TRAVELTRULY | PERSONAL TRAVEL PLANNING

VIDEO: GUIDES GO BUSH

As we approached the second opening day of the season for our high country rainbow fisheries, Chris Dore and myself took to the backcountry to explore some new water for me and some that Chris hadn’t been into for a decade. The long and gruelling walk in was rewarded with a some beers and a great feed in preparation for the following days fishing. We started bright and early as the sun rose over the mountains, filling the valley with much needed warmth. The fishing was great, with dozens of hookups and plenty of dry fly takes we made our way to pack up camp and hit the trail back to the car. 7 hours of hiking in 2 days had the legs screaming but it was great to explore another part of this glorious country!

 

 

After a very busy guide season I finally finished up and hit the water for myself. One of my first stops was to head to North to Tauranga and get my Salt Fly fix with Lucas from King Tide Salt Fly. Chasing big Kingfish in shallow waters is up there with some of the finest salt water fly fishing on the planet. These savage fish will either be solo cruising the shallows or bunch up on top of stingrays whilst looking to get a easy feed. Hunting them down in such a pristine harbour is not easy but every opportunity is truly pulsating and worth every minute.
We spotted this kingi cruising along a cliff drop amongst fallen trees as if he thought he was a brown trout. After an initial cast he didn’t pay much attention to the fly so we allowed him to continue his beat and circle back around. I had the fly placed and ready as he returned, then with a few short strips he began the pursuit and almost made to the boat before inhaling the fly and taking off in a blistering, reel screaming run. What seemed like an eternity later he finally made it to the net, and with my arms like jelly, holding him for this picture was a effort in itself!

If your heading to NZ to chase trout, I highly recommend you add this to your itinerary. There is no better finale to an NZ fishing expedition than landing a Kingfish on fly, trust me, it made my season 🙂

Traveltruly Presents: Jungle Heli Fishing – NZ Fly Fishing

Any chance to get into the backcountry is worthwhile, but when you have a helicopter at your disposal it opens up a whole world of options. Armed with just an iPhone to film this recent guided trip, I take Florida angler Matt deep into the jungle to hunt down some wily browns amongst towering peaks, cascading waterfalls and gin clear water. The weather may not have been perfect, but almost everything else was with numerous fish more than happy to down dry flies and all of a healthy size. This is just one of the many special places we have in the south of New Zealand and it was truely a day to remember.

If your interested in travelling to New Zealand and trying some of the worlds finest trout fishing then just get in touch with me below. I can help you plan your whole trip from accomodation to fishing and everything else in between 🙂

The best fishing guides do what they do because they love it, so what do we do on our days off? We fish of course!
Fellow Queenstown guide, Chris Dore and myself caught up for a few days road tripping around our favourite region, checking out a couple of the smaller, less known streams. Even though a pre-trip storm halted our initial plans, causing the rivers to rise rapidly, we still managed to find some great water, great fish and best of all some great dry fly action!

Just another day in paradise 🙂

If your keen to get into some of the finest trout fishing action in the world this season in New Zealand, get in touch with me below

It had finally come, the date that all NZ anglers count down as if they were children waiting for Christmas. October 1st the fly fishing season began in New Zealand and I had arranged a trip with Tyler to some of my favourite spots. After dusting of the rusty skills and following a mild winter we were looking forward to some great conditioned fish, and we got them, eventually…..

This video explores both sides of the equation, the first half when things don’t quite go your way and the second when everything aligns and mayhem ensues. The passion for the sport drives us through the high and lows and as quoted at the beginning, we don’t do this because it is easy!

If your keen to get into some of the finest trout fishing action in the world this season, get in touch below and ill see how I can help.

Its almost that time again, October the 1st. The day that is etched into all anglers calendars rolls around quicker than we thought and we begin to dream of those perfect days on the water chasing down feeding fish in clear rivers. If your like me this day is an important time to stamp your mark on the season and get into the swing of things by having a decent trip arranged, last year for me it was a serious backcountry endeavour, this year its looking to be more laid back and a wholesome (lazy) experience.

October weather can be fickle at the best of times and putting all your eggs in one basket can sometimes be disastrous so I usually have 3 or 4 options lined up incase things go haywire. Your unlikely to get perfect conditions but if you strive for the best of the lot you will sleep much better knowing you did all you could to get the most out of the trip.

