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Posts Tagged ‘South Westland’

Striking Gold!

January 2nd, 2014 2 comments

So far on this holiday season the fishing has been pretty average. The first mission to the coast with Guy and Jeff was okay, the second with Mark Adamson was a bit worse. The mouths didn’t fish well, but then, in truth, we did not really give them a serious run. One was too coloured, one was full of glacial silt but just fishable, and the tide was wrong when we had time to fish another. So if conditions were right they may have been epic, but my gut tells me otherwise.

Mark and I had 2 days on the coast. Day one we tried some mouths as I just mentioned, also a spring creek but it looked as though someone had been in there earlier that day with a chainsaw. Possibly to clear a run for a jetboat, or to get bulls out of a grazing area farther up the creek. A farmer told me that. Either way, It felt like a waste of fishing time being there. The water was spectacular though. We tried another spot with no joy, so we went to the pub for a steak and a pint.

Day 2 we fished a typical, large west coast river. It was high after rain but clear. I got one on a dry right away. Mark spotted the fish but as he was not set up, I took the shot and got the fish. It’s essential not to fuck around when an opportunity presents itself. Take the shot! Waiting for someone results in too many lost chances. I’ve learned this many times. We expected plenty more shots but unfortunately, they did not come. We got 2 each for the day, 3 on that river and one on a river during a quick stop on the drive home. So not many fish, but a truly great day in one of the nicest places I’ve seen.

My old friend Kevin Alexander, who you’ll know from many previous blogs, has just moved to Cromwell. We’ve been doing some gold dredging and some fishing as well as eating and some drinking. It’s great to have him and his family here and he’ll probably be popping up on this a lot more from now on. Soon we will fix Daltona! She’s been idle too long.

This has been a good Christmas so far for catching up with friends, especially Bob Toffler. Bob, I’m delighted that broken leg healed up and thank you for showing me your secret spots! I managed a 5 and a 6lber to finish off 2013..

Happy new year everyone from the thundery and rainy Otago night… I don’t know what’s in store but I expect I’ll stay in NZ, especially after reading about the Irish Budget. They’re squeezing every last drop out of those who remain..

Ronan..

 

 

Falling down holes…

December 24th, 2013 No comments

I tried to warn Jeff about a deep hole in the ground. I had just spotted it and managed to avoid it. I turned my head and called back to him. The message just made it to Jeff’s ears as he fell down the hole. It was pretty deep and a very funny moment. Watching someone fall over is usually funny. As the day progressed we both took a few more tumbles down holes hidden in the long grass. At the end of the day while rushing back meet Guy who was waiting for us, Jeff fell pretty deep into a hole. He got out, then fell into another. I had time to take a picture. I laughed loudly as he struggled, cursing out of the hole. Once he was out we continued our trek out. Our conversation turned to falling down holes. I was telling a story of how I just missed out on a 7′ drop earlier that day and then on to a story from the Tasmanian highlands. Just as I got to the good bit of the story (the fall!) I vanished from Jeff’s sight. My right leg went down a hole and did not reach the bottom. I was left bent sideways in the hole from my left leg to my chest, which took all of the impact. I was a bit winded and shocked but unhurt. All I could hear after some all too  brief concern was Jeff’s Laughter, shortly followed by my own. I dragged myself out of the hole and continued. Within a few steps my bent hip was straight again.

The story of our 3 days on the coast is told in the photo’s below.

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Happy Christmas everyone! Guy and Jeff, Thanks for an eventful few days!

Ronan..

The tide that almost took my truck… Twice!

October 23rd, 2013 No comments

Jeff and I hit for the coast early on Saturday morning. There had been a deluge of rain on the coast for a few days so there were no guarantees the rivers or their mouths would be fishable. The weekend forecast was good so we decided to chance it. As expected, the rivers were high and coloured but some were fishable. There were so many whitebaiters about that the coastal fishing looked like it would be pretty annoying with us tripping over them and vice-versa. They have always been very friendly with me and never put out the notion that they own the place so, with respect, we left them to the river mouths and we chose a river.

It was a big, intimidating river; still bulging after the rain but dropping and clearing. There is only one thing to do when faced with such a river and that’s take it on. Don’t waste much time talking about it, just do it.

