The Incredible Hulk

 

imageimageWe’ve not done much lake fishing recently because the Mataura river has been so good and I couldn’t leave those rising trout alone but lake Onslow kept coming into my thoughts so I suggested to Lisa we should give it a go. I checked the weather; you really don’t want to be up there in bad weather, it was fine so up the mountain onto the dry weather track we went. We arrived about 10am to find a nice ripple so we loaded the boat and set off for the large island straight out from the boat ramp. The wind was running parallel to the island which gave us a nice long drift we had both set up with airflo fast glass intermediates and wet flies with a humongus lure on the point. First drift we got a fish each immediately nice pounders both taking the point fly.image

Sport was patchy for the first half hour as we drifted along the island, four to the boat then we reached the end where we found a shelf on the edge of a massive shallow which was like a tropical flat as we reached it I hooked a fish of a couple of pounds which jumped and threw the hook as I lost it Lisa bent into a good fish at about 3lbs it was the biggest we had caught at onslow. I repositioned the boat so we drifted along the shelf and as we got there Lisa’s rod bent and a big fish jumped she played it carefully and I helped her net a 4 1/2lb lump! Out again and another drift down the Chanel when I got a fish of 3lbs whilst Lisa was taking a picture of my fish her line was still in the water and another 3 1/2 lbs fish picked up her fly off the bottom.

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We were approaching the island now and we got fish all along the length of this little grassy outcrop all the fish were over 2lbs. The wind was dropping now and we noticed most of the fish were coming up the cast now to the wets with an Orkney pattern the hulk on the top dropper really doing the business. The bank opposite the island looked lovely and fish were there too. We caught fish lost fish and missed fish all along the bank then the wind changed. Well it turned right round so we drifted all the way back, it would have been rude not to!

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We spent the remainder of the day drifting over to the drop off and the island catching all the way interestingly a black and pearly Palmer and the hulk out fished the hunungus on the point, we called it a day as dusk approached the ripple died and we motored in as the odd fish broke the surface I was tempted to keep fishing but it’s not a good idea to be out on the lake in the dark as its pitch black with not a light anywhere except in the sky.

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All the way home we were talking about going back so a week later we did. In my wisdom I decided to try a blob and a black booby well Lisa got three in the first half hour and missed a few I got bugger all. Nods as good as a wink I changed and got a 4 1/2 lb fish straight away on the black Palmer fish were coming regularly not as fast as last week but it was clear the hulk was the fly to be using. It was a lot windier than last week so we thought we would try somewhere else and we motored to the top of the lake but as we motored up we spotted some shallows so we just had to try them.

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Was there any fish there? You bet! There was lots of shallows with channels between them and fish hanging out along all of them. To get to some of these deepish channels I sometimes had to get out and push the boat over flats six inches deep but it was worth it wild brown trout lake fishing at its best.

imageWe never did get to the top of the lake as we ended up getting carried away and worked our way around the back of the big island catching in every channel. Time was getting on now and I thought I would cut around the back of the island and take a short cut out into open water and back to the boat ramp BIG MISTAKE. Light was fading and we had to lift the engine up and push the boat for about 400 yards over a mud flat covered in 4 inches of water.

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Boy were we glad to reach the open lake it was quite choppy now and we got to the boat ramp just in time loading the boat back onto the trailer in the dark. Lake Onslow is regarded as a water with small fish and on our previous visits we had not caught anything larger than 2 1/2 pounds so we were pleasantly surprised to find so many lumps which fight like mad and jump like crazy. There’s so much to explore here I don’t know how in going to find the time to fish Poolburn, Mehinerangi, Mavora lakes etc but I’m sure we will!

Loch style drifting over the front of the boat is awesome here. We’ve not seen anyone else doing it, I can’t wait to use some epoxy buzzers diawls crunchers etc when the midges are coming off. I feel like I’ve got the golden ticket of the fishing world off willy wonker.

