Thursday, 1 December 2011

Spring Creek after a look at Taylor Dam

On Sunday the Wairau and the Wairau Diversion were high and murky, so I figured I should do some exploration with the motorbike.

First I went down to the end of Dillons Point Road and surrounding roads, trying to see if I could get to the Opawa river from there. Mark and I saw a few people fishing on the riverbank on our exploratory mission up the river a couple of weeks earlier in my dinghy with his motor on the back, and we were curious about road access at the time.

There was a spot at the end of Dillons Point Road that was near the edge of the river, but was all obviously private property, and no other end-of-the-road destination nearby put out a welcome mat or noted any public river access. (Fair enough, too. It must all be private property along the lower Opawa that you can access by road - I doubt I'd be putting up a sign to allow anyone to fish my part of the river if I didn't have to... I guess I'm just used to Fish & Game access points along most rivers)

Taylors Dam, Marlborough, New Zealand.

I then proceeded to ride up to the Taylor River and look at the dam, which I'd never seen before.

In my mind it was all somewhat different. The river seemed not much more than a creek, and the dam was a broad shallow swampy area. The swampy area did hold some nice birdlife - I saw a couple of swans with their brood of cygnets and a duck swim out to feed with her ducklings while a native harrier hawk flew above.

It looked like some fish were feeding in the dam, but apparently there's no trout.

A duck with her ducklings in Taylors Dam, Marlborough, New Zealand.

I stopped at the Farmer's Market on the way back through town - I've been meaning to check it out for a while now, but I think I'm becoming quite reclusive, and it's often hard to convince myself to go anywhere near 'town' unless I have to. It seemed nice enough though, and I'll probably pop back some time soon to buy something...

The main highway that takes you out the other side of Blenheim towards Picton passes over Spring Creek. I slowed down going over it, and noticed it was slightly higher than usual, but not dirty like the other rivers seemed to be - even the Opawa was a bit murky from what I'd seen near town. Spring Creek is consistently very clear, but I think the trout are consistently hard to catch.

I pulled over on the bike and started to set up my rod in a spot where I could see the first pool between the two bridges - the highway and the train bridges.

Spring Creek, Marlborough, New Zealand.

I could see a trout feeding, and moved to a point slightly upstream, near the highway bridge, so I could cast down towards it - I think casting from downstream normally has more potential due to casting past the trout and pulling the lure back into the fish's feeding view, but this didn't seem easy due to the train bridge below the pool.

I figured I should start with a hair and copper with some split-shot - I haven't fished much with flies and nymphs on my threadline setup, but this seemed like an ideal situation. I probably should've put only one instead of two of the splitshot on, as it kept sinking too fast and getting hooked on the weed - eventually getting snagged and I had to snap my line.

So it was back to my favourite lure, which I'd replenished after losing my last one in my 'mission 2' up the Wairau.

I didn't see that trout again, so must have scared it off with my clumsy attempts.

After continuing upstream and passing under the highway bridge, the path comes to a plank across a small ditch. The area had been recently mowed, and I misjudged the firmness of the ground to the side of the start of the plank - my right leg went into the dirty water up to the knee. I was wearing gumboots that went about three quarters of the way up my shin, so, needless to say, I got a bootfull of muddy water.

After emptying my boot as much as possible, I continued up the creek, having the odd cast in likely spots. The boot didn't feel very comfortable and made a bit of a splodgy noise when I walked, but the chance to catch a trout overrides such things.

At the top of the first main stretch - maybe a hundred metres, I stopped at the corner where the creek turns slightly. It felt like the perfect spot for a trout, and I peered intently for a few minutes. I didn't see any trout.

A fly fisher came downstream while I was standing there. I called over to him as he got close.

~ Any luck?
~ No, you?

He had an accent that was hard to place, possibly German. I shook my head, and he came to stand beside me and point to a spot near where I was looking.

~ There were two trout over there earlier... there, there's one, see?
~ Umm...

