Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Well not all explorations can turn out great, I went to explore a nearby stream that I haven’t bothered with for years… the state of the stream was a little disappointing. Didymo has been here for several years now, some rivers have coped well, others have a cycle dependent on flood or heavy flush events. The stream I was on today is suffering from a mild winter it seems, with little to no significant rain fall through the winter, the stream bed in sections was blanketed in rock snot.

I started my exploration a couple of access points up from the confluence, the didymo seemed thick there, I spotted a couple of browns that seemed overly spooky. I didn’t go to far maybe a couple of kilometres when I came across another couple of anglers ahead in the next pool. I turned back for the truck to drop lower downstream and see the state of the stream lower down.

The didymo wasn’t as thick lower down but the number of fish I expected to find was certainly down, there were enough sightings to keep my interest to press one more pool… then one more and another. A small mayfly hatch mid arvo was nice, even if it was only a couple of 7 inch fish rising… it didn’t stop me from tying on a size 16 CDC pattern and catching them both tough 🙂  It was good to explore the stream, not likely to spend much time on it… maybe next season if it gets a good flush might be worth a walk???

Well this is the last blog post on this host site as the attached photo has filled the allotted upload space… I plan to shift my blog to the guiding site.

This picture is the fish fish on my new reel a Hatch 3-plus…



Read Full Post »

I had another chance to explore some water from the list, with a less than ideal forecast… I headed east instead of west guessing I would have at least the morning to explore. Good thing I packed the jacket is all I can say… I was on the water for less than an hour before the first rain hit.


I walked and explored around 7-8 km of stream finding some great aerobatic rainbows willing to bite! The weather came and went all morning until early afternoon when the thunder clapped and hail smashed down! I had great success with fish eagerly eating my flies and only a few bust off while playing them heavy handed trying to keep them free from snags etc.


I heard of a wise man once saying “There’s no excuse for a nine fish day!”… I had landed nine feisty rainbows when the thunder started and the hail pelted down. I had my Simms G3 jacket on so hearing the voice in my head, I sheltered under a shrub for the worst of it waiting for the hail to subside. Once the hail subsided, I pushed on to the next pool searching for number ten… sitting deep chasing each other a round I spotted 2 fish. Switching to a double tungsten nymph to get down, I cast ahead for a good drift, no need to watch the indicator as I could see the fish swing a foot right and the white flash of it’s mouth as it ate the fly. Pulling up tight I played this one a little more gently then the previous ones of the day, netting a dark old fish I had ten! Just in time as the stream started to colour and more rain began… time to walk out, a lot easier than my last exploration, I found a four wheel drive track that lead me back to the road near my truck, how easy can it be some days:)


A wee selfie walking back in the hail storm…


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »

The Next step in my evolution is an old one revisited… exploring new waters! I have always had a mental list of waters to explore and places to fish but it’s not been a priority of my fishing for a few years now. I have the bug again, to venture out to these places… get back country and explore.

I was married with kids early on when I got into fly fishing so for me to take time out and travel away any distance to fish seemed selfish and an extra burden on my wife. Now the kids are much older and can look after them selves or even occasionally if they want to tag along on my trips, the freedom to venture forth is here, I just hope my body can keep up.

Not all the waters on my list are the famous back country rivers everyone dreams of, they are on there but there is still a few wee poky streams I want to visit. Having a day off waiting for a digger on my building site, I chose one of those wee streams yesterday to fish. Picking where to start fishing on unfamiliar water is sometimes a mental block for me but this one was easy… it has 3 access points that I want to explore so I started my first venture on the bottom one.

A healthy wee stream with an abundance of insect life, I had a wee play with a couple of macro shots while on the stream, might try the tripod and trigger release next time???

macro bugmacro bug-5

Plenty of caddis and mayflies meant plump trout, I wasn’t disappointed!

