Tuesday, October 27, 2009


van fixed, van packed, etc, etc, heading north again, right... MEOW

Monday, October 26, 2009

some things that happened in the last few days:

so i rolled northwest out of Christchurch, through Hanmer Springs, over jacks pass into molesworth station. camped out there for the night here:

apparently i left the lights on because when i went to start the baby up the next day nothing happened. oops. after fishing, i flagged the next person i saw down as i had seen 5 vehicles in a day and a half, he jumped me, i made it back to Hanmer Springs, slept in the parking lot of a garage, had a man look at the van and inform me that the alternator blew when it was jumped. nice. so we charged the battery and i made it back to Christchurch. that was friday. now it's monday evening, monday was labor day, a holiday. the ultra-generous Vanderties let me borrow their van to take off for the weekend, so saturday late morning i headed south west through Geraldine. i camped for two nights south of Geraldine, and put in 3 days of fishing. now i'm back in Christchurch, at Chez Vandertie, and will check in with a garage tomorrow morn.

while in Molesworth, i fished one day on the river you named, Wilkie. i put in a solid 8 hours on this river and hooked two fish, in the same pool, in the course of about 20 minutes. both fish took me about halfway into my backing. i landed the first, it would go 5ish pounds (?) and i lost the second. the second was considerably bigger. the one i did land:
on saturday, i fished a pretty small river. i read about it in John Kent's book and he didn't say much about it, but as i was nearby and the other river i intended to fish was already being fished, i decided to give it a go, then camp at the first river and fish that the next day. i had walked through several good looking pools and not seen any fish, was questioning my fish spotting skills and fish populations when i spooked one. at another pool i thought i saw a fish, so i cast to it and spooked it. at least i was seeing them now.

at another pool, i spotted a fish. i approached carefully, and put maybe two good drifts over him and he took. as i said, this was a small river, so quarters were tight, lots of snags and undercut banks with bushes, etc. this fish took me upstream, into the bushes, below a bank and held. i thought he snagged me off. i waded into the middle of the stream, felt my way down the leader as far as i could and he was still there. i pulled him out of there, he went downstream and into another bank, under some roots. i tried to bully him out of that one but he would not and he broke me off. i'll take the loss on that one, but it sure felt good to find one, cast to it, hook it and do battle.

i walked back to the van, drove to another bridge on the same river and walked upstream. i went through several pools and found a very nice one. i stared at it for a long while, was about to move on when i spotted a nice fish. i backed off slowly, and prepared to cast. first fly i put several good drifts over him with no luck. changed flies, made some more decent casts, no luck. one more fly change and this time he took. and we danced. i kept this fish in the pool and we battled for a good ten minutes until finally he tired and i got him to the net. pete, this fish was for you. he would go at least 5 pounds. i tried to get the camera out for a photo but the fish would have none of that and slipped away. a great end to the day. here is the pool he came from:
next day i fished a much bigger river that ran through a gorgey-canyoney-valley. i had intended to fish this river the day before but i found a couple anglers finishing up their day when i got there. they were using spinning rods and fishing downstream. they said they had caught a few small fish, had a follow from a big fish, but they thought the water was a bit high. i figured giving this river a good afternoon/night rest would let the fish settle and the water to come down a bit. i was right.
i stung two small fish right off the bat. small as in a couple pounds. i was very happy with this and my day so far seemed in agreement with the mens' report yesterday. then i saw a very large fish. i fished to this one fish for close to an hour. i would scamper up a small cliff, spot the fish, cast to it 4 or 5 times with a fly, scamper up the bank to find it again, change flies, and repeat. i think i tried at least 8 flies to this fish and finally spooked it. this was frustrating. i saw another 5 large fish in this river and spooked every single one of them. i got one take on an adams but again pulled the fly right out of the fish's mouth. it was a somewhat frustrating day, but the scenery was amazing and watching these fish was pretty amazing as well. a very long walk back with a couple unsuccessful bushwacks, then a walk through a cow pasture with some testy cows made the day even longer. some cold Speights in the river awaited my return to the van.

