When friends found out I would be visiting New Zealand, everyone ask if I was going fishing . On checking the itrinary of the tour I discovered a "free day" in Queenstown. I called Simon Wilkinson Guiding and ask if there was any possibility of a guided trip the next day. He told me to be in the hotel lobby at 7:00 AM
The South Island of NZ is amazingly beautiful in the spring. Snow capped mountains and lovely green hills with clear streams running through the sheep filled meadows.
We took a gravel road off the main highway that followed a small river, parked the 4-wheel drive and grabbed the rods.
The way it's done is.... you follow the river trying to spot the trout in the clear shallow water.
Then using a 9 foot 6wt flyrod with a super long leader ( I think it was 14 to 15 foot) and two tiny nymph flys.... you cast to a feeding fish.
The trick is to put the fly ahead of the fish and let it drift down into the "feeding window". Sounds easy.... it's not.... LOL .... You have to be right on the money. If your fly is to far to the left or right, or too shallow, the fish ignores you. Just a few inches off target won't cut it.
Sometimes I couldn't see the fish from my casting position. Simon would be up on the bank "spotting" for me and directing my casts. "Just a little to the left, and about 2 feet longer, Stan." "Good, now 6 inches more to the right. Needless to say, if your going to NZ.... first practice your casting using a long leader. It will make your trip much more productive and enjoyable.
We spotted, well mostly Simon spotted, some 30 or 40 fish that day. This river held only brown trout. Not many fish per mile, but big ones. A 6 pound fish was on the "small" side.
About 3 feet above the fly there was a "strike indicator". A small bright tuft of fluff tied to the line. It works like a floater. Gives you an idea of where your fly is and indicates when you get a strike. If the indicator stops... you strike. That also sounds easy doesn't it? (grin)
We walked several miles along the river spotting fish and casting to them. Some fish ignored my presentation and after 30 or so casts we moved on to find another more cooperative trout. Other times I missed my mark and spooked the fish on the first cast. Simon was very patient with me. Always offering encouragement and advice.
Just after a relaxing picnic lunch, I hooked into a big brown that wasn't able to throw the fly on it's first jump. On my 3rd cast the indicator stopped, Simon yelled "Strike" and the fight was on.
The river at that spot was only about 2 feet deep, but swift. The trout moved up current into a deeper pool with me running along the gravel bar, rod held high, and wondering if a 6 pound test leader was really strong enough to land this thing. All the while, Simon was shouting encouragement and taking pictures. Finally I eased the huge brown trout (it was huge to me) into the shallow water and grabbed it by the tail.
The small fly was quickly removed, more pictures taken, and with a splash of it's tail the fish disappeared into the stream.
Wow. My first brown trout.
Fishing for brown trout in New Zealand was different from any fishing I had ever done. Lots of walking, the need for accurate casts with a long leader, and "stalking feeding fish". On Simons web site there are pictures of mountain streams filled with browns and rainbows with snow capped mountains in the background. Places reached only by helicopter. ( swguiding.wispaces.com )
If the picnic lunch was great (loved those home made cookies), imagine a home cooked meal in his mountain cabin by the river after a day of fishing. Something to dream about and look forward to. It was an adventure in a beautiful land, with good company, a trip I will never forget.