Fish with me in New Zealand

New Zealand streams and lakes are crystal clear, making it much easier to hunt the big trout.

The land of the Antipodes is certainly big trout country, but so are Iceland, Terra del Fuego, Alaska, the Great Lakes, Patagonia, and others. But New Zealand is unique. It is one-on-one, mano-a-mano, trout and fly fisher. It is more hunting—stalking, positioning strategy, plotting—than fly fishing. Locating a double-digit fish (over 10 pounds), and stalking it successfully is a rush like no other, and in New Zealand it is available like no other place on earth.

Imagine ferns the size of trees shading a limpid pool that holds only one fish—a really big brown, in the 30 to 32 inch length and well over 10 pounds. Your guide sits with you and helps you plan every step—literally every physical step you take—so you won’t spook the fish on your approach. Once in place, your have to deliver the line without any false casts, dropping the fly ever so delicately on the glassine surface. And on the take, as the hook goes home, the wild rush you get at the fish’s wild rush to escape. Photographed, the fish of a lifetime slides away.

My first trip to New Zealand in 1982 was courtesy of Air New Zealand, which provided me with press-courtesy passage. I went to visit a friend of a friend, who took two weeks off work to show me the fishing of the South Island. We hiked, camped, flew into remote rivers, and stalked big browns and rainbows in spring creeks. It was all I imagined.

I have returned many times. There are many stories from those excursions, simply because each fish and each situation is different and unique. For example, “The Impossible Fish,” a huge brown feeding just above a 4-strand barbwire fence. “No way to cast to it,” my fiend noted. So I just fished down and across, not up, and the brown sucked in the size 16 Griffith’s Gnat on the first drift. Or, “Fishing into the Invisible,” when the night beetles were plopping down on a narrow, deep spring creek, and fishing was all by sound and feel in the total dark of a moonless night. Or, “A Rainbow for Nancy,” when my wife hooked and landed a 30-inch rainbow on a small spring creek. There is simply no place like New Zealand. It is my world-wide favorite for several reasons.

(1) The fish come out of the egg at 20 inches and can only get bigger. There are some real whoppers in NZ–double digit fish, those over 10 pounds. But, hold on, there are not tons of fish, Remember, a river can hold 1000, 1-pound fish or 1, 1000-pound fish. The biomass is fixed, so when there are big fish, they are not super abundant. One does not just go fishing, one “hunts” the fish. When they are found, then begins the stalking, sneaking, perfect casting, etc. Often one can take them on a dry fly. Extremely exciting and infinitely rewarding.

(2) The fish demand the best we have. They are spooky buggers. Not terribly selective, but spooky. No fluorescent fly lines, no bright clothing or bright hats, most certainly polarizing sunglasses, and plenty of stop and watch. A real challenge, but even if one is not highly familiar with this style of fishing, the guides are, and they are exceptionally good coaches.

(3) The country is stunningly lovely. The water is so clear that one almost has to feel for the surface. There are birds everywhere, and flowers splash brightly across the scenery. Lord of the Rings was shot in NZ if you want an idea of the magnificence of the countryside.

(4) The people are wonderful. Not just the people at the lodges—who most certainly are wonderful—but everyone is friendly, helpful, whole-heartedly on your side. The atmosphere is relaxation. So peaceful.

(5) We will fish out of Pornui Lodge, one of the best in NZ. It’s a North Island venue with exceptional waters. There are nearby streams and stillwaters, and then there are those that must be sought by chopper–all of this is available.

(6) I will offer Casting Instruction daily, and other fly fishing related discussions, such as Reading Water, Fishing the Film, Nymphing Tactics, fly tying instruction, and more during the week. It will be a trip to not only remember, but one that will add richly to your angling skill.

I produced the first internationally distributed video on fly fishing in New Zealand  (South Island Sampler) back in the early 1980s, and I’ve fished the islands many times since. Believe me when I say this will be an exceptional trip for all involved.