We took it on with 2 set-ups. Jeff with a streamer, me with a dry-double nymph rig. Before long we spotted one which we did not get. It’s always good just to see a fish in a high, unfamiliar river. It boosts confidence. Not long after I spotted one in tough light, I only just saw the sweep of a tail. I got that fish. Jeff got one in the next pool on a streamer so we were both off the mark. The rest of the day went well. We had a few more fish on all methods, blind and sighted. When we got to a very tough gorge we decided to get out since we simply didn’t know what lay ahead and it was late in the day. We had an hour or 2 on the coast before nightfall after most of the whitebaiters had had enough. Jeff got one bright fish.

One of the my favourite things about the coast is camping with the roar of the ocean and having a raging fire from the abundant driftwood. We drove out to Haast Spit which is just such a location. I have camped here a few times without incident and I expected this time to be the same. On the way to the spot I knew, the track suddenly disappeared. I tried to feel my way around all the debris on the sand but then sank into it! “Bollocks” I said. The sand was grey, damp and in the tidal zone. With the tide rising there was no time waste. With Jeff pushing, and some tactical driving (at least I like to think so!) we got out relatively easily but we were lucky.. It could have been a disaster. A foot to the left and I think we’d have been air-locked into the sand. After that bit of excitement we made it to the camp spot. The sea was roaring and then a full moon broke from the clouds.. I had a moment where I though we should leave. With a spring tide approaching (which I did not notice when I checked the tide times) and the strong on shore wind, something didn’t feel right. I’ve learned something about myself over the years. The reason I take an odd risk is to see if I’ll get caught, and if I do, what will the consequences be?.. this is sort of in my subconscious and I’ve only recently learned it. It’s like something else takes control, giggling as it does so. I put my hesitation aside as I got the fire going and Jeff pitched his tent.

The rain came in hard and the wind blew, but the fire was hot and the beer was cold so we were happy. We were relaxed, chatting about the day and life in general when a wave broke a little close for comfort.. I shone the lights of the car which was facing out to sea. “Fuck” I said. The tide was close and the waves were big and messy. By my reckoning the tide was still an hour from full. Should we flee now? No, We’ll wait a while anyway (giggling inside). I got up to photograph a wave which skirted our camp but instead I ran and jumped onto the spare wheel on the back of the truck as a wave crashed through our camp. It hit the truck, the tent and almost put the fire out. Okay, now I was worried, we were worried. Looking behind us the tide was on the other side of the spit. we were almost surrounded by water. There was probably a route out through the driftwood but we decided to stay. We were on a relatively high point. We’d see it out. Many more waves crashed near camp. We sat on the bonnet facing the sea and watched on high alert, and waited. “I think were out of the woods now”  was said many times but the truth was that we weren’t. The tide was high and very close to camp for hours. It seemed like forever. We weren’t out of the woods. Another wave went through the camp about an hour after the first and another after that. If we were parked farther down the beach things would have been worse.. I might have had to try to get out. Our saving grace was the fact that I knew roughly when high tide was, but it all could not have been any closer! We were lucky too..

Finally the tide receded, the rain stopped and  the wind died. We polished of the box of beer, high on adrenaline and life with a cranking fire and a bright moon..

Day 2 on the river was much like day 1.

Ronan..

I’m back… I think…

September 27th, 2013 4 comments

Long time no report! My laptop was out of action for a while, then I lost my writing momentum and I had some other stuff.. It’s not always easy to keep this going! Lot’s has happened since so I’ll just skim over it… Actually I wont, the photo’s below the text will!

Daltona’s 1978 Johnson outboard would not start the last time I tried. After work today I drove to Queenstown to pick her up.. I had it parked up at Chris Dore’s place. She’s home now and I’ll fix it soon. My guess is something simple like spark plugs.

I want to talk about a few things but It’s just not happening. One of those things is the differences and similarities between sight fishing a lake edge and sight fishing a river. I’ll bring it up another time.

West coast tomorrow morning. I’ll leave here at 6am and get there a few hours before low tide. Weather is promised to be a mixed bag. Fairly light winds, huge swells (over 7m), sun, rain, clouds, all sorts! I’ll go and give it hell.. hopefully It will be fishable…

Next week I’ll get my writing momentum back…

Tight lines all!

Ronan..

 

10 Trout, 10 Kahawai and a Stargazer.. South Westland!

September 6th, 2013 2 comments

I could not resist the urge to go back to the coast for another mission. After an epic, full on Saturday catching 3 species I set up camp on a wild South Westland beach. Just myself, the sound of crashing waves, a roaring fire and a few beers under the stars. No better way to spend an evening! A whitebaiter woke me in the morning. He opened the truck to see if I was inside because he was worried by the sight of my vacant camp chair and smouldering fire. “I though you might have been washed out to sea” he said! We chatted for a bit, me still stretched in the back of my truck, and him leaning in the door. The whitebait season had opened an hour before at 6am. Shortly after our chat I got up and took on the day. Waking up exactly where you want to fish is always sort of magical for a fisherman.

