TRAVELTRULY | EXPLORE NEW ZEALAND

Fishing New Zealand is up there on the bucket list of many anglers from around the world, however some struggle with the cost of doing so and go for the full ‘do it yourself’ (DIY) or ‘trout bum’ experience. This is not a problem in itself as long as it is done with respect and consideration. Therefore if your dream is to fish and travel New Zealand on a budget, it is important to consider the following points to ensure you have a smooth trip and positive trip here.


1. Understand our methods

Unsurprisingly,  fishing in New Zealand can be very different from other fishing around the world and I find almost all visiting anglers underestimate this. We have a wide variety of water types and sizes, with the majority in the South Island having moderately clear to gin clear water. Much of your success will rely on your execution rather than luck, unlike most fisheries where chuck & chance is common, your ability to read water and spot fish will go a long way to giving yourself a chance. Another thing that is sorely underestimated is the importance being a competent caster, especially at the worst of times when you need to rollout 12-15ft leaders into strong winds and land in a spot the size of a small plate. There are obviously many more techniques unique to NZ that are worth understanding before you hit the water, prior research can help but the only real way to learn is spending time on the water.


2. Hire a guide

Now I’m not just saying this because I’m a guide, I am mentioning it because I commonly see visiting anglers underestimate the need to learn how to approach fish in NZ, they struggle their way along and at the last minute scramble to get a guide as a last resort but most are usually booked. Even if you are on a tight budget, hiring a guide for even just one day can mean the difference between you having a successful DIY fishing trip or a mediocre one. Guides in NZ aren’t like those I’ve experienced in other places around the world, if you find the right one, you will learn so much that you will be wishing you had more time with them. At the end of the day, why would you spend $1000’s on airfares to get to NZ and then just chuck and chance your fishing success?


3. Base yourself in a town, not on the river

One of the key issues with international DIY anglers in NZ is their tendency to base the majority of the trip on the water itself, sleeping, eating and shitting there. This is highly contentious with locals and should be done with care a consideration for the fishery. Multiple days spent fishing one river or piece of water can be detrimental, especially for your local kiwi who only gets his weekends to fish and turn up to find out it has been hammered all week. By basing yourself in a local town, you not only have comfortable accomodation, you have more options of water to fish in multiple direction , giving you a wider variety of water and experiences. The key to all this however is your contribution to the local economy, which can be very important in our smaller regions with some towns relying heavily on fishing tourism. This option doesn’t need to be expensive either, many campgrounds offer tent sites or cabins from only $10-$20pp with all the facilities and usually a local supermarket will provide affordable food options.


4. Understand angler etiquette

Nothing disgruntles a local angler more than someone that doesn’t understand river etiquette or common courtesy on a river. Considering the majority of our fishing here is an upstream method, never, ever start fishing in front of another angler. This ‘Jumping’ is intolerable, even if you are not seen. Depending on the waterway, where no accesses are marked it is best to give an angler at least 5-6km of river before you start fishing (this is up for interpretation by each angler), or better yet, talk to them if you can and agree who will be going where. As mentioned above it is also important to understand that the river is for everyone, each getting a fair amount of time to fish it and therefore it is important that you keep your camping and/or stays in backcountry huts to a reasonable length of time, this time varies on the area and/or waterway and can be determined by chatting with a local or just some common sense. As a well known local guide says “Don’t be a dick”


5. Be careful what you share with the world

We all love to share our experiences and show off our catch, I am known for this as much as anyone else, however the key to this is to be discreet. With the global reach of social media it can be great to show off your kiwi experience and show others whats possible if they travel to NZ, which we love you to do. However just keep in mind that the essence of fly fishing is exploration, finding and learning new places yourself, like we all had to do it before the internet. Keep your video and photo content discreet, try not to show obvious hints of locations, road signs and of course don’t mention the name of the river! Remember that rumours travel and what you tell one person can easily end up being repeated tenfold, resulting in the destruction of a resource. Your not trying to prevent others from having a great time, it just means that like anyone else, they need to put in the effort to find the special places.


So in conclusion, the best thing you can do to have a great trip to NZ is be respectful;

  • Respect the land and water, leave only footsteps
  • Respect the people, consider others at all times especially when driving
  • Respect the culture, remember your fishing etiquette
  • Respect the fish, carefully catch & release

So if your planning to DIY fish NZ, please be conscious and considerate of the above points and hopefully you will have a great trip. If you want to have a chat about anything, get in touch below.