Everyone who participates in this exceptional event will receive, before the trip, an inscribed copy of my book, “Fishing the Film,” and a copy of my newest DVD, “The Perfect Cast I.” There will be time on the trip for me to visit with each person and spend time fishing with each one, also.

If you have the time available next April (2018) then head on over to The Best of New Zealand and sign up. You won’t regret it.

The New Zealand fly fisher is a “hunter” in all senses of the word.

 

Casting from one’s knees is an often used strategy.

 

Double digit fish like this one are there for the taking.

 

The Single Best Book on Fly Casting Ever Written

Sooner or later, someone had to do it, and Jason has done it. Fly Casting is the core element of fly fishing, and the more one understands about the nuances of this skill, the better. But Jason has taken a new twist—the modular approach. It shows one how to build skill upon skill allowing anyone to achieve, what many believe to be, fly casting levels available only to the most athletically gifted among us.

He demonstrated this when he devised the “Shadow Cast” for the movie, A River Runs Though It, directed by Academy-award-winning director, Robert Redford. The Shadow Cast was a linked set of individual skills (modules) that included an Upward Hook, a Positive Hook Curve, the Galway Cast, and a hidden Double Haul.

The overall idea is quite simple. Learn a skill, link it to another skill, or more than one skill—each a “module” in the overall end result. It’s a fabulous way to learn to cast without mind-numbingly complex explanations, and the prospect of thousands of hours of practice out in the back yard. Pieces of casting simple click together like Legos, yielding a host of possibilities that are readily executed.

Then add in over 400 highly explanatory line drawings, and you have a book that far exceeds anything anyone has ever done in the teaching fly casting. Wow, Jas, it’s extraordinary.

To order your signed, numbered copy, go to Jason’s site, here.

This is the way it all fits together. The Tuck/Pile cast is just a vertical, overpowered curve followed immediately by a lift of the rod so the curve has a chance to form. Look at the great artwork and read the great explanation. Note the modules.

 

NEW BOOK, NEW DVD, MUSIC CD

FOR CURRENT BLOG POSTS, SCROLL DOWN BELOW THESE ANNOUNCEMENTS

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After a few minor complications that have been fully cleared up, FLY GEAR is here.

This was an exciting book to write, with a deep look into the gear than makes fly fishing such an interesting sport. Until February 15th it is being offered at the Just-released price of $25.00, which includes shipping and handling. I will personalize the book to you, or to the person you designate when you order it. Please, if you are ordering it for someone else, don’t forget to tell me so, and give me that person’s name. Otherwise, I will sign it to the person who orders the book.

There’s a saying in fly fishing that equipment isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. And that’s certainly true. Especially when we understand that our equipment is the only thing between us and the fish. Fly Gear is a full 224 pages. And what a great 224 pages are they are, crammed with an abundance of detailed information on the gear that we love. The primary emphasis is on rods, reels, lines, and leaders. These tackle items are not just discussed from the current view-point, but from the whole of fly fishing, its evolution to modern tackle (which began around 1850), and on to today’s marvelous equipment. There are charts and diagrams that help the reader to clearly see the “why” as well as the “how.” There are page upon page of reasoned guidance in tackle selection, and a thorough look at Bill Hanneman’s CCS system for rod evaluation. Two full chapters are devoted to leader development, including a deep look at Gary’s much lauded Uni-Body leader system. There’s a full chapter on the most used knots, replete with very clear photos of their construction. Fly lines, our most unique piece of fly fishing equipment, receive four chapters, discussing them in great detail so that the reader is totally prepared to select that just right line for any circumstance. Likewise four chapters are devoted to details of modern fly rods. Knowing them in intimate detail, from bamboo to glass to graphite to boron, allows the angler to not only select the best rod for any situation, but also allows the fly fisher to discuss topics such as action, swing weight, prepreg, mandrels, and more with total authority and accurate knowledge. This is a book designed by a fly fisher for every serious fly fisher.

