I wanted to explore some new water with the intention of locking in a backcountry day-trip for my guiding business. Looking at the map I expected the walk to take about 60 – 90 minutes so I set off. A recent heavy snow storm had brought down a lot of trees and limbs making the going difficult. A lot of the walk along the very rough track turned into bush-bashing, climbing, D tours and loosing the track from time to time. The walk to the river ended up taking me 3 hrs. I knew almost nothing about the river only that the bottom few pools were quite good. On arrival I noticed a kayak in one of the bottom pools, then another… then shitloads. About 30! There was no point fishing the lower pools. I walked up river to find a chasm rising to about 100 feet above the river. I went to the top and pushed along the side looking through a 2m gap spreading out into the river way below. It was too dangerous and slippery so I bailed out and try to skip above it away from the edge. That was tough going! I went back to the track which was going away from the river. I had no idea if the “track” would even take me back to the river so I gave up. I walked the 3 hours back to where I started having not made a cast. On arrival back at the truck I took a drink of water and then walked down the river I was parked beside. I walked down about 2ks to fish back to the truck. When I got to the bottom I cursed myself for not fishing it down with a streamer as the wind started howling into my face. I fished it up regardless with my dry dropper rig catching or seeing nothing. It was one of those days; nothing working out. The truck was in sight and I was happy to call it a (bad) day. Then, looking into a big pool I saw a fish. “Fuck me, that’s a big fish” I thought. I climbed down to get into position, slipped and landed hard on my back. My pack and net took the fall and I was unhurt. I popped a plastic bottle in my bag and bent my net! The fish was still there. I had on of Stu’s weighted nymphs under a dry with a size 16 trailer. I made about 4 casts before the dry went down and I lifted into some serious weight. 7 maybe 8lbs I thought. She bolted down river and I thought “foul hooked” but then I felt the head shakes. “Hmm, not foul hooked, must be big” Then she decided to swim right across in front of me. I knew it had to make 10lbs. I moment later I got my chance and stuck her in the net. 10.25lbs. I can’t tell you just what that fish meant to me. Utter elation. I sat on the bank and enjoyed the moment for quite some time before heading home with a grin from ear to ear.
More recently I had the please of guiding Mark Warminger onto a fish of a lifetime.We went hard all day, A cloud sat above the valley floor for most of the day making sighting difficult. We had a couple of shots and one lost fish (a big one) before seeing a really big fish late in the day. Mark made no mistake with his casting. Neat presentations meant the fish remained feeding undisturbed but did not want our fly. I made a few changes before deciding on a tiny, super-skinny, unweighted #16 nymph fresh of the vice that morning. Marks first cast with this fly trailing off a weighted nymph; the dry checked… I called the strike almost second guessing the call… The rod bent! After a strong fight the very large fish was readying himself to bolt down a long, fast run. This could mean disaster.. I got myself into position, when the fish hit the chute, I jumped in, arm and net outstretched to intercept him. The interception worked and he went into my net! One of my best guiding moments, maybe the best! One of Marks best days ever… 10lbs.. Oh yea!
It needs to be said though, double figure trout do not come easy in NZ. In my 15 seasons and about 1500 – 2000 days I have landed 6. Marks fish was my first guided double. If you want to target really big fish in NZ you must be prepared to blank. However, if you succeed, the reward is fantastic!
Once again, finding time to write is getting tough so I’ve just picked out the 2 main events since my last blog! There have been many others which I hope to share with you soon. My dad is here right now too so any day I’m not guiding we fish together. We’re loving it! He’s doing great, making the most of the lakes while many rivers in the area are still high and dirty after the worst spring ever. Gales and rain were the norm all month but it looks like its starting to ease up.. I hope!
Tight Lines All,
If you’d like to get in touch about guided fly fishing in the lower South Island, check out my website www.ronansflyfishingmissions.com