Tag Archives: rivers
The long hot dry spell seems to have dried up for now in the lower South Island but the Queenstown fly fishing has remained good and in fact has actually improved as there is more water in the rivers and the water temps have lowered a touch to much more favourable conditions for trout to feed. Over the hot summer months a good tip is to check out the river temps online before your trip …… 14deg C is optimium conditions for trout……if you are seeing 21deg C on that favourite river find somewhere else to fish as you will have a pretty hard day of it.
The Cicada’s are all go in some areas with areas recent fly fishing foray into backcountry river producing over 40 fish between 4 rods for the day. The rainbows were willing to move many meters to slam cicada imitaions. Other areas areas are just starting to see cicada action but the next 6 weeks should be pretty good for terrestrial fishing.
I just went online to Fish and Game’s web site and see that the have finally updated it …. well worth checking out.
I just love it when you get a shot in a remote fly fishing location of the airborne trout …. it’s alwasy hard to catch the moment just right!
The photo above is from my fishing buddy and good bastard Si Chu from a great days outing together……thanks Chuey.
Maximising your fly fishing oportunities is whats it’s all about and instead of re-inventing the wheel my good freind and guiding colleague Chris has some great tips here.
Remember there is great fly fishing from now all the way thru to the end of the season with March seeing (generally) the end of the terresrtrial fly fishing action but with April and the mayfly kicking in and the backcountry rivers staying open until the end of May as the big browns migrate up the systems there is plenty for anybody’s fly fishing taste. Book now to secure your mid to end of season fly fishing expedition.
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!
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.
Fishing Queenstown and the surrounding areas sometimes you just have to do something different to get a fish to hit. It’s the time of year when trout are really zoned into chomping cicada’s but sometimes you have to thrown something bigger and uglier. On my last Safari trip guiding a father/son combo we stayed on a high country station (ranch) for 3 nights to access some of the back country rivers nearby. We did get to present cicadas to plenty fish with some good results but on one particular occasion I put the young fella on to a trout feeding happily on the surface to cicadas. Due to the nature of the position we could not get a decent drag free drift and the fish went deep but continued to feed. I shortened the leader up and put on a big black double bunny and got the angler to lob it upstream like a nymph, letting it sink on the way back downstream before stripping to swing it past the trouts nose. On the 3rd swing the double bunny was in the right place and the fish could not resist – man trout fight hard with a big arse streamer hanging out their mouths.
This technique really comes into its own at certain times and recognizing these can give opportunities that many anglers would probably give up on. In this case it was a nice 3.5lb rainbow but the big brown trout love to chomp on a big juicy morsel too. A few days later the wind was blowing into our faces making life fairly tough to turn a dry over. I had found a big brown feeding right on the seam edge and again chose to offer a streamer this time fished as a dead drift – bingo first cast and the result was a great 8lb brown trout to the bank about 10mins later.
Needless to say Dad is very proud but did mention that I had now ruined his son for life —- better than crack tho!
We did get quite a few fish on the cicada and here is Dad with a great rainbow, again on the first cast. Make those first casts count and your hook up rate will be higher.
We ate very well on Safari each night— roast pork, beef, lamb with vege’s from our garden, what a great option to refuel the body after some serious back country fishing and hiking.
I think a teenage boy really appreciated the big kai, they seem to have appetites of horses.
I have a busy few weeks guiding ahead thru until the end of March so keep reading the blog for updates as I get the chance.
Anyone still looking for some great fly fishing should seriously think about booking in for April and May – it is one of the best times to go fishing Queenstown and the surrounding regions, the browns are putting on plenty of weight in preparation for spawning runs, there is some great mayfly match the hatch fishing, the rainbows are beefing up too and the back country rivers really fire up over the last 2 months of the season.
Since the big Xmas floods the weather has been quite indifferent with a new front every other day bring wind then rain hard on it’s heels. When we have had fine weather its been great but the fine weather holes have been quite small before the next front has slid in. This has meant picking where to be on any given day to be a very important part of providing a successful days outing. Some of the rivers in areas that got hit hard by those big xmas floods are still recovering with trout numbers a little low – but rest assured they are be moving back up the systems slowly but surely.
Cicadas are about all over the shop at the moment and on the hot windy days plenty are ending up in the water for hungry trout to engulf.
Speaking of engulfing food my new camp cooker has proved to be worth every cent. Enjoying Greek spiced roast leg of lamb, pork roast, amazing beef fillet (even some wild Hare loin), fabulous breads and perfectly cooked vege’s from our garden has been a great add to the Multi day Safari expeditions. Of course when we move away overnight from the vehicle we are back to a bit more basic food. Overall I think I have been putting weight on - need to walk faster – yeah right!
The weather looks looks like it will remain very changeable over the next week although we might see a good high for Friday, Sat and Sun ridge in – great for the weekend warriors. The patterns look like it will stay this way for the next couple of weeks so plan well and have a couple of backstops up your sleeve and make those first cast count!
The weather has continued to be unseasonably warm and the rivers have all been quite low but in excellent condition and producing some very good fishing. Fishing a dry fly has certainly been great on a number of days, especially on the rainbow rivers where they have been lifting to take all manner of terrestrial patterns. The usual go to dries have all been working.
Brown beetle are out and about. It won’t be long until the green arrive. Cicadas are arriving early too. Driving back from yesterdays outing where we fished a remote Otago back country stream using the odd combo of one rod fishing dry upstream and the other rod spey style, skagit on a switch rod hitting the water the dry could not cover (both produced about the same amount of fish) the cabbage trees were in full bloom. In fact I can’t remember seeing them blooming so much. A big bloom of flowers on the cabbage tree suggests a long hot and dry summer ahead. Given it was 31 dec C in the shade where we were yesterday and of course much hotter out on the river stones I would agree. In a month we will probably be praying for rain!
