Iza and I decided to hit the Coast the weekend before the whitebaiting season opened. We took the Friday off work and went over on Thursday afternoon to make the most of it. Forecast was for blue skies and light winds, Iza got a nice seatrout on arrival, the tides were just right. It seemed we were in for a great weekend.
Friday was magic. The magic hour turned out to be about 3! Trout were smashing bait on the surface. As the tide rose the fish moved in the estuary farther but they were easy to follow. In my experience over there its unusual to see trout on the top for long periods so I rarely use a floating line. I had the di5 on which was not ideal. I did not want to change to a floater for fear that by the time I went to the truck, rigged another rod and came back it might all be over. In most instances it would have been but today it continued. I put a small surface popper on the tail which held up the flies for a bit longer. A decent compromise I think! Iza had 7 on the soft plastic and I had 7 on the fly. I’m sure I’d have had more if I had a floater on. Such a fun day.. That night we ate a sea-trout, some smoky bacon and noodles. A roaring fire to keep to chill away.
On the way south on Saturday the front right wheel started to lock up, tugging at the steering and growling at me. We were near a garage so we left it there while the mechanic was away. We fished the Haast river below the bridge for a couple of hours, It was a short walk from the garage. I spotted a good fish on the edge as soon as I got to the river. First cast with a nymph the 4.5 to 5lb fish ate. I hooked him but quickly lost him. Not the reprieve I thought it was going to be..
Back to the Garage, “cant be fixed til next Tuesday” he said. We grabbed a few essentials from the truck and set off hitching before the road closed for the day. The Diana falls slip is a serious inconvenience to all my coast missions. We got home in darkness.
The following weekend we went back to get the truck with its new front right bearing. We picked up from where we left off the previous weekend. This time though there were whitebaiters everywhere and the tides were not ideal but the weather was still perfect. Its hard not to feel that your in the way when trying to fish a beach where whitebaiters are fishing. They move along the shore with their big nets at a slow pace, equally spaced apart. When they get to the end of the beach, they empty their nets into a bucket and get back into the line-up. I approached a group of them and asked if I could join the line-up. No problem at all they said, so I did. I moved along with them, they each had a net; I had a rod. The pace they move at is about the same as I do so it worked perfectly. It’s important to chat with them though, and not just bulldoze in. Etiquette applies here too and their season is short. I got one decent Kahawai from the line-up.
There is usually water that whitebaiters can’t fish that we can. Rough water, big swells, strong currents etc. Not always ideal for a flyrod, but I’ve usually been able to find something when the beach gets a bit crowded.
Day 2 and a different river mouth. Early morning during the last hour of the flowing tide came the magic hour. There were no whitebaiters working because the current was too strong but I found some swirling water off a sandy point. Amongst the swirls was some good holding water so I worked it with my di5, 12lb maxima, 8wt TCX and 2 streamer rig. I got one of around 2 lbs and then hooked a good fish which took off out into the fast flowing tidal current.. ran and ran.. way into backing.. I had to run after him. In doing so I tripped over a log and flattened myself onto the beach, line went around the rod. I picked myself up, untangled the backing from around the rod tip and the fish was still on. I was sure it was a Kahawai, had to be with a run like this.. Then it came up and rolled on the top about 60 yards away.. A trout I thought.. pretty sure. Not huge but big.. I followed him while reeling in and beached him eventually. 5.5lbs. Finally! A good one.. That was it, When the tide turned to go out it went dead and stayed dead.
The end of 2 eventful weekends on the West Coast!
This from a few weeks ago with Mark Adamson..
Pigeon and Pig island on lake Wakatipu were a good plan B after Mark and I were unable to launch the boat into a very low Diamond Lake. Over the course of the day we sight fished from the boat around the islands with some success. We also blind nymphed it and buggered it with some good results. The Greenstone mouth came to the rescue after the islands went quiet. To our surprise there were a decent number of rainbows rising to chironomid where the river meets the lake. We got 2 on dries. We also had good sight fishing in a backwater near the river.. It’s a day I’m looking forward to repeating. Lots of potential, particularly the shallow water between the islands..
ps, lots of extra photos in the slideshow at the bottom this week..