Sunday, 31 March 2013

A semblance of life:

Eden 11 004

At last, there’s signs of life on the river.  Spells of welcome sunshine yesterday afternoon clearly provided enough warmth to awaken reasonable numbers of Large Darks (right).  With trout close on their heels and steadily rising, you felt there was some sense in showing them a dry fly.  Best of all, my first fish went 2lb 5oz and although a tad lean, put up a hell of a scrap.  Others followed too making it a day to remember.  Granted the olives might well be stretching their wings, but I’ve yet to see a March Brown.  Word has it they’re starting to appear elsewhere so hopefully it won’t be long now.


~This beauty of 2lb 5oz made my day by pouncing on a dry olive pattern~


Saturday, 30 March 2013

Flurries of snow instead of Olives…


More in frustration rather than hope, I headed to the river for another dose of frostbite… With plenty of snow blanketing surrounding hills the drive down dirt tracks to a favoured beat was pictureque if nothing else.  Tackling up pretty much prompted the arrival of more snow too.  With eyes stinging and numb hands, I eventually found a willing trout, tucked up in a secluded corner and quietly sipping down the odd midge.  Thankfully, he couldn’t resist a size 20 Shuttle-smut and was duly released.  Hanging about proved fruitless though as even more snow piled in.  With the water temp of 3oC and a wind chill of minus something or other, I called it quits at 3.20pm.




~Arctic temperatures had caused ice to formed on trailing branches and boughs~





…The only thing to fill the icy air was snowflakes and not olives…


Saturday, 23 March 2013

Bleak Outlook…


To satisfy my curiosity, I wandered up the river this afternoon (right).  With a strong easterly whipping right off the Pennine tops, I didn’t even bother taking a rod.  Just as well really, for at 2.43pm the air temperature hovered at minus 1oC and the water wasn’t much better at 2.5oC.  Given this Baltic blast not surprisingly no trout were daft enough to poke their noses through the icy surface.  It goes without saying, no flies were hatching either and with forecasters predicting more nasty weather, it looks positively bleak.  Nothing for it then but to kick back and indulge in the latest issue of Fieldsports which is a fly fishing special focussing on destination fishing:




~The latest issue of Fieldsports is crammed with page upon page of fly fishing in warmer climes…total escapism given our horrible weather~

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Off the Mark…


With wintry showers since opening day, I’ve never known such a grim start to our season.  And, having got my fingers burnt due to a lifting river on March 15th, venturing out seemed foolhardy.  That was until yesterday morning when despite an icy start,it looked fairly pleasant outside by 10.30am.  However, turning up at the river with an icy air temp of 4oC and the water reading 3.5oC, once more I wished I hadn’t bothered.  That was until 1.30ish when a flurry of Large Darks brought up a few trout.  Aware that this precious activity might only last for minutes, I bolted up the river to a favourite pool or two.  A carefully placed dun did its job for me to latch into a handful of trout.  Nothing huge, but good honest fish the best topping 1lb 8oz, getting me well and truly off the mark!


~A clean, fit looking fish the first of a new season is naturally welcome though made all that bit sweeter when taken on dry fly~







~As time was precious, rather than faff about with delicate CdC patterns, floating like a cork this Poly-wing Dun worked its magic~







More fish followed, including this torpedo shaped 1lb 8oz beauty

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Ropey start to Season:


Having returned home, thoughts focussed on March 15th the start of our trout season.  Last year’s temperatures reached a balmy 9 degrees Celsius.  This year however, opening day dawned cold, wet and miserable with snow affecting upland regions.  Consequently, I spent opening day trudging around watching a rising river, which became increasingly mucky.  With a thermometer struggling to reach 2oC I never even made a cast.  The highlight of the day was helping to free a Large Dark Olive from its partially discarded shuck.  With no end in sight of this unwelcome arctic blast, it looks like the start of our season is on hold…welcome home lad…




~Despite a fleeting glimpse of midday sunshine, snowmelt continually leached into the river, causing a chilly lift in levels~




~Lifted from the water and free of its nymphal shuck this female LDO could otherwise have perished…A good deed done for the day~


Sunday, 17 March 2013

Strong…like Russian bear!