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Lake mahinerangi

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After Saturday’s exploits on the mataura we had a lay in Sunday morning followed by a lovely breakfast which Lisa made whilst I got the boat ready.This afternoons venue was lake mahinerangi  a very large lake 1/12 hours from our home.This lake is always associated with big winds but it wasn’t today,there was a gentle breeze as we pulled into the boat ramp on the causeway which cross is this large expanse of water.We decided to fish the top end of the lake which wasn’t so daunting and motored for about thirty min then started our first drift onto a point halfway up the lake.We were both fishing fast glass lines with a tadpole on the point and wet flies on the droppers.

First drift lisa got a pull then another one then I got a pull which hit hard but no lock up after I left the line sink a bit.Nods as good as a wink on went a Di 5 sweep and straight away I got one on a silver dabbler Lisa Got a fish which put a real bend in her rod but turned out to be a nice perch on an olive woolly bugger.We motored 100 metres down the bank and started another drift I got another fish on a bibio both fish were around the 12 inch (300)mm mark not the big fish we were told lived there.Lisa got another fish yet again a stripy assassin she was on a Di3 now and had a few follows as well .The wind had now gone,the lake was flat and fish started to rise I had replaced my point with a coch y bonddu  and cast towards a riser which ignored it.

imageLooking at the water I could see a small hatch of midges that were so small trying to imitate them would be a waste of time so I decided to ignore them and fish deeper, I was rewarded with another fish then a double hook up of perch. My wife was casting at the odd rising fish and getting nothing then BANG her prized orvis Helios broke while she was casting disaster she loves that rod. We had a spare rod so Lisa was soon back in action and back into the perch. It wa getting late now so we motored back towards the boat ramp stopping here and there for a cast, we came across a lovely inlet and at last Lisa hooked a trout and a big smile lit up her face only to be replaced by a pouting lip when it fell off. Two more Browns came to my wets before we called it a day.

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Only small fish by New Zealand standards but we thoroughly enjoyed our visit and we wil visit again hopefully to find some of the large Browns ive been assured live there. Lake Mahinerangi reminded me of Loch Lene in Ireland with its small but feisty fish perhaps there’s Ferox !

Mayfly at last

imageLast Wednesday I arrived at work and was handed a piece of paper I unfolded it and realised it was an invitation to fish the Otago Anglers Association pairs competition on the Mataura.The format was you drew a partner on the morning of the match and experienced anglers were paired with inexperienced ones, once the draw was over you were allowed to go where you wanted on the mataura and its tributaries fly or spin was allowed catch and release with a min length of 35 cm.

Well I drew my wife lol, I requested I was put back in the hat as we were hoping to meet some new anglers and make new friends. My partner for the day was a lovely man Tony Tang of Chinese origin and together we set off towards Ardlussa bridge I asked Tim(I got his name wrong called him Tim all day) if he had waders “no” he replied! Bugger right lets go to cattle flat there’s some bank you can fish without waders.We arrived and I was glad to see no one else was there.I got out of the car and put my waders on then tony put his on? Something had got lost in translation.

imageWe headed to the first run I’d given tony a sedge with a nymph underneath similar to what I was fishing , I missed two fish in the first five minuits than fished my way upstream for another hour,nothing I spotted some fish but the river was low and clear and they were in the sides in water barely covering their backs and bow waved off no matter how much stealth I tried.Now the sun was strong so I decided another tactic was needed, on went a big pink stimulate with six feet below it to a 3 mm copper bead pheasant tail and I went looking for deep water.The rig was a bugger to cast but first pool as the indicator fly went past a deep drop off it dipped I raised the rod and a good brown jumped 3ft into the air, after a few minuets I netted him measured and released him great I was on the scoreboard.Next deep run I got two more all 3lb plus and lost one.

It was then it happened first a little splash then a rise then another so as quick as I could I got a dry set up a little mayfly pattern with a pink wing for me to see when it’s my fly been eaten, the water being so clear I put 2lbs copolymer as the Tippet first two fish that took the fly bit straight through it! A quick change to 4lbs Tippet had me playing one soon after.

