Tag Archives: fishermen
Southland fly fishing has been a mixed bag since the opening of the season. I spend a great deal of my time guiding and fly fishing Southland. Sometimes staying for periods of time in our Lumsden fishing crib (house) and sometimes traveling to and from Queenstown for just day fly fishing trips. The first 2 weeks of the Southland fly fishing season had pretty bloody good weather and low river conditions with some nice mayfly hatches on many of the streams and rivers. Southland fly fishing can change pretty quickly. Especially as you live and work in the middle of the roaring forties and it’s spring time. Suddenly we were bombarded with heinous weather. 72 hrs of solid rain at low levels and heavy spring snow in the high country. This was followed by a rapid warming trend for 2 days before the next warm ish storm came thru delivering a bunch more water to the already full and discolored water ways. These 2 storms came from different directions so most water ended up getting hit pretty good. Especially with the extra snow melt most rivers and streams had very high flood levels rip thru them.
Southland fly fishing offers a huge amount of different water to fish but most had been blown out (it was pretty much the same up the whole of the eastern side of the South Island) and to get to something clean ish and fish-able meant driving a bit further than normal, finding those elusive spring creeks, using educated guesswork on what might be clearing and spending a great deal of time studying the flow gauges and rainfall stations and employing some different fishing techniques. It’s times like this when I lose sleep worrying about getting my clients to good water and giving them chances on big NZ trout. Some good judgement and maybe a little luck allowed it all to pan out with some good fish to the bank and happy fishermen over the last week. The photo below was taken on a day where most rivers around the region were running full and chocolate.
Come and do a Southland Homestay fly fishing expedition and catch fish like this!
I meet fly fisherman from all over the world and I have found over the years that almost without exception they are wonderful people. Maybe it’s just one of those pastimes or passions that people with certain attitudes gravitate towards. After all they are out for a good time on the water for one reason or another.
There seems to be a progression of development in a fly fishermans life, it’s a bit like Maslows hierarchy of needs in a fishy way. Certain requirements need to be fulfilled before the angler can gain the next level. Here’s my theory:
Level 1: I just want to catch a fish, anything will do.
Level 2: I want to catch a lot of fish.
Level 3: I want to catch a big fish.
Level 4: I just want to be out on the water, catching a fish is a nice bonus.
Level 5: I am a dumb arse guide!
Now the interesting thing about this theory is that many anglers make it to level 4 bypassing level 3 but I don’t think many make it to level 4 without first obtaining levels 1 and 2. Most that make it to level 5 at some point want to be back at level 4 and almost always level 3 comes into play no matter where you are at in the progression.
Did I miss any levels? Where do you fit into this progression? Use the comments and let me know.
My father (who is a great fly angler) has a saying: ” Man with hands in pocket feels cocky all day and man with fly in water catches fish”. As a guide I have my hands in my pocket all day (usually to stop being bitten by sandflies) so I don’t often have my fly in the water. Maybe he’s just telling me in his wise old way that I am a cocky prick and it’s time to go fishing with him soon!
Just back from a weeks guiding south of Queenstown with a couple of fly fisherman from the USA. The weather did not make things too easy for us with 2 really nice days out of 7 and the rest were a combo of hurricane like winds, heavy rain, chubby rain (sleet) and generally below average weather for March. We did get on to plenty of fish and even managed to fool a fair few of them. One of my clients got to realize a 50 year dream of hooking and landing a true New Zealand Trophy brown trout.
Hooking this fish took quite a lot of perseverance as it was spending about half of its time chasing two other pretty large fish out of its feeding area before making the big boiling rise of a fish zoned into a certain food source. Each time the other fish were chased off it would chomp of the surface hard out for a couple of minutes and then the other fish would reappear and compete for the food source before again being chased off.
Finally this awesome 12lb fish was in just the right place, the fly was drifting thru the feeding zone and with absolutely no hesitation it charged up like a ballistic submarine engulfing our cicada pattern before a doggard fight eventually saw it to the bank. The area it was caught in favored the angler during battle as there was nowhere for the hog to run for cover (and it knew it), it just used it size and weight component until the angler finally got it to the net.