The tide was going  out in the morning and fished pretty well but I was banking on the flowing tide to produce the best results like it did the day before. I had planned on taking a sea-trout and a kahawai home but it was not to be! Nothing happened after the tide turned so I went home empty handed! I’m curious to see what these sea / estuarine  trout are like to eat. The 2 days were completely different. I would have put money on the Kahawai coming back on the flowing tide but they didn’t. There are no guarantees in fly-fishing.

The fishing and whole wild experience was great as always! It fired at different times each day making it hard to nail down. Watching the place come alive with Kahawai was pretty cool. They were the biggest I’ve encountered. 10 trout, 10 kahawai and a stargazer (what a cool little fish he was!) in total. All the kahawai bar one were 5lb plus. My best brown was about 5lbs too. I didn’t get many trout pics because I caught most of them in the surf. No place to set up the camera and timer and I didn’t want to take the fish too far from the water.

I still don’t know what I’m going to do tomorrow!

Ronan..

 

Where the Rivers Meet the Sea – South Westland, New Zealand.

August 20th, 2013 No comments

Much to my regret, it’s been a few years since I’ve been to the west coast. I lived there for a while about 9 years ago and I have an unexplainable kinship with the place. It does something for my soul that I struggle to put into words. I feel totally grounded there, calm, sort of connected. After spending a couple of days there I feel better, happier, rejuvenated.

Day one. Paul and I travelled together in convoy. Paul brought a couple of Kayaks, one of which came off the trailer en-route! Those moulded plastic Kayaks are very tough. The road was no match for it. The Kayaks were a great advantage for getting to gravel bars and across lagoons and just general access.

The fishing was challenging. It was new to me so I was feeling my way bit, trying to read the water and get a feel for a good approach. Before too long I got a nice 3.5lber on one of Paul’s magnificent streamers. With the falling tide a drop-off came into casting range and that’s where the fish took. I expected more in the same spot but apart from a couple of touches, nothing. We each had a few more hits as the morning progressed but nothing hectic. After that quiet spell I hooked a big fish on low tide. I was using my Di7 to get deep. When I hooked the fish I was experimenting with a rapid, jerky retrieve. After beaching the trout I noticed something hanging out of the rear end, I pulled it out to find a good size green crab! I never heard of trout eating crabs but why wouldn’t they? I’d be more surprised to learn that they don’t eat crabs! With the rising tide, the already slow fishing pretty much stopped. Don’t get me wrong though, slow fishing does not mean bad fishing. I had great day with better company in one of my favourite places on earth.

Day two. Jo Meder joined me in the morning and we hit for the same spot as Paul and I fished the day before. I was keen to learn whether time of day was more or less important that time of tide. I expected the time of tide to be more important but it turned out that the morning was best once again. The same time as the day before but the tide was an hour higher! The last hour to low tide did not work at all and this was best the day before. All the action came in the same hour for me, I had 2 trout and a flounder. They all ate Jo’s silicone smelt pattern. In the afternoon we went exploring. I drove down the true left bank of a nearby river but did not get a good feeling. The water didn’t scream fish so I drove roughly 40 minutes, mostly off-road to the other bank… It screamed fish. It pays to heed your instinct.  Before long Jo was bent into a good one. The bar of silver took a white clouser fished deep. This was Jo’s best fish for a long time and made has 1200km round trip worth the effort. Soon after I was into one which took right on the corner between the heaving surf and the powerful river.  Paul Macandrews streamer did the trick again! This time a bigger one to suit the heavier water. Jo managed one more and then it went quiet.

All up the fishing was epic over the 2 days. Mostly pretty slow but the anticipation was always positive. Changing tides and conditions could improve the fishing at any time. Aside from the fishing, and at least as important, was the location. I cannot tell you what a special, magical, beautiful, ruthless, tough, powerful, spectacular place this is… I’m trying but words fail to do it justice.

“Go west young man”

Ronan..

Ps. Paul and Jo, Thanks for the flies, the company and the craic!

Also, some big fish in SLTV down at the bottom!!

 

In this instalment of SLTV, Ep 14, Big Fish Week part 2. We have the biggest campfire ever on the west coast (the last time I was there I think!), The good fortune went my way this week… I catch some really big fish including a double, or was it all a dream??? Have a look!