Casting lines from a fanatical Australian/New Zealand fly fisherman

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Hunter River

The Hunter river was the most spectacular part of our November trip to New Zealand. It was iconic New Zealand fishing, all what the fishing journalists talk about. It was in the New Zealand "back country" where the fishing was in spectacular surroundings.

The hunter river flows through a valley which has only limted access. Some people helicopter in, others jet boat in during times when this is permissable, while others drive in using a 4WD, crossing 4 rivers and spending an intense 2 hours driving on roads which are used by Hunter Station to care for their cattle and sheep. Hunter Station allows access while staying in one of their huts. Col, Chris and I stayed at Boundary hut.

This  video is a catalogue of our experience in the Hunter Valley.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

New Zealand Again

Col, Chris and I have been to New Zealand's South Island in November! This is our fourth  trip together in the south island.

It was the best fishing trip yet! The weather was spectacular, although the local farmers were all crying out for rain. The rivers were very fishable, with clear fresh water flowing down rivers with stone bottoms.

The fish were co-operating as well. We caught both browns and rainbows, on dry flies (often using blow flies which are a blue humpy style pattern) and small nymphs.

A total of 16 fishing days, thanks to my wife Merrie who helps me organise the flights and some parts of the accommodation. She also allows me the time to spend in one part of God's incredible creation. Thanks Merrie.

Three Aussie blokes who had one purpose, that is to catch trout in one of the most spectacular parts of the world. One couple commented in one of our caravan parks that we stayed in that they were impressed by the the way we worked together, in this case it was the preparation of our evening meal.

Thankyou Col, Chris and the South Island New Zealand.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Alaska Fishing - Kenai River

Cooper's Landing is a must to fish. Well it almost was a "must fish" for me, but not quite! When we arrived in Anchorage, we decided to initially head north - in the direction of Denali National Park - to see if we could be one of the lucky 30% of tourists to obtain a clear view of North America's tallest mountain, Mt McKinley. We became friendly with some folk in the Big Lake area and consequently ran out of time to wet a line at Cooper's Landing, en route to our cruise embarkation at Seward. However, we did take a detour off the highway and dropped by for a quick visit.

I enquired about a drift boat fishing trip down the Kenai River, chasing large rainbows and was told that August is definitely the best time of year to do this!

The guide at Alaska Trout Fitters was enthusiastic, knowledgeable and friendly.

Watching the rainbows on a tributary of the Kenai River

Here we are watching those rainbows sitting immediately behind the salmon. It is illegal to fish for salmon here but the rainbows  are large!!! I asked this local why he didn't walk up the river to prospect in better locations. He answered that there was a high risk of running into grizzly bears if he walked or waded into more remote areas. For safety, he only ever fished accessable water close to roads.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Alaska Fishing and The Best Catch of the Day

Every trip has a highlight. Alaska has many trophies but the best of all is:

My wife, Merrie, helping me out by sighting fish on the Little Susitna

It was glorious weather. All of the locals tell you to enjoy the sunshine on days such as this, as there is so little of it in Alaska. This seems impossible for an Australian to comprehend!!!

Helping a Christian friend with some casting tips

The second best part of fishing in Alaska, other than sharing it with your wife, is sharing it with a friend. I loved spending several days sharing my love of christ (in a practical way) with a Christian friend. Dale and I worked many hours together preparing Little Beaver Camp & Retreat Center for the next set of campers. Fishing the river with Merrie and Dale was my reward for two days' work.

Who Enjoys Salmon?

Fishing always has challenges. In Alaska, this comes in the form of a large black (sometimes brown) animal with an "I'm bigger than you" attitude problem!

A 7 month old baby grizzly bear
This cutie was photographed at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center south of Girdwood. Grizzlies (otherwise known as brown bears) stay with their mum for up to 2 years whilst she teaches them how to hunt and fish. This specimum already stands taller than me and is many multiples of my weight! You can well imagine the size of mama bear! Their favourite diet this time of year is salmon. As they fish the same rivers as fishermen, the prudent angler always carries pepper spray. My can was inspected at customs, but I was permitted to bring it into Canada as long as I used it only for its intended purpose!

Willow Creek, just off the Parks Highway
Merrie and I met a young fisherman at Willow Creek (actually quite a big river) who carried a pistol in a holster on his chest. He told us that he had turned around suddenly the previous day and got the shock of his life to find a black bear within arm's reach.

An American Bald Eagle

Bald eagles also love fishing for salmon. Fortunately they are much more tolerant of other fishermen!

Where are the real fish?

Here it is:

A 8 lb bullet, caught on the Montana Creek, Alaska
If you want to catch fish which never give up and run strong, often taking you into your backing, then this is for you! Most local anglers will use a 8 weight rod. Those who enjoy the sport will use a 6 weight rod. The tippet needs to be heavy. I was using 9 lb tippet.

The flies are large streamers. Try purple first. Then black and if that doesn't work, resort to green.

These fish are not feeding.  Rather, your sole purpose is to really annoy them so that they respond to your fly.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fly Fishing in Alaska During August

The rivers vary in clarity but the best water is clear. This is a portion of Montana Creek, one of the best streams north of Anchorage. These streams are spring feed. The glacier fed streams are coloured with alluvial silt.

I also fished Willow Creek and the Little Susitna. They are all accessable from the Parks Highway.

To fish the salmon, you need to be at the confluence of Montana Creek at the Mendenhall River. Try turning right at Yoder Road on the way to Talkeetna.

I have been advised to plan a fishing trip on the old Denali Rd, which runs south of the national park. The road surface is dirt but apparently it is well formed. The road crosses over many spring creeks where rainbows abode in high numbers. During spawning runs of salmon, rainbows can be found a few metres below the salmon. They feed on the salmon roe. It is no doubt best to sleep in a campervan (RV), rather than a tent, to be safe from wildlife. The best month to fish this water for rainbows is in July whereas the salmon run in mid August. King Salmon, however, start running in June.

Expect to have mild weather, but it can be very wet. 2010 had 31 consecutive days of rain!

This video clip is of spawning salmon at Ketchikan, Alaska. 2010 was a record year for spawning salmon. Fish numbers in the Fraser River were higher than they have ever been since 1913.