The fish was carefully weighed at 12lbs with a length of 27 inches and a girth of 16.5 inches. These measurements along with some photos will be given to a good taxidermist and the mounted replica will take its place of pride on the mantle piece along with the fly that caught it while the fish gets to live on to provide sport for another lucky angler down the line.
Some other bloody good fish were also landed including two of 8lbs which certainly went along way to make up for a rough week of weather and some fairly tough fishing.
So cicadas are still on the menu but things are changing and there are mayfly nymphs developing nicely in many streams and as we near the beginning of April these will come to the forefront of the trouts dietary patterns. The trout below was caught using an emerging mayfly pattern.
Another flood occurred a couple of days ago with most of Southland seeing muddy water and rising rivers but they are dropping and clearing again fast now. As we move further into autumn we should start to see more stable weather patterns although the temps are dropping quite a bit overnight but on the fine days the daytime temps are warming up nicely. Although 2 days ago I was forced to wear waders, damn glad I did because guiding in chubby rain and very cold southerly winds would have been unpleasant…….just goes to show you need to be prepared for all sorts of weather down here.
The last week near Queenstown New Zealand has seen some great fly fishing even though the weather has not been easy with fronts coming thru every day or so carrying cold rain and snow to quite low levels.
Using some local knowledge of how to work the weather and what the fish are doing has paid dividends with some very happy clients catching some bloody awesome trout. Both brown and rainbow trout have been par for the course. Getting down fast and deep has been the winner for us with the odd exception coming to the dry fly.
Here’s a couple of shots of some of the pearlers over the last week.
And to cap it all of a great 13lb New Zealand trophy trout
Well it’s a little over month out from the 1st of Oct opening of the rivers (anything that flows directly from mountains or lakes to the sea) and is then followed a month later on the 1st of Nov by the rivers and streams that flow from the mountains to the lakes. Make sure to check the regulations out. The 2010/2011 licenses will be available online on Tuesday 31st August 2010.
Fly Fishing in the early season can be one of the best times of the season to hit the water. Trout haven’t seen an angler for 5 months and their general spookiness has diminished somewhat. They are hungry and other than the opening couple of days angler numbers are very low through Oct. The weather can be a bit unsettled but we can always find some great opportunities even in the worst conditions spring can throw at us.
Here’s a clip from last season opening.
My place in Lumsden is a great location to base from over a few days to maximize the early season trout fishing opportunities and this year I am offering 15% discount on my 3 night, four day, guided Southland homestay for the month of October.
If you are keen to make the most of this awesome opportunity to have a great early season fly fishing trip hit my bookings page and and fill out the form. Make sure you select the Southland Homestay option and make a comment in the comments box that you would like the 15% discount during Oct for this trip.
Here’s another clip from last season opening.
You may find cheaper options to fly into Invercargill airport rather than Queenstown airport but either is good for me to pick you up from. Within 45 mins (or less) from each airport we can be fishing. Make sure to fly in on the earliest flight possible and leave on the latest flight to maximize your time fishing or better still if your time and budget allows, fly in the day before and leave the day after your trip. I can pick you up at your accommodation.
I will look forward to chatting with you to make your early season fly fishing trip to NZ a fantastic experience!
In my last post I recommended up-skilling your fly casting ability before coming on your fly fishing trip to New Zealand.
Carl McNeil has a great clip below that shows some of these casts that will really up your chances of catching more fish while in NZ (or anywhere).
Carl is also one of the makers of the fly fishing film “Once in a Blue Moon” which is filmed in Fiordland and Southland, New Zealand where I do a great deal of my guiding. This is a great film and one certainly worth purchasing.
Make sure you check out the guided fly fishing trips and expeditions that I offer and be sure to get your time booked by making your inquiry now.
Skues was a nymph man, then Halford went dry.