this morning i drove to a branch of a river to find it high and off color. i found another smaller stream, rigged up and set off upstream. while the stream itself was small, the water was high and there was not much trout habitat. i walked a good ways upstream, seeing only a few pools and no fish, so reluctantly turned around to head back to the van and try another river.

i was at the exit point of the stream when i spotted a pool downstream. i eyed it for a moment and decided i would check it out before i left. i couldn't see any fish in it, but i decided to nymph it blind. to this point, i had yet to cast in this stream. no more than 8 casts into this pool, the indicator went down and the woo-woo-woo of a fish on the line came. i had to chase this fish downstream about 500 yards and finally got it to the net. a nice specimen. for reference, this net's opening is as almost as long as the distance from the tip of my middle finger to the back of my elbow. and that was my last cast on that stream. that fish:
i made one more stop before returning to christchurch:
fishing here felt like steelheading. the weather had turned and i decided to trek home. some other pics from the past few days:

in Molesworth:
i could throw a football over them mountains:

i applied for an analyst job at this bank, but they didn't have any openings:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


van is packed. maps are marked. ipod is charged. sun is out. i'm headed north to hanmer springs area. and i'm going fishing.

Monday, October 19, 2009

1986 Toyota TownAce Turbo Deisel with SkyLite Roof

Here it is folks:

I kid you not, this sticker was on the van:

Suggestions for names??

leaving comments

if you are so inclined to leave comments on this here thing, click on 'COMMENTS' at the bottom of the post, write what you like, then under 'Comment as:' click the drop down menu and you can log-in with your google/gmail account, or click 'Name/URL' and enter your name. word!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tramping on Tracks

(Translation: Hiking on Trails)

here are some pics from a short hike i went on the other day around the crater rim trail. this trail runs around a volcano-crater-rim south of christchurch. it was windy. i ate two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. i also found out that those new l.l.bean kleen kanteens leak. nice.

watch out for these buggers, they'll gitcha!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Solid Hookups

so. after day one of errant casts, spooks, a few fish spotted and one split-second take, i am now back after two more days fishing with Chappie. no suspense here. we hooked a good number of fish and we got a good number (albeit less) to the net. in the second and third days fishing with Chappie, we hooked 9 and landed 6. i also had 2 takes on dries that i set too quickly and pulled it out of the fishes' mouths. i had a feeling that might happen ha.

our second day of fishing we reached a medium-sized braided river, rigged up and set to it. there was a slow moving side channel on river left that Chappie slowly walked up.

maybe i should describe the actual fishing. all the fishing we did was done upstream, walking up these rivers and streams looking into pools and runs and casting upstream. i was fishing my 6 weight, floating line, a 9 foot tapered leader with another 5 or 6 feet of tippet beyond that. getting all that leader to straighten out was pretty tough but i will say, all that extra (compared to states fishing) leader and tippet does help a lot dealing with drag, so that's nice. getting all that leader and tippet to turn over in a relatively straight line is another thing however ha. as i mentioned before, we changed rivers a few times because of clarity/flow issues, but the second day we were good to go from first arrival. while the water was a tad high and a tad off-color, Chappie felt good enough about it to stay there and we fished both blindly and to spotted fish. third day, different story. more on that.

so we're looking up this side channel that's moving very slowly. honesty, i didn't think a fish would be in there. i'd been slowly walking behind Chappie for a day now and knew what it meant when he stopped, stared, moved around the weight of his pack, stuck his walking stick into the ground and then took a few steps backwards. you can guess what the means. well that's what happened when we got to this first pool of the backwater. i came up right behind him and we discussed the surroundings and then i saw what he saw. we switched rigs to a small weighted hare and copper nymph (pretty close to a hare's ear) and put on a small yarn indicator.

