Daltona has been sitting idle for too long. The last time I was out in her was with Mike Wilkinson and we had a series of breakdowns. First a blown fuse which I fixed with tinfoil, then the wire from the spark plug broke away from the coil. This we fixed with Mikes tapered leader (fishing line for you non fisherfolk). Then the starter motor started grinding rather than starting. This could not be fixed with my leatherman but by wrapping a rope around the fly wheel I could start the engine to get us back to safety. Today I finally got around to fixing the old outboard…
Dad and I used to joke about how trout in NZ would live in a puddle. The truth is that this is only a slight exaggeration. Farm irrigation dams, duck ponds, oxbow lakes, ditches, gold diggings, and every other imaginable body of water can and do support thriving trout populations in NZ. What’s in the water over here that makes this possible? Fish & Game introduce fish to some of these small waters but trout often find their own way in either through times of flood or little rivulets and streams. Either way, once they’re in they live there for years and have no problem surviving the winter months. In Ireland stocked lakes have to restocked at least once a year because so few fish survive the winter in their new, unfamiliar home.
Kevin was working on a farm last year which had 2 small dams on the property. The location was kept secret but finally he brought me to fish them this weekend. I’m forbidden from bringing anyone else there and I can only fish there with Kevin. This is fine by me! One could walk around each of the dams in 5 minutes. There is a small water race connecting the dams to a nearby creek and the ever opportunist trout have made their way into these waters. Over Kevins 2 weeks working there he picked up over 30 trout on lunch breaks and evenings with only 4 under 7lbs. This is an exceptional average even for NZ.
We had beautiful blue sky days during the working week but Saturday brought heavy cloud cover making spotting very tough. Thankfully the morning on the dam was dead calm and we managed to spot a few even in the low light. We did well with our chances. As the wind picked up we went to the creek which feeds the dams. We hooked a fish each. A 6lber for me and one about 8lbs for Kevin which he lost around a snag after taking my advise on where to beach the fish. We know where he lives!
Tight lines all.. Ronan..
It’s always hard to judge how much clothing to bring with you for a day on the water in NZ. The mornings can be freezing cold but the afternoons can get into the high 20’s and even more at times. I guess it’s better to have too much rather than too little. The weekend passed was truly one of extremes when it comes to weather and temperatures. We had a blizzard on Saturday after a beautiful sunny morning with blue skies, then occasional sun throughout the day between the prolonged heavy snowfalls. As Jeff and I walked down river on Saturday morning before starting fishing there were numerous stops made to take raincoats off and then to put them on again before the snow settled in for the majority of the day! Sunday started out freezing cold but warmed up to be a cracking, hot blue sky day. I brought an extra layer with me but didn’t use it. I nearly melted on the 5k walk out!
Fishing was tough all weekend. We didn’t get a heap of shots but we did have some great moments with trout unexpectedly eating our dries. I had one cruise up from about a meter down. That few seconds when a fish is rising up to take your dry removes everything else from your thoughts. It’s just you and him, you’re watching with absolute attention hoping he keeps coming and does not refuse. This one didn’t!
I also had a fish after about 50 casts and 4 fly changes. In the end he took the nymph stripped! I moved the fly by mistake in the previous cast and he chased it, so I tried it again on the next cast and it worked!
All up it was a weekend of difficult but enjoyable (as always) fishing and some extreme weather!
Thanks for the pics and the beer Jeff!
When I tell a non angler that I’m a fly-fisherman their reply is often “oh, I wouldn’t have the patience for that”. I tell them that patience is not necessary and I use myself as an example. I’m impatient and always have been. If I’m not catching then I move, I change tactics, I look, I think, I will persist until I get it right and if I get bored in the mean time then I go home (this has barely ever happened). If I was patient then I might stay in the same place doing the same thing all day. This might work at some stage but by changing and adapting based on what I can see in front of me and feel instinctively I believe I will do better. This ability, if you want to call it that, is driven by a hunger to catch and coached by impatience. I’d rather not wait for it to happen!
