Thursday, 16 October 2014

It's All Go

With the new season well underway, I hope most have managed to sneak out for a fish at some stage. The weather around opening was pretty average which seemed to put the fish down a bit and the fishing became tough. The Mangatutu was particularly tough on opening weekend and we heard that from a few different sources. Well done if you managed to snare a few during that time.

In the last few days though, we have had some weather that is getting us excited for summer! We have also noticed a few improvements in the fishing. On most small streams, plenty of bugs are hatching and the fish are not hesitating to come up to the top for them. With this said, the fishing is not quite back into full swing. We tend to find that you have bursts of success throughout a days fishing at the moment, the 12-2pm period has been particularly good.

Typical Waikato small stream fishing

Standard hares ear and pheasant tail patterns are working well as per usual and a bit of flash in the fly has been very effective. Fish are still holding pretty deep as well so it is worth having a fair bit of weight in the fly to get through the deeper pools. As the weather gets hotter and the flows get lower, we will see the fish start to move into the more oxygenated riffles, making them much easier targets.

The highlight of the season so far has been the fact that several fish have been more than willing to come up for the stimulators we are using as indicators. Although I love all fly fishing, it does not get any better than seeing a fish come up and sip a dry fly off the surface.

Watched this guy come all the way up for a size 10 stimulator

The weather should only get more and more stable from now on. Also, the Lake Rotorua temperature is rising so we will be hanging out at the stream mouths at night very soon. Get out and get in amongst it.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Open Sesame!

Well it's here again! Finally... The new season opening creates quite a buzz within the New Zealand fly fishing community, and with good reason too. The little waterways and backcountry streams are once again open to be explored and enjoy more great times. The lakes also opened up and a few good fish were pulled, as is the norm with the exceptional lake fishing around.

Opening day was within touching distance (if you could reach ahead and touch time), plans were set into motion, bags were packed up late Monday night and we hit the road and headed for the hills. After a restless sleep and a magic start to the day we set off into the bush to get a head start on the season. We had planned to be on the river (10 and 10 on the secretivity vs goodness of mate scale) as early as possible so best option was to sleep next to the river. When we arrived at this totally new water that neither Cameron or myself had fished, we were treated to the sight of some pristine New Zealand fishing water! After camp was set up, we made sure over and over that we were ready for battle the next morning, as opening day wouldn't wait for us for anything.

The first hint of the 1/10/14 was brilliant. The weather gods had been very kind indeed and all that was left was for the fishing gods to follow suit. Camp was quickly dismantled and breakfast pretty much inhaled and wasting no time the first fly was drifting its way down the current. What quickly ensued was my first hiding of the new season also. A solid strike and a hectic bid for freedom almost saw the score at 1-0 to the fish but he wanted his photo taken more than anything so he relented. This seemed to set the tone for the day, as the fish were not shy about hammering even a half decently presented fly and then going batshit crazy during the fight. Perfect!

All day long there were good numbers of fish in most of the pools and decent runs we came across and as well as the excitement felt about this new place (to us) there was also the feeling of awe and great respect. We truly felt privileged to be able to enjoy a place like that. Not many people get the opportunity to do so and even less seemed to be inclined to do so. It made it even clearer that we needed to do what we can to preserve more places like that, as there seems to be a growing disregard for the natural beauty of these sorts of places.

Well that's my little hippy rant over... Fair to say that we had an outstanding opening day and hopefully the same was had by all who managed to get out, even if your opening day was a later date. We managed to get a few snaps of the trip and hope the season continues with the same good fortunes. Get out there and get amongst it!

A little sneak peak at the creek. Cant give too much away now can we?

One of the typical beautiful fish of the trip

One of the more memorable catches. They are in a league of their own in the bush

Now it's time for the monumental crash back to reality. These little trips like this certainly do take the bitter edge off having to work though. Not that my job is at all bad but certainly a long way off beating a bad days fishing. I think there may be a video or two floating around in the editing room so keep your eyes open and we will keep you posted.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Keep 'em Secret!

Everyone has secret spots, that’s part of the fun of fishing. However we are seeing increased publicity of some lesser known streams and this concerns me a little. I don’t know what it is but I love having those spots where you feel like you are one of the few, if not the only one who fishes this spot. There is a real sense of intimacy with the particular body of water that you might not get if you fish a river that gets flogged.


Don’t get me wrong, I am not being a snob about this. I still love to fish the Mangatutu in the height of summer and the Tongariro in winter but I certainly prefer our little known stream up in the Mamakus that we fish. ;)


That little known stream - was even hesitant to post the photo...

