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.


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