With there being a little colour pushing down, the first few spotted sitting on the edge at the head of the pools were surprisingly easy to see. After hooking all four and only landing two of them, I was reasonably happy and wondered why it had taken me so long to finally explore this stream. I didn’t see anything in the next few pools which surprised me until I finally decided the next pool had to have something in it, so I blind fished a pair of nymphs through the body of the pool. I watched as my indicator dipped as it drifted through the middle, I tightened into a good fish once more. I suspect nearly every pool held a fish but it didn’t mean they were out actively feeding or that I could spot them at the bottom of the pools were they seemed to be holding. Lesson learnt, I began stalking each pool carefully to follow up with a blind drift or two to make sure incase something was holding in the depths. After a couple of kilometres I passed the stream putting the colour in to find everything crystal clear above there so only needed to spot fish from there on. I think sometimes I trust myself to spot every fish even when I know where the fish should be holding and can’t see them, having a strong preference for sight fishing, I too easily walk past some good water and potential fish for the sake of not being bothered to throw a couple of blind casts through the likely lies. I’m not saying I wouldn’t have had an awesome day purely sight fishing but I did pick up 3-4 extra fish blind nymphing.

brown trout-2brown trout-7

It was a fantastic trip, encouraging me to return and fish the other sections but not only that, but to also continue the task of ticking off the list of rivers to explore. I find myself already adding new waters to the list, I don’t think I will every fully complete it, only expand and explore!

brown trout-4

One memorable moment of entertainment was after I spotted a nice fish sitting in an eye of the pool, I made the cast I thought was perfect, it drifted slightly to the right of the fish and the weighted nymph caught on the bottom. The fish jagged around foe a second then settled back into position, it seemed content so I decided to let out some slack line so I could grab the leader and gently try to snap the fly off without spooking the fish. I turned down stream a little to make the manoeuvre, when I grabbed the line and tightened it to break off the fly, I was surprised to feel a shaking on the end. I quickly looked around to see the fish had taken the fly which had come loose while I was creating slack line, I had set into the fish when I tightened back up… unfortunately, my hand lining technique wasn’t as smooth as my reel’s drag and I snapped off while trying to recover the line to the reel and play the fish 🙂

brown trout

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »

So earlier I mentioned I was hosting a fly swap for streamers hence the reason I was playing with the macro shot on the black background and the mirror. Pretty happy with the results my main issue is relying on natural light as the main source so the first couple were great then the sun dipped behind some clouds and the others needed a little more tweaking in lightroom. All in all I still think they look pretty cool…





This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Read Full Post »

Matt is working on the finishing touches for the second tip section currently but posted these pics of the tip fitted with the ferrule to the butt section…



Busy time ahead building rods I think… now what thread and reel seat to use????

Read Full Post »

Matt has started the tip section of my bamboo rod… to give you an idea how thin he plans them down to, that is a lead from a clutch pencil in frame… I’m impressed!


Matt says- “So at the other end, is the start of making the ferrules.  If you remember the numbers on the taper you notice I swelled the last 2.125″ by a 0.074″/2 = 0.037″ this is the desired wall thickness of the section. So I made a basic ferrule sander. Basically the gap between bed and wheel is 0.042″ You feed the strip through and it sands the internal part of the ferrule leaving a 0.042″ wall. The rest is planed down till I hit exactly 0.037”.


Below is a scrap Matt ran to show the start of the ferrule…


All looking pretty good here… nice work Matt!

002_zps900f228e 007_zps2f8c7a6c



Read Full Post »

This is a couple of months old, my trip at the Christmas Holidays with the boys… I wrote it as a magazine article so a little longer than my usual post but a good read! (the mag was overloaded with articles… hence it makes it’s way here.)

Fly fishing to me is a never-ending learning experience, there is always something to learn and expand on as an angler. I began fly fishing in my mid twenties, 1999-2000 season teaching myself from reading a book it was casting 10 to 2, a six weight rod with a double taper floating line. What more could I know from just one book without reading more or meeting other anglers with other ideas. I fumbled along for a few years on my own, ever since that time I have endeavored to learn more about the sport and evolve into a better angler.

Alongside my learning curve of fly fishing sits hand in hand the changing milestones of life as a family. After just one season of flailing about on a river or two, we began our family with my first son’s birth. A great life moment but on the selfish side of my behavior, an ankle clamp to my fishing.  My ability to spend time on the water, expanding my knowledge and experience was directly related to my life status and slowed by the responsibilities of being a new father. I don’t begrudge the choices I’ve made in life rather take the most of what each aspect has to offer to enrich my life.

I have two sons now; both of whom have held a love hate relationship with fly fishing over the years. At a young age, before they understood they had a choice, they were both happy to tag along with Dad while fishing. We would scoop bugs in a sampling net and catch a fish or two. As they got older and felt the full effects of the cold water, they started to wane interest with a preference for computer games.  Finally a nice life moment has rolled around again, boys are older and what began as just wanting to hang with Dad has re-ignited a joy to fish. I have never wanted to pressure my kids to come fishing for fear of putting them off for life. In my mind, with my passion for fly fishing, it was inevitable they would come on board sooner or later.