Here’s a quick clip from some fishing last week:
It looks like we are going to get a quick skiff of rain tonite and tomorrow morning and then it’s back to hot sunny weather right thru until the weekend, maybe longer!
It’s time to start considering longer leaders and finer tippets as the rivers get lower and clearer. Smaller flies may also be a good option. Yesterday we got a refusal from a fish (it swung and looked 3 times on the same drift) so we promptly put a smaller, very similar pattern on and nailed him on the next cast.
I just got back from 4 days looking around Southland over the opening of the 2010 – 2011 New Zealand fly fishing season. As expected the biggest storm in 50 yrs has had some effect on many of the rivers in Southland. Some big flood flows have moved channels around and in places covered good structure with fine gravel and turned over rocks. Snow melt is still coming off the mountains and many of the bigger rivers are still a wee bit on the clean green side but as the fine weather goes on this week they will continue to clear but remain on the full side.
Some of the smaller rain fed streams have seen some big flows as well and finding fish has not been easy although wherever there was good structure fish were found and most of them were in pretty good early season condition.
After two days of windy weather with high water flows and deciding to go exploring some new water with a mate from Colorado (and to be fair not finding much to get excited about) it was time to get into some fish so it was back to some tried and true old fav’s that even through the flooding looked as though they had remained in good nick. Sure enough they had and one river produced 8 nice browns to the bank followed the next day by 10 to bank using a bamboo rod (made by Pezon et Michel) just for kicks – I just love the way the ‘boo bends and you can feel every twitch of the fish during battle.
All the fish ranged around the 4 – 5lb mark and the vast majority were caught in rocky riffles using a double nymph rig with the dropper nymph being a size 16 mayfly emerger style nymph doing the damage.
It’s certainly been nice getting back out on to the waters I love and hooking up some early season brown trout. If you are looking for a guided fly fishing trip this summer make sure to get in touch with me and lets get you set up for a great session fly fishing on stunning New Zealand water.
One week to go until the NZ rivers open for fly fishing on the 1st of October. Excited – I bet you are! I am!!
So are you going to go to one of your old fav’s or are you going to look for some new water to hit on the opening? Sometimes it can be a tough call. Going with what you know or putting yourself on new water where you have to figure it out anew – always an interesting dilemma!
I am heading down from Queenstown to my place in Lumsden Southland to switch the house on as such and will spend a few days basing from there. I will most definitely explore some new water and refresh on some of my old favorites. The biggest call will be working with or around the weather to get the best fishing on any given day. Most of New Zealand has been hit by some pretty serious spring weather and down in the lower South Island there has been tons of snow to very low levels. If the temperatures stay low and limits the amount of melt and run off some of the main rivers will fish well especially further towards the headwaters of the system. Rain fed smaller waters could also be a great option but even these may have run off from melting snow over the first week this season. Watch this space as I will post updates as the season opens. I have some great weather and river information links on my public NetVibes page - look for the Weather and Cams Tab.
I am sure that you have all been out practicing casting drills, replenishing the equipment and watching plenty of SPAWN (fish porn) and are already to go.
You can check out more by visiting my You Tube Channel
I would suggest that when you hit the water over the weekend especially down in Southland and Otago that you are very mindful of the farmers remaining livestock if you are fishing thru farmland. They have taken some big losses of lambs (some of the worst in 50yrs in Southland) and they maybe a little out of sorts. Please make sure that you respect the farmers and their land. If you are not using a public access point be sure to obtain permission first. Leave gates as you find them. Don’t block access ways. Let the farmer know if you see any livestock in trouble. If you want to know more check out New Zealand Outdoor Access Code this will give you some great info.
I have started a Newsletter so if you want to receive it be sure to sign up – look on the right hand side of the screen. For those of you that use Facebook check out my FB Business Page – another great way to keep up to date with what’s happening down this way.
There is some great fishing in Southland through October and before the high country rivers open on the 1st of November so make sure you get out there. If you are after a guided fly fishing trip make sure to get in touch with me so I can show you some of the secrets of early season fly fishing – go to my booking page and secure your time with me.
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.
Monday the 31st of May was the last day of the season for being able to fish the mountain rivers and streams that flow into the the lakes and they now stay closed until 1st November.
Some mates and I decided instead of chasing trout we would head down to the South Coast and doing some codding in the roughest and most dangerous strait in the world – Foveaux Strait to stock up the freezers. Lumpy South Easterly’s didn’t deter us from heading out in my friends very well equipped boat and we got a pretty good haul of cod for our efforts. We will be back periodically over the winter when the weather is good enough to replace the freezer stocks.
While the rivers are closed over the next 5 months until the re-opening of the lowland rivers and streams on the 1st of October there still are opportunities to get some good fishing for those who are keen to brave winter conditions near Queenstown. Where rivers meet the lakes are hot spots especially just during and after a rain, the big rivers and especially the Clutha which remain open over the winter can have some great fly fishing and there are options on the lakes themselves. If you are visiting over the winter and want to do some fishing, drop me a line and I will head you in the right direction and/or be able to hook you up with the appropriate guide or charter service to maximize your time if you require it. I am busy with my winter work in the mountains over the next 4 months or so and you can follow what I am up to by reading my ski blog. As time permits I will be updating this blog with bits and pieces of useful info to help you with the upcoming season starting in Oct.