I couldn't see the trout. I'm not sure if it was because he was a bit taller than me, or the angle of where we were standing, or his glasses being better than mine, or just his better experience. Whatever the reason, I couldn't see a trout.

I thought he might as well have a go for the trout.

~ You want to try chucking a fly out to him?
~ I've tried - he doesn't seem to want to take anything. There were two trout there - a big and small one. You should try with the lure.

He moved downstream a few metres and pointed to the trout with his rod. I made a few attempts to get my lure near the trout, but nothing happened. He then tried getting his fly out to the trout. I am somewhat ignorant about fly fishing at the moment, and am impressed when I see someone that knows what they are doing with a fly rod.

Spring Creek is a small body of water with trees behind you in most places. A fly fisher needs to be careful of their backcast and length of forward cast to keep themselves out of the foliage.

He got his fly out into good spots consistently, but with no luck either. He had the look of a seasoned professional - even with a face-mask-kind-of-thing that I haven't seen before, I guess to keep the face hidden to the fish. It was essentially a piece of flat beige over the face with a rectangle for the eyes - it had a burka-like effect. Serious fishing.

After we both had a few goes, I wished him a good day and splodged up-stream with my one wet boot.

I didn't see any more trout above that spot, and it started getting quite boggy, so turned back.

Back at the turn in the river where we had been previously, I did notice two trout - I'm not sure why I couldn't see them before, but I definitely could now.

I tried my lure a few times, but no interest from the trout - a distinct disinterest, if anything. The big one made a huge lunge out of the water for something on the surface at one point, as if to say "I know what my food is, and your stupid lure isn't it."

Before I got back to the highway bridge, I noticed a small trout feeding above it. I tried my lure with him as well. No luck.

A lovely stream to fish, but I think due to its crystal clear waters and proximity to Blenheim (10 mins, therefore fished often); it'll always be a tricky one.

Plan on trying downstream of the train bridge next time, though. I can then continue on to where it meets the Wairau if needed, and might have more luck in the bigger body of water.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Kahawai nearby

Lovely calm morning after constant wind lately. Whilst working in my office at home, I decided the conditions were too perfect not to have a fish.

Soon after 7.30am, I grabbed my fishing gear and headed across the road. I had been once since my earlier effort - but there was quite a big swell coming in, and the water was murky, so I didn't even bother having a cast that day.

The conditions felt perfect, and it was the kind of day that you'd return after a fish feeling good no matter what happened on the fishing front.

I gave myself an hour max for my fish, as I did have a lot of work on. It was about 10 minutes into that hour when I started casting, and after forty minutes I planned on packing up and returning to my work.

I was fishing with my new soft plastic lures: "Sapphire Shine", that I was using last time I fished in this spot and hooked something that I couldn't land. They seem like a good lure - realistic colours and movement.

I varied my retrieve often, unsure of the best way to fish with the lure - sometimes fast with the odd jerky movement; sometimes three or so quick winds and then pausing, alternating the amount of quick winds.

Not long before my forty minutes was up, I hooked a fish! The excitement! The line moving through the water... trying to make sure he was hooked properly... not wanting to lose him...

The kelp in the foreground had been a spot where I lost fish the one time I previously had any real luck here - catching five or six kahawai after seeing them jumping when walking the dog and running back for my gear. I kept the tension on the fish and tried to pull him in as quickly as possible, keeping him above the kelp.

Before too long, I landed this nice four pound kahawai. I'm definitely going across the road more often.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Northern Cloudy Bay

The early evening after returning from my trout mission, I decided I should pop across the road to try my luck with a new saltwater soft plastic lure I'd recently purchased - the colouring is white/grey/black, more realistic than the 'Nuclear Chicken' type I had tried previously, which is garish pink and green. I like trying to keep things looking realistic these days; makes more sense to me.