now after the day before's casting display, i was nervous but realized that i needed to calm down, slowly casts down and just get the thing to where i wanted it to go, to be successful. ok, time to cast. the objective is to get the fly to land 6 feet above the fish so that no fly line goes over the fish. if it does, you can pretty much forget about hooking that one. first cast, off to the left but a good length. deep breath, let it drift by. rollcast pickup, false cast, shoot. bingo bango, the indicator lands just about on top of the fish, the fly 5 feet upstream and right on line. i was watching my indicator closely but could see the fish move to take the fly, saw the indicator go under and set it. booyah!
i was so elated that the fish took the fly and i had actually hooked it that i temporarily forgot that i had more work to do. the fish thrashed a few times, made a quick run upstream, made a big ruckus on the surface and then took off for the bushed covering the bank. i ran sideways trying to steer it away from the bushes but it was too late, snagged up. ha! so i lost that one, i but got him to take, hooked him and had him on for a bit. a lot more than i could say about the day before.

we exchanged laughs, talked about it for a bit then moved on.

first New Zealand brown trout, i'm gonna take that dedication myself ha:

so a couple pools upstream, i was nymphing blind and stung this guy. pretty fired up to finally get one to the net, if you couldn't tell. that one took a hare and copper too. i got three more that day, one about the same size, roughly 3 pounds and two more a bit smaller. that got the skunk off the water. oh, almost forgot...

i was fishing this one very long pool, blind two-fly nymphing. i started about 75 feet from the head of it, making about 6 or 8 casts, working right to left sequentially, walking 10 feet upstream and repeating. i was on my last bit of water when the indicator dunked and i set it. a horse came out of the water. this fish was massive, the biggest non-steelhead trout i've ever laid eyes on. it was about as long as my arm from the top of my shoulder to the tip of my middle finger. "that's the one we came for!" yelled Chappie as i skampered up the bank and put the fish on the reel. a few seconds later it was over. we looked at each other silently and then inspected the flies. somehow i had wrapped the dropper fly around the first one so the tippet was had half-hitched around the bend. no good. oh well. add that fish to the log of ones in my head i'll never forget. took a bit to calm down after that one ha.

Chappie spotted a nice fish in a tough piece of water. a real fishing problem. i thought i was up for it, but turns out i was not. in 15 minutes, i got 5 tangles in the bushes and 2 more in the branches. moved upstream to make a different cast then spooked him. that one shook me up for a while. pete, wilkie, you know what i mean. so i finally get my head back together, it's the end of the day and i want one more fish. i find some motivation in my rainjacket and i'm fishing well again. sure enough, i sting one more. not a big one, but it sure felt good:

third day. we drove to a river. it was unexpectedly high and off-color. we drove to another, someone there. that's another thing about fishing here. because there are so few fish, if someone has parked at an access point, it's best to go somewhere else. they'll be fishing upstream and it's not polite to pool hop them. so we drove to another spot, someone there. drive to another river and rig up. walked about a mile upstream, looked at 6 or 8 money pools and found no fish. decided to change one more time. drove to an access point, someone there. drove to another access point, someone there. finally, drive to another access point and we're good to go. by this time, it's lunchtime, so we eat and are finally good to go. both of us are pretty frustrated.

first pool up from the truck, Chappie spots two fish. at this point i had made probably 10 casts all day and we hadn't seen a fish. we're both pretty excited but nervous. i get a good drift, fly change. another good drift, no take, fly change. another good drift and the indicator goes down and i've stung him good. and it's a good fish. as i'm fighting him, this big farm vehicle pulls up to the bank and is watching. pretty funny. and we get him to the net.
upstream in a side channel, we spotted a fish feeding heavily and in two casts i put a parachute adams over it. he took it, i hooked him and he made a run for cover under the overhanging willows and that was it. ha! first dry fly take though, that was nice.

