so it's tuesday here and i've been out fishing the past 5 days. 4 of those days i didn't catch one fish. yesterday i hooked 4 and landed 3. that felt good. now i'm back in Hanmer Springs, catching up with email, the folks, etc. i also want to catch up with a hamburger and some Speights.
after leaving christchurch, i headed back into Molesworth Station, where the alternator went on me. apparently i am not supposed to stay in there, as i woke up the next morning to this:
ha! van temp when i woke up: 35.7 F. after clearing the van of the snow i slowly got a hot breakfast in me, the sun showed and decided that i might as well fish. i really felt like steelheading this day. however, the weather would soon turn me around back for the van. no fish to speak of. i was ready to head back into more temperate lands, but i soon found out that the sun had turned the ground into a muddy-slushy mess and the van didn't like that much. i had to spend about an hour going back and forth, then making a gravel path to drive out on. i'm glad i kept my waders on for that though:
from there i headed west to a inspect a few rivers that Chappie had circled on the atlas for me. it was then that my fish drought began. i was on the river early the next day and spotted a fish in the first 100 yards of river i looked at. on the second cast, i hooked this fish. it took off downstream and happened to run into a rock where the fly pulled. this would turn out to be the only tight line i felt for the next 3 days. it was a beautiful river though:
the next day i decided to fish and tramp along the St. James Track. i was crawling into bed when another van pulled in to the car park next to me. turned out that the two young ladies in the van had worked the summer in Damariscotta. it was nice to have some beers in company:
again, no luck on that river. unfortunately my pack took a loss. the magnificent Stevens landing net that my dear Mum had got me for Christmas several years ago was attached to my pack with a magnet device. while walking around/through some bushes apparently it was pulled off. when i realized it was gone, i felt like crying. i backtracked for several hundred yards then realized that i couldn't really pick my path and that it was probably useless. then i thought of all the great fish that net had landed: Wilkie's monster brookie this past spring, Paul's and Pete's big salmon on Sebago, a nice bass I landed while fishing with Chi, other brookies of my own and my fathers. and most recently, a few nice Kiwi trout. i said my goodbyes and continued on. i happened to take a self portrait earlier in the day, and this is the last photo of the net ever:
fortunately, the good guys at Christchurch's Fish Loft are overnighting me a new landing net. this net also has a scale in it, so i'll be able to accurately weight all my fish now. hopefully i will be able to use that feature. some more pics from that day of fishing:
these bridges and sweet/sketchy. when you step off of it, you feel like you've just stepped off a boat that was at sea for 18 hours:
this is the view from the bridge:
i spotted a fish from there, then promptly spooked it.
so, after 3 fishless days, i decided i would do a little tramping. i inspected some maps and decided to hike up a river and camp out at a DOC hut. these huts are peppered across the South Island. i had heard about then from Chi and Nelligan but had yet to see one, let alone stay in one myself. so i loaded up my pack and set off. i reached the hut in the early afternoon and was very surprised to see its accommodations were quite nice. three sets of bunks (some huts have 32 bunks!), a couple tables and a few benches. the hut:
after claiming a bunk and dropping off non-fishing articles, i set off back downstream to fish my way back to the hut. i spotted two fish in this half day of fishing and spooked them both. i was very frustrated with the fishing as of late. i was baffled as to why i could not hook a single fish. i tied longer leaders, shorter leaders, heavier flies, lighter flies, i thought i tried as many things as i thought i could. Chappie's words, "if it was easy, there would be a lot more people doing it," echoed in my head over and over again, but i still couldn't understand why i could cast to holding and FEEDING fish and could not get them to take my flies. i thought it over and over while i got my dinner and a campfire going that night. tomorrow would be a big day on the water i told myself as i slept under a nearly full moon:
i took to the water early that next day and while it wasn't as sunny, and it was more windy than the day before, there i was. i saw two fish right off and could not get either of them to take. i sighed as i continued upstream. the next fish would not be so lucky. i saw the indicator hesitate and stung this fish good. it would go completely across the stream then back so fast i could hardly keep up to it, then do the same. these fish are hard enough to land with a net, so now i was really going to have to play this one well. soon enough and i had its tail in my had. Paul, sorry that the picture isn't great, and i'll get you another one soon, but this fish would go 5 pounds easy. this fish broke my skunk and got me back in the game. this fish is for you, Paul:
at the next pool upstream, i saw a fish feeding not two feet in front of a big boulder. it was a tough lie to cast into as the current would go hard to one side of the rock or the other, but the fish was stationed right in front of the rock. time and time again i tried to put a fly right down the middle of the run but it would float to another side. finally i got one to go right down the middle. i watched as my indicator went right over the boulder and then instinctively i raised my rod as if i watched the fish take the fly. maybe it was because i knew the fly had finally got right in front of the fish's face, or maybe it was some other feeling i dont know about, but sure enough i had stung that fish. i think it was as surprised as i was. another lengthy battle and i got a hold of that one's tail too. some quick work with the tripod and this beautiful fish is for you, Mum:
so that one felt good. two in a row. i continued on fishing that day, seeing a number of other fish. later in the day, the river forked hard and i continued up, following the main stem. past another bridge and then i started seeing more fish. i hooked one and it took me about 500 yards downstream, almost into a small gorge before the hook pulled. i was bummed i lost that one, but it was quite a ride anyway. next hole, another fish. spooked that one. next hole, another fish spooked. these fish were holding in tough spots. in small eddies, moving around, almost hovering in the currents, so that it was tough to get behind them to make a cast. but, literally every single pool on this stretch of the river had fish in it. it was wild. it was getting late but i couldn't stop going to the next pool. i got to the next, next pool and saw a fish in the small eddy. i put a few casts over it, then one good one and the indicator shimmied. i hooked him good and saw him do that woo-woo-woo head shake in the river. and we danced.
this fish would take me across the river and back three or four times. i slipped on the bank, nearly fell in several times and just could not get this fish into calmer water. we fought for a good 20 minutes. finally he tired and i was able to bring him into a side channel where i knew i had won the battle. it was then, as i brought him to the beach and grabbed his tail that i realized just how large he was. this fish is for you, Dad:
a long hike back and plenty of time to think of the day's great fishing. i was pleasantly surprised to find a few other trampers at the hut when i got there. Murray, Cliff and I had some nice conversation that night and this morning as we prepared for our respective journeys. it was nice to share the hut with them. a nice walk out in the sun and the breeze and a final picture from the adventure:
so now i'm off to the hot springs, then to the pub. after the net arrives tomorrow i think i'll check out a high country lake.
i hope everyone's well. fishing and hiking alone leaves me with a lot of time to think to myself and there are more than a few times every day when i laugh outloud thinking of some of our recent antics. talk to ya soon!