Posts Tagged ‘Whitebait’

Never a Dull Moment on the West Coast!

September 9th, 2014 3 comments

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..



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.