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October 2015 to April 2016, 7 months of another great fishing season has passed in the South Island of NZ and its time to reflect on how great it was.
During the season I explored over 40 new waters, all amongst amazing landscapes and accompanied by several first times and incredible experiences. Some days were tough, some were challenging, some required marathon length hikes, some a just short helicopter ride, but at the end of the day when passion is driving what you do, every day and place becomes unforgettable.
This blog series is intended to be both an insightful wrap up of my season and as a reference for you to better understand NZ waters, what to expect and a few tips to hopefully help you plan your trip of a lifetime. If you would like more detail or help with your specific trip, feel free to flick me a message and I will see how I can help.
October - A new season begins
For me, this season was particularly special as it earmarked the beginning of a new direction in my life, becoming a full-time angler. I intended to spend the majority of my days either on the water or planning my next, all peppered by delving into the industry and learning as much as possible. It would also drive my decision to officially enter the guiding industry, something I was initially tentative about but became more comfortable as opportunities presented themselves. I began to better understand the value it adds to New Zealand and the fact that it is not as detrimental as many anglers believe. If managed correctly it could well become one of the important tools that sustains and protects our fisheries for decades to come.
My season started like a dream.
One of my season goals was to catch my first trophy trout of over 10lb. Thinking that this would be a season long endeavour I planned my first opening trip to an area which would hopefully help me on the way and at least give me the chance to practice on a few likely candidates.
After planning for months, I headed north with my mate Dave for a hard-core back country adventure to bring in the new season. However the weather gods had different ideas and decided to pound the whole South Island for opening day, I thought that my dream trip may be over before it began.
Rather than reading about the whole trip, watch the video and see my dream come true!
2015 Opening Trip & Trophy Browns: https://vimeo.com/145834198
I then spent most of October exploring my local waters as you really need to make the most of them before the farmers suck them dry for the benefit of grazing cows in a desert. This process is just unsustainable madness if you ask me and I pray for the day where we collectively agree the point and make a stand against public resources being plundered for the benefit of the few, going against everything we hold dear in New Zealand.
Anyway.... as the season started to get into the swing of things I decided to hit the road and explore some new waters, this time with just on my lonesome. I setup a bed in the back and headed south for a week, it was still damn cold, windy and snowed on the second night which turned the lower rivers high and dirty
After getting hammer by the weather, I made sure it did not dampen my spirits but instead went on the hunt for more remote rivers that would be less effected by the conditions. I was eventually rewarded with a perfect day of no wind, no clouds and crystal clear water all amongst a magnificent valley. This proved to be one of the best days of my season and defiantly my best on that particular water. Checkout some of the awesome browns I got into in this short film
Deep South Wandering: https://vimeo.com/144951244
Tips for fishing in October
The first month of the season can be one of the most rewarding. Most fish have gone about their business and been undisturbed for up to 5 months, combined with their desire to recondition after spawning all you really need to do is get your fly in the right place and it's on. The downside however is the unpredictable and gnarly weather that can come out of nowhere, turning the river to mud and destroying your hopes to even get a cast out.
Here are a few tips that will help your success in early season conditions:
- Target waterways that have a smaller catchment area, or areas that provide access to multiple catchments should it all turn bad and you need to seek refuge in a tributary or smaller stream.
- Don't underestimate the weather, even though winter is over horrendous storms and snow are still possible to low levels, you don't want to get caught out on a bad day unprepared
- Fish big, make the most of being able to get out those size #8 - #12 nymphs, these fish will not be as selective early on and it is important to for you fly to be seen in water that may carry some colour or snow melt
Plan a slightly longer trip to allow for bad weather days and/or additional travel to get to those unaffected areas.
Overall October is a great month for fishing in the south and if your willing to adapt and make the most of all situations there are some great fish to be found, they can be as hungry as ever and there are generally less anglers trying to hunt them down.