The conditions felt perfect - only a light breeze and nice calm sea. I normally like to fish the last half of an incoming tide if possible, and this was not long after low tide, but it still seemed ideal.

After walking the few minutes across the road to Monkey Bay, I noticed someone already fishing in my spot, so waited at the lookout and set up my rod. What I assumed was his girlfriend looked to be getting a bit cold behind him, popping the hood up on her jacket and and hugging her arms closer to her body, so I figured they'd move on before too long.

I was still finishing setting up my tackle when they reached the lookout where I was. I asked if they'd had any luck - they hadn't, but wished me luck with my new lure that I showed them.

After about ten minutes of casting, something took my lure - I could see my line moving throught the water and feel the pull on the line. I tightened the tension on my reel, as it was quite loose; I probably should have had it tighter. He was on there for maybe ten seconds when I saw him come to the surface and roll over and my lure come out of the water. Possibly a dogfish - he didn't fight like a snapper or kahawai, and had a serpentine movement to his body.

That was the only excitement of the night, but it has renewed my enthusiasm for fishing somewhere so close to home that I had pretty much given up on, due to lack of luck in the past.

Second Wairau Mission

Yesterday saw my second Wairau River motorbike trout mission going further up the Kaituna Tuamarina Road to see if I could get out of the wind before attempting to fish.

The wind remained, but at least it was behind me.

The water was quite cloudy, probably from some excavation work further up-river. I didn't see any trout and managed to lose the last lure I had of my favourite type, so not an overly successful mission. Was good to explore a spot I've never fished, though.

Friday, 11 November 2011

First Wairau River Trout Mission of the New Season

Rode the motorbike up to a spot in the Wairau River above Tuamarina. The river is running quite high and coloured at the moment, but spotted a trout in a small clear pool off the main river (shown above).

Spent about an hour throwing various lures in the water, but the trout seemed uninterested from the start.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Interesting vessel

Rowed out to my boat moored in Waikawa Bay yesterday to check she was sea-worthy and ready to go after being somewhat neglected over the last few months, and noticed the interesting vessel shown above moored in the bay.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Flounder from Wairau Bar

Sixteen flounder caught in a net set at the Wairau Bar, Marlborough, New Zealand.

Nice haul of 16 flounder pulled in at the Wairau Bar.

Mark and I set the net, then spent the next three hours exploring the lower Opawa River in my dinghy with his motor on the back, trying to get a trout. We saw a couple of trout - a fairly small one jump, and quite a large one follow my lure, but no strikes (possibly a half-hearted one from the large trout at one point).

Passed a few whitebaiters while exploring the lovely wind-in-the-willowsesque river. They all said they weren't having any luck, but I think every whitebaiter will tell you that no matter how it's going for them.

Interesting how people were keen to give advice on the trout, though - one fellow recommending a Rapala pack (that I'm sure had 'mud' in the name), and another pointing out that the trout hide in near the bank, and a couple of groups saying they'd seen trout jumping nearby.

Hydrobiosis parumbripennis

Derek Grzelewski's excellent read The Trout Diaries mentioned using the Rhyacophila fly when fishing. Something about it made me curious... to be honest I don't remember what it was now, but here's some information I managed to dig up from my bookcase, relating to the Hydrobiosis parumbripennis, which is native to New Zealand and belongs to the "large family of caddises, the Rhyacophilidae".

(From 'An introduction to the fresh water insects of New Zealand', by J. G. Pendergrast and D. R. Cowely)

The adults (shown above) are about 16 mm. long. Their fore-wings are mottled with light and dark brown, a distinct dark-brown patch being present close to the anterior margin and about two-thirds of the way to the apex of the fore-wing.

The H. parumbripennis larva has along, bright green body with brown pigmentation dorsally. 

The head is elongated and has an area of dark pigmentation interrupted by unpigmented spots, towards its posterior end.

The thorax has a single dorsal thoracic plate which has a diamond-shaped area of dark pigmentation, again with unpigmented spots.