VIDEO: Breaking First Water, Opening 2018/19

You always yearn for things you cant have and as any serious angler would know, the anticipation for the opening of fishing season after a long cold winter can have you at fever pitch.
Opening of 2018 was to be something special, something new and something that would blow us away. Joining the team for this epic trip was Matt Butler, Jakub Kanok and Marek Brundy. We were venturing into the unknown, somewhere that we had been mulling over in our mind for several months, hoping that the weather gods would bless us, just for this one week.

The trip commenced in what was to be terribly good luck, our usual haunts were all blown-out from recent heavy rain and as we made way to our chosen destination, things were looking more promising than we could’ve imagined. We pondered and toiled our way around, over and through the mountains in search clean, clear water and we found it in spades.

Breaking first water was our goal, being the first to disturb the trout from their months of unencumbered existence, hoping to present the first fly they would eat for 2018. Luckily we managed this for the majority of the week and it all came to a climax when we ventured into the wilderness for the final part of our trip, an epic heli-fishing excursion into the primeval backcountry. The fishing was exceptional, even on the hardest days where we struggled to seduce a fish or manage one to the net, the water and surrounding was enough to keep us more than content.

The week was defined by no single day, no single fish and no single river, but a collection of epic moments that will sit with us forever, that true feeling that we broke first water…

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!


TOUGH GOING!

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!


CAMP OUT!

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!

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YEAH BOI!

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!

STATS:

This is part 5 in a blog series exploring the NZ fishing season, month-by-month to help you get a better understanding of what to expect and help you plan your trip accordingly, I hope they have been helpful to date, you can find previous posts on the main blog page above.


February is one of my busiest months of the year, the majority of the crowds are gone but there are still plenty of tourist anglers about hoping to get into those special spots and make the most of some pleasant weather and spectacular terrestrial dry fly action.

This is usually now the hottest month of the year in NZ and this can mean great days and settled weather. However in some rivers, particularly in the low land, water levels begin to drop dangerously low and water temps can get very high in the middle of the day. When this occurs fish will tend to stop feeding, conserving energy and some almost go into a paralytic type state. The trout will do whatever they can to stay cool so start looking in those places that provide colder and more oxygenated water. This can be found at most confluences or where small streams pour into the main river and if all else fails the riffles are the place to look as here the water will more oxygenated.


Last season I spent most of February guiding, however I did manage to get out on a couple of trips myself to explore some new waters and fish almost entirely with terrestrial flies such as cicadas and blowflies, boy did we have some fun.

One very special trip was actually a guiding one with Matt from Colorado. Matt came to NZ to spend a couple of months travelling and fishing and wanted to spend a few days with me to learn our methods before heading out on his own.

Matt had been practicing his casting before arriving and it showed, as on his first cast in NZ, he rose a nice brown to a dry fly before we lost it at the net! No worries though as another came just 2 casts later. There were a couple of stunning fish landed in this trip, around 7-8lb these two browns both took cicadas off the surface and put up one hell of a fight!

It was really a perfect trip, hence the video is named Summertime Heaven, check it out:


As mentioned in my January post, the cicada hatch is something very special in NZ. It is one of the few times you can literally move a trout several meters, or even across the whole river to take a fly! So therefore I thought I would go a bit more in detail and show a few imitations I like to use.

Style: I like to mix it up between naturals and stimulators, depending on how receptive the fish are. Most stimulator patterns I now use have rubber legs, however is the fish are a bit touchy I sometimes snip them off. Most my patterns will be in size #8, however I sometimes go down to #12

Colour: We have many different species of Cicadas in NZ however I like to focus on 2 main groups, bush cicadas and tussock/grass cicadas. The former are normally green and black creatures that are sometimes large enough to look like small birds flying about. The second are usually much smaller and are a lighter green/brown colour and I like to imitate these more with naturals where waters are lower and trout are more spooky.