Last year was a perfect example of this. My first, second and even third options were dropped due to a decent storm about to lash the South Island, so I went way out of my zone to somewhere I had never been and did more driving and hiking than any sane person would ever want to do for a fish (if there are any sane fly fisherman?). Although the weather smashed us for the first 2 days, I could be rest assured I made the best decision out of my options and then when the heavens opened, they shined directly onto me (of course) and I heard the chimes of hitting the jackpot!

Im finding it hard to recall no but we landed around 2-3 fish each on the last day, all except 1 over the 8lb and 2 of them beating the reverted 10lb mark! You can see all the action in one of my first fly fishing films here:


Tips for Fishing the Opening Months

I find getting out during the first few months of the season some of the most rewarding of the year. The fish are more receptive to your offerings, less spooky and in places, more numerous than at any other time of the year. Although you may not get as much surface action as mid summer, there is still something special about watching a fish making a wide raging move to take a nymph and watching that indicator dunk (or what indicator?).

Flies: Ill usually start off with a double nymph & indicator rig early in the season, using size #10-#14 patterns with some flash to stand out in water that is usually a bit higher than during the summer months. If I’m feeling frisky, or better yet if the fish are, Ill chuck on some terrestrial patterns such as beetles, or possibly a parachute adams if the fish seem to be sitting high in the water column and this usually gets a reaction. Also another good method is to cast a streamer up and across those deeps pools that may be hard to see into. With fish trying to regain condition after the winter, be sure you have some heavy duty tippet on as they will hit hard!

Locations: Its a great time to get out and about and explore new water. Last year I explored close to 25 new rivers in the first few months of the season, finding some that became my regulars for the rest of the year and others that I realised could change a lot over the coming months (for better or worse) and I noted when I thought it best to return. Generally those waters higher in a system are the best places to start as there will still be a lot of fish remaining from the winter spawning run, its amazing some of the places you can find fish hiding at this time, places you didn’t even know were big enough to hold a fish that damn big!

Gear: Early season can throw some wild stuff at you, high flows, gale winds and big fish so its good to be ready. Ill usually run with a 6wt rod and have a backup 8wt in the car incase things get really gnarly! You can also get away with heavier tippet which can be a blessing when fighting strong fish in strong flows. Also, one of the most important things is wet weather gear. Be prepared for shit to hit the fan, even if it doesn’t look like it will. Last season opener my mate was near hypothermia when we were on a backcountry trip in pouring down southerly rain with no waders in quite a large river. Luckily we were not to far from a warm hut when I noticed things were going down hill. I try not to wear waders as of October 1st, but this year with the luxury of being close to the car, I may just dabble  😉

Practice: Now, most people try to refrain from getting out onto the park in the middle of town to throw around a fly line, in fear of being ridiculed by 13 year old girls. If this one of your phobias, no need to fear, just go find a random piece of water, even if it has no fish and start laying out a line. If you haven’t been fishing much (or at all) since the season ended you will be seriously rusty on opening day and that could be the thing standing in your way of making it great.


To finish up here is a video from another one of my October trips last year, this one was a road trip I went on for around a week by myself exploring new waters and getting into some serious fish.

Just remember, use September to get read, practice and prepare for whats going to be an epic season ahead!


Special: 10% off Guided Trips

The first few months of the season can provide you some spectacular fishing regardless of the variability. To celebrate the opening months I’m going to provide a 10% discount on my daily guide rates for October & November booking when contacted through my website. If this interests you and you want to chat about a trip just get in touch below.

 

The place where some of the largest trout in the world reside, The Mckenzie Hydro Canals, a place of ecological wonder.

This video is a short introduction to the canals including some fishing action of my trips there over the winter. The fishing is challenging and the conditions can be tough but the reward speaks for itself, where else can you have a realistic chance of getting a 30lb+ trout on a fly rod?

 

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

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.

I was recently featured as Orvis’ trout bum of the week,  see the article below:

Welcome to our series called “Trout Bum of the Week,” in which we highlight some of the folks living the good life. . .of a sort. (See the bottom of this post for a link to the previous installments.) Most of the subjects are guides who have turned their passion into a vocation, spending their time in an outdoor “office” that may include a drift boat, gorgeous mountain scenery, and crystal clear water. Others do have day jobs but manage to spend every other available minute on the water with a fly rod in hand. Whether you aspire to one lifestyle or the other, it’s illuminating to explore the different paths these men and women have taken on their way to achieving “trout bum” status. 

Matt Butler is a passionate angler and guide based in Wanaka, New Zealand. He has been fly fishing for trout over half of his life and at 24 decided to enter the guiding industry to help fuel his passion for the sport. Matt fishes extensively and knows New Zealand very well; he also makes short films to document his travels. You can follow Matt’s adventures on Instagram.


Matt learned the sport by by sight-fishing for large brown-trout in both islands of New Zealand.

1. When did you start fly fishing?
When I was 12 years old, my family relocated to the South Island for work, and I was lost for things to do so my mom entered me into the local fishing club. That’s where I got the feel for fly fishing, which eventually morphed into a addiction over my teenage years when I moved back to the North Island. More than a decade later, I decided to throw everything down and dedicate my life to the pursuit of the sport and all the things it has to offer. It took me many years to get up-skilled as an angler, as I was mostly self taught and had to pursue it through all the distractions a normal teenager faces. However, I eventually became completely immersed.

2. What’s your favorite water?
I’m in love with the backcountry fisheries here in New Zealand. These waters are located in some of the most pristine wilderness in the world and can require a lot of work and effort just to get to, as well as being challenging places to fish. I enjoy mostly small- to medium-size rivers and streams, which are clear enough to sight-fish in, but sometimes I’m tempted to stalk edge cruising browns on our clear lakes.


Hiking deep into the backcountry is Matt’s favorite way to find new waters.

3. What’s your favorite species to chase with a fly rod?
Although we are limited to species here, I would say brown trout for sure. They are incredibly astute and aware of their surroundings and can make your day very difficult if you’re not on form. They also have a unique beauty and diversity, with every fish adapting to its environment. It’s also hard to beat the colors of a brown trout in the fall as it gets darker and more vibrant for spawning.

4. What’s your most memorable fly fishing moment?
I would have to say it is landing my first trophy fish over 10 pounds, which I achieved on the second day of the season last year. Although everything between striking and netting is a blur of nervous excitement, I still recall the feeling of awe when I first saw the fish in the net. It wasn’t just the size, but the work it took: I walked about 100 miles over three days, in horrible weather, and I didn’t get into the big one until the final day!


Check out the kype on that big brown-trout buck.

5. What’s your most forgettable fly fishing moment?
Every large fish I have missed or lost. Somehow I always remember in full detail the ones that got away, and they never leave my mind. I’m always wondering what went wrong or what I could have done differently.

6. What do you love most about fly fishing?
The solitude and the pursuit of mastering a skill that will never be totally mastered. The pursuit of fly fishing takes you to amazing places, those that I most likely would have never bothered to visit if they did not hold the promise of fish. This is particularly relevant in New Zealand, where much of the wilderness is so far from civilization. You have to be mad, or obsessed to go into some of the places we fish.


Another South Island trout comes to the net..

7. What is your favorite piece of gear
I think the best fishing gear I’ve come across is the New Zealand Strike Indicator tool. It is a great little gadget that makes applying wool indicators so easy and changeable. Best of all, you can slide an indicator of any size up and down your leader without kinking or damaging it.

8. What’s your go-to fly when nothing else is working?
Can’t go past the trusty old Pheasant Tail Nymph. Somehow it seems to work nine times out of ten, as long as you get the size right, especially on the toughest brown trout.


Matt’s fascination with fly fishing began with a camp experience when he was twelve, but now the sport is his life.

9. What was your favorite fly fishing trip?
Some of my most exciting trips have been when I’m guiding and having the luxury of flying in a helicopter around Fiordland in the lower South Island. One of the most memorable days included a flight through the mountains to the coast, where the river flowed. We first landed on the beach to gather lobsters and shellfish for lunch before we flew upstream for a fish on the river, landing some thumping browns on the dry before flying up to a mountain top and having a huge gourmet feast with the most spectacular view. Even though I didn’t have a rod in my hand, it will be a tough day to beat.

10. How do you define the difference between someone who loves fly fishing and a true trout bum?
In my opinion, a true trout bum dedicates his whole life in pursuit of the sport and passion, basically someone who is bordering on obsessive. This is how many guides seem to start out: they just cant get enough fishing in normal life, so decide to dedicate their working day to it. And even though they don’t have a rod in their hand, just being there is enough. This is what brought me into guiding and will keep me there as long as I am loving it.

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;