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The hatch was in full swing now the flies coming down, through the water you could see nymphs drifting down rising to the surface and the mataura was showing me its residents.I had a spell where for about an hour I was missing,losing,getting refused and then bit through again great fun but no more on the card so I came out changed my leader new fly and bingo first cast another lump! It’s amazing how often this works five minuets to reflect new Tippet new fly confidence restored.I had netted 7 by now and time was getting on the hatch was ending so I made my way back downstream .At the end of one flat piece of water I spotted a rise and I couldn’t resist I waded out cast and bang another fish I had to follow it down the Rapids to net it. While I was playing it I spotted another fish so back up I went cast and slurp another fish this bugger fell off at the net then another went the same way I was rushing because time was short! I tried again another rise this one made it to the net so that made 9 it was time to go.

I met up again with Tony who unfortunately hadn’t caught and we headed back to the hut at rivers dale.

imageWe arrived at the hut and were met by the other competitors who had had mixed results, the river had fished well today all over was the general concensous of opinion it’s a fantastic fishery.The Otago club layed on a great BBQ at the hut and the cards were collected and results read out. How had we done! Tony and myself were declared winners but to be honest it didn’t really matter I just enjoyed being with like minded people doing what we love.

imagethe Otago AA were great hosts and Lisa and I will definately become active members and attend more of these events I would encourage anyone thinking of going along but holding back to take the plunge they are a very friendly bunch you won’t regret it.

 

Sedges at Onslow

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Lake Onslow up in the hills past millers flat was the venue for a recent trip. The little bay we fished last time we were there was inaccessible as the road had washed away during the recent weather bomb,anyway  we decided to go to a bay up past a few cribs (huts) .It was quite late by the time we got round to fishing and a few trout started to occasionally rise so on went a dry sedge pattern cast only a rod length out over the sunken reeds the level had came up a metre since our last visit. I got the first fish then Lisa was in action too nice browns much bigger than we caught on our last visit here. Lisa got another fish then as quickly as it started it was over the lake was flat calm and not a fish moved despite sedges covering the lake surface. We walked back to the car then had the experience of driving down the mountain track in the dark which is another adventure on its own. Hopefully our next trip will involve some drifting on our boat can’t wait

Poolburn dam crayfish eaters

Lisa and I drove up to Poolburn Dam to try and catch some of the trout there that we had been told are the best eating in New Zealand. The journey there was along another dry weather road with magnificent scenery, they filmed the Rohan scenes there from The Lord of the Rings.

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The lake is about 600 acres but it’s full of islands so you get the impression your fishing a much smaller lake, its high up in the mountains so it gets a lot of wind too. We drove as far as we could around the lake, parked in a field and started to fish. I got an offer straight away on a dry sedge but it came off. Lisa had a follow on a damsel then the wind got up so we moved along the bank where there was a bit more shelter. Lisa went a bit further along where there was a nice rocky point dropping into deep water. Five minuets later I heard “got one”, I rushed to help her land her fish a lovely brown (there’s no rainbows). Her damsel had done the business again.

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The wind really got up now, so we headed back to the car for some lunch. It had been a hard morning it was a good 3 hr drive to get here. After lunch Lisa had a nap but I was determined to get some action so I went back to our original spot and straight away I got one on the damsel.

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No sooner had I despatched that fish I saw another rise so on went a dry sedge. I cast it to the edge where I had seen the rise and from two feet down, I saw the fish rise and eat my fly. I struck and the fish went airborne and spat my fly back at me, the air turned blue! The wind decided to pick up at this point so I put on a tadpole with plenty of lead in it and cast out. I had to cast over my left shoulder as the wind was blowing a gale from my right. A slow figure of eight then it tightened, I lifted the rod and felt the head shaking of a good fish, it went deep and after a few minuets I saw a lovely golden flank. I got complacent and tried to bully it in and paid the price, the hook pulled out! Once again the air turned blue. Time to go now the lake turned really nasty but before I left I gutted our fish and they had been on the crayfish, their flesh was bright red and the angler who told us how they tasted was spot on they were delicious.

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Tuapeka river

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On the way home from a visit to the Mataura one evening I stopped by the bridge crossing the river at Tuapeka mouth 100 metres up from where it joins the Clutha river and looked over, there without a care in the world were two trout rising close to the bank, I didn’t have time to have a go but it was a place I was coming back to.

