Those of you that have been to New Zealand and explored this beautiful country, fishing or just sightseeing, know exactly what I’m talking about when I say it is simply picturesque. For those of you that haven’t, the only way to describe it is as if an artist has created each landscape and river in a way that would be most appealing to the human eye. Shades of blue and green that I never knew existed litter the farms and waterways, often mistaking a healthy stream for nothing but a bed of pebbles due to the water covering it being crystal-clear. The weapon of choice for this trip was the Samurai Cruiser 2-4lb, a tremendously quality 4-piece travel rod. In my opinion the most economical and best travel rod on the market today. The cruiser comes in a tube the length of your arm and handily comes with a spare tip piece. That helped when the first morning in the dark my big clumsy foot stood directly on the tip, the spare tip saved the trip!
Recently I was fortunate enough to go on a 10 day trip with my dad Brad, to the South island, concentrating mainly on the Rakaia River on the east coast, and the small town of Twizel three hours south west of Rakaia. The start of the trip saw us flying into Christchurch. Starting off fishing with a guide for three days, two of which would be spent trying to connect with the almighty king salmon, the other day in the high country streams sight fishing for large rainbow and Brown trout. They call the Rakaia River the braided river, pretty obvious as to why when we arrived to the first location. A pool just upstream of the mouth with hundreds of different streams and flows braiding out into every direction as the millions of Liters of freshwater makes its descent to sea. Incredibly, all this water is coming out of a series of tiny fresh water springs in the mountains kilometers away that collectively make up this mammoth volume of water pouring out of the system.
The targeted Chinook salmon typically spend about four years out in the ocean before they do their dash up river, spawn, then die…I know, rough right? The technique relatively simple, casting heaving metal lures into the pools allowing the current to bounce the lure over the rocks. The salmon at this stage of their journey up river aren’t feeding; they hit the lure purely out of aggression. The most action we would have over the two days would be in the first ten minutes of fishing. I had hooked a 10+lb salmon, thrashing, headshaking and jumping out of the water as if it were a 1000lb black marlin. In our eyes it looked like that anyway! Unfortunately with about five cranks left on the handle it splashed its way to freedom, leaving nothing but ripples on the water and the burning desire to put that next cast in quickly and hook up again! The next two days brought us thousands of casts, zero fish, aching arms and legs, but peace knowing we were fishing amongst some of the most spectacular scenery we could ever imagine.
Day 3 started with anticipation and excitement as we headed off with the guide to our next secluded destination. A totally different style of fishing, sight casting to fish amongst some of New Zealand’s most breathtaking rock formations and mountains. Sheer cliffs and pebble beds guide the flowing water through these ranges, with trout facing upstream waiting for insects and other fodder to flow towards them. The next 7 hours would prove a challenge. We placed flies in the face of countless 8 pounders, only to see them shy away from our presentations. Perfectly placed casts, stalking the fish ever so dialectically, they weren’t playing the game. As we got to the very end of our run, the guide said ͞well guys, this is the furthest I’ve ever been and ever had to take anyone, we’re a long way from the car now!͟. One pool left, with about four nice trout sitting in it, I placed a fly directly on top of its nose and Bang! An epic battle finally saw me bring in a beautiful rainbow. After a quick happy snap and putting it back in the water, dad placed another identical cast just upstream to the next fish, Bang! Another remarkable fight followed. There we were, both sitting in amazement taking it all in. After three days of hard fishing, both our fish coming one after another. Isn’t it funny how that works?
The two fish caught in the high country had already made the trip well worth the effort. However we still had a few days of fishing in Twizel left, so off we went! Twizel was originally built in 1968 to house the workers whom constructed the hydroelectric scheme for the area that still surround this town. Nowadays the town and its canals are still being well utilized for its sole purpose along with it being a heavy tourist attraction. However, swimming beneath these picture perfect turquoise canals are a large number of rainbows, browns and the almighty chinook salmon! There are dozens of salmon pens in the canals that house a part of New Zealand’s salmon produce, but occasionally they escape in numbers making them a great target species for anglers.
The next few days consisted of countless trout and salmon caught on all different techniques. Some of the more successful methods were hopping the Atomic semi Hardz vibes 40 in natural colours, along the base of the heavy flowing rock walls. These fish loved anything that vibrated and with the vibes being soft it was much more natural to the fish. Also the atomics were something they had never seen before, often out fishing the more traditional ͞spinners and spoons͟ that were being used by others around us. Another way that seemed to work really well was sneaking up behind fish in the shallows, and twitching the 60mm atomic shiners past their noses. Accurate casts were needed but when put in front of the fish they became irresistible, especially the gold wolf colour.
The samurai cruiser comes in a tube the length of your arm and handily comes with a spare tip piece. That helped when the first morning in the dark seen my big clumsy foot stood directly on the tip, the spare tip saved the trip! See you again soon New Zealand!