When we see the way the press and media go on about events in our lifetime, you have to shake your head. And think fly fishing is the best. Wet or dry. A kind of escapism with the best possible conclusion. A fish. Be it a brown coloured one or a rainbow coloured one or a funny coloured one. They all count be they small or big.
So, it’s refreshing to know that for some of us the only argument going on in life is the nymph and the dry argument. Things could be much worse.
The history of angling has come far. I think that’s why it’s called History.
Skues, whose full name was George Edward MacKenzie Skues, had a mouthful of a name and so stuck with just Skues. But despite the name he managed to write “Treatyse of Fysshynge Wyth an Angle” in 1885. Whether our language has progressed since then is debatable. He also wrote “Minor tactics of the Chalk Stream” in 1910. More major tactics are required these days. Booking flights to NZ notwithstanding.
Both books make excellent bedtime reading though.
In those days they used the term “angle”. Which was all well-and-good when you had a mobile sundial and a good angle on things. Especially an angle that hooked you a fish for dinner in the days prior to Catch-and-Release.
He wasn’t a bad tier of the fly either.
Interim: A good song to have running through your head when the fish are Spooky or Spooked though is this. And if the music doesn’t tickle your fancy the images are a pretty good representation of the best films ever.
Rod technology has come a long way, too. From silly underwear with spears, to greenheart rods, to hexagonal bamboo, then impregnated hexagonal bamboo, to high-tech graphite, all in the space of a few decades or two on our human timescale. I’m just hoping that it will never come to wearing Kevlar vests and using bazookas.
Yet we find ourselves in not a dissimilar situation to our casting brothers from times gone by. And we still catch fish like they did. The bloke with the fish-stick is entirely responsible though, and what he can hook he can land under the right circumstances. Even with a horrible Nor’ Wester.
And if all else fails, there’s always the trout-tickling option, although I’ve never seen it done myself. My last experiment with the TT maneuver was most amusing, but sadly just had me lying in a prone horizontal position tickling algae-covered rocks all afternoon.
Now, obviously, I’m not fortunate enough to have lived through the generations of those that have been amongst us fisher-people who love to simply be by a river with a rod and await a hatch.
So, I’ll continue with the not-so-latter-day-take on recent fishing events.
To the Land of the New Zealand Land. The Land of the Beautiful Scenery, with the fish that care not a dot about Skues’ or Halford’s issues about dry vs wet.
At the end of the day, trout, whatever their colour, are much like ourselves:
They need to eat.
As humanoids we have decided to put this into a 3-part daily thing. Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
Trout however are far cleverer than us and just eat all day. They don’t pay for delivery and don’t worry if the food hasn’t arrived in 30 minutes as one of their brothers or sisters downstream will happily pick up what’s missed, clung to a small rolling stone or just floating by on the surface.
I’m not a statistician, but I reckon the chances of one of those bugs whizzing past with a hook attached to some furry or feathery size 20 and up hook is pretty remote. Yet we land the odd one sometimes.
The Nymph v The Dry
Nymphs run deep
I’t's their very nature
Dry flies float high
It’s there nature, too
But both get gobbled from under or above
By fishes that want a meal
And hence the Human invention of the hook
Funniest River Names
Nile. Should have been called Miles and Miles and Miles River. ‘Cos it is.
Wangapeka. Beautiful river to fish on even if you catch no fish. You can always have a giggle about Woodpeckers and Rivers.
Ribble (Lancashire, UK). Never ripples. Always in flood.
Upukerora. When I first heard the name I was baffled by the sound. Later on though I realised it meant, “If you pack her, you gotta wear her”.
And I’m lucky enough to have a wife who doesn’t mind a day out fishing.
Tight Lines to anyone who reads this. And slack lines to those that don’t.
Taking your pack off, removing wet boots from tired feet at the end of a long days fly fishing in a remote New Zealand back country river valley then sitting around the hut fire as dinner is simmering away while you chat about the fabulous highlights of a days fishing is an awesome and inspiring thing, especially when you know that you have another day of of amazing fishing ahead of you.