Fishing for me has progressed through the years with influences along the way. Going through stages where my focus changes with everything I observe along the way and the people I have meet. While living in the lower North Island I would head to the Hawkes bay to camp and fish, looking back at my skill level then it was a surprise I ever caught a fish. I still made milestones along the way but my life and fishing focus didn’t make any real progress until about ten years ago when we shifted south to Central Otago. Living on the shores of Lake Dunstan and being a self-employed builder, my focus was able to shift to spending as many hours on the water as I could. The boys were still young so things were perfect, only 10 minutes to some great shoreline fishing and it was easy to spend a couple of hours every-other day and still have time for family.

It was a couple of years later before I felt ready for another shift in focus, to explore Southland, fishing rivers, to expand my skills and experience further. I still enjoyed fishing stillwaters but my focus had shifted to rivers, a new challenge to overcome. While venturing south to explore the famous waters of the Mataura river, I began to make connections with like-minded people. Fortunately they were people of far greater skills than I, the best way to learn is spend time with better anglers and observe what they do. Partaking in many discussions of the how’s and why’s of fly fishing along the way and gleaming insights from various sources, then trying these ideas yourself on the water to see what fits for you.  I’m not saying I am a master of all the facets of freshwater fly fishing by any means, but I felt like I have reached the point of what’s next? Never happy to sit doing the same thing, I want to try new things fly fishing so my focus now has shifted to catching a wider range of species. New Zealand is a little limited when it comes to freshwater species, with only a handful to chuck a fly at, so the obvious next step for me is to take a step into salt fly!

As my fishing journey and family life are closely intertwined, the boys and I began planning a trip. The aim was to introduce them to a new part of the country with a camping adventure thrown in. With a new focus to catch a saltwater species on the fly part of the mix, the location was chosen- ‘West Coast NZ’. A chance to show the boys as much Kiwiana a possible squeezed into 4 days and catch a Kahawai or two.

The West Coast is a harsh environment with a high average annual rainfall, so timeframes for this trip needed to be loosely made. Keeping an eye on the long range rain forecast, we saw the weather window and took the plunge. We packed the car and headed off on our ‘Inaugural Boys Trip’, driving to the coast is like entering a completely different world from the dry landscapes of Central Otago. Reaching home base at the Top 10 Holiday Park in Haast, we set up camp, pitching the tents. With camp set, it was too early for tea so a quick drive south to the beach to check out the intended fishing spot at the Okuru river mouth for the next day.

During the planning stages for the trip, I caught up with a mate who has visited the area a few times to fish. We had looked over a couple of maps to discuss the access points and he explained from his experience the advantages of each depending on the wind and tides. To my surprise, on arriving we saw signs of fish activity in the shallows. For a freshwater trout hunter, the sight of several dorsal and tail fins circling around in the surface was enough to make we weak at the knees. It wasn’t the big boil up I’d seen on the net with schools of Kahawai feeding on a bait ball, but plenty of sign enough to run back to the car to rig the rod. I finally had a reason to use my 8 weight rod and 6N Abel reel, my choice of line was a full sinking Di3 to break the surface quickly ready for the strip retrieve without the surface disturbance. I hastily tied on one of my Loon head bait flies, I had tied these a few months earlier in the season to chase sea runners down southland but that trip was rained out.

Racing to the waters edge, I was all thumbs in the excitement, laying out a cast of about 60 feet to the sighted surface activity. With a heavy landing line, a small group of Kahawai close to the surface scattered under my line. Granted I have only had the one trip fishing for this quarry, but Kahawai seem shy and a little skittish. I guess when you’re not top of the food chain you have good reason to be. A quick learning curve had begun, the casts needed to be targeted to the edges or leading the school to pick off the prey. With so many fish feeding it wasn’t long before I was connected to my first saltfly species, all the anticipation was worth it. Kahawai are an excellent sport fish, so strong for their size compared to some lazy freshwater trout. The first fish was a fine conditioned fish of 5 lb; it felt like twice that while fighting it. The action was fast and furious; I play my fish on heavy drags and am pretty pigheaded when it comes to horsing them to the net. I guess it was my undoing a little in hind sight, over a period of about an hour and a half, we had hooked 12 fish while only netting 4 all of 5 lb. Maybe if I had let them run a little off the drag, we could have bagged a couple more, who knows. The whole experience was adrenaline pumping, the boys and I were running around like lunatics taking turns to play net and release the fish we landed. My only regret was we didn’t take the time to setup a spinning rod for the boys to hook up along side me as the school was in close to shore this night. That first evening had fulfilled the first part of my new focus making the remainder of the trip an easy task to fill my other focus, my family.