See a few of my go to patterns below, the couple on the right are from Manic Tackle and you should be able to find them local fishing store in New Zealand

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Next up is a video from another trip to the same water as the first, however this time I’m on the rod and my mate Jakub is on the camera, he put togeather this nice little peaceful number which is well worth the watch:


 

Tips for Fishing in February

  • Book early! This is the busiest month of the year for most guides so make sure you get in to avoid missing out.
  • Hunt down those pieces of water that provide a nice cool supply of water such as incoming streams, spring creeks or just nice fast running an boisterous waters. Backcountry rivers can be a great option for this.
  • Don’t neglect the lakes. Finding edge cruising browns and targeting them with cicadas can be great fun!
  • I know its all I’ve been talking about, but get out those Cicadas! I don’t think there is anything more pleasing than seeing a big fish move a mile to smash/inhale a size 8 dry!

If you are interested in fishing with me this upcoming season or just  have any questions about a trip to NZ get in touch below;

Are you planning to make the trip to New Zealand this season? Would you like to try your hand at hunting down our elusive brown and rainbow trout amongst magnificent scenery and have a ball in the process? Well sorry to burst your bubble but its not as easy as it looks. Although in NZ we have arguably the best trout fishing in the world, we also like to think it is the most difficult you will ever experience. Yes the water is clear and you can see the monsters swaying in the depths, but these fish are more than likely the most intelligent and wary you will ever come across, they don’t get large by being dumb!

To get the most out of your fishing trip to NZ, preparation is key. The better prepared you are the better chance you will have of success. Below are a few essential tips to help your preparation. All are important, but pick the ones you find most relevant and put your effort towards them.


1. Planning

When planning your  fishing trip to NZ, first ask yourself what you hope to get out of your trip. Do you want lots of fish, or do you want the biggest fish? Do you want easy access, or strive for wilderness? Do you want to fish alone, or with a guide? Your expectations are what will dictate the outcome of your trip and are therefore important to discuss.

These questions will also help you decide which is the best area to plan your trip. For instance the North and South Islands offer very different experiences. Both have their own merits, but one may be more suitable for you than the other I wrote a blog about this in a previous post, check it out here

The time of year you visit will also dictate the type of fishing you will encounter. Generally speaking, in the early season you are fishing smaller waterways to less wary fish that are feeding on nymphs and the occasional dry. Mid summer brings on the famous Cicada and other terrestrial action, then late season provides some great mayfly hatches and fresh fish on spawning runs. Most of the time anglers are fitting fishing on the side of a trip around NZ, so do not have too much control over when they come. Understanding what you are likely to encounter will give you a better chance to prepare . I have written a blog series on each month of the season to help you better understand what to expect. You can see these in my previous posts.


2. Choosing a guide

If you have never fished in NZ before I would suggest that a guide is essential if you wish to get the most out of your trip. This doesn’t mean that fishing with a guide everyday is the only way to go. However, spending some time with one, particularly at the beginning of your trip will go a long way to improving your chances of success. It will also help you to actually enjoy your angling rather than being plagued by frustration.

The key to finding the right guide is finding the right one for YOU. Every guide brings their own methods and personality to the table. Regardless of how long they have been in the industry, you need to be sure that this is the person you would enjoy spending your day with. Get in touch with the guides you are considering, and have good chat with them. Whether that be over email, Facebook or phone, discuss your expectations and see how they respond.

Lastly, by law, guides in NZ  do not have to be registered and/or certified to guide. This can be concerning for some anglers and therefore they can seek confidence in choosing a guide registered with the NZ Professional Fishing Guides Association (NZPFGA). All members of the NZPFGA are current with rules and regulations regarding first aid, health and safety and access rights to public conservation land. If your guide is not a member of the NZPFGA it is important to check they comply with these regulations.


3. Gear

Everyone wants to know what gear to bring and what flies suit best for NZ conditions. Although it does depend on where and when you will be fishing, there are a few general recommendations of gear that you will/won’t need when travelling to NZ as there isn’t any point in bringing 5 rods when you only use one!

Rods: Most guides will supply rod/reels for clients. However, if you wish to bring your own, the general rule of thumb is 5-6wt rods work in most conditions throughout the country. I prefer to use a 5wt wherever possible, however due to the nasty alpine winds in the south island, it is often unfeasible, especially early season. If you are only going to bring 1 rod, a 6wt will give you an all-round performance on most waters. If you want to only fish small lowland streams, you may even wish to go down to a 4wt, but I’ll stick to my 5wt 😉

Flies: If your a keen fly tier and desperate to tie some of your own to prove they can catch NZ trout, then there are a few simple patterns you can follow, most of which are common around the world.

