After the rain comes the sun. According to the weather forecast the sun would be shining on the South Island for the next 3 days and I decided to spend them on the West Coast. I had visited the area previously to check out the various spring creeks in the area, but bad weather intervened and made spotting very difficult. My chances would hopefully be better now with clear skies and warmer temperatures.
Thankfully a friend back home had visited the area with success only a month earlier and was kind enough to share some valuable local knowledge. While getting supplies I ran into another fly fisherman and it did not take long for us realize we were both Norwegian! Anders was his name and he had also arrived the same day to fish the spring creeks. We decided to join forces and made a detailed plan to explore several rivers and creeks in the area over the next couple of days.
We would have an amazing time in the spring creeks. It all started very well in the first small spring creek as we spotted a trout rise to take a mayfly dun of the surface. I had the honor of making the first cast and served up a CDC Comparadun #16 which the fish gobbled down on the first attempt. We went on to catch several more fish in the 3-4-pound range, mostly on dries. But we had not seen any bigger fish and moved on to a new river the next day.
The second river we checked out was much bigger and it did not take long before we saw fish after fish stacked upriver. Anders made his cast and caught a nice silvery little trout that we speculated might be sea run because of the colors. We spent the whole day on this river and caught a few more, but spooked a whole bunch of other fish. The spectacular weather made spotting easier, both for trout and fly fishermen.
On day 3 we explored some of the smaller spring creeks, not sure if fish could reside in such small water. But the spring creeks were teeming with insects and it did not take long before we spotted the first fish. Although some mayflies were hatching the fish were not interested in our dries. We decided to find out more and Anders pulled out an old nylon stocking perfect filtering out any nymphs and other critters coming off the underwater grass. There was a lot of small stuff, primarily tiny olive mayfly nymphs. With this knowledge, we changed up our game and Anders immediately hooked up to a nice fish that was rising but eating something under the surface. Then came the second challenge… How do you land a fish in such tiny water with grass everywhere? Anders fought hard, but after a while the first fish propelled in the grass and got stuck there. We tried to retrieve it by hand, but it was gone.
We found more fish upstream and now it was my turn. Based on what just happened to Anders I went up in tippet diameter to 3x fluorocarbon to be able to fight the fish and net it more quickly. The trout did not seem to mind the higher diameter tippet and took my nymph. I fought it very hard to avoid the grass and netted it quickly. The fish just over 5 pounds was released safely and swam away with a slightly sore lip. Anders was up next and tried the new “fight hard, release quick” tactic with great success netting a wonderful 6-pounder. We had been lucky to experience the West Coast from its best side.
Now it was time for me to pack up and head back to Norway. New Zealand had made a profound impression on me and I have to come back for more.