New Zealand

Sunday, September 16, 2012

For many fly fisherman, New Zealand is at the top of the list of places to fish before they die. This is for good reason as New Zealand is home to some of the biggest brown trout and most pristine rivers on earth. Liz and I were lucky enough to visit New Zealand this past winter (summer for them) and it definitely lived up to the hype. We had been planning this trip for two years and our adventure took us over to Australia as well. We were out to see and experience as much as possible in both countries so it was not designed as a fishing trip. But there was no possible way I was going to New Zealand and not fishing. 

Our time in New Zealand was spent on the south island in Queenstown. Queenstown is a fantastic adventure hub that is home to great skiing/boarding in the winter and about every outdoor activity you could imagine in the summer (fishing, jet-boating, river rafting, sky diving….). The scenery in Queenstown is exactly what you would expect New Zealand to look like. Much of The Lord of the Rings was filmed near the area so that should help paint the mental picture.

Lake Wakatipu
When I started researching guides in the area, there were so many great recommendations to choose from. I kept coming back to one guide though, Chris Dore ( I am so happy we were able to fish with Chris as he is one of the best guides I have ever fished with. He is incredibly patient and a Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructor. I learned many things from Chris during our day on the water and he was instrumental in continuing to help Liz get her form down.

Chris picked us up at our hotel in Queenstown and we headed west towards a little town called Glenorchy. We fished a river pretty close to Glenorchy that was something off of a post card. Many of the rivers in New Zealand are glacial fed which gives them such a gin clear color. Fishing such an amazingly clear river certainly comes with its share of challenges though.


I knew going into our trip that fishing in New Zealand was very different than what we are used to here in the states. You may only get a few chances at fish during the day but those fish could very well be the fish of a lifetime. The challenge of spotting and stalking each fish and trying to make that perfect cast as not to spook the fish was a different concept for me. I quickly learned that it is a very exhilarating concept as well.
As we worked our way up the river, we tried a variety of patterns, both dry and nymph. Chris would spot a fish and we would do our best to scare the crap out of it. Liz and I would switch off working different sections and I had so much fun watching her really get her cast down. As we came up to a section of the river Chris called the aquarium, I really started to get excited. He said it was a big fish holding area and he was not kidding around. Chris slowly snuck his way along the side of the hill and then waved us forward. He pointed to the middle of the river below to a huge brown that was pushing nine pounds, man did my heart race. I had never seen a bigger trout. 

Our plan was for Chris and Liz to stay on the hill and spot as I moved back down the hill and access the river. I did so slowly and once I got back in, carefully started to wade back up towards the fish. Luckily, there was a giant boulder that split the river into two sections that gave me some cover. The fish was directly in front of the boulder and I made my way up the left side. As I got closer and closer to a position of being able to cast, the more excited I became. What a fish this was!

The big bruiser (top right of picture) moving into shallow water above the boulder
Finally, I moved far enough up to where I could see the drift and the very front of the fish. I had enough line out and was ready to go. I lifted my rod to make the cast and all of my feelings of excitement quickly turned to heartbreak. The fish must have seen the movement as he darted off up the river. That was a tough pill to swallow.

The rest of the day we continued to wind our way up the river. The natural beauty of the river, the surrounding forest and the waterfalls were an experience in themselves. We had multiple chances at other fish and finally did get a nice rainbow to the net. Holding that fish with Liz, even though it wasn't the monster brown, was very satisfying.




We had a fantastic day fishing with Chris, he truly made it a memorable experience. I can see how the challenge of fishing in New Zealand can be addicting and I really hope to make it back there some day. If you are ever in Queenstown and want to get on the water, give Chris a call, you won't regret it.


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