The majority of my nymph box is filled with mayfly/caddis imitations with the majority being weighted and dull coloured. My sizes range from #12-#18 with most flies being #14-#16. In general I will use my largest nymphs early in the season and go smaller as the season progresses, however it is important to adjust to the water your are fishing.

My dries box is split into mayfly, caddis and terrestrials. My mayfly section will hold mostly parachute and duns in #12-#18. The caddis section holds a few emerges, but mostly adult elk hair variates. Then comes the best part, terrestrials! I have a wide range of these meaty flies ranging from size #6-#14, most of which are of the larger variety, especially the cicadas and stimulators. The smaller terrestrials I wouldn’t go without are blowfly and beetle patterns, basically a wide variety of humpy patterns.

Other Stuff: Fly fishing is a sport of detail and excess, we always have too much stuff so here are a few things you may need.

  • Waders: I very rarely wear during the season, mostly wet wade. Can be hired if required and bringing your own means a stop at customs when entering the country. (Remember felt soles are banned)
  • Tippet: Generally tied onto a tapered leaders in sizes 3x-6x
  • Fly Line: Mostly using floating, may use intermediate sinking to tackle lake edges.

4. Casting

The be all and end all of your trip to be successful will come down to your casting skill. If your shown a feeding fish and can’t cast to it where required, you only have yourself to blame. The best way to prepare for your trip? PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

In NZ expect to be casting a minimum of 12-15ft leaders. Some places may require you to go crazy and run with over 20ft! Practicing rolling these leaders out BEFORE you come will go a long way to catching you that dream fish. I like to setup with a few empty bottles in the backyard, positioned at different angles as though they are fish in a river. Then adding a small indicator to the end of the line I practice my accuracy. Not by targeting the bottles, but on where I want the fly to land in front of the bottles so I get the correct drift. Granted it does take some imagination, but i find it very beneficial once I get to that ‘one cast fish’ opportunity.

Now the birth of most frustrations in the South Island is wind. Sometimes it’s so strong you can barely stand up, but you still need to do your best to lay that fly ahead of the fish. It is a hard thing to be totally prepared for, but if you make the conscious effort to get outside and practice your casting when the weather is bad, it could make all the difference on the day when that infamous Nor’west wind smashes you in the face. There are various techniques you can also apply to improve your casting in the wind. I won’t go into them here, but just do a google and have a read up.


So to wrap it up, I’m hoping that I’ve convinced you that preparing for your trip is going to make a huge difference to the amount of enjoyment you get out of it. As a guide it is immediately obvious if a client has put some effort into getting ready for their day out with me, and even more so if they haven’t. Regardless I will do my best to make sure you get what you came for, but feel free to make my job a little easier 🙂

If you have any further questions, or would like to discuss a trip ,just get in touch below and I will see if I can help.

The month of local leisure, January is by far the busiest month on most lakes, rivers and beaches around New Zealand as it is the end of the official working year. All the locals pack up their homes and relocate to their temporary base in a holiday park, house or campground for the few weeks following Christmas and New Year.

To locate and access un-crowded waters is the main goal of most anglers in January and if they do so they can experience some of the most exciting fishing of the season. As the warm temperates evoke life, fish begin looking to the air, hunting down terrestrials and anything else that may find itself on the water. The famous Cicada season begins as the distinct and sometimes deafening chirping sounds drowns out whole valleys and gives hope to those who venture into them.


In search of such early year serenity I headed deep into the forest with my mate Jakub in search of clear waters, big browns, clocking up some serious hiking miles along the way. Finding this precious river in the clip below was something I’ll always remember, the fishing is tough but it is so stunning you almost don’t care!


Negotiating access during January is the key, the further away you get from the masses the better fishing you will experience. Making good relationships with landowners surrounding rivers can become a real advantage as it allows you to access those harder to reach places, just be sure you always have permission to cross the land as it can become a very contentious issue. No one wants to be the one who may ruin it for everyone else.

In the past I have found gaining access into North Island waters is granted much more easily than in the South. My theory being that this is due to the larger number of anglers in the South and the much larger parcels of land that each farmer owns, meaning more apathy for anglers.