further upstream, we saw 3 fish feeding. really feeding. we get the dries out and put on a parachute adams. i get a real good drift and no luck. change flies to a parachute dad's favorite, second cast, a rise, and i hooked him. another good fish. a good battle and soon he's to the net. first New Zealand trout taken on the dry fly. here you go Wilkie, this one goes to the mighty BFC:

i got those other two fish to rise to dries and set the hook on 'em both too quickly. ha. still working on that. some more pictures from the days fishing:

above, the pool with the 3 fish rising. below, digi-cam release
above, the fish was level with Chappie's walking stick. below, Chappie Chapman.
in other news, i have secured a van and will be getting that baby soon. i hope everyone's well. time to tie some flies. probably a pub tonight, because it's friday ha!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

as expected, i was up before the alarm this morning. a piece of bread in the toaster and then i saw the man himself through the hostel's window. there he stood, camoflauge fleece, sage hat, white beard and a big smile. hands shook, greetings exchanged and then we were off.

where do you start with a guy who's supposed to prepare you for four months of fishing in three days? i tried to ask as many questions as i could think of, in some sort of logical sequence, but they were often scattered and my mind often went blank as i daydreamed. Chappie's full of stories so there was rarely silence in the Rosie, the ruby Land Cruiser.

we drove over a branch of one river to find it quite off-color. we made our way down several farm roads, scattering cattle and sheep along the way, then drove into the middle of the main stem of this braided river. water there was high and a touch off color so we hit the road again on to a smaller stream.

i strung up my rod as we chatted and as i climbed into my waders for the first time Chappie said, "look behind you." i turned and just smiled. there, weaving in the current was a healthy brown trout, very actively feeding. 40 feet above this trout was another, acting similarly.

we went downstream for a few minutes to take a few test casts and so Chappie could gauge my casting. soon thereafter i was in position ready to sting one and then the other.


the short story is that it didn't take long before i had spooked them both. we spent the first half of the day walking slowly up this stream, Chappie in front and me in follow close behind as we stared down every pool and run looking for fish. we spotted two more in that stream by midday, one that was in a ridiculous location and i couldn't see it and the other was in a fairly easy location, casting wise but i couldn't see that one either. i put a dry on that one's head and spooked it on the 3rd cast.
after lunch, we made a quick jaunt to another river. this river was a little high and slightly off color but we were there so we went for it. Chappie spotted one fish that was holding steady in some fairly quick water. three or four casts with four different nymphs and then i finally got a good drift and saw that indicator hesitate. i stung that one for not even a split second and then he was gone. Chappie saw one more fish upstream cruise by and that was it. no fish today. see you tomorrow Chappie.

the scenery was decent:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Vans: Off the Wall

i drove a few vans around yesterday and today. my first (legal) driving on the left side of the road. it was pretty fun/funny. the first van was a stick. man was that weird. shifting with my left hand, first gear way to the left, fifth closest to me ha. so the actual gears are the same and the pedals the same. blinker/wiper controls are the opposite. flipped the wipers on when i tried to make a signal ha. parked about 3 feet from the curb on the first try ha. oh well. pretty ready to get one so i can get out of the city and start fishing. soon i will have a van and will post pics and will be looking for names.

speaking of fishing, tomorrow i go fishing. and the day after that. and the day after that. very much looking forward to throwing some line and getting out of the city. i'm going to give Chappie, my guide, a ring this evening and then i'll see him tomorrow morning at 7:30. of course i'll set my alarm but i doubt i'll have any trouble waking up before it goes off. fish requests soon to be filled...

there is a cat who lives at the hostel. i haven't caught his/her name. this cat is sitting next to me but apparently doesn't understand english meows because it will not look at me right now. he/she is orange and white, rather portly. i bet he/she has met a lot of people.