To order this new book, click here: ORDER FLY GEAR

 

 

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The Perfect Cast I discusses and demonstrates the three casting Methods: Wrist Casting, Forearm Casting, and Whole Arm Casting, noting their best uses, and clearly illustrating the “how-to” of each method. Gary discusses grip and stance, including detailed instructions for The Three Point Grip. There are clearly illustrated demonstrations of the Bow and Arrow Cast, the Elliptical Stroke, Across the Head Cast, Hook Curve, Reach Mend, Curve Mend, Puddle Mend, Roll Cast, Switch Cast or Forward Spey, Shooting Line, Long Distance Casting. Gary discusses and illustrates the details of the backcast with its lift and flip, the pause, the forward cast, A.L.E., Loop formation, tailing loops, pantomiming, false casting, casting in the wind, pickups, including the “C” Pickup, change of direction pickups, mending, and more. Unique shots from above dramatically illustrate Gary’s discussions of the casts and mends. All this in a 72 minute DVD for only $16.50 postage paid

Gary’s clear and easy to follow teaching style was developed in over 40 years of teaching internationally on all aspects of fly casting and fly fishing at the professional level. He produced the first-ever instructional video on fly fishing (Nymphing, 1982), was the Midwest Director of the Fenwick Fly Fishing Schools, and a founding Board Member of the FFF Casting Certification Program. He writes and lectures internationally on all aspects of fly fishing. Music on this DVD from the CD, “My Madison,” by Gary Borger and John Beth. To order the CD or see other ongoing information, visit GaryBorger.com

To order this great new DVD click here: ORDER THE PERFECT CAST I DVD

 

 

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In this unique collaborative work, Gary and John have joined the best of their writing and musical composition and performance skills to celebrate their joy in this magnificent fishery. They envision the river’s seven segments in prose and music: the headwaters of the Gibbon River and the Firehole, the Upper Madison that feeds Hebgen Lake, Quake Lake with the lost campers under its huge slide, the 55 mile riffle down to Ennis Lake, and the Lower Madison through the Beartrap Canyon and on to the formation of the Missouri at Three Forks. John’s delightful music gives song to the grand sweep of the whole river, and Gary’s poetry in prose paints a unique picture of this unique river. “MY Madison” was awarded First Place in the 1994 Broadcast Division by the American Association of Outdoor Writers. This prestigious award is celebrated in this 20th Anniversary Release. This 14 track CD is priced at only $11.50 postage paid. For ongoing information visit GaryBorger.com. Copyright 2015, All Rights Reserved

To order this great music CD click here: ORDER MY MADISON MUSIC CD

Big Browns are in but Cold Weather Coming, Fall 2017

Having lived for over 40 years in Wisconsin, I am still interested in its fish and my long time fly fishing companions, even though Nancy and I now live in Vancouver, WA. My faithful friend, John Beth, keeps me apprised of goings-on in the Badger State fishery. His latest report is both good and bad. Good because the really big browns are ascending the tributaries and taking flies very well. Bad because the weather, which has been unseasonably warm, is going to turn to its usual late fall nasty. As in freezing temps and then some. So, the rivers are going to ice, and that of course means no fishing. So, go, go, go. Get ‘em while they’re hot, because it is not going to be hot for long.

Our friend, Dan, “Doc” Zavadsky, with a 33 inch brown from a Lake Michigan tributary in Wisconsin. Better hurry, these big boys will soon be under the ice.

Big Stripers are Back in NJ, Fall 2017

Fall is always a question mark for the big stripers. Some years early, some late. Water temperature is the key. It has to be cool enough the get the fish inshore. This year, the late, warm fall kept them north and out deep. But now they’re back with a vengeance. My friend, Chuck Furimsky, founder of The Fly Fishing Show, and his son, Ben, current president and director of the company, found the big fish last week. Let’s hope it stays just warm enough and calm enough so the anglers can get out chasing these beauties. They took the fish on large—as in 10 inch long—bunker flies. Ya need at least a 10-weight to toss ‘em and to handle the big boys they take.