Tangling with big trout requires tackle you have total faith in.  Of course, rod, fly line and tippet are all vitally important.  However, everything’s academic if you plan on using hooks with a fine or even standard wire.  These simply aren’t up to the job of levering tenacious fish away from their bolt holes.  The new Partridge Wet Heavy Supreme on the other hand is designed not to straighten, even on the most stubborn of fish.  In fact, having used them on our New Zealand adventure, I can happily report they are Strong…like Russian bear…




A close up of the Partridge Wet Heavy Supreme, which you’ve got to say is forged like a ship’s anchor!







~Size for size the new Partridge Supreme Wet hook (left) is even heavier and stronger than a Kamasan B-175 (right), making it ideal for the stillwater fraternity or those who hunt trophy trout~










Some hook models simply weren’t up to the job when dealing with NZ’s trout population

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly:





The Good… Mat McHugh of Fly Odyssey is not only fish spotter extraordinaire, he’d give Gordon Ramsey a run for his money in the kitchen department too. And no, that’s not for swearing either, but good, honest grub.  Arranging accommodation, travel, meals and guides for our group the Kiwi Odyssey would fail to function without him…






The Bad… Heavy rain and raging floods can spoil a trip.  Thankfully, we hardly had any bad weather to contend with.




Spider Bite 2   

And The Ugly…I was unlucky enough to take a hit from a white tail spider (native to Australia) which caused toxins to eat away tissue on my index finger…yuck.  Lucky I’m a southpaw!


Spider Bite 3










Spider Bite 5










Spider Bite 6








Spider Bite 7

Friday, 15 March 2013

Finished on a High:

With thoughts of heading back to the vastly overpopulated UK, my final days were spent on far away waters hunting trophy trout.  Clear skies and zephyr like breezes made for near perfect conditions though a generous slice of good luck helps too.  Streams where big trout care to dwell generally mean fewer fish and therefore less opportunities.  So when staring down the barrel at a potential specimen, it’s vital to stay composed…easier said than done believe me…  Already rising when I found her, this hen fish (below) did me a huge favour by taking my fly first cast.  Anything else would have been pure torture and probably resulted in heart failure!  As you’d expect the battle was a twitchy affair that lasted far too long for my liking, but eventually my net closed round this solid lump, dropping the scales to 9lb 6oz.  A true trophy and my PB to date…



If that wasn’t enough, later that day another slab stationed tight to an undercut bank slipped across the current to meet my cicada.  All the while the usual 50 ways of how to lose a trout raced through my mind, but again, lady luck favoured me.  Heavily spotted with broad shoulder this cock fish topped 7lb 12oz.


Thursday, 14 March 2013

Journey’s End…Pending!


Ian’s hard work on our heli trip saw him knobble a handful of west coast trout including the handsome beast (right).  Weary, sun burnt and chewed to hell by sandflies we made our way to the rendezvous point to wait for the chopper.  Reflecting on this amazing adventure a lump formed in my throat though now was no time to be getting all sentimental as I still had two days remaining.  Following a couple of gruelling days in the bush, a good night’s kip would hopefully set me up for the final assault!





Safely landed, we prepared for the flight back to civilization












Peering through the perspex as the valley unfolded below only made us want to do it all again…








~Although satisfied, solemn faces reflected our mood on leaving this remarkable environment~


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

A Sound Investment:


With the helicopter but a distant drone, we got our bearings and made off upstream.  Yet, within 200 yards encountered our first problem, the river spilt into two distinct arms, which one should we take?  Following a brief confab, we agreed on the left-hand branch.  Five pools later however without incident and we were beginning to get twitchy.  Pool six though had a brace of fish rising simultaneously, tight against the far bank.  Toby nailed the first trout then it was my turn.  Thankfully, everything went like clockwork though this fish pulled hard.  It’s always a relief when these slabs eventually lay on their sides to surrender. A fair bit of marching was needed before discovering future trout and this time Ian stepped up. Granted, it might have been a long walk between drinks, but at least we were finding fish and a good sized ones at that, making our investment worthwhile!