Backcountry rivers usually have one way in and one way out, so again it is important here that you are aware of your access rights and of other anglers that may already be in the valley ahead of you. It is not acceptable to just walk past these anglers and start fishing further up without first stopping to discuss your plans with them, although it is usually regarded as acceptable to begin fishing downstream from them. Also when in the backcountry, access to DOC huts is open to anyone who is paying the fee, just because you were there first does not give you rights to take over the hut and if there are spare beds it is your responsibility to make sure they are available for use.

In January I went on a backcountry trip to the West Coast. We had never fished this river before and were unsure of access so had a quick chat to the local Maori family living on the river and they mentioned to have a chat to the farmer across the road. As he was not home we just spent the afternoon walking up the river from the road bridge until we came across the farmer later in the day. I mentioned that we were keen to fish the headwaters the following day and asked permission to drive up his access road so to save us 5km of walking before we started fishing. Not only was he fine with this but he also gave us a ride back to our car and then allowed us to drive up the road that afternoon and camp so we were right there, ready to tackle the headwaters the next morning. Needless to say, this hospitality was well beyond expectations and resulted in a great day fishing the next day. I’m sure we will be back in the future, this time with a box of beer to say thanks!

This is an example that river access doesn’t have to be a hindrance to your trip, just make the effort to talk to the locals, plan well, investigate your options and discuss with landowners, you never know how they may help your cause and make your days fishing a whole lot easier!


At the end of January I went on another trip with Jakub, this time to a high country river. Our first day was blown out but then the skies opened and gave us a scorching hot day to chase good sized browns in beautiful water with dry, namely cicadas! It was an awesome couple of days with some decent action too, all captured in this great clip edited by Jakub;

 


 

Tips for January fishing: 

  • Even though it may be busy, where there are sign posted Fish & Game accesses on rivers, make sure you use them. Ignoring these access points and jumping in between angling parties could result in a very uncomfortable conversation with the anglers who’s day you have just wrecked!
  • Match the Hatch (even with terrestrials). I have found high country tussock cicadas to be generally brown or even black and much smaller than the giant green ones found in the South Island beach forests. Surprisingly smart trout will even turn down the wrong cicada pattern!
  • Think outside the box, when planning a trip in January attempt to get around the masses by hitting those harder to reach waters or even those places that haven’t been totally explored yet.
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One of those giant green cicadas on a backcountry trip. Photo by: Jakub Kanok


January is a busy month and one of the favourite months for guiding, if you are interested in fishing with me or just  have any questions about a trip tp NZ get in touch below;

 

 

 

 

As the year comes to and end in New Zealand, the season is only just kicking into gear, the days are getting longer and warmer as the sun hangs high in the sky. It is also the last chance to make the most of the popular rivers before both locals and tourists alike flock into the area for their summer holidays.

December marks the transition of spring into summer and provides numerous options for great fishing, river levels have dropped and most of those affected by snow melt have now cleared. I really enjoy fishing in December, everything is open, the weather is more settled and the trout have not yet been hounded by the summer tourists. You can explore almost any region in the country and fill your boots with some great fishing, but as mentioned, I like to target those waters that I know are going to receive the most pressure over the peak of summer and may not fully recover until the following season.

My month started off on a rough note, after arranging a backcountry trip for my birthday we ended up getting smashed by a huge storm which blew out the river and had us hut bound for a few days. We still managed a few fish though and the adventure alone was worth it, check it out in this short video;


Last season, in the weeks leading up to Christmas I got out and about mostly around the lower south, just before I took off to the North Island for the seasonal celebrations and to revisit the waters I grew up on. I was very interested to see how the challenging and difficult fishing conditions in the South Island had improved my skills and if it would increase my success back up north, the short answer is yes, yes it did!

There is a perception that the North Island is a sub par fishery to the South, particularly by tourists and touring anglers. This comes from the notion that due to North Island waters having a higher concentration of fish in comparison to their South Island counterparts, they are on average smaller and therefore will be less satisfying to catch. The reality is that the majority of clients I guide are absolutely beaming after they catch a fish around 3-5lb and even more so if they get multiple in a day, something that is usually a forgone conclusion when I’m fish in the North.

There is no doubt that the South provides a more pristine environment (apart from the Canterbury plains) especially in the lowland streams which in comparison to the North Island are of enviable quality and clarity. However when it comes to back country fisheries the North will be as good and sometimes better than the South any day of the week. They are generally more accessible and have high numbers of fish, with trophy brown trout likely being the only void but one that is easily filled with a trophy rainbow.

