Tag Archives: nymphing
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.
The last week in Southern New Zealand has seen quite a change in the rivers with the arrival of some wet storms instead of the dry windy ones we have seen over the last 2 months. The rivers have pretty much all come back up to much more normal spring size with the additional flows of water coming from the mountains. The fist series of storms were warm to high elevations and created some good size spates. The next lot of storms to come through were colder at elevation – in fact it snowed up high and the spates were not so big but keep the river volume high.
Many of the rivers have felt the impact with discoloration especially lower on the systems. The upper parts of most system have remained sight fishable but it has been much harder work finding the trout due to the extra volume of water. Generally the trout have been sitting in the same places but now that means they are down much deeper and really heavy nymphing gear is needed to get to them. We have been swinging streamers with some success with some big brown trout hammering the woolly bugger like a freight trains and putting up tremendous fights.
The weather looks like we will see another fairly disgruntled week with some wet storms again towards the end of the week. Lake Wakatipu has gone from being unusually low for the time of the year to just below the first flood warning criteria – watch this space over the next few weeks!
I think its a great thing that we have finally seen some good run off and it will freshen everything up and certainly give the fish some respite going into the busy Xmas and New Year period.
Certain isolated areas down here have mice populations going nuts and the result is the fish in these areas is to be seen to be believed. Most fish even in the areas where there are no mice are in very healthy order due to the easy spring we have had and the lack of big water knocking the trout around and will provide some excellent quarry over the next few months.
Half day fly fishing trips can be great fun for clients to get a wee taste of what fly fishing is all about near Queenstown and offers a chance for fly fishing anglers to pick up a few tips they can take with them on their travels in the South Island of New Zealand.
My last days guiding was just like this – showing a client some great water and improving his general casting technique and also some of the fine arts of successful nymph fishing tactics as this was not something he had done much of.
Get down to where the fish are feeding – it’s no point having the nymphs above where the trout are feeding in the water column. Sometimes they will lift and take it but more often than not they won’t.
To add quick weight to get that nymph deeper I often use a tungsten bead head that is threaded onto the tippet and then slides along the tippet and down to the hook eye – free running. This is especially good when you do not want to use a double nymph rig for certain reasons.
Sometimes the area you are in has other attributes than just the fishing and this trip was one of those as we had a close encounter with a NZ Falcon. I spotted a nesting Falcon and warned my client that a dive bomb run was likely and if or when it occurred to keep the rods raised above our heads in a vertical manner. Sure enough the New Zealand Falcon buzzed us twice but stayed clear due to the rods. At this point I decided to see if I could do something to film an attack and promptly gave my rod to the client and asked him to stay put. I got the cam running and walked ahead about 10 meters and sure enough in came Mr Falcon – he swooped past and rolled up behind me lining me up and came straight at my head on his attack run with no fear of the rod in its way – whack he got me – bloody brilliant. My instinct to trust the sturdiness of my fishing hat was right but don’t try this at home!
Here is the footage – enjoy.
All the rivers around the Southern Lakes, Queenstown, Southland and Otago are fishing well at present although the usual Spring weather is making life interesting with some big winds around. and some rivers getting snow melt in the afternoons.
I had some friends hit a Fiordland stream that I gave the direction on how best to approach and they had a very successful trip landing some nice rainbows and browns all in super fat nick – the boys thought there might have been some mouse action going on to create these super fat hogs although they never kept one to find out for sure – but if so bodes well for some big fish over the summer.
It’s done and dusted for another year and all us southern fish heads are down to tying flies for the winter, looking at maps so we can be ready to explore some new waters next season or if we get desperate we can head down and fish the stream mouths or the very few rivers that remain open year round (which can produce some very good fishing at times). Or we get on a plane and head north the hit the steel head runs heading out of the North Island lakes and up the rivers for spawning.
I got a fish in on the last week end of the season so was a happy man and also managed to shoot a bunny on the way home which is dinner tonight, BBQ rabbit yum! The fishing was pretty good with plentiful browns (nothing huge) up the system I choose for the last fling and had a enjoyable day. The brown trout are in spawning mode of course and occasionally proved tricky on standard style nymphs but a small very light green glow bug worked a charm on these sexed up fish. Gentle handling was the name of the game so they colud get back to what was really important – producing another generation of NZ brown trout for us to enjoy catching.
Over the next little while I wil pop in the odd report, tip and trick and maybe even some fly tying.
I am just about to start my winter ski instruction and guiding as well so no rest for the wicked.
Daylight saving time has changed back (thank goodness), the leaves are changing colour and there is one month left for the lowland rivers (the ones that run to the sea)these close on the last day of April and the high country rivers close at the end of May.
There is some great fishing from now until the end of the season with some good Mayfly action.
The Pommy had a very big and quite localised rain event about 2 weeks ago that created a very large flood event (it also hit the Waikaia but not as bad) which has seen debris left to very high levels up the banks and has certainly pushed fish back downstream and knocked them about. They will be moving up again.
The Oreti and Aparima have seen fresh fish moving up in last week and spawning runs are getting underway. It is no longer possible to target salmon in these systems due to the seasonal license restrictions in place from F&G. Even on poor light days blinding thru runs and riffles should produce a result or two – forget the aquarium pools unless you want to hit them after dark.
The Greenstone is now free slather (no booking system) again for all (if you have the correct licensing) until next season and is fishing well. The Caples is also fishing well and both are holding good numbers of Rainbow trout and more Brown trout are showing up in the systems. Even getting trout coming for cicadas still!
If you want to catch lots of fish, hitting the Mataura and working the riffles and waiting for the afternoon mayfly hatch is the way forward.
Quinnet salmon have been gathering at the heads of the lakes for their runs and the deltas have been productive.
Certainly now the days are shorter more gentlemanly fishing hours are available and there is some very productive fishing during the shorter light hours – particularly mid afternoon when the hatch is on!