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.

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

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.

The Brule Runs Through It

My good friend, John Beth, loves to venture into fly fishing’s past. This was a great year to do it, as he reports below. Tell us about it, John…

I had planned a September fishing trip to the historic and beautiful Bois Brule (Burnt Wood) river in northern Wisconsin with friends Bob Harrison and Scott Allen. We each planned one day fishing from a canoe with legendary guide Damian Wilmot; the other two would walk and wade the river elsewhere on their own.

To call Damian’s boat just a canoe would be a serious understatement. Damian, and his craftsman friend Lloyd Hautajarvi, had spent two, painstaking years restoring a magnificent, twenty foot, 1895, Joe Lucius canoe. Joe was a legendary canoe builder on the Brule, and one of the upper-river “lakes” is named after him—Lucius lake.

This float for me became something special. Damian had announced, earlier this month, that he would be retiring at the end of this season from full time guiding. For 29 seasons he has guided those who would cast a fly to a wild Brule trout. As an homage to the river, to him, to the wonderful Lucius canoe, and the spirits of all those past who, in my heart, are still there, I wanted my last day in that boat with him to be forever burned in my memory. The solution was quite simple. I love old fly gear–what I have of it – and I still fish with it. It is my connection to our sport’s past. The only way to know what it must have been like to fly fish 100+ years ago…is to fish that way!

On my day to fish from the canoe with Damian, the Lucius slid silently into the storied water at Stones Bridge, after a stormy morning had delayed us a couple of hours. I was soon casting my 1905 Millward Greenheart fly rod with a silk line, Macleay reel, made in Inverness Scotland in 1895–the same year that our Lucius canoe had been “born.”  There’s more…Damian had tied on a “Rat Faced McDougall “ dry fly, and I cast to (and caught) several native brookies in McDougall Springs, and oh yes, this Lucius Canoe was once owned by the Alexander McDougall Castle family.

There has been, perhaps, nothing more poignant than those moments and that day in my 50+ years of fly fishing. I was wishing a mysterious, ghostly fog would creep across the river and around us from the deep, Brule valley woods at our sides, and of course, It did.

The warm day too quickly faded away. Each push of Damian’s pole from the back of the canoe, just as Joe had done over a century ago, pushed us closer to our landing, and farther from the magic of our day of fishing wild brook trout in simpler times, as they did so long ago. It could not have been a better day.

As we closed the day, I was haunted by a strange sense of happiness and sadness.  Stepping out of the stunning, mahogany-trimmed green, cedar canoe for the last time, and looking back down this amazing river, I realized I wasn’t going back to reality–I was leaving it.

Ready to go–in the refitted Lucius canoe from 1895.

 

And, John, let’s fish the Rat-Face Mcdougall, a famous Brule River fly.

 

Success–a nice Brule River Brookie.

 

Even the fog cooperated, putting the river in the right mood for times past.

 

The Brule Runs Through It.


 

Big and Ugly, and Eating…Jigs?

Chuck Furimsky, founder of The Fly Fishing Shows, was recently fishing the Salmon River in NY and decided to fish a small white, fly rod jig for the big kings—and guess what? Yup, he connected. That’s an impressive fish, Chuck!

Three years back (2014) I was fishing kings in the Chilean Patagonia, and we found that they took nymphs rather well. I caught a number of really big kings on a black, hair leg Woolly Worm.

So, don’t pass up the smaller flies just because you think the kings won’t take them. The may be the answer on an otherwise blank day.

Chuck’s king on a small, white, fly rod jig. That’s one big fish.

 

A Chilean king that fell to a size 6, black, Hair Leg Woolly Worm. The rod is Jason’s Shadow Caster 20–9 feet, 5 weight line–that I took the fish on.

Clydehurst Christian Ranch day 2

Day two was not as cold and rainy as day 1, so we were able to get out both morning and afternoon for casting practice. In the afternoon session, nearly everyone learned to double haul. Still the day was cold, and after 45 minutes, all were willing to head in to the comfort of the wood fire and the coffee shop.

Marc then discussed fishing stillwaters, and I lectured on Nymphing. The questions ran long, and the camp host, Scott Bronson, came to remind us that brisket awaited us in the dining hall. The class broke up quickly.

After dinner, Marc gave a class on fly tying, attended by 25 participants. They tied a woolly worm with chenille body, and then another with a dubbed body. Everyone was delighted to try their hand at dressing the imitations.

The day following the school, Marc and I spent a couple of hours on the Boulder before heading back to Billings and the flight home the following day.

Staying warm by the fire.

 

The upper Boulder lies in a magnificent valley, and runs gin clear.

 

Aspen are turing yellow, matching the sides of the west slope cutthroat.

 

The colors of the cutthroat are perfect camouflage in the stony bottom of the Boulder.

 

The handsome little fish rose eagerly to the tiny fires that we used.

 

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Marc Williamson and I are in Montana just south of Big Timber at the Clydehurst Christian Ranch, conducting our 5th annual Men’s Fly Fishing School. Of course we came a day early to prepare everything and rip a few lips, if the fish cooperate. This year they did. The weather turned nasty—cold rain and wind and dropping temperatures—exactly what the Baetis mayflies love. And love they did. They popped out right on schedule and the fish followed, slurping them in like candies.

We, of course, just stood there and watched—like not! We whipped out the Baetis mayflies and whipped out a bunch of fish. The biggest was 16-17 inches. Many were in the 10-12 inch range. It was true delight.

The first day of classes went very well—until we came to the first casting-on-the-grass session. Everyone got good and cold. We abandoned the second outdoor session simply because it was so cold and windy—with blowing rain. I presented The Angler as Predator in substitution. There was a nice wood fire burning in the lodge’s fireplace, the coffee shop was open, and everyone was comfortable.

Dinner was followed by the showing of the movie, A River Runs Through it. The scene in the movie, where the boys put the boat in the river to Shoot the Chutes, was filmed on the Boulder just across the road from Cydehurst, and so the movie has a special meaning for everyone here. I introduced the movie by discussing some to the techniques used to shoot the film, and some of the out-takes—funny and otherwise. The second day will be upon us all too soon—with the promise of snow.

The Boulder is a classic high mountain stream with pools and rapids–a fun place to search for trout.

 

The fish are lovely–note the tiny Baetis imitation in t’s upper lip.

 

The biggest fish of the day, a nice 16-17 inch cutthroat.

Montana Bows

Recently my friend, Chuck Furimsky (founder of the Fly Fishing Shows) fished western Montana with some friends, including Harry Schoel from Holland. They had a wide ranging experience but found the really big fish in lakes in SW MT. Lakes hold more and bigger fish that rivers, and if there’s a chance for lake fishing, I’ll take it. Chuck certainly found a good lake!

Lakes hold more and bigger trout that streams, and Chuck is out to prove it.

Ok, once is a coincidence. Twice is fishing in the right lake.