I love the South, and moved here for the fishing but there are also sections of the North Island that I wish I still had on my doorstep. All I can say is just keep in mind when your arranging your trip to New Zealand, there is another half to the country, another half that may give you the biggest surprise of your life!


I started my trip back up north exploring my old locals, a couple of small stream and spring creeks around the Waikato before heading down to have a flick at the stream mouths on Lake Rotorua and then over to Taupo for a trip into the deep dark central north island bush to chase swarms of Rainbows. Checkout how good the North can be i the little edit I made:


So if your planning a trip for the next season, get around, explore different areas, especially those where you aren’t going to be falling over someone at every bend as they hunt out the same trophy that was caught a day before. Move about, don’t just camp in one spot, NZ is an amazing place with incredible environmental diversity and the more you move the greater your kiwi experience will become!


If you have any questions or would like to chat about a trip to the North, South or both just get in touch below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November in the South Island of New Zealand ushers in a second opening season following the first in October. From the 1st of the month the remaining rivers, mostly around the lower half of the South Island open, these include all those in the tussock basin that is Mckenzie Country and the ‘Backcountry’ rivers around Queenstown, Wanaka and Te Anau. The 2015 opening day came on the morning of the All Blacks winning the Rugby World Cup, a record back to back title that I just had to mention!

To kick off another new beginning I went for n express overnight trip into one of these freshly opened backcountry waters with my mate Dave before he took off overseas. The fishing proved to be tough with the mostly rainbow trout, being very spooky and difficult to deceive. Although we did get into a few fish they were mostly a consolation to a memorable trip into a spectacular valley that lasted only 24 hours!


The ‘backcountry’ rivers that open on November 1st are basically classed as any semi-remote waterway that enters the major lakes in the southern regions, with many of them being well known and heavily fished, especially those surrounding the tourist resort towns of Queenstown and Wanaka.

Unfortunately these rivers no longer provide the quality of fishing seen in past decades, as observed by anglers much older and wiser than myself. They have become some of the most regularly fished rivers in the region and although they may take a little more time and effort to get to, I would no longer consider them of ‘backcountry’ status because it is unlikely there will be a day in the season where they are not fished. I am almost inclined to suggest we refer to them as designated ‘tourist’ fisheries as they receive some of the most foreign and guided angler pressure in the country and require a management approach that reflects this.

On one of these rivers the national authority (Fish & Game)  has even gone to the effort of trying to drip feed the angling pressure over the peak season periods by enforcing a exclusive booking system. This means you must book in advance the section of river you wish to fish on a certain date, although free it can prove inconvenient. This is not something I am against and is possibly the foundation of a approach that should be considered for all these sensitive rivers when it comes to non-resident anglers. The notion that non-residents may only fish these waters with a guide is becoming more popular and something I support for the future, not because I am a guide but because I believe in the sustainability of a fishery for all New Zealander’s and one that can provide economic value to our country.


Anyway opinionated rant over, later on in the month I decided to do another road trip, this time to Mckenzie Country, a region that is basically situated at the centre of the South Island. This barren windswept tussock land is reminiscent of the desert in a 1960’s western movie and is surrounded by towering mountains and river carved plateaus. There are several interesting freestone rivers and spring creeks to explore and it is also the location of the famous hydro canals, supporting mutant trout that regularly exceed 30lb, but I won’t go into that.

This was a short trip to visit 3 rivers in total after the others I intended to fish were still too coloured with snow melt and i’d had enough lake fishing over the winter to ensure it was would not be on my agenda for this trip. A nice even mix of browns and rainbow came to the net including one day where all 8 were on the dry, a welcome surprise early in the season. The video below is a quick wrap up, checkout the amazing turquoise water at the beginning, a result of the lake being glacial fed.


Tips for fishing in November

November welcomes in the wonders of spring with wildflowers blooming, baby lambs littering the paddocks and the days becoming longer and warmer. This however does mean that November is one of the main months when snow melt will cause higher, dirtier rivers and tends to turn the water a milky colour inhibiting sight fishing prospects. Some rivers are affected by this worse than others and a recent rainfall/snowfall can immediately enhance the negative effects on such waters.