The point here is that people shouldn't give up their secret spots so easily. You have gone to all the effort to do the homework on Google Maps and spend an hour cutting a track through some really thick bush only for someone to else to start hammering your ‘secret spot’. By keeping it secret it makes it more fun for everyone else. Part of fly fishing is that sense of adventure you get when fishing new water, a sense which is only heightened as you fish a new water that no one else fishes!


I therefore have devised a system so one can more easily decide as to who they should tell about particular rivers. Find a spot for your river on the graph Secret Spot Matrix below, the more secret a spot is, the better the mate you let in on that information.

Spot Secretivity Levels (Scale of 1-10)
Goodness of Your Mate (Scale of 1-10)
10

This is type of place that only you know about and is teeming with massive fish that will take any type of fly. A spot so good you will consider not telling another soul about. This is an “if I told you I would have to kill you” fishing spot.
10

These people are those closest to you in the fishing world. This is not your wife or girlfriend or your Doctor or Lawyer. This is your best fishing buddy and your old man territory.
7.5

These spots are the ones that only a handful of people ever really fish. You will tell people about this spot, provided that they only fish there when you are present and that they take vows of secrecy.
7.5

These are the people who you know pretty well and fish with on a regular basis. You are also social outside of fishing and enjoy each others company over a beer. This is also the good looking foreign tourists zone, as they will appreciate the remoteness of the location but more importantly, leave the country and not tell anyone your spots.
5

Rivers that only those who have been fishing for a little while will manage to discover on their own. You will only really tell people about this spot if after conversation about fishing and a quick mental assessment of their attitude toward fishing. If you feel they will do the spot justice, you will mention the spot in broad terms only.
5

These people are mates of mates or guys you inadvertently ended up having a beer with and you decided that they are good bugger. These are also people you view as having the potential to reach a higher rating on the mate scale however you need to ensure that they on the level first.
2.5

These are rivers and lakes that are totally public knowledge however they receive much less pressure than people think. You have no problems telling all but your worst enemies about these spots.
2.5

This a tough category to define, as it extends to those who you know just well enough to talk fishing with. These are also people who are complete novices to the sport and are wanting some info on rivers. You do not tell them about better spots as part of the fun is discovering them for themselves.
0

E.g The Tongariro in Turangi. These are the waters that see more anglers than the state highways see roadworkers. You will talk about these spots openly and frequently and you prefer to fish them on weekdays if possible.
0

You do not know these people from a bar of soap. You walk past them on a popular river, nod your head, tip your cap or if they are really lucky, give them a quick “g’day”. This category also extends to people you really do not like.  



With opening day just around the corner, everyone will be heading to their favourite headwaters. We will be exploring some new water, which has the potential to be very high on the above scale!

Wherever you are headed, keep your cards close to your chest - you may just stumble upon a fishing goldmine!




Friday, 19 September 2014

Don't Leave Home without Dry Flies

I just got back from a few days making the central North Island. I had an awesome time and caught plenty of fish but I learned a very important lesson - Never leave home without at least a few dry flies.

In the morning it was fine as all fish were deep and I was getting plenty under the indicator. It wasn't until about 2pm that a ridiculous mayfly hatch started, at which point fish were taking off the surface left right and centre. All I had my pack was bead headed nymphs of all varieties as the weather was cold and rainy so I assumed most fish would be staying deep if possible. I assumed wrong. I would have given just about anything for an emerger patter, a Dads Favourite or a Kakahi Queen at that point.


Where I was when the hatch started up

I was still getting some on the deep nymphs but it soon became apparent that most fish were sitting higher in the water column. Usually if fish are eating of the surface during a hatch, there are usually a few more eating just subsurface before the bugs get a chance to get to the surface.

Not only does it quench your thirst better, it tastes better too


I used my best MacGyver skills and smashed the bead of a Pheasant Tail with some rocks. I used only that fly and it sat just subsurface and actually worked a treat! While I was pretty stoked to have pulled off such sweet improv fishing, a dry to tie on would have made life a heap easier.

The result of my improvisation

The moral of this story is no matter the weather, be prepared for anything. Sort of like a fly fishing version of the Scouts motto.

In other news, the Tongariro is fishing pretty well. The sporadic spring rain is pushing fresh fish up the river and they are pretty hungry. You have to persist a bit to find them but when you get one you normally get a few of their buddies. Also, fishing real small pocket water at the head of big pools was quite productive for me, maybe these spots get neglected a little bit?

I think this is my first even Tongariro Brown!


I have also been lucky enough to be fishing with my new toy, a 6wt Scott Radian. It's everything I would dreamed it would be and more. I was pretty sure it would cast well, which it certainly does. However I was really impressed with the hookset abilities of the rod. Sometimes on the bigger rivers, a strong and direct hookset is essential as current can to all sorts of silly things to your line.