~Toby’s first fish went just shy of 6lb~










Same pool and the second trout, a cock fish topping 6lb





~Where we couldn’t see fish, but suspected them to be lying, Ian worked hard by throwing speculative casts into these perceived honeypots~


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Up, up…and Away:

P1000615Four wheel trucks and shanks’ pony might well take you to some remote places, but it will only get you so far.  Many NZ’s rivers remain protected by steep sided gorges that are covered in dense thicket and impenetrable bush.  Accessing these desirable spots is pretty much be air only-namely a helicopter.  Admittedly, it’s exciting stuff, but you’re always nervous as the investment of time and money doesn’t always pay off and once you’ve been dropped at a given stream, there’s no turning back.

~With rays of sun creeping over the mountains, we headed upstream looking for a likely place to touch down~






Having made our decision there was no turning back now.  Ian and Toby look on as the pilot prepares for departure…

…Hidden gems like this river generally flow as clear as a bottle of Gordon’s where it’s possible to enjoy a true wilderness experience.  Ian Cole scans the area where shallow water meets deep, looking for likely shadows…


Sunday, 10 March 2013

Tools of the trade:


Forget all fancy gear or the latest new fangled rods, reels and lines. By far the most important piece kit in NZ is a decent pair of walking boots.  As you’re pretty much living in them they’ll become you best friend, so reliability and comfort rank high on the list.  Over the years we’ve found gore-tex hiking boots outperform any wading boot on the market.  Gore-tex is preferred not because they’re waterproof, they simply bend and yield better than leather, so clearly don’t pinch your feet when crouching.  It’s no good arriving at a pristine river and not be able to spot any trout either!  Cutting out glare, with good contrast the copper 580 lens on Costa glasses are pretty much worth their weight in gold.


A decent backpack is needed to carry water, provisions and a waterproofs.  This Gale Force chest is not only waterproof, but roomy too, just the job for carrying all those fly boxes





Fly boxes loaded with terrestrials like blowflies and beetles will serve you well in the South Island

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Back o’ Beyond:


Question, what do guides do on their day off?  You’d think the last thing would be to go fishing. Top NZ guide Ian Cole however is as keen as they come.  I joined him on his day off to reccy a couple of remote rivers in the back o’ beyond.  Now, fishing streams without previous form can be feast or famine stuff, as not all Kiwi rivers are teeming with trout.  The first port of call drew a blank and scratching our heads, on a salvage operation, we decided to head deeper into the high country. A 4WD is needed to negotiate the often rugged terrain and it wasn’t long before we found a stream flowing into a lake (above), which is generally a good bet as trout can drop back to deep water when these small mountain become parched.





~Keeping well away from the tiny stream, Ian scopes the water for signs of life~






It’s late in the day before fish are discovered and whilst we only managed three between us there’s a sense of satisfaction to be had from exploring unchartered streams…



NZ Day Six (28th) 008-001





One of the beauties about trout off the beaten track is they tend to be quite obliging…this belter pounced on a large dry sedge first cast

Friday, 8 March 2013

Early start pays handsomely:


In my opinion, sitting in long, wet grass at first light is not worth dragging your backside out of bed for!  However, the sun hitting our back quickly burns away away dripping dew to transform a day.  Slowly edging up river we started locating trout and what fish, averaging over 5lb these spring creek browns were in spanking condition.  Naturally, hooking them was only half the battle as they instantly made for nearby weedbeds or other structure, causing for several nervous moments.






…Trout were quick to find menacing weed-nothing for it but to follow them and try a dislodging manoeuvre…








Phew…safely retrieved from nearby weed and ready for the net









A lump of a trout is turned loose to fight another day-no wonder he gave me the run around!








A likely shadow was seen where the arrow points.  Question is, was it a fish at all, and if so, how big would it go…?









Answer, yep, it’s a fish alright, all 7lb plus of it…















Another bruiser about to be released…what a day!