Our recent guided expedition saw us hooking into trout after trout, both rainbows and browns. Many of the brown trout were well into spawning mode and at times were hard to hook as they were interested in other things but using a streamer fished up stream and ripped back past them got some good responses as well as my special pattern X. Many of these fish were holding in very small, shallow areas of the river and you could find groups of 10 fish together looking at pairing up.
The rainbow trout were generally holding in deep long rocky runs and employing Czech nymphing tactics worked well – get deep fast and stay in contact – wham, bam, thank you mam.
It just goes to show that May is an awesome time to fly fish near Queenstown, New Zealand. Most NZ anglers have switched to other recreational pursuits and the foreign anglers just really are not here and there is tons of very good fly fishing to be had if you are prepared to do the yards to get to these incredible back country waters. Yes, the days are shorter and colder, dry fly isn’t so much a part of the game but getting to fish as my last client said for trout that average over 22 inches and many going into the 24 – 26 inch range (or as we kiwis like to measure our trout not in length but pounds 4 – 8 lbs) and with shots at fish well into double digits (lbs) it blows all other trout fisheries in the world out of the water. Add to that, over the two days he fished with me he landed about 20 fish, lost another 10 (including one trophy) and blew good chances on another 20 or so.
Some anglers want to catch lots of fish, others want to catch big fish and others just want to be in remote locations that rarely see anglers and have an opportunity to cast to one fish that hasn’t seen an fisherman all season and there are quite a few other scenarios too.
My last client, a regular who fishes with me once a season for a for a 5 day period falls into the category of the remote location angler and who has most if not all the skills required to catch some bloody good trout.
Over the trip JC had quite a few chances on some big (10lbs +) trout and unfortunately each time we hooked in we got absolutely smoked. The biggest fish we got a hook in would have been around 15lbs, maybe more and the battle only lasted about 1 minute before the leviathan blew us to bits – just having the chance to get a crack at a trout like this is extraordinary yet alone actually hooking it – after that well it all has to be a combination of some serious luck and skill to beach such big trout.
Sometimes getting to remote locations involves some serious hiking and some locations you just can not hike into at all – an airborne chariot is required!
A remote location somewhere deep in Western Fiordland where no anglers had been that season (we think) we found some trout but the interesting thing is in these super remote places the trout can be far more spooky than in places that see regular pressure. All of a sudden having something in a trouts presence that has not been there before seems to up the anti hugely on stealth and perfect presentation.
The last morning of JC’s stay on the way back from the middle of nowhere there was just enough time before the flight out of Queenstown New Zealand to have a last quick nudge at a fish. A few casts, a quick change to add some more weight and a lovely last minute brown to the bank.
See you next season JC – some more remote locations and some big trout await you!
My last guiding trip went well hiking into a remote valley south of Queenstown New Zealand for 3 days fly fishing and 2 nights camp out using cocoon bivvy’s.
The weather was about as good as it gets although bloody cold at night with frost developing on the bivvy’s by 19:30 which is just on dark at present. The fishing was pretty damn good too with plenty of both rainbow trout and brown trout to the bank, a few spooked and some that just spanked us – no slowing them down once hooked and firing under rocks in this majestic little mountain stream.
Carrying a heavy pack for a mission like this into a boulder strewn back country stream and catching fish with it on is no easy task and certainly by the end of the trip we were both a little footsore and tired but very happy.
I even had the chance to cast for a fish or two and enjoyed the success of a well presented special pattern x – the Wilkie Wonder.
These sort of trips hiking into the back country and doing the hard yards to fly fish for trout are not for everyone but those that are willing to carry a heavy pack and sleep out certainly get to enjoy the spoils of fly fishing for trout that often have seen no pressure (or at least not much) and puts you into places that helicopters can’t legally land and are simply superb for the peace and solitude they provide in New Zealand’s stunning wilderness landscapes.
I’m at home for a few days now, enjoying family life before my next guided trip starts next week, a mixture of the Southland Homestay fly fishing trip and Safari trip and we might throw a heli fish in for good measure depending on how the weather pans out.