Here are a few tips to help with getting the best out of fishing in November:

  • Search for rivers which are not overly effected by snow melt, these include those: that flow out of smaller/shallower valleys,  that spawn from lower elevations, that are partially or complelty spring fed.
  • Target lake tributaries, these will still hold a good stock fish left over from the spawning months and those that have a late opening usually still have a large stock of rainbows hanging around.
  • Mix up the regions you fish, now that everything is open take some time to travel and explore different areas. Experiencing the diversity of our waterways and landscape is what can make a trip most memorable.
  • Start experimenting with dry flies, spring brings a whole new cycle of life for most plants and insects so there is usually activity in the air. Most fish I came across were more than happy to suck down a size 12-14 parachute adams.

If you have any questions or would like to chat about a trip, jut send me a message below;

 

 

 

 

October – A new season begins

For me, this season was particularly special as it earmarked the beginning of a new direction in my life, becoming a full-time angler. I intended to spend the majority of my days either on the water or planning my next, all peppered by delving into the industry and learning as much as possible. It would also drive my decision to officially enter the guiding industry, something I was initially tentative about but became more comfortable as opportunities presented themselves. I began to better understand the value it adds to New Zealand and the fact that it is not as detrimental as many anglers believe. If managed correctly it could well become one of the important tools that sustains and protects our fisheries for decades to come.

My season started like a dream.

One of my season goals was to catch my first trophy trout of over 10lb. Thinking that this would be a season long endeavour I planned my first opening trip to an area which would hopefully help me on the way and at least give me the chance to practice on a few likely candidates.

After planning for months,  I headed north with my mate Dave for a hard-core back country adventure to bring in the new season. However the weather gods had different ideas and decided to pound the whole South Island for opening day, I thought that my dream trip may be over before it began.

Rather than reading about the whole trip, watch the video and see my dream come true!


I then spent most of October exploring my local waters as you really need to make the most of them before the farmers suck them dry for the benefit of grazing cows in a desert. This process is just unsustainable madness if you ask me and I pray for the day where we collectively agree the point and make a stand against public resources being plundered for the benefit of the few, going against everything we hold dear in New Zealand.

Anyway…. as the season started to get into the swing of things I decided to hit the road and explore some new waters, this time with just on my lonesome. I setup a bed in the back and headed south for a week, it was still damn cold, windy and snowed on the second night which turned the lower rivers high and dirty

After getting hammer by the weather, I made sure it did not dampen my spirits but instead went on the hunt for more remote rivers that would be less effected by the conditions. I was eventually rewarded with a perfect day of no wind, no clouds and crystal clear water all amongst a magnificent valley. This proved to be one of the best days of my season and defiantly my best on that particular water. Checkout some of the awesome browns I got into in this short film


Tips for fishing in October

The first month of the season can be one of the most rewarding. Most fish have gone about their business and been undisturbed for up to 5 months, combined with their desire to recondition after spawning all you really need to do is get your fly in the right place and it’s on. The downside however is the unpredictable and gnarly weather that can come out of nowhere, turning the river to mud and destroying your hopes to even get a cast out.

Here are a few tips that will help your success in early season conditions:

  • Target waterways that have a smaller catchment area, or areas that provide access to multiple catchments should it all turn bad and you need to seek refuge in a tributary or smaller stream.
  • Don’t underestimate the weather, even though winter is over horrendous storms and snow are still possible to low levels, you don’t want to get caught out on a bad day unprepared
  • Fish big, make the most of being able to get out those size #8 – #12 nymphs, these fish will not be as selective early on and it is important to for you fly to be seen in water that may carry some colour or snow melt
  • Plan a slightly longer trip to allow for bad weather days and/or additional travel to get to those unaffected areas.

Overall October is a great month for fishing in the south and if your willing to adapt and make the most of all situations there are some great fish to be found, they can be as hungry as ever and there are generally less anglers trying to hunt them down.

For more info or to talk about a trip flick me a message below:

Having the ability to spot fish will become important, if not vital to the level of success you will achieve when fly fishing rivers in New Zealand, particularly in the South Island.
Our waters are famous for big fish, but not surprisingly there are not masses of them, nor are they easy to catch. You need to prepare yourself for possibly the toughest fishing you will encounter anywhere and in addition to having a decent cast, being able to spot your target before they spot and understanding how to align yourself to make the cast will be the difference between success and failure.