One striper like this can make a day.

 

And another to make everyone’s day!

 

The big stripers are eating bunker–sizable bait fish that run iin the 10 inch and up size.

Fall Stripers, 2017

Stripers are always a bit of a question mark off the coast on New Jersey in the later fall. If the water stays a bit on the warm side, then the fish stay north. Of course if the weather is a bit on the foul side, then going out on the open ocean is precarious—even foolish. As an aside, I’ve fished the rough water—seasick as all get out—and caught some nice fish, but that was with only 6-foot seas. When the big stuff comes in, it’s just too rough to get over the bar, let alone enjoy the casting and fish fighting.

So, when Theo Bakelaar came over for the International Fly Tying Symposium last weekend, he and Chuck Furimsky wanted to catch some stripers. Too rough out on the big water, so they fished the calmer waters of the bay and caught fish. Chuck managed one nice one, but most of the fish were great 7-weight material. Plenty of fun in waters that allowed easy casting, and the excitement of a good solid fight.

Stripers, like this one that Theo is holding, are great on a 7-weight.

Fall Salmon Fall Off—2017

Salmon are a great fall fish in the Lake States, and they provide many hours of sport fishing for those fortunate enough to be within a day’s drive of the tributaries of the five lakes. But, the time has come, the walrus said, to speak of many things, why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings—and, oh yes, the end of the fall salmon season in the Lake States. It’s here, and the hangers-on–both fly fisher and fish—are seeing the rapid winding down of the fishing. Lately, it’s been the few remaining Cohos that are providing the action. As a quick aside, Cohos were the first exotic salmon stocked in the Great Lakes. Michigan stocked them first, in April of 1966, in the Platte River. From there it has exploded, and the fishery is certainly world-class.

My long-time fishing companion, John Beth, managed to get to the rivers on the west side of Lake Michigan, and found a couple of late Coho females. They were nasty dark color, but they fought with the energy of fresh ones. Cohos also take the fly with true zeal—that’s one of the things I love about them, whether fishing the Lake States, here in the Pacific Northwest, or Alaska.

Meanwhile, friend and bluesman, Keith Scott, was sampling the late Cohos on Michigan’s Platte River, and nailed a very nice older female.

Way to go guys—great way to close out the fall 2017 salmon season.

It’s not unusual for Cohos to get dark and nasty looking, but as you can see, this female has not even spawned yet. They are decidedly great fighters, too, and take the fly with true zeal.

 

Keith Scott, and another great, late season Coho female from Michigan’s Platte River (site of first Coho stocking in 1966); not the unspanned condition of this fish, too.

From Albacore to Lahontans, fall 2017

Albacore

It’s been a couple of busy weeks for the fly fishing community. On the east coast, my friend, Jake Jordan, helped sponsor the Cape Lookout Albacore Festival. All proceeds go to Project Healing Waters—a most deserving organization that helps veterans refocus their lives through fishing. Jake is a specialist for Albacore, especially on the fly rod, and everyone at the Festival caught fish and experienced a truly fun time.

Capt’n Jake and his anglers got into Albacore right away by heading out to where trawlers were culling their day’s catch.

Uninvited guests–sharks–are prevalent in these waters, and often a fly rodder loses a fish to one of these toothy torpedoes.

Stripers

Back from fishing with Jake Jordan for Stripers, my friend, Chuck Furimsky, began exploring for fall stripers with our good friend from Holland, Theo Bakelaar. Theo introduced gold beads into the US in 1994, when I first met him, and is always coming up with unique fly tying and angling ideas. The open ocean has been a bit too rough for easy access, so Chuck and Theo have been fishing the bay at Ocean City, NJ. They have found a few small foish, but the other day, Chuck found this beauty. Only hit he had all day, but I’d say it was well worth waiting for.

