Thursday, 28 February 2013

Scorching Sun = Cicadas and Willow Grubs:


Our prayers were answered in the form of cloudless skies and a scorching sun.  In turn this encouraged cicadas onto the the wing and the tiny larvae of sawflies (willow grubs) to emerge from their blister like cocoons that form on the leaves of riparian willow trees.  With river levels dropping away too and as clear as gin, dry fly fishing seemed to be on the cards…


…Tussock cicadas provide NZ trout with a hearty meal and the sound of them chirping nearby got us all excited… 

NZ Day  Fourteen (6th) 013 P1030204



~We searched out streams where overhanging trees were loaded with the blood red blisters of willow grubs~








~Willow grub larvae are the tiniest of creatures which require imitations of equally minute proportions to put you on an even footing with feeding trout~




Sitting close the the surface and constantly rising, willow grubbing trout are fairly easy to find-the art lies in deceiving them..!

NZ Day Eight (30th) 021

Sunday, 24 February 2013

New Zealand here we come:


Well, Air New Zealand did us proud as we managed to reschedule our flights down to the South Island.  A few phone calls gave us the lie of the land and we headed due south in a bid to avoid those rivers which had been ravaged by floods only weeks ago.  Thankfully the information we received was blob on as the first notable river we came to sparkled clear and clean, making it possible to sight fish for trout.  Fingers crossed a stint of sunny weather would oblige and give us a fair crack at some trophy browns…



~From this (above) to this (below),two starkly different environments~


Saturday, 23 February 2013

Back to the Mainland:


Having reached our anticipated target of tagged bonefish we upped sticks and headed back to mainland Tahiti.  Plans were also being drawn up to perhaps pay a flying visit to New Zealand.  Well, we were only 5 hours away by air, so it kind of made sense anyway.  Fingers crossed, flights down to Christchurch could be arranged…


~Vessels like this run between Tahitian islands on most days~


Tuesday, 19 February 2013

More bones & bare feet:


Flats wading boots are designed to protect your feet from sharp objects and all kinds of tropical nastiness.  Obviously then it makes sense to wear them religiously.  Fair enough if you have time to prepare for a day on the flats, but not  so if you suddenly decide to jump the skiff and intercept feeding fish.  With little notice I didn’t have time to throw on any shoes before racing towards a tailing fish and after landing one, up popped another fish.  Wading barefoot might have helped me latch into a couple of hefty bonefish, but this school boy error got me more than I bargained for.  Three bits of coral had become embedded in my left foot.  Now, as coral is a living organism things can turn nasty quite quickly.  nothing for it but a liberal dousing of alcohol (on the foot…) before digging them out with a filleting knife (above).






~The offending coral might only be tiny, but it’s more than enough to create a major infection~ 







~Turned loose, one of the huge bonefish which saw me leap overboard barefoot~


Monday, 18 February 2013

The Weird & Colourful:


Bonefish and Giant Trevally might have been our focus whilst in Tahiti, but any coral reef is a diverse environment with lots of weird and colourful creatures.  Species like this striking wrasse (right), picasa triggerfish (below) and various groupers showed a keen interest in our flies. And anything that didn’t weren’t the slightest bit camera shy.





~Exquisite picasa triggerfish were only too willing to grab our flies~




~Spots from head to tail decorated this small but perfectly formed grouper~







~Sea cucumbers might appear as dull and boring, yet they’re vital to a healthy reef as they filter sand for algae and detritus to render it clean and white~











~Crabs really don’t come anymore colourful than this beauty here~







~Sand flounders have the most amazing camouflage~





~Gannet colonies and their young were evident around the many islands  and outcrops~

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Worms are the answer:


So what is it that makes Tahitian bonefish grow so large?  Usually, shrimps and small crabs are their stable diet, but in Tahiti sand worms abound.  In fact their numbers are so incredible that you can discover two to three of them with every handful of sand scooped up (right).  Unfortunately these worms are unable to propel themselves so when using an imitation it is best presented static.  The problem then is being able to determine when a bonefish has accepted your fly, harder done than said on the vast sandy flats in Tahiti…

