Queenstown fly fishing since Xmas ……. one word WEATHER! After a December of dry weather and low flows mother nature has balanced itself! Rain and more rain with several rivers beating historical high flows the lakes are on the verge of flooding and the severe gale force winds just adding insult to injury.
Luckily for me just prior to Xmas I decided purchase a Sitka Cloudburst jacket to make Queenstown fly fishing a more comfortable affair when the weather turns as even in the harshest of conditions I am still out there guiding. Thank goodness I did as I have almost lived in it since the 29th Dec bar a few days when the weather has pleasant. It’s a great bit of kit and one that I would now not ever be with out! I have stayed dry in even serious deluges and have enjoyed the wind resistant protection on cold days with snow to low winter levels and to top if off I seem to be able to get closer to my prey and certainly spook less (not that I spook that many anyway). It also rolls up into not much so is a great space saver compared to bigger, heavier jackets.
Sitka Cloudburst Jacket
So needless to say the Queenstown fly fishing has not been the easiest but with a little thinking outside the box we have not resorted to lake edges (yet) but have been able to catch fish on moving water each day. From the hot days of xmas with 20ft leaders and fine presentations things certainly changed. Cicadas (there has still been some heat in the weather too) willow grubs, streamers, czech nymping, mayfly hatches, you name it we have done it.
Rainbows on Brown water
Windy days have made us shift to shorter leaders and single fly set ups …… turn it over and get it on the water upstream of the trout.
Big wind = shorter leaders
Perseverance and patience along with guile and cunning and good skill level on the rod has paid off with having very limited amount of clean water to fish. A few times we have spent a whole day on only 100m of water but still had opportunities and hook ups. The old adage of don’t leave good water and trout to find some more (maybe) has paid off.
Dead drifted (under an indicator along bank edges) or swung streamers have also proved deadly on big fish in dirty water with some very exciting days watching hogs chase our often wounded looking bait.
To be fair tho its like throwing a dog on a chain trying to cast some of the things we are throwing …… stop soft!
As I mentioned dries have been on the menu from time to time with some nice fish eating off the surface on a variety of morsels including cicadas.
Early season Cicada
Rainbows love smashing cicadas at this time of year and we had a great day amongst the maelstrom of weather on a small stream enjoying just so!
You just had to watch closely and decide if they were eating it on the first smash or smashing it orca style before swing ing round to eat the stunned cicada.
Some days you just need to change your expectations and do the things you don’t normally do, probably because you are not very good at them …… turn it into an opportunity to get better. Willow grubbing can often be one to shy away from but for many anglers proves very exciting fishing and usually is close quarters combat on very fit, healthy fish.
Speaking of expectations some days you need to be happy with smaller fish too. A 3lb trout out of water you can jump across is often as challenging and satisfying as a 8lb+ from medium/large water. The perspective of the angler needs to change to suit conditions ….. some are more successful at this than others.
Small water trout often punch way above the size!
Prior to all this crap weather I had the pleasure to go fish with my father and my bro over the xmas period ….. this is something that hasn’t for a long time. One of the many things that stood out was a mid afternoon visit to a great bit of water …. walking 300m or so and putting bro onto a nice 7lb brown before being back to the truck and home with a Steam Brew beer in hand and home again in under 2 hrs to hang with our families.
Queenstown Brewers Steam Brew
Great fishing with you ……. lets do it again!
Now for my weird but true fish story those who follow my facebook page may be waiting for.
Fish! You see it? Yep right there. He’ll eat off the surface. Run this over him.
First cast is on the money and a bigger snout than expected comes up and eats it. Angler goes a bit early but has enough slack line and manages to hook up. Battle for about 1min and fly comes out.
Bugger! He was pretty big.
The bug fush slides in right next to where we are standing just off the edge of a deep drop off into a fast run.
Give me that rod (swap and give him the other I have already set up) and hurl this (big articulated streamer) upstream of him and dead drift it.
Watch the fish and hit him if he eats it!
Bullshit it’s never going to happen…lets roll on and find the next one. No give it a shot ….sometimes funny shit happens!
First cast (a lob really) the artic comes beautifully thru the seam edge and bug fush turns and eats it. Angler is so surprised he doesn’t even strike.
F*$k me … he ate it!
Go on give it to him again and if he eats this time strike! No way it can happen again ….surely? Only one way to find out right!
2 casts later and bug fush eats it again and this time my guy strips strikes him and bang we are on and got a great 7lber to the bank! You may think that this was a rainbow but no a bloody hungry brown. Several hours later my guy can still not get over. It was just one of those crazy things that sometimes happens.
Right that’s me for 2 weeks …. I’m off with the family camping somewhere for 2 weeks and then back into guiding at the start of Feb. I suspect that with the rivers getting so well turned over fish should be looking at the surface to eat as in many places the invertebrate life is back to square one!
Don’t forget to book your trip in Feb March or April and May …. I still have some space left and the weather will come right and the Queenstown fly fishing will be good