Turns out that this rod works pretty good!
Possibly the most impressive thing about the Radian is the ability to load up the rod at short distances. This is usually a setback for fast action rods, yet it maintains feel and still can bomb out most of the fly line if you need it to.



Less than a fortnight now until the new season. Make sure you have plenty of annual leave and sick days up your sleeve, it's gonna be a good one.


Saturday, 13 September 2014

Think On It

The new season is on our doorstep and all sorts of things are flying through our heads. What do we need to top up with? Have I got enough of my favourite flies? Will the new water I hit be as productive as where I fished last season? Do I really need that new fly rod? (Well yes to that one) All sorts of things find themselves occupying our brains in its current excited mindset.

One thing that a lot of people think upon most is organising the early season trips with their best fishing buddies. Taking advantage of the not yet spooked fish with your best mates becomes a priority. If someone can't make it on a particular day, time slots get moved, appointments get cancelled and the first few weeks (or months) of the new season are kept open in the hope that at a moments notice you can drop what meaningless task you are occupied with and get on the river!

Now early on in the week I was approached by my boss and very good friend Bevan to go for a fish. Unfortunately we have not been able to coincide a day off together for a fish in far too long so the hammer fell and work ended up getting the chop, with two very good chaps covering for us at work. This trip was in no way spontaneous or even that short notice but it was great to be able to hit the water and pull a few quality early spring fish out. The winter lay off (of sorts) had not left us all that rusty at all which bodes well for the action that is anticipated in the early days of October. A few smaller but very well conditioned fish played the game and lent their time for a bit of sport which was pleasing.



Bev with the first little fish of the day. All were spotted and full of colour

One of the little brownies caught. Cheers for the photo Bev!

Summer is on its way! A few of these guys were flying around. Even the Radian hat is good!


Again, although the fish were relatively small, there was still plenty of enjoyment in catching them. Good numbers and all caught in rather challenging water with a top notch bloke topped the day off. Although all the big water opens in a couple of weeks, there is always fish to be caught in these waters year round and definitely shouldn't be discredited.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

It's Springtime!

Apologies for the slackness of bloggedness. We have also been blogging a bit about the philosophy of fly fishing so we felt it was time for a short post regarding the actual thing.

Winter has come and gone and we are now less than a month away from the happy, happy day that is the first of October. I like to spend as much time as I can in September out on the winter small streams to get a gauge of what the fishing will be like in the season to come.

River cleanliness can be a bit varied in the spring rains and changeable weather but as a rule, fish are usually busy putting on condition and as a result there is some great fishing to be had. On warmer days, there are also some epic evening rises although it usually doesn't last for too long. Never, ever ever ever ever turn down a rising fish. Bang on a Parachute Adams on and bomb it out there. Speaking of dry flies, it is usually this time of year I start using dry flies as an indicator. If the fly sinks because of the weight of your of nymphs, that can be annoying but it is nowhere near as annoying as a big fish coming up and hitting your hookless indicator!

The days are getting longer and longer and soon enough we will have free reign over all the streams. Until then, there is some major fun to be had on the winter waters, go get out there and embrace the springtime and get ready for October!

The rises in springtime might not quite reach these insane levels but either way it should leave you amazed at what trout are capable of.

 
Damsels in Distress from Sharptail Media on Vimeo.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Fishing with my Father

Going fishing is the epitome of father-son activities and I am extremely lucky that my Dad also happens to be my hero and one of my very best mates. He also taught me a lot of what I know about fishing (and now I am teaching him some stuff too!). So it was really awesome that last week he was able to take a day off work and come fishing.

Dad hooked up to a solid fish
I realise that one day Dad won't be around to come fishing with me, so memories and photographs are like gold. I also realise that for whatever reason, many people do not get to spend as much time with their parents as they would like, and fishing is about as quality as time gets for Dad and I. Ever since I was little I remember pestering him to go fishing, which I think he quite enjoyed because Mum would often encourage him to go just to shut me the hell up!

Must have been the superb guiding!

I owe a lot to plenty of people in life but my Dad is right up there. He taught me about patience, respect and how to take pleasure out of the small things in life, all of which are qualities a good fly fisherman needs. Most importantly, he passed on his incredible enthusiasm for fishing and the outdoors in general and I think that this is the greatest gift he has ever given me.

Quality time with one of my best mates

Dad often says that I have now taken him over in things such as casting ability, amount of fish caught and time spent on the water. While this might be true, none of it would have happened without him and it is for this reason that Dad will always be a better fisherman than me. I am constantly learning new things from him, most recently to slow things down a bit when out on the river (I have an awful tendency to charge forward, especially on new water). I look forward to spending many more days on the water with him.

Here is a video that is probably better suited to fathers day, however it ties in with this post and is a truly powerful observation of the father-son relationship. Read the description on the video too, its a beautiful story.