Text by Jakub Kanok, Photography by Matt Butler & Jakub Kanok
The time of a year that most of us fisherman have been waiting for had come around again. We always put some serious effort into preparation for what we call the OPENING TRIP! But as per every year the biggest worry is always the unpredictable weather. You can have a super solid plan, but trust me you should always have couple of back up plans from which you can get started and adjust the plan to your needs. Marek and I headed out three days prior to the Opening day to cut out a bit of decent driving time which needed to be done. Of course we had to wet our lines. Quick stops by the lakes and exploring some estuaries for a sea run was on the daily menu. With the weather bomb approaching from down south we were pretty much traveling away from it, each day hoping that we could stick to our plan A for October 1st.
Then it rained all night and day and it carried into another day and night of solid rain. By then we knew our plan A would need to be postponed. Matt had arrived the night before and options were discussed at a small bar over couple of beers.
Waking up at a silly hour to make sure we got to water we had chosen early enough, was a great call. We arrived at our spot to find out that the water was quite discoloured and running higher then when we had scoped it out the other day. It was still pretty dark out but as we flashed our torches into the water we were able to see the bottom. We stuck to our gut feeling and decided to shoot further upstream to get to a different access point.
HERE WE GO!
To our surprise by 8 am the clouds had slowly begun to clear and the day started to look quite promising. The river we had chosen meanders its way across swampy farmland and provided good sight fishing opportunities even with the water being discoloured. We knew that sea-run trout were present, boosting up the numbers of fish for this time of a year. With 20 to the net, and most fish being a pretty good size and condition, we could not complain about a single thing!
Pretty bloody hard day on a beautiful gin clear and fairly large river. We covered some good water but hadn’t seen many fish. And those we spotted were way too spooky for this early in the season. To our surprise, we found out from couple of trampers heading out, that there was a party of 3 fishing not far up from us. Pretty weird as there was no car at the access point where we left our vehicles. There surely was one when we walked out…. Yeah I guess we got jumped..
Marek saved the day with this stunner of a brown to the net!
The next couple of days we spent fishing in a slightly more remote location. The first day we sighted many fish, but we got literally smoked. We had some good hook ups, but they all got away in the swift water, and as the day progressed fish were not really interested in anything we would throw at them! Luckily I was able to land one and save the day for the team!
Good night camping, up early and what gorgeous a day for us! We ended up fishing a beautiful gin clear backcountry river, with plenty of fish actively feeding and not hesitating to take our flies. After a couple of fish for each of us the first double hook up was on! The day got better and better, and as the temperature heated up fish started to rise to mayflies! Good dry fly action was just a cherry on a top!
We headed out to civilisation to check the weather forecast, have a good feed and discuss what to do next! The weather looked very promising and Matt suggested we go back to our original plan. There was nothing to chat about anymore. We quickly nodded as a sign that we were still keen!
BACK TO PLAN A!
Matt took a day off to organise everything, resupply and get accomodation sorted as the next morning we would be jumping on board a helicopter and flying into some remote location of the South Island.
Marek and I were pretty close to taking day off, especially with a forecast of heavy rain, but we ended up fishing all day instead. It was a good day to put some of our Simms gear to a solid test. We ended up fishing the lower reaches of a river with no easy access or any marked route. I instantly fell in a love with this place and made a little promise to myself to come back one day and explore the whole length of this remote, crystal clear, bouldery river! Fish were not easy to spot due to the constant rain but Dore’s mister Glister got a lot of attention and some stunning fish were landed!
Everybody was up early! Quick breakfast, coffee, double check of our gear and within half an hour we saw ourselves on board a Helicopter heading out to a very special place where we were going to spend 4 days fishing some remote rivers and their tributaries.
I believed that due to the previous week’s weather, we were most likely the first bunch of fisherman able to fish the area. Water levels were lower then we expected and were dropping significantly every day. Blue skies, pleasant temperatures, and some pretty good hatches mostly after lunch time kept us going strong every day. Fish were hungry and in very good numbers and conditions. Matt kept slaying them crazy on a dry fly every day, while Marek and myself were more successful with nymphs. We experienced some of the best wilderness brown trout fishing up to date!
It was surely a highlight of our trip and at the same time the most amazing end to it!