I’ll take every striper of this size that I can find!

Cohos

A bit further west, on the west side of Lake Michigan, as a matter of fact, another long-time fishing companion, John Beth, hit the Wisconsin tributaries at exactly the right time—when they were not flowing swollen and muddy well over their banks. The king run was over—having been buried in the high water—but the cohos were in. And were they ever. John took this 35 inch beast—his best ever in Wisconsin—and several others that day. He and a friend saw a couple of browns, too, so they may be poised to run soon, too. Get a couple for me, John.

Only an inch short of a yard. That’s quite a fine coho!

Rainbows

My long time friend, Marc Williamson, managed to get out the other day and explore a nearby Oregon lake. This 24 inch bulky critter found his fly. Mighty fine rainbow, I’d say.

A great fall day with a great fish.

King and Lahontan

Another friend, blues guitar maestro, Keith Scott, has been playing at venues across the Pacific Northwest—and of course taking advantage of the fishing here. He took a lovely, chrome-bright king salmon on the Hook and then headed for Omak Lake to hunt for Lahontan cutthroats, where he found the beauty below.

king salmon with a king guitar blues man.

Lahontans get big–as you can see here.

Fall Albies 2017

The fall alibi fishing has been exceptional, and our friend, Capt’n Jake Jordan has been right on top of all of it. My long-time friend, Chick Furimsky, founder of The Fly Fishing Show, had a chance to fish with Jake a week or so ago. They really did well. Trouble is, the sharks were in tune with what was going on, and several of their fish were “sharked.” they also lost fly lines, flies, and leaders, but no fingers or larger body parts, to the sharks. Still, it was a time of real “tug of war” with one on the sea’s truly fighting’ fools.

If you want in on the action, see the link to Jake at the right.

 

Chuck with a really fine Albie.

 

Capt’n Jake with another nice Albie.

 

Oops, shark bait.

 

Casting for Recovery

This is one of those great programs that everyone should support, every chance available. Recently, Chuck Furimsky, founder of The fly Fishing Show, had an opportunity to help his local club with an outing for the Casting for Recovery Program. Here’s his report.

As  a founding member of the South Jersey Coastal Anglers I always try to join the club members when we sponsor the Casting for Recovery weekend. There are usually around fifteen women and plenty of volunteers that spend Saturday teaching casting, knots, and even fly tying. Rick Pope, the force behind TFO Flyrods, donated complete fly outfits for all the gals to use. We all meet at a beautiful campground lake where they all get waders, a box of flies, a loaded landyard, and a wading staff. Then everyone meets their guide from our club. I was teamed up with Viktoria, an artist living in New York after moving here from Hungary. She was the perfect partner, listening to all my suggestions, casting beautifully, and using the fly patterns she tied the day before. Her first cast, using her first-tied fly, caught her first fish, a nice 8 inch bluegill. That’s three firsts if you’re counting. We struggled to quit fishing and heed the lunch call. After about 15 fish, and one of the largest bluegills I’ve ever seen–I estimated it at 11-12 inches, and nearly two lbs.– it was hard to wade out for lunch. After a great buffet, a fund raising auction, and Viktoria winning a complete fly rod outfit for catching the biggest fish, another memorable Casting for Recovery weekend ended with smiles and tears.

Chuck and Viktoria ready to roll.

Now that’s one huge bluegill! It deserves a full fishing outfit award!

 

Keith’s Cat—fish that is.

My friend, Bluesman Keith Scott, is also a fly fisher. He travels a lot playing blues across the U.S., and fly fishing, too. Recently, he had a fun day on a small lake. Fishing a Muddler, he landed a bluegill, a bass and, yup, a catfish. Now cats are not known as a fly rod species, but they can and do, on occasion, take flies just fine. This was the occasion. Nice catch, bluesman—see a link to Keith to the right.

Here kitty, kitty–sorry I couldn’t resist.