It is always a fine balancing act with kids, between time spent doing what I want and the things they want to do, compromise and finding activities we can all enjoy is the key. Realizing it all has to be a fun experience for them to keep the passion lit, often turning for home one or two pools sooner than perhaps you’d like. The rewards are great when it all comes together as this time spent together generates memories to last a lifetime.  As I was only planning to chase Kahawai this trip, we kept the fishing outings brief, concentrating our efforts at the one location around the top of the in coming tide.

The West Coast has a lot to see for a couple of newbies who had never been there before. Based in Haast, our plan was to explore up and down the coast a short ways between tides, heading south as far as the tarseal leads to Jacksons Bay and as far North as Franz Joseph, only a scratch on what the coast has on show. My minds list of childhood memories came flooding back of all things I wanted to show and share with the boys, true Kiwana. Native bush with Woodpigeons, Tui’s and bellbirds, ferns and flaxes abound. We even spotted a couple of Yellow Eye Penguins on the beach near Jackson’s Bay, scrambling down a bank; they permitted us to creep within 3-4 metres to take their photo’s. Crossing so many Rivers, stream and creeks along the way, you realize how little of the fishing opportunities we looked at, so much to still explore on the next trip.

By the third day I could see the interest waning from the boys for chasing Kahawai so we chose to have a more touristy day heading north to see the Glaciers. In the end it was the most event packed day of them all, with plenty of variety along the way. Beginning with a visit to the salmon farm café for a coffee and to feed pellets to the fish while admiring the super oversize Brown trout. After stopping to see both Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers, we had lunch before checking out the Kiwi house in Franz Joseph. Returning to base camp, we loaded the car for tea on the beach, the coast has no shortage of drift wood for a fire. We took some time to learn safe use of an outdoor fire while we cooked our sausages for tea, the embers smoldered down to perfection for roasting marshmallows. The coincidence of the high tide with our bonfire meant I got to hook into a few more Kahawai that evening before teaching some more outdoor fire safety by fully extinguishing the embers in a great mountain of steam.

On our return to base camp the day wasn’t over just yet, the camp owner had told us about a creek near by that had a few eels. An eeling mission was on the board to top off the night; I had memories of sitting in the dark as a kid with a baited hook waiting for an eel to cruise by. This trip was eeling with a difference, sight fishing to eel’s! A team effort was required, while one of the boys shone the torch across the creek surface, I dangled a baited hook a few inches in front of the eel. We got to watch as everything unfolded, seeing the eel take a bite of the baited hook. We missed the first few with a slightly oversize hook choice, before setting the hook too soon became a problem. We noticed once the first bite was made, we needed to let the line go fully slack and watch the eel take a second bite before setting the hook After landing and releasing three fine eels of around two foot in length, two exhausted boys headed to their sleeping bags.

Finally it was time to break camp and head for home. Such an epic trip couldn’t even be dampened by a good West Coast downpour. We were soaked to the bone when we finally packed the last bits into the car, a quick change into some dry clothes before we hit the road.

The West Coast is a destination with a difference, I left feeling we have barely scratched the surface of what it has to offer in regards to fishing both fresh and salt water. Such variety in close proximity, a chance to fish the peak of the tide before hitting a river to a stalk a few kilometers before catching the next tide. It can be an inhospitable place with high rainfall and an exposure to strong on shore winds. A good flexible plan touched with a little good luck is needed to fully capitalize on the opportunities it has to offer.

My focus in fly fishing has shifted a little, I still enjoy the experience of fishing my home lake or a trip to Southland to hunt out feeding trout in tiny streams but I have gained another notch of experience with my first saltfly caught fish leaving me wanting more. Although my focus in fishing may change, my focus on family still remains the same. Time with the kids has to be taken, once lost, it can’t be regained, I am fortunate that my boys can enjoy the outdoors and the opportunities Fly fishing has to offer. There will always be time to fish rage when they leave home and a chance to catch up and share some water when ever we please.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »