I came out from the previous river and rested for a day as a rain storm passed through. In my mind I was completely undecided on where to fish next. On the one hand I had a river that I had fished before and knew it was good fishing and on the other I had new options to explore. The familiar choice won and what I witnessed was one of the best fishing trips I’ve ever had out here. There was a 4 or 5 day weather window where winds were sensible and blue stuff overhead was forecast. For all the remote Fiordland rivers it is compulsory to get your gear cleaned at DOC and pick up a clean gear certificate – make sure you do. Whilst I was in, a ranger informed me there were already a couple of guys up the river and a few more were planning going in. This always puts a dampner on things but they ended up all being really good guys so camp was fun and I’ve ended up travelling with them for a day or two. There were 7 of us at the camp including myself, probably as busy as it gets.
So, the fishing. Wow. The river was stuffed full of fish, was low and running clear and most importantly the fish were looking up. I’ll say from the outset that the pictures won’t be great, I’m simply not willing to post pictures that can identify the area on the world wide web. The scenery is incredible and the landscape shots have come out very well but they’ll be reserved for family and close friends I’m afraid. If you know me, shoot me an email and I might share!
The first day was a red letter day, 7 fish landed, about the same number, perhaps more, lost and broken off and all on dries. In fact, every fish from the river I hit on dries. This was probably the single greatest days fly fishing I’ve had so far, it was just remarkable. The problem with a lot of Fiordland rivers is the logs and snags everywhere, the fish just power straight in and bust you off. I was being broken on 8.5lb tippet, straightened a few hooks too…
There were two areas on the river that really stuck in my mind from this trip that were truly spectacular. The first was a shallow, very slow flowing section with great width where the fish just cruise around on regular beats. The fishing was just incredible. First, find a cruising fish, second, cast near the fish, third, watch with anticipation and the jaws appear and wrap around your fly, fourth, strike, hang on and hope. The average size of the fish was around 5lb in this section with a lot much bigger. Interestingly the fish weren’t keen to cruise and find your offering but if you plopped the fly down near them they immediately nailed it with a great burst of speed. At one point in time, standing in the same spot without moving I had three fish in a row, spotted, caught, released within 10 minutes, all over 5lb. You catch one and another cruises past, it was wicked. I lost two fish in here estimated at over 8lb, both broken clean off, such powerful fish and some great airborne acrobatics. The footage from this trip looks great. Fish photos again are a little lean as fishing yourself with a DSLR isn’t all that easy, most fish just go back without a photo. Eventually I ran out of battery life too and the phone had to suffice.
My last fishing day I decided to get right up into the headwaters and try and find some biggies. It was hard going, a long walk about 7.5km from where I was based and on arrival the river is tiny up there. Nothing more than a tiddly little stream with an occasional deep pool. At first I wasn’t too confident as the river is bare bones a couple inches deep kind of stuff but in the 4 deep pools I came across there was a fish over 5lb sitting in it. I got every one. It was superb fishing and an interesting mix of fishing too from cruisers in the pools to fish sitting feeding in the streamy eyes of the pools. For the first time in my trout fishing career I had a fish nearly get me to the backing, to be honest I was starting to become skeptical that any trout would pull you that far but now I’ve seen the light so to speak. It lay on its side and just powered up the pool about 90′ from me, if I had a standard fly line on it would definitely have got the backing knot out for a play. What a rush fishing for fish this size in such a tiny stream! A lot of hands and knees stuff though and casting from awkward positions but it was well worth it.
Probably my best fishing experience to date, so good that I can’t stop talking about it. I could write essays on this trip but I want to keep a fair bit of it under wraps. The footage should be pretty awesome when I get a full edit done after I’m away from here but plenty more to film first of all. Going to meet up with a few different people now and Craig gets in on Thursday. Bring on more fish raging!
Couple random bits and bobs before I go. My make shift net handle, the starry sky and one butt ugly fish!