On Saturday I planned to fish one of the canals in Central for a monster trout. My friend Kevin Alexander had a 25lber the week before so I loosely planned to spend the day chasing one. The canal was pretty high and coloured, The wind was very strong and getting stronger, I saw no fish, I fished blind for a while but never felt like I had a chance so I changed tactics. I went somewhere else entirely, somewhere I had never fished before and knew absolutely nothing about. So much for my day on the canals!! It was worth moving however. Impatience is a virtue.
ps. Thanks to all my new subscribers! I hope you all enjoy the season ahead through my eyes as well as your own. If you haven’t signed up yet the link is on the top right hand side of your screen. The more the merrier!
The weather was pretty bad all Labour Weekend. I took a chance and went to one of my favourite rivers on Saturday, It was coloured as expected but fishable, only just though! I made a poor choice to start with and went upstream. The reason I went up was to get above 2 feeder streams that pump a lot of colour into the main river after rain or snow. I thought it might be reasonably clear above them and it was, but crossings were difficult and I knew they would get harder and more hazardous in the gorge. So after not seeing a fish all day I walked half an hour back to the truck, then drove down stream a bit, then walked an hour down at 3pm. I considered getting out because it was so late in the day but that would be losing!
With renewed optimism I took on the river again. While getting a read on the river I hooked a fish blind and lost it. Then I sighted a fish on a sand bar, it took a number of casts but I got him. 7lbs. I decided to give up on the blind fishing and concentrate on spotting the edges which I could just about see into. I found a fish in a similar position to the last, on a sandy edge inside the eye, so I figured I was on the right track. This approach worked. I sighted 7 for the day, all in similar water. I hooked 6 of them and landed four. 7lbs, 5.5lbs, 5.5lbs, 8.25lbs. All on nymphs. This day would have been well suited to streamers but I prefer to nymph fish when I can. It would have been interesting to have been fishing with another angler using a streamer to see which method was more effective. Certainly the streamer would have dragged a few from the body of the pools blind… well, maybe!
I caught up Chris Dore and Simon Chu for the rest of the weekend, We discussed shipping a Irish lakeboat to NZ amongst other things. It will happen! Just not now..
Labour weekend has landed so the next 3 days are mine. I’m relaxing now after a tough week making the heaviest doors on earth. Before I take on this weekend’s mission I’ll briefly fill you in on last weeks…
Saturday. Hung over.
Sunday. Drove too far for a day trip but I wanted to check out some of my favourite water on the Maniototo. I picked up a fish en route to where I was expecting great things. Got back to the truck, it was dead. Walked 1.5 hrs to find a farmer to get a jump after assuming I fixed the problem. After the jump start I drove to the good spot which was not so good but I got one. Got back the truck at 7.30ish after a hell walk through the flooded marshland. Dead again. Another long walk to find another farmer to get another jump. Drove home. 380k round trip.
Monday. Got an auto electrician to fix the truck. Simple fix thankfully!
Let this Labour Weekend roll! Hope you all have a great one.. Tight lines and screaming reels!
Ps. I wish all you new fly-anglers who recently joined the Wakitipu Angling Club the very best in your new sport. It will change your lives! I’m happy to help you all in any way I can. Contact me on facebook or through the club.
Ten NZ seasons and this flybox is the result of what I learned over that time. This is everything I need for the season ahead apart from size 16 dries and some streamers. I’ve started those. If you want the tying for any patterns you like post a comment below and I’ll give it to you. I have no secrets. What’s the point? My licence arrived yesterday so I’m ready to rock! “Prior planning prevents piss poor performance” as my friend Nigel would say!
Saturday was a disaster. The weather closed in, It was cold and there were no fish where I decided to fish. That’s the price I pay for fishing water I know nothing about. Sometimes taking a gamble pays off of course, that’s the nature of it! One of the beauties of NZ fishing is the sheer amount of water available. Seek and you will find. I got home Saturday night and tied a few flies. I could not decide where to fish the next day.
