Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thinking Kiwi

No, I'm not going to NZ in 2011 and yes I do want to go very badly. Duties call, however, and I'm sure the fish in the Oreti will be just as hard to catch the next time I go.
I have been working on contributing to a new blog that Orvis is trying to get going called Orvisnews.com. I've submitted a few articles whihc they have posted and am currently working on a 4 part article on NZ. The first one of these articles should be posted sometime in the next week. But as I need content here too...here it is.
Swanny on the Oreti
This article is the first in a 4 part series to help the adventurous angler with planning a self-guided trip to New Zealand’s South Island. I’ve travelled and fished extensively around this portion of New Zealand over the past 9 years both on my own and as a host for several groups of anglers. I do not guide on these trips as it is illegal for foreigners to work in New Zealand without the proper permits and there is simply no way that I can offer a comparable level of expertise in terms of local knowledge and access as a professional New Zealand guide. However, there are more than enough opportunities for the angler that wants to go it alone and these articles should help eliminate some of the guesswork while also setting some realistic expectations.

Winters in Montana are cold, that’s why I typically head to New Zealand for a few weeks of chasing trout in warmer climates. Although we’ve got some great trout fishing here, there is just no place like New Zealand. The scenery, people, and vast amounts of clear water is enough to ruin an angler for life, at least that’s my excuse. Add to that mix an average size trout of 3-5 pounds that will eat a dry fly and I’m already on way back. It truly is an amazing, one of a kind destination that every angler should experience at least once in a lifetime.
Swanny again on the Oreti...note the trout lower right near the bank...this is as close as we got to it.

New Zealand is a long way away from my home and the trout fishing is really quite different than what we are used to in the states and even in South America, so hiring a guide for at least a few days is the best bet for success early on during all of my trips. I typically rely on a guide to get me acquainted with a particular area and then spend the bulk of my time exploring and fishing a variety of waters on my own. Out of respect for the guide, I typically don’t return to the areas that they guide me on unless they truly don’t mind. There is more than enough water for everyone in NZ, but it always pays to respect the locals!
In my short time of almost 30 years as a fly fisherman, there is nothing that compares to the trout fishing in New Zealand. The waters are clean and cold. The trout are magnificent. Solitude is reality. The conditions and fish will test ones mental fortitude along with every phase of fly-fishing aptitude. No other form of fishing has given me such highs and lows while molding my outlook on fish, the environment, and myself as my days spent on the water in New Zealand.
Oreti Love
Perhaps the most overwhelming aspect of panning that once in a lifetime trip to New Zealand is just determining where to focus one’s attention. I have travelled and fished extensively through the South Island, so my expertise is limited to this portion of the country. The North Island also has some fantastic opportunities and is certainly worth the trip as well. Both islands are incredibly diverse and offer everything from barren coastal prairies to dramatic mountain peaks covered by glaciers for millennia. So, where does one stat?
In the South Island, I recommend picking an area to base that offers close proximity to a variety of different water types and variable topographic features. The weather can be unpredictable and vary widely across relatively small distances so having plenty of options is always first on my list. I have found the areas around Murchison, Twizel, and Lumsden to be great bases of operation for all of my New Zealand adventures. Each of these towns has all the essentials such as lodging, groceries, and basic provisions, while offering 360 degrees of access to quality fishing.
I would rate these qualities as the highest priority when trying to put any trip together to New Zealand. The country is sparsely populated and having some semblance of a population center nearby becomes paramount once one realizes that there aren’t any gas station or restaurants open past 6:00 pm on a weekday, but the sun stays up until around 9:30. Options become highly appreciated when one of those legendary "Norwester’s" come up and blow 40 mph for 4 days and all of he rivers you have access to run NW to SE. Each of the areas I’ve mentioned has everything from large braided rivers to the tiniest of spring creeks, so there is plenty to explore despite the conditions.
10 Pounds of 6x Glory for Mr. Jones
Once I’ve picked the area for my next New Zealand adventure, the next phase is to develop a plan on how to go about fishing the waters. This is where a great Kiwi guide can make the difference between boom and bust.  There are dozens of great guides that specialize in catering specifically to overseas anglers looking for the quintessential Kiwi fly-fishing experience. However, there are only so many of them and they are in high demand during the busy summer season from January –March.  A guide is not necessary to catch fish in New Zealand for advanced anglers, but they will significantly shorten the learning curve, which becomes even more valuable when on a limited time schedule.
Once I’ve narrowed down my choices to a few centrally located towns and have hired a guide for a few days, next it’s time to start with the details. The proper equipment and knowledge of how it all works can mean the difference between success and failure. Having both will greatly increase one’s success in New Zealand and this will be the focus in next week’s article.
Toby Swank

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know you're going to mention something about practicing your casting accuracy with a very long leader befor your visit.