TRAVELTRULY | EXPLORE NEW ZEALAND

The last few years I have spent a decent amount of time overseas getting a taste of what there is to offer on the fly fishing front, for both trout and saltwater species. Throughout these travels I have come across some glaring differences between countries and in particular the difference in what New Zealand offers as a fishery, more so for trout than anything else. Ive also seen plenty of social commentary about how NZ is special because of just the big fish or that it’s to expensive or far away to be worthwhile, all of which I find ill-informed at best.

So here are a few reason examples of what makes NZ a bit different to the rest of the world and why I believe it is one of the worlds most special fisheries.


1. The quality of water

Now this on its own is not unique, but the diversity and abundance of rivers in NZ is. There are a lot of rivers in NZ and for such a small country, I mean a lot! The most beneficial thing about these waterways is the majority of them are small to medium, with very pleasant flows. This is important because it makes the access, fishing and wading much more comfortable and means you can easily navigate your way up the river without crossing private land, (a big problem in places such as the USA). Also these rivers are set in amazingly diverse landscapes, you can literally go from a desert stream to a rainforest river within a couple of hours and everything else in between. Yes other countries offer this diversity but usually between much larger distances. Lastly but most importantly, the quality and clarity of rivers throughout most of NZ is either good or exceptional, especially in the South Island. Of course, there are certain places where this does not ring true, usually within larger agricultural areas but in general if you want quality water, it can be found.


2. The way we fish

Due to the types of water we have available and the ease of access, the methods of fishing are much different to those around the world. We approach most rivers in the sense that we choose a section of water to fish for the day (3-6km) and set off on the hunt, only turning around at the end of the day for the punishing walk back to the car. This upstream method coupled with the clarity of water means we mostly focus our attention of spotting individual fish before even considering a cast. This form of fishing is more akin to hunting, in that we actively stalk our prey and then go through a process of targeting, aiming and hooking our target. Although this is not unique to just NZ, it is actually the abundance of clear water and manageable rivers that means it has become a staple of what we do and is practised more times than not. This also means drift boats are almost non-existent, the rivers are generally too small and fish too wary for these behemoths, but why would you want to float when you can wade anyway!


3. The water access

Unlike in Iceland or Europe where you must pay for a specific section of water for the day, NZ has unfettered access to most waterways, especially if they are running through conservation land. You can purchase a very affordable season fishing licence and have access to almost all of the countries water for the whole year (except Taupo region). This is very different to most places in the world where licences must be purchased for individual states as in the USA, or for just a single river as in Iceland. There is obvious benefit to the NZ system for the travelling angler, but it also means you can be overwhelmed by options. The best way to get the most out of your trip is to focus on one or two regions, hire guides in each to get a feel for the area and then do your thing. One thing to note is the unfettered access does not mean you can just open a gate and walk across a paddock to a river, just as you would not walk straight through someones backyard. You can either access rivers at Fish & Game access points, public reserves/tracks, most road bridges or by requesting access from the landowners.


4. The Fish

New Zealand is famous for those big trout, some of the biggest in the world if you count the mutant canal fish, but this is only part of the reason its worth making the trip over. The thing to understand about NZ is there is not an abundance of huge browns desperate to take your fly, if thats all you want and you don’t care how you catch them, Iceland is for you! Yes, there are big trophy fish in NZ but the truth is these are not dime-a-dozen and there is a lot of work to be put in for each. I believe the best thing about NZ is the ability to consistently sight-fish to 3-6lb trout every day, with larger fish also present, whereas places such as the USA may have you blind fishing to 5000 fish a mile, most struggling to make it to 2lb. If you dream of going for the big fish you can expect much fewer per mile but the ability to visually hunt these beast is an experience unlike any other. I love big fish too but I never get sick of hunting down plenty of 3-6lb fish every day!


5. The Guides

Now this is an interesting one as it is just a personal opinion that has been forming over the past few years and one that was reenforced by client I had the other day. After receiving a booking from this client I was then asked if I could offer a cheaper price because he had fished with other guides around the world and was confident he could pick his own flies and fish the water if I just showed him where to go, an easier day for me but one that I knew would not be successful so I declined. He still booked the day and constantly remarked on how different it was to his expectations, no doubt he had thoroughly changed his mind by the end of the day. I find that the guides in NZ offer a much different product to those around the world, where usually the important part of being guided in other countries is the access to water and knowledge of flies, this is not so important in NZ. With the open access to rivers and fish that are not overly picky or keyed in on certain fly patterns, most think they could easily tackle it themselves. However the guides in NZ must focus the majority of their time on your technique, spotting fish and playing weather guru to get you into the best conditions possible. I have experienced fishing with many guides on my travels around the world and these things are the least of their worries. Its easy to underestimate the importance of these factors but they are things that will make or break your trip in what is a game of inches.


Well those are just a couple of points that I find are commonly misinterpreted by those around the world so hopefully they will help you understand why NZ can be as good as its cracked up to be.

If you want to get in touch about anything just flick me a message 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…

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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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;