Thursday, February 28, 2013

Put in an equation: "10 + 1 + sun = fun"

Our plan was a little bit risky, going to a semi remote river on the weekend. 

We arrived there after accomplishing the more or less rough 4x4 track without getting the car stuck or destroying anything. Some sections were really boggy and every now and then the trailer hitch made noises from ground contact. I would not like to do that track with high water or rain combined with my current 4x4-experience. We arrived early afternoon at the designated camp spot and set up our fabric-home. Oh an by the way we had fish that night: self bought Salmon.

There was just one other couple: a Danish writer and his German girlfriend. They intended to stay just for the night and intended to have a few casts that afternoon on the lower river section.

The night to Sunday was a cold starry night, perfect to take some shots of the illuminated hut (camp light inside, short flashlight burst from the outside to the hut or manually fluttered moon; timing around 10-20 seconds, medium to high ISO, 10mm), the Orion (the sword points upwards on the southern hemisphere) and the Milky Way. A time-lapse did not work out because the dew was so much that in the morning the whole cam was wet. But that doesn’t do any harm as it is clean water and not applied with pressure. Taking one shot of Orions’ belt, that was only timed around 4-8 seconds, a falling star appeared just in that small section of the hemisphere. What an incidence! I did not even see it before looking at the picture afterwards.

The White Hut - Twinpeaks ....

Sunday was exactly that: a sunny day. We headed up to the base of the river and started to walk and fish it up. It seemed like we had the river just for us! Lucky we! The first fish, a Rainbow of around 4,5lbs with some badly old jaw-injury, came just minutes later to the net. A good start. More or less leisurely, sometimes with high focus, sometimes low focus we went upstream. Catching fish by fish, most of them on cicada patterns or other dries, only few on the nymph. Pretty much all fish showed at least some interest and with the high and clear sun, the visibility was perfect. Absolutely fascinating when a cicada pattern hits the water, the fish recognizes the sound of the impact, even two meters away, thinking, remembering, turning around, following the fly, inspecting it, hesitating and finally gulping it and then – if everything goes right – the strike comes in the right moment. Not to early! I was improving on that day on the cicada-timing a lot. 

We were heading up the river. Ines and Tobias sometimes close, sometimes sitting in the grass and making breaks of having a snack. 

It was Ines turn. It did not take long on that day till I found a fish in very shallow water close to the bank and in perfect casting position for a quick try for Ines. But after several casts in the target area we came to the conclusion that it was a sleeping brown. And that was the case. Sometimes it is possible to wake them up by casts and get them in feeding mood. But most of the time, they wake up, ignore you for a while, just slightly change their body movement (an advanced fisherman can recognize that), ignore you sometime longer and once of a sudden swim away, to avoid this annoying human tossing flies with a clearly visible leader in their field of vision. That was the case with Ines fish. So I had to find a fresh one. Not too difficult on that day, but one that was in real feeding mood and reachable by a good cast. I succeeded on that and it was Ines turn. The brown refused or did only look for the offered cicada, so I as the guide in that situation had the proposal of an Adams and attached it to the leader. One of the first casts in the target zone and the fish came, took the fly and Ines succeeded on the strike (Florian: “wait, wait, now!”). She fought it very well, giving me the opportunity to do a few shots and holding the net to land it. It was a nice brown of around 4,5lbs! Pictures and release.

In the meantime I was around fish seven to the net or something around, eight came and nine came. Ines recognized that I would strive for the ten. She left to walk the hour to the camp ahead of me. It took me quite a while to spot another fish that I did not spook. And finally caught it. Number 10. All where between 3,5 and 6lbs and nice rainbows or most of them browns. Did it matter to catch 10? A little bit. Before that, I had it only once in NZ. Double digit in terms of quantity at least and in terms of fun during the day. In the future this will be just a “add” to this nice day of “10+1”. I packed my gear and started the five quarters of an hour walk to the camp. A rather boring way with fast pace but some neat pictures in the evening light.

The next day – Monday – we got the ticket for the Sunday. It was covered and the clouds needed lots of sun to disappear. Walking up to the point I stopped the day before. I took Tobias on my back for the walk in and set a fast pace to arrive as soon as possible as we already started very late. And the worst thing happened. We run into a party of a retired guide and his long year client. We talked to them for a while to exchange plans and the guide offered us – as their fishing was slow – to start just after the next bent. Looking close he and we only then realized that there was already another fisherman ahead – some explanation for their slow fishing. We continued our walk upstream and made contact with the other fisherman, that was waving like mad as we came close to indicate that he was already there and fishing. I offered him to walk further up, and we agreed that we would walk up to a hut around 45 minutes further up. He – I hope he had a really bad day – did not even say ‘thank you!’, knowing that we already had walked an hour. We accelerated and arrived at the agreed point – no we did not start to fish after the next corner out of this fellow’s sight. But the first we did was taking a bath in the cold river.

To make a long story short: Monday was the ticket for Sunday blast. Fish where much spookier, close to paranoid, the river up here was more like a creek in some sections and the fish really nervous. It was a hard day’s work for me to get three to the net. Ines turned around and walked back well ahead of me. I followed here and it took close to two tiring hours. The river up there was nevertheless beautiful but fish just not in the mood, the day was hot and fishing was more like work.

Ines was following with Tobias, sometimes close sometimes further away. Making breaks on the shingle beeches or the grass. One of these stops, it was already after lunch break, they were on a shingle bench and Tobias about to get a bath in the fresh but not cold river. He was so keen in crawling over the shingles in the low water, he showed absolute no fear of the water, just crawling in. I made videos with the DSLR from the tripod of this action, once placing it a couple of meters in the river to make him approach me and thus the camera – he followed without hesitation and a big smile in his face. Not before the water reached his chin he became afraid and cried. This no fear attitude is definitely related to the numerous baby-swim lessons Ines went for with Tobias. Might be he starts early to think as a fish and thus be a good fisherman. (I might add later on some frame shots of that footage, but that is already saved redundant on the two external hard discs, the build in 250GB SSD of the MacBook is to small...)

At the camp both of us made use of the camp shower we bought some weeks ago. A black 20 liter plastic sack that heated the water to a very comfortable temperature during the sunny day. It worked pretty fine, only some limitations in comfort as we only could place it on the spare wheel so we had to crouch while taking a shower.

Another night in paradise. We broke camp in the morning to go back on the nice rough 4x4 track. Just before we wanted to leave, a party with three 4WDs and six (!) fishermen arrived. Lucky we! We accomplished the rough track with a little more confidence, knowing that it would be possible and the car unlikely to skip. 

Our plan was to drive to Te Anau and to stay there for a couple of nights, to give me the opportunity to go to a distant river again and possibly to meet our new friends Karen and Rob again.

But before that we made a detour and I fished for around exactly 80 minutes (I had to be back after two hours) a river that was said to have suffered considerably from the flood in January. Nevertheless I was curios and wanted to fish it. I found a very low river, more like a creek, some fish, a curious eel, impressive gorges and two rainbows of around 2lbs to the net. And off we were to Te Anau and Fjordland once more!