The S&M method (not what your thinking) is something I came up with a few years ago and use to spot fish on any water I fish. Most of these points have been discussed before on their individual merit but I find a methodical system gives a clearer sequence to follow for those just starting out or when fish are not in plain sight. In some instances the actual sequence in which each point ins observed may change depending on the particular conditions faced, but generally I follow these upcoming steps: S-S-S&M

S = Structure

Trout have an efficient mindset, some say lazy, particularly browns. So when it comes to where a trout is situated in the river there are a those spots that are favoured by the fish more than others and these can become very predictable.
It is therefore essential to begin your spotting endeavour not in  search of a fish itself, but looking for those likely places in the river where they will sit or feed.
Trout will generally look for a break in the main flow or a slack current in which to shelter whilst picking out food as it passes, this may be in front, behind  or to the side of obstacles such as boulders, trees, cut banks or just the softer edge current at the eye or tail of a pool.
It is important to also recognise where the likely source of food will be coming from. When feeding a fish may venture out (or up!) from this structure before returning and may remain here for a considerable length of time unless disturbed. Take the time to step back, watch and observe the trouts behaviour and its feeding pattern. This will then go a long way to helping you decide how your approach and method. When little or no current exists, trout will happily cruise in search of food. Back waters are a great example of this and can sometimes hold many fish at once, especially if the main river becomes dirty.
You can read many articles out there the lines and circles pointing where fish ‘should’ sit, however we are in the business of hunting and stalking trout, not just fishing likely areas. Once you have identified the structure that looks to be a good home for a fish, approach with caution and move about to get the best view through the glare which may require you to cross the river. A fish may not be immediately apparent if the water surface is obscured, however this is when our next point comes in – Shade.
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2 Fish holding behind the structure of a large boulder

S = Shade (shimmer/smudge/shadow)

Once you have found where the fish ‘should’ sit, now its time to decipher if a fish is actually there or not, the quickest indication is usually a shade/smudge or shadow.
Brown and Rainbow trout can be very different in this aspect and the signs they give away. Also different water/riverbed types can provide varieties of contrast and even the colour of the fish itself. In my experience a trout will never be 100% camouflage into its surroundings (or I haven’t seen one that is!), so your always looking for something that doesn’t look ‘quite right’,
Because a trout has unique colour and body characteristics compared to its surroundings there will be some irregularities to hone your sense on. Sometimes all you will see is a smudge, just a small irregularity in the water that doesnt look quite right.
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The colour giving away this fish in the lake

S = Shape
The shape of a trout is unlike anything else in a river, although at times rocks and sticks can be very (very!) close. Analysing shape is the best way to be sure wether a shade you have spotted is actually a fish or just a fishy looking rock (these are more common species). It is good to understand the average size and proportion of the fish you are targeting as this will allow you to recognise if a shape you see is too long and skinny, short and fat, or a mix of either. Sometimes you will be faced with something that goes against the norm, this can happen when you have mix of currents, poor lighting/glare or you just cant believe how big it is! Most of those ‘fishy’ looking rocks/stick/weed in a river will give themselves away if you look closely enough, and if your really not sure it may be worth showing out a ‘hail mary’ cast.
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The defined torpedo shape giving away this trout

M = Movement
Most information on spotting I have come across puts this first however unless movement is clearly obvious, I look for it last or remain aware of it during the other steps. This is because movement can be too subtle to pickup at first glance, especially with brown trout and it will not be noticed until you have zoned in on the target. Movement can come in many different forms and you need to keep an eye out for Trout that may move up, down, sideways and all around to intercept food, or in some cases actually chasing it down. It is also import to watch for surface disturbance, a telltale sign of fish feeding on, or just below the surface. Depending on your angle, actually seeing a fish on close to the surface can prove difficult. In faster currents, after recognising shade, movement is what will give a fish away, especially if it is hard to make out it its exact shape.
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A brown ranging wide to feed at the tail of a pool


I believe the key to successfully spotting fish and getting more chance in a day is the ability to work out what is not a fish as efficiently as possible so you can move onto the next, I have found that these steps allow me to do this quickly without too much thought.
This system works well for me, but all eyes are different so when you are out on a river be open to trying different methods and experimenting to see what suits you.
Just remember the name of the game – See it before it sees you!