Avon River Trout


Saturday, October 10, 2009

The River Why

i have been reading The River Why. it is good. real good. one of those good books that you can't stop reading but you make yourself read it slow so that it does end. i put it down after every chapter and think about it. i started it in searsmont, read it in the various stages of travel to christchurch and i'm nearing completion now. the main character gus is a very dedicated angler. after graduating high school he moves to a cabin on a river and fishing every single day. he pretty much drives himself crazy by fishing so much, blabbering on to his rod which he named Rodney T. Flyrod. i don't think that will happen to me.

anyway there are these botanical gardens in christchurch that i spent most of today walking and lounging around. there hasn't been a cloud in the sky all day. the avon river runs through these gardens and then the middle of town and i've watched this river from many different points in the city. today i spotted my first new zealand trout in this river. it was very exciting.

i also walked across town to a fishing shop today. got my license, couldn't help but buy some more flies even though i have close to 600 in my bags, shot the shit with a guy in there and poked around for a while. being in that store, walking around, looking at those avon river trout, reading this book, thinking about fishing most of the day has got me pretty ready to cast some line. day after tomorrow and i go fishing. this is good. i'm meeting a van man tomorrow. hopefully he has a van that will treat me well.

from The River Why: "fishing is nothing but the pursuit of the elusive."

someone is cooking something and it smells good. dinner time.

Friday, October 9, 2009


i am in Christchurch. it is saturday the 10th here. i am in the same clothes that i put on wednesday the 7th except for the sierra nevada hoodie i scored in boston, which i have managed to stink up as well. i can't take one breath through my nose without smelling my feet ha. i think i need a shower.

the 8 hour layover in lax was pretty shitty but i managed. i met a very nice couple, russell and joy, on the plane to auckland, hopefully i will meet up with them later. i crashed pretty hard on that plane, read a lot and also watched The Hangover and 98% of Burn After Reading before getting involved in a conversation, missing the ending, then passing out again.

auckland airport was fine. going through biosecurity was a bit of a pain and i had a bit of a scare as i watched my waders, tent, net and fly tying materials get carried off to an "authorized personel only" room while i was re-packing my wading boots and other crap that i had pulled out. but everything came back looking about as it went in, so that's good.

the most physically testing part of the journey was the mile walk from the bus stop in downtown ch'ch to the hostel, carrying 2 40 lb bags and another 20 lb one. i had a feeling that was going to happen, but i slayed that dragon like i knew i would.

shower, food, beers? sleep. word.

thanks so much for all the amazing emails i came to find. i need to re-read them all again when i'm not so exhausted. evidently the internet is rather slow here so pictures may have to wait a bit.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Dear Friends

The date has quickly arrived and on the 10th of October I'll set my feet on New Zealand soil to begin my next adventure.

I am truly lucky to have you all in my life and I have no doubt our paths will cross again, somewhere, sometime, soon. Thanks for all the laughs, the encouragement, the jokes, the fish, the camaraderie, the advice, the cheers, the company. Thanks for everything. Thanks for putting up with me. You will all be in my thoughts.

I'll be keeping a blog of my travels and I've taken the name from a phrase that Keith, Wilkie and I came up a while ago, Seek the Freedom. Check out the blog here: seekthefreed.blogspot.com . I plan to keep it up to date as I travel so feel free to leave comments and I'll do my best to respond. Postcard seekers, send me your addresses! I'm also taking fish requests, so let me know if you'd like one and I'll dedicate a fish to you and let you know how it all went down.

See ya soon! Meow!


aka J aka Jessnuts aka Throbbins aka Jigga aka Robbo aka Skeeter aka Cat Man aka Peach aka Poppa aka Emilio aka Ones aka Stown aka Marco aka Mr. Wolf aka Love Hater aka J-Rob aka Port Steele aka Old Man Rivers aka 2006 Bates College Pub Crawl Co-Winner aka Lance aka J-Bomb aka Dr. J aka W. Les Bouvier aka Grasshopper aka Jessfest aka The Campaign Executioner aka J-Bob aka Ephriam aka Bassmaster aka Duane aka Jesse With The Long Hair Hanging Down