, we hurriedly unloaded the helicopter and jammed everything into the back of the truck – far from the tidy truck that arrived here a few days ago. A quick change into dry clothes and we were heading home. What a trip – certainly, one of the best.

Let me know if you’d like to book a trip for next season. With all the uncertainty in the world right now my season is filling slowly so there are plenty spaces available. Email me ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website. I do not offer guided float trips by they way! But for anybody interested in this style of fishing you should contact Wanaka based Greg Dougherty.

Tight Lines! Ronan..

Winter Monsters!

June 15th, 2018 No comments

We’re lucky around here to have an abundance of winter fishing opportunities. There are 3 large rivers and lots of lakes in the vicinity. All are open to the angler willing to brave the elements (which usually aren’t that bad) and take it on. I haven’t been out this winter as much as I have in recent winters, with my new role as a father taking priority. I’m loving that, even if it does cut into my fishing time! Soon enough she’ll come with me.

I’ve had 4 days floating down local rivers recently. The most fun thing about the pontoon boat is that it needs 2 people to float properly, so somebody has to join me. It’s usually not too hard to find a fishing buddy. After a busy guiding season its the perfect way to catch up with the lads. Whether we catch fish or not, floating down the river is great way to spend a day and have the craic.

The most exciting prospect in Otago winter fishing is the chance of a big fish. Some very large rainbows and browns migrate all these rivers every winter. A rainbow over 6lbs is a super trout and they’re the ones I’m after. I recently broke my rainbow record with a 9lber. A tank of a trout about a foot in girth which accelerated after my fly as I was lifting to recast. Sometimes when my brain has told my arm to recast, I cant stop the rod in time when I see a last moment chase from a trout. This time I managed to stop with the rod at about 45 degrees. The trout engulfed the fly and I struck from 45 to beyond 90 to set the hook! Such close quarter, chaotic, last second, visual fishing really gets the heart pumping. Much of the fight was close to me but I had to apply the pain when the fish ran towards some reeds. I turned him just as Tom was there with the net. An 8wt and strong tippet was a big advantage. What a moment! I was awestruck!

Another fish worth a mention was on a float trip with my good friend, Chris Dore. Chris had walked upstream to swing an edge while I worked a deep drop-off. This is a spot that I’ve had great success at over the last few years. It’s all about getting the fly deep. I don’t use a sinking line because its not very versatile for the multitude of water I cover in a day and I don’t want multiple rods on the boat. I use a very heavy fly on a 16 – 17 foot leader and try to get it deep. when I think its deep enough I let it sink some more. lots of stack mending or whatever it takes to get the fly deep. paying line off the reel is a good one now and again. When I’m where I want to be I stop the line and let the current take up the slack. A very slow retrieve from the depth is best. Takes can be savage or very gentle. This one was gentle. A faint tap, followed by 2 more faint taps at which time I strip struck into a heavy head shake. A magic moment again! I live for this. I knew it was a big fish. Heavy gear to shorten the battle once again paid dividends. If these fish get into the main flow it could be game over so I don’t feel over gunned with an 8wt. After landing the fish I had hoped I’d get Chris’s attention to come and get a great photo, but he couldn’t hear me calling out to him. I took a quick shot with the 10 second timer and let him off. Typical of migratory salmonids, the larger fish run first. I expect they’ll move off the radar soon. I’m glad I got my piece of the cake!

Dougal, Tom, Jeff and Chris; Thanks for floating with me! They were some of the highlights of my season.

For guiding bookings and information for next season, contact me ronan@sexyloops.comĀ or visit my website ronansflyfishingmissions.com. I do not offer guided float trips!

Tight Lines!

Ronan..