Firstly, To those of you who look forward to my ramblings, sorry this report has taken so long! Life is pretty full right now and my Dad was over for a month. Between fishing with Dad, work and life in general, I simply have not had time to write. I’m just home from a 12 hour work day so this is not the greatest time either! However, I’ll make a start while I feel fresh!
Fishing with Dad was great, as it always is. When he’s in NZ he fishes every day either with me or alone. Weather may put a damper on things from time to time, but it has never been the cause of a day off the water. Never. Fair weather fishermen we are not!
We took on lots of different types of water from small streams to massive rivers, lakes to sea, river mouths to farm ponds, boat and bank. For me, The beauty of NZ fly-fishing is in it’s diversity. It’s not all about fishing to a sighted fish with a dry or nymph in a river. There are infinitely more options for an adventurous, curious angler in NZ.
One of the highlights was the West Coast. I almost decided against it because it was raining the day we left, but the forecast was good for the days to follow. I took a chance. It was a little stressful being in charge of where we fished and when! On arrival the rain continued to pour down and the rivers were high and coffee like. I thought I had made a bad choice.. We went to a river mouth and within 20 minutes I had a seatrout on the beach which went just over 8lbs. I had the Di7 on with a Mr Glister and a white streamer behind it. The spectacular, fin perfect fish ate the Glister. Thanks once again, Chris Dore! For the rest of the day the fishing was good. Lots of insanely strong Kahawai about and a good few trout. The weather was perfect for the next 2 days, light winds, blue skies and falling, clearing rivers. The fishing was the way it often is in the surf and at river mouths, there were chaotic spells with long quiet periods. The chaos was worth waiting for! Dad loved it.. Kahawai on fly on the magical West Coast was one of the highlights of his fly-fishing life to date. Also in 3 days the sandflies only bit him 3 times! Miraculous.. They preferred my blood.
We took on some rivers with small numbers of big fish. In Dad’s early NZ days, he’d have preferred quantity over quality, but not any more. I went through the same learning curve. It’s about experience which leads to confidence. With confidence, big fish rivers will no longer intimidate, only excite. A big, wild, solitary brown is better than 100 recovering, early season rainbows.
On one of these big fish days, after a long 1.5 hour hike over steep terrain I was feeling a little nervous. We saw no fish on the way downstream. If I was alone, I would not mind, but I’m a guide for dad in effect! I’m making the calls so I want them to work out, even though he insists he does not mind whether he catches or not. Soon after starting, to my relief, a fish appeared. I saw him deep in the eye of a pool then he vanished. I was confident he didn’t spook, he just moved. Dad got into position in the pool while I examined the water from a good vantage point. Then I saw him, barely visible against a black rock bluff. He moved up, then back down, happily feeding. I advised dad to have a cast at the ready for the next time re rose up in the water. The fish moved up in the water, dad sent in his double nymph arsenal which landed perfectly 10 feet upstream of the fish. As they passed him I called strike at the sight of an unnatural twitch and the fish was on. The fish fought hard; the battle went for a few pools down river before I managed to net him. 7lbs. One of a number of really good fish for dad on this trip. The pressure was off me! We had a fantastic day with 2 more good browns. At the end of the day we were back at the car. That’s the reward for walking downstream and fishing back.
While staying in Te Anau, my good friend Guy came up from Invercargill to fish with Dad and I for a couple of days. The weather was not so good at the time and the forecast was bad. Guy put his boat into a local river anyway and we were rewarded with a perfect blue sky day. We spent the day moving from gravel bar to gravel bar and also fishing from the boat as guy manoeuvred it to keep the caster in a good position. Not easy for Guy or the caster, but it was fun fishing and great to watch. The gravel bars were superb! Loads of fish feeding and non stop opportunities. They were not easy which made it better. The shear number of shots we had ensured we caught lots of fish. We had all the time we needed to experiment with different dries, emergers and nymphs and we got it right every so often. Or maybe probability helped, If you cover a feeding fish enough times he may finally eat, even if the fly is “wrong”. We kept some fish for that nights dinner. Guy and I made fish fingers!
No trip to Te Anau is complete without a visit to the Redcliff Bar and Restaurant. We had 6 visits. The restaurant was recently voted 3rd in NZ and 8th in the South Pacific by Tripadvisor. We ate there twice and you can take my word for it, it’s a well deserved accolade.
On one of the nights in the bar, the craic was good and pints were flowing. I was chatting to a fella at the bar about the state of NZ rivers. The conversation was mostly positive but then didymo came up.. Shortly after that he said “that fuckin’ liposuction is an awful curse too” I thought he was joking, but when I looked at him about to laugh I realised he wasn’t. I held a straight face and agreed. He meant lagarosiphon.
Enjoy the pics!