Posts Tagged ‘fly fishing at night’

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!


The Three 9lb+ trout…

March 19th, 2013 5 comments

It didn’t take long to convince myself to head straight to the river after work on Friday. Plan was to target some of those big fish from last week at night. After a long drive/hike/climb I made it in just before darkness fell. While the light was failing I took a few shots but everything spooked! This was totally unexpected. A week ago they were hard to spook during the day. I went up into the forest and made camp while giving the pool time to rest until true nightfall. I got a small fire going and set my sleeping bag on the forest floor. Once that was sorted I kicked back for a while and enjoyed the absolute peace with only the sound of the river. Then it was time to launch my night time attack! Unfortunately the night was so dark I simply had to shine my headlamp to get down from the steep sided forest to the bouldery river. This would not have helped my quest even though I kept it brief. The total pitch black night made it tough but I managed ample casts into the zone with no joy at all. I was happy to return to camp, drink some wine and eat some chicken from the BP, then a little more wine.  I slept soundly after that.

The next morning I thought things might be different. I fished from almost pitch black into daylight. When I could see into the pool I realised they were not in their usual spot. They were spooked. Right, time to move on.

I walked for a long time before eventually finding a pool with fish in it. Not one or 2 fish either, shitloads, and they were big! I had a dry dropper combo rigged so I started with that. I kept missing fish. Brief hookups then nothing. Finally I landed a silver hen of about 6lbs. Then more misses. After checking my rig I realised a hook was broken. Ok, start again. Forget that bad start. Re rig the way I know I should. But I was not 100% sure! I just ran out of 8lb tippet so I used 6 because I thought they were finicky.. I landed a fish on that but then broke in one. Changed again to 8lb scraps. Landed some more then lost all in a bush. Right. Straight 10lb tippet. The fish didn’t care and by now I had figured out the retrieve, depth and casting position.

Once I finally had everything right, I nailed it for a while. Eventually they got wise to everything I showed them however. This is normal. Then I launched a Mr Glister at them. The last of the big fish took it on the drop. For the day I had at least 20 fish events, probably 25. I landed 8. Five were between 4 and 6lbs and three were 9lbs plus. The best one was over 9.5lbs. No double but what an unbelievable day. If I started with the correct rig and method it’s not know the sort of day I’d have had. The thing is, I should have known exactly what to do from last weekend. Sometimes instinct is wrong! But that’s ok, that’s fishing and I’m learning. Some of the break off’s made no sense though. I even had 10lb tippet smashed! Maybe I’m not realising fully the sheer power of these fish. Now that I’m writing this I realise it! After almost every fish I had to change my fly because it was bent out. It takes lots of pressure to bend a Kamasan B175. Also the tippet had to be changed almost every time because it was scratched and frayed. These fish run with insane power, they bore under rocks, and whatever else they can, To land these fish you need to be almost as quick as they are to keep the strain on them, and keep the strain from the right direction. I realise fully that It was an amazing day, the best big fish day I’ve ever had but I cant help feeling that I should have done a bit better. I guess I always feel that way!

That day on the water was last Saturday. Sunday was my 22 year fly-fishing anniversary and St Patricks day. My first day was with Dad and Granddad all those years ago. Maybe my grandfather, Paddy, gave my some help on Saturday! Who knows… Here’s to him anyway! And Dad of course who is well and truly alive!! He’s planning his next trip to NZ.


Below the pics is this weeks episode from SLTV, “Camo Guy and the 9lb trout”  How apt!

ps. WordPress changed a bit, now you have to click a picture 4 times to view it full size as opposed to once before. What a dumb change.

In this episode Paul’s slightly competitive nature shines through, Hence the title of this blog! :DAlso you’ll meet Camo Guy. Guy has been a great friend to Paul and I over the years!