Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ Category

Yes the lack of bears and snakes are a big bonus when pushing through the bush along the many rivers in the world while searching out an elusive fish to throw a fly at. I don’t know about others, but snakes and crocs I can handle, BUT bears scare the c$%# out of me. As such New Zealand not only plays great Rugby Union, it is a Fly Fishing dream.

My dream came true earlier in November, when my wife and I took a well deserved break. We hadn’t been to NZ for a long time, with the last being 2002 and the trip where I told myself I need to learn how to Fly Fish. As you can see from earlier post, I have now learnt (although you never stop learning) and I can now cross an NZ Brown Trout of my Fly Fishing Bucket List. TICK!!

We flew into Christchurch on the South Island, and we didn’t have any firm plans other than we had to be back at the airport 12 days later. As my wife isn’t a fisher-person, and we both have a common love for sightseeing and sampling a nice wine, we also wanted to include these types of activities. So we headed to the west coast to Fansz Josef and spent a few days hiking to the ever decreasing Glacier, had some great local food, but also managed to do some fishing whilst sightseeing. Yes a local tour has a covered  boat that will take tourists out on the lake, and at the same time you can troll for a few fish. Not on Fly, but is wet my apertite for the NZ fishing ahead, which resulted in a few nice Lake Brown Trout.

Nice little Brown Trout

After spending a few wet days on the west, we high tailed it to the Nelson region in the North of the South Island. This area is bloody beautiful, with great natural and man made attractions. The area has some great small towns with a vibrant viticulture (wine!!) industry. The wine growing area is no where near as big as the Marlborough area to the east, but makes up for size in the great wine and food. There is also the Abel Tasman National Park, which is a must visit for the nature lover. After spending a few days here, we left to head about 2 hrs drive south-east, to have a real good crack at catching one of the wild Brown Trout of New Zealand. 

The day of driving to our accommodation was non stop rain, and I was getting nervous that the next day of fishing was going to be a wash out. My guide, John Gendall, was a lot more positive though and was confident tomorrow would be better weather. Well true to Johns word, I woke to the sun blaring in through the window of our Bach (NZ for small self contained room or granny flat)

I took with me all the gear I thought I needed, like waders and my 6 and 4 wt Orvis rods. I even managed to make sure I had olive coloured fly line. However in my eagerness to get to NZ, I clear forgot to pack my reels!!! Oh well, lucky that John being the true professional guide he is, had a reel I could borrow.

We headed out to a river somewhere, (John asked not to name it) and the first view was very daunting as all I could see was a large wide river, with a very rocky bed. Anyway we headed off and John soon had us trekking across the rocks to this magnificent river. After giving me directions on how the day would pan out, i.e. How he wanted me to stay back about 15metres, and not to make sudden movements, it wasn’t long before John had sighted our first target. I must say that straight up, I could not see the fish he had spotted, even though I had a very good set of polarized sun glasses. I learnt from the rest of the day, that’s why you pay for a guide in a place where you know nothing about local conditions.

Anyway after getting into position down stream of said target, I launched into what was nothing more than what probably looked like a mad man waving a stick above his head!! As I hadn’t had a fly rod in my hand for a while, John politely asked me to stop, breath, slowdown and to think about what I was doing. He advised that we didn’t need to rush, but if I didn’t get the cast correct, the fish would be spooked. False cast all day he advised, but the only time the fly hits the water is when you present it to the fish. Good advise, beacause as soon as I dropped the dry Parachute Adams about 1/2 a metre upstream of the fish, it was a very short time before my first ever NZ Trout launched up to grab that fly. And man were we in for a ride!!! With the fast flowing river, boulders under feet and the thrill of trying to land this magnificent fish, all I could do was hang on and listen to Johns encouragement and advise. 

I’m not sure how long, but I did land that first Brown, which was about 4o minutes from arriving at the river. Luck I’m sure played a big part, as I think some people spend a life time to get the same thrill I had just experienced.

My first NZ Brown Trout on fly

 After taking a quick photo and releasing the fish back into the river, the rest of the day was spent zig zagging up the river, with John well ahead of me (no problems with me staying back as I couldn’t keep up!!) spotting fish along the way. As mentioned above, a good guide is worth their weight in gold, and John is one of those guides. Without him, I wouldn’t of even seen the fish, let alone catch them. I’m sure I would of went away very disappointed if it wasn’t for having a guide. 

After landing 4-5 good sized Brown Trout, and missing 2 or 3 due to either me pulling to early and not setting the hook or just bad luck, it was getting late in the day. After walking what felt like about 300km, but was probably more like 7km, John suggested we try one more spot further down river. So off we go in his very comfortable Landcruiser for what turned out to be a stroke of genius. We arrived at an area close to a dairy farm, and which was probably used at times by local fisherman. Although it was the same river, same boulders etc, it didn’t look “fishy”, hey but who am I to judge? Within 5 minutes of walking along the water way, John had spotted another local Brown lurking between 2 large rock. I mention these 2 rocks as that’s all I could see. Again, for the life of me, I struggled to see the fish. But with guidance and direction from John, I soon had an almighty battle on my hands which turned out to be not only the biggest fish of the day, but my biggest Trout on Fly. After 15-20 minutes, we had the big sucker in the net, photo taken and released back to his home.

A lot of people I know still cannot understand why I release the fish I catch on fly. But after releasing this 4kg or 8.5lb creature, I had more joy than anything. Especially more than taking that fish and eating it. Swim again my friend. 

This smile is worth more than anything. To release a great creature is a fantastic feeling.

So after releasing the “big fella”, that was it for me. I just said to John, we can go home now, our work is done. Thank you sir.

Having spent the day with John revitalized me and what ever worries you have disappear. I for one will be back to NZ to try my arm and luck again. NZ, you are a fantastic country, and Australians are close neighbours and friends. Thanks for the time we spent, we’ll be back.

As mentioned earlier, my first trip to NZ many years before wet my appetite for fly fishing, and a few years ago when I had the opportunity to live in Houston, I bit the bullet and learnt. I would like to thank Chris the manager from the Houston Orvis store for introducing me to the sport and for hooking me up with Dan Cone (see earlier post) who both fostered my eagerness in the sport.

Anyway all the best everyone, and tight lines as they say. Cheers Grego

POST NOTE: Only 2 days after we drove back to the airport, Northern South Island suffered a major earthquake. We reach our and wish everyone the best in the recovery. 

Links:

John Gendall, champion guide

Glacier Country Lake Tours – see Dale and Bronwyn

Mapua accommodation – lovely little town to relax 

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