Sunday morning. Still not sure where to go. A couple of ideas but surely they’ll be high a coloured… but maybe not. Perfect blue sky day I must get it right, have to make the most of this. Right, plan A. decision made and I’m off… I’m pretty stubborn. I’m going there now regardless. Small streams are coloured. Ronan you idiot, this is a bad idea.. I keep going, on dirt roads now and getting higher. Trickles of water are coloured, rivers swollen.. I keep going. 80 minutes driving now. Snow on the road.. getting thicker on the ground but the day is perfect. If I get this right I’ll surely have it to myself, everyone will expect it to be coloured. I’m feeling pissed off now because I know its going to be dirty and I’m miles from anywhere else worth fishing. About to turn the corner and see the river…….. Fuck me, It’s clear.
My plan, if by some miracle the river was clear enough to fish, was to go upstream but on arrival I got a strong urge to go downstream into uncharted territory. I learned before to listen if god speaks so once again I did. One hour walk downstream and the season begins.
I messed up the first opportunity. Rusty? Maybe a little! Then I lost a few but after a while everything fell into place and I found myself in the middle of a perfect fishing experience. No one else around, blue sky and no wind, decent numbers of feeding fish and then a hatch. Only a few fish were taking advantage of it and I got them all. They were all in the 4-5lb bracket. I soaked it all up. I took a moment every now and then just to enjoy where I was and what I was doing. This is what I love to do.
As I got back to the truck at the end of the day, snowmelt was colouring the water.
The gamble paid off.
Last weekend we had one of or monthly club excursions. We went to Lake Monowai. The fishing was terrible but it really didn’t subtract from what was a great trip. On the way home Mike Bonn and I stopped at Lake Manapouri. We were off Monowai earlier than we thought because neither one of us had a watch. This turned out to be a good thing! We had some very exciting sight fishing on Manapouri not far from where we put in. The photos tell the story. Hard luck on losing that fish on the last cast of the day Mike!
Tomorrow many rivers reopen. I won’t be out because I have to go to work but I don’t mind. My season never ended anyway! I was going to head out tonight at midnight and try to catch the first of the season but its pissin rain now and motivation is failing! Tight lines to all who venture out tomorrow. Hopefully this rain won’t put the rivers up too much.
As our season is starting The Irish season is closing! I hope it was a great one. Hello to all who fish Lough Inagh today for the last day of the season. Colin, Will, Ulrich, Brian, Thomas, Kevin, Vincent, and the rest, have a Guinness or 6 for me!!
Ronan (Stuntman, C.I., Fishing Host, Joiner)
I had to go back to my hot spot one more time if for no other reason than to confirm my own expectations. Mike joined me. We got to the zone to find it very coloured after all the recent rain but there was plenty suitable fishing water just outside the murky stuff. As expected most of the fish were gone bar a few small lads, though Mike had a good brown and rainbow. There was a beautiful moment where mike and I got to see a superb brown inhale Mike’s Mr Glister a meter from the boat. Mike was in a bit of shock but managed a slightly delayed strike! We could have stayed in the same area and probably caught a few more but for me this was an opportunity to explore because I knew the majority of the fish were now in the river. A few ks away was a magnificent bay. The mountains seemed even more dramatic from inside it. There was plenty of feature and contrast (dark and light, weed and sand, deep beside shallow etc) to support some exciting summer fishing. This is also a great camp spot and there’s a small lake I want to explore not too far away. If you figure out where I’m talking about I’ll see you there!
We made it back to my old truck safe and sound but after fixing the fuse in the morning there were a few unwanted engine events during the day. The coil connection broke a few minutes out the bay and the starter motor wore out a cog in the evening. All easily fixable when I get a chance.
Tight lines and happy boating! Ronan..
Mike Wilkinson’s reports from the same day are below! Interesting to see his take on the day compared to mine. You’ll have to cut and paste the links because I cant highlight them.