A week later I was back the weather was awfull strong winds and showers but I was going to try anyway. the trout were still there but they saw me first and despite several tries they wouldn’t come near so as  I could get a good cast so I decided to try this little river a bit further upstream.I drove for about a km the river was hopelessly overgrown and slow shallow pools where trees had fallen and interrupted the flow,real combat fishing.The only way to the river was to go around the impenetrable bush and fish from the opposite bank on the way down a little path to the opposite bank a couple of fan tails started flying all round me then one landed on my rod so close I could have touched it.

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I reached for my phone to take a picture but the movement must have spooked it and it flew off, unbelievably another landed this time a few feet away and I got my picture before it too flew off.

I got to the other bank and then ” hello” a voice startled me looking up I spotted two lads at  the side of the river,  a quick chat revealed they were panning for gold but they told me they had seen some trout rising in the pools below as they had walked up so I wished them good luck and headed to the pool below.Sure enough there were fish rising taking willow grubs off the surface film and guess what I didn’t have any willow grub patterns with me! I per revered for an hour with these fish twice I got a fish to almost eat my cut down spinner patten in the surface film but refused at the last. I decided to try the river above where it gets a bit faster but like Arnie  I’ll be back this time armed to the teeth with willow grub patterns.

Moving upstream the river become more like a small lowland stream with pools and runs I opted to fish a sedge with a pheasant tail below it classic New Zealand style. After I’d fished three pools stumbling my way up the bottom was like polished glass, but I only fell in once although I nearly went a few times I came to a lovely pool Classic slow riffle run in to a deepish pool.I cast into the bubble line and as if in slow motion a fish roar and engulfed my sedge I set the hook and the fish went airborn then tried to get under the overhanging backside vegetation, plenty of sidestrain turned him and eventually I netted it.The mcleans lie detector net said one and a half kilos,so around 3lbs I bloody earned that fish. The commotion from playing the trout must have disturbed the pool somewhat as I got a visit from an Eel which swam around me weighing me up for size before slinking back into the darkness of the pool he was huge about three foot long and as thick as my leg.

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I fished on for around a kilometre but apart from another small trout of around ten inches I didn’t get another offer so I decided in my wisdom to walk back to the car along the bank, WRONG DECISION, the foliage was impenetrable I found myself climbing up a steep bank to get to the track above Leading to my car. Five hours fishing for two trout in the most slippery river I’ve ever been in but I loved every minute.

Mataura river magic

The Mataura river in Southland has fast become my favourite river here in New Zealand, I’ve had only one full day and a few snatched hours here and there but it’s already given me over twenty fish to 3lbs and I’ve lost bigger.Ive fished it at a few locations within a twenty mile radius of Gore so I’ve barely scratched the surface of this famous fishery.I haven’t fished the evening yet and so far I’ve not seen any significant fly hatches but I’m sure Ive got these experiences to come.

Ive been trying some of our French leaders here and have had a few trout using them but the stand out method so far has been using a big stimulator dry as an indicator and pheasant tails with beads on beneath the best colour bead for me has been copper (probably because I’ve been using it most) in sizes 12 to 16.

My most memorable fish so far was one of a pair I spotted off a bridge feeding in a backwater,so I carefully slid down a grassy bank and waited until the first fish swam alongside, carefully I dropped my nymph three feet in front, it sank to the bottom in 2 ft of water and has he got near I lifted the pheasant tail, the fish swam up opened its mouth and eat it. I lifted the rod and the fish shot off unfortunately the hook came straight out and I watched my prize dart over water barely covering its back to the main river and out of sight.Luckily I didn’t spook the other fish,and as he swam by i again put my nymph in front and lifted,and he ate the nymph, this time the hook held and the fish went ballistic in the shallow water but eventually I wore him out and slid the net under him.The weigh net said 2  1/2lbs but it looked bigger I was a happy man ten min and I’ve got a nice fish.

Lisa my wife has been getting a few too she has been enjoying the indicator fishing immensely,I’ve been teaching her to mend the line to get a longer drift,and to hand strip the line to keep control of the line so she can strike if a fish takes. We are both finding we have to fish further away than back in the UK as these fish won’t let you get too close to them, it’s a learning curve for both of us but we are loving every minute of it