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Double Trouble…

IMG_8833 Big bonefish are highly prized by season saltwater fly fishers and generally speaking they only come along once in a while.  So to find a brace together wandering up a flat is a gift indeed.  Carefully timing our casts, Mat McHugh and I managed to double up by hooking one each.  With reels screaming our lines crossed several times (left).  Eventually though we tempered those blistering runs to bag ourselves a brace of thumping bonefish not far short of 9lb.  However, better was to come as another ghostly shadow eased towards me to hover up the size 4 Clouser pattern.  Much stronger this fish flirted with several coral heads.  Mercifully everything stayed intact for a thumping bonefish that dropped the scales to over 10lb…


~A highly prized double figure bonefish~

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

All comes good:

IMG_9100Terminal tackle sorted the hunt for GTs was back on.  Sunny weather helped of course, as despite their size Giant Trevally aren’t always easy to spot.  Walking a sandy flat close to a drop off gave us a fair crack at these predators which wandered into shallow water looking for unsuspecting prey.  Even then everything needed to be in your favour.  Funny how a fly line finds the tiniest of snags in such situations!  Thankfully things did go to plan when Mat McHugh found himself attached to a lump of a fish (left).  Then it was my turn to do battle after a solid GT scoffed my size 2/0 white deceiver.






~This beauty latched onto my white deceiver like no tomorrow~








~Mat turns loose another GT that instantly heads off to deeper water~


Sunday, 10 February 2013

Troubled Times:


Getting to grips with giant trevally proofed harder than first thought.  For starters, you need to up the ante concerning rod ratings when anything less than a 12 weight is considered foolhardy. A reel with a decent drag is just as important, one that is capable of stopping a freight train is of course desirable.  Leaders need some thought too with a bite tippet of some 80lb about right.  To a trout fanatic, such tackle may seem overkill, but even this can seem flimsy when a GT is pulling hard at the other end of the line.  Our rods and reels held up well, sadly, out terminal tackle didn’t… Hooks got straightened, snapping jaws sliced through 80lb tippet and worse still, even fly lines got busted.  This takes some doing in open play though a tenacious fish running your line through sand doesn’t help.  Licking our wounds, it was back to camp to revise our tactics.




~Hooks not only need to be sharp they should be forged from strong steel too, unlike this model which failed to hold 60lb odd of tethered trevally~



~Even fly lines with a 90lb core were no match for some GTs as this sickening frayed end testifies~ 


Friday, 8 February 2013

Giant Trevally about:


Whilst bonefish were our principal prey, it quickly became apparent that Giant Trevally (GTs) cruised the atoll on most day searching for their dinner.  Now this apex predator has a reputation of being an aggressive, which apparently spooks at nothing.  And whilst they do appear quite menacing these creatures are highly sensitive when it comes to tempting them on fly.  Don’t get me wrong, there are times when they seem suicidal, but equally, if anything can go wrong when hunting these beasties, trust me…it will….

Right: Mat McHugh of Fly Odyssey displays an impressive that didn’t get away (photo T Coe)

Thursday, 7 February 2013

First Blood:


Sleeping bags laid out, we headed straight out onto the flats.  Granted, heavy cloud made sighting fish a challenge at best though miles of sandy flats inspired us.  As ever, nerves kicked in for the first few fish though eventually my muscles relaxed enough for a cast to lay a true cast and it was game on.  Now, small bonefish can be a bit of a handful, but something pushing 8lb pulls like a train.  Even worse, is when a shark homes in on your hooked fish then things get very interesting.  All I’ll say is a bonefish with a shark on its tail tears off like a formula 1 car.  Running after sharks and stamping your feet  might not seem wise but on this occasion it worked a treat…












~Thankfully this bonefish survived the razor sharp teeth of a menacing shark~

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Final Push:


The final leg of our journey involved a hop over the reef edge, right into the heart of a coral atoll.  As ever, beggars can’t be choosers so we hitched a lift with a ferry full of workers (right).  Once on dry land we had to arrange our sleeping quarters.  Island life is basic at best and whilst the option of a bungalow was made available, tents seemed a much better idea if only you keep biting bugs away.






~Home, sweet home~

Sunday, 3 February 2013

First Impressions:


Arriving after dark in Tahiti then drawing the curtains back at first light it was nice to experience that tropical warmth which gave us a lasting first impression.  Sadly, we couldn’t savour the view for too long as we needed to away sharpish, hopefully cadging a boat ride from a local fishermen heading out to an offshore atoll where rumour has it large bonefish lurk.





~Our taxi to the boat ramp consisted of this little runner~






~Just about ready for the off on a wet morning in Tahiti~