|Click for full size image:.
Photo1: Our first stop
and four hours fishing resulted in over 30 fish
to 4.5lb on the dry
Photo 2: This fish
took a Cochybondhu cast to the bank side of him.
It was caught less than a full fly line from the
Photo 3: Goulburn
edge water skills proved very useful in taking
nice fish in the water everyone walks by
Photo 4: Typical
South Island scenery. A river where the fish average
6-8lb and an anglers paradise
Photo 5: Zollie took
this fish on a hopper from the pool behind him.
We messed up its companion, a bigger hen fish
Photo 6: When Antony
hooked this fish he declined the camera believing
it to be about 3lb. He was only 5lb out
Photo 7: Bo's best
ever fish on the dry fly. It took a #16 attractor
pattern when all the local guides said flies should
be #10 or bigger
Again our trips to the South Island resulted in some
outstanding fishing to some rather large trout.
It's becoming a two to three
time a year trip for us but even then it's not enough. The
most recent visit to the South Island saw Antony and four
others head down south to chase some large fish in wilderness
rivers. Despite a reasonably wet summer they found less water
in them than the same time last year. Despite this they managed
to fish a variety of waters with some of the Spring Creeks
and 'trophy waters' a real highlight.
A Good Start
The first afternoon was spent
driving and we pulled into our accommodation not long before
dark. Up early next morning we continued on our way south
stopping at a small stream we have often driven over on the
way to other waters. Taking what we thought was a gamble we
decided to spend the morning on this mystery water even after
the local guide we purchased licences off told us not to bother.
The first 500 metres didn't look good. Willow choked and not
a fish to be seen. We both began to have second thoughts although
neither of us said anything.
Continuing on upstream the river
opened up and fish started to appear. Even better, they appeared
where they should. Beneath the undercut banks, in the bubble
lines, in the heads of pools. Everywhere we thought there
should be a fish there was and in four hours we had over 30
browns caught and released on small terrestrial patterns.
Nothing gets you settled on a trip like a solid session on
the first day. The fish were not large averaging 1.5-3lb with
the occasional 4-4.5lb'er but we were not complaining.
One thing should be stressed
about this first session and in fact the whole trip: we walked
a lot. At this location we walked 4 hours of meandering bank.
When we reached end of our 'beat' we cut to the road and walked
back to the car. Although it was a straight line it took nearly
90 minutes. This was to be the pattern for the entire trip
with 90 minutes return being the shortest walk we did. In
fact we averaged over 20 kilometres a day.
Stillwaters: Tassie Eat Your
Until my first trip to the South
Island I thought I knew what a good stillwater was. I mean
I had fished Arthur's, Botsford, St. Claire, Little Pine,
Dee etc. But nothing prepares you for the quality of fishing
available in such abundance over there. One session in a bay
on Lake Wanaka was a highlight. The bay itself was about the
size of 3 M.C.G's and was only 2 feet deep with a heavy sand
bottom. Wading and spotting fish a long way off was easy and
most took a small Cochybondhu or Black and Peacock first cast.
Screaming runs into the backing and trying to turn them before
they spooked the other fish is what most stands out in my
mind when recalling the day.
Other waters like Dunstan (which
is on the main highway) offer exceptional early morning fishing
off their high banks. Being steep sided and having a narrow
shallow shelf that extends about 5 metres into the lake
before it drops off makes for ideal polaroiding. Up until
about 9am (before the sun comes over the hill behind you)
you can polaroid dozens of fish working the edges averaging
2.5-5lb. Most fish were not very spooky and took a small soft
hackle placed within 2 metres of them with no hesitation.
If it was anywhere else in the world it would be famous, not
to mention crowded. But this is New Zealand and they have
so much of it that it hardly even warrants a mention.
There is a drain we drive over
less than 3 minutes driving distance from where we stay each
trip. Every season we have driven by thinking it looks just
like a small Spring Creek. Well this time round while fishing
the main river we came across its confluence and decided
to take a look. In the first 500 metres we found about 50
fish between 2-5lb. I won't tell you how many we caught as
the number is embarrassing relative to how many fish we found.
But suffice to say it was almost weed choked, slow flowing
with rising fish on station. Very hard, very beautiful and
we will be returning.
The Trophy Free Stoners
These are the rivers you see
in the videos. You know the ones, usually found in the open
exposed to the wind, gravel bottom with fish as long as your
leg. Last trip we couldn't get onto this water as the guides
beat us there every day. We even witnessed a fight one day
between a guide with client in tow and a couple of Americans
who wished to fish it. This time round we decided to beat
them at their own game. The polaroiding doesn't get good here
until about 11am and so 9.30 is considered getting there early
as who wants to wait for 2 hours with a client for the light
to be right. Well we do. Every morning that we fished it we
arrived at 6.30 am to ensure we got onto it first. It was
worth every uncomfortable second. The fish averaged 6-8lb
with quite a few up to about 12lb. Stalking skills were of
the utmost importance as it was late in the season for this
river. Once a fish was found presentation was critical with
the chance of taking a fish decreasing with every successive
cast made. But get it right first time and a take was almost
Being able to read the water
and eliminate much of it instantly was a skill we all learnt
and because of this we were able to cover about 20 kilometres
in a day. Learning to see fish in the different rivers takes
time as the signals that give fish away are sometimes very
different from water to water. Most fish were found beneath
the undercut banks, on the edge of the drop offs and out in
the middle of pools rising in bubble lines. This river is
flood prone (as most of them are!) and there was very little
in-stream debris to lose a fish on. Because of this 4lb tippets
were used and only one fish was actually lost because of the
line breaking. You can see some examples of fish from this
river in photos 4,5,6,7. Beautiful big brown trout in perfect
condition. We were 'interviewed' by the local Fisheries bloke
who informed us that to his knowledge (he is there on a daily
basis) only one fish had been kept that season. Quite remarkable
and something we could do well to learn from.
The South Island of New Zealand
is perhaps the best brown trout fishery in the world. The
great thing for us is that it is so close and there is so
many options. The costs are relatively low and the chance
of getting that fish of lifetime is great. You should all
do yourselves a favour and get over there as often as you
can. I know we sure try to.
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