2009 Season trip report:
Fall colors have just started to appear in the Te Anau basin while Mallard fever has taken a firm grip of m y sanity with Duck shooting season having just gotten underway. The relationship
of trout to ducks is murky but for me it does signal an end to another season of fly fishing for trout. A season , to coin a phrase, of many highs and lows. Included in the lows was the overdue lowering of the Kiwi dollar in relation to the Greenback as well as the lower overall number of anglers visiting New Zealand. For those I guided this past season this provided not only a more affordable holiday but rivers and streams that had more unmolested fish than what I’ve seen in a long time, producing higher numbers of fish seen, hooked and landed. For those that did manage to fly fish New Zealand, despite the doom and gloom of the collapsing world economy, they
were rewarded with experiencing one of the best angling seasons we’ve seen in years.
I cannot recall the last time I could go to the upper beat on the O reti in February and March and see every fish keen and eager to accept a well presented fly. The Season Early season and an unseasonal cold snap hit the lower south with a vengeance. October and November were not
only months of Snow, rain and high water but also some great fishing for wild trout. Previously I’d guided anglers from the Irish Fly fishing team who I’m sure they’d admit to being a little lost when fishing rivers, as lakes were their strength. So when John Higgins and Nicky Moore informed me quite proudly, they’d represented Ireland I pu t no weight to their claim.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more clinical week of angling, from casting to fighting and landing it was just a display that kept me in awe and impressed the whole time. Being a guide for some 15 years now, the one group of anglers I have hardly guided at all are local New Zealanders. I relish the opportunity to guide fellow Kiwis an d this year had the pleasure of guiding a couple
of our homegrown. Iconic New Zealander Lynda Topp landed a great 8 pound female Brown that lead the biggest fish of the season until fellow Kiwi Peter Walker topped that with his 9 pound wilderness brown in early January. I’d guided Peter for the first time the season prior and his hunger for knowledge and wanting to learn has me excited every day we go out together. Seeing him develop into a fine angler has been very rewarding from my perspective. Summer threatened to appear in December and again in January without really showing its face. February and March seemed to follow suit without the normal extended periods of fine weather. This in turn kept rivers at good levels and is another underlying reason why we had such good angling throughout the season. Mid February and Tina Read managed to surpass Linda Topp’s fish by half a pound to land the largest trout of the season by a female angler, which is not the first time she’s headed that list. Other fish of 8 pounds or greater were landed by Nicky Moore, Joe
Tonahill(2), Mike Zimmerman and Andy Jensen. To create a list of anglers who landed 10 fish or more in a day would be endless as there weren’t many who did not at some stage achieve that milestone. The season wound up as it started , in the snow and cold, but it was no
deterrent to Anna Taylor and Peter Hayes. DB , Mike Zimmerman and 8 pounds of Trophy
Peter’s command of a 6ft-6in cane rod was a sight to behold, though I’d like to think the cold may have helped to stiffen the power fibers because what he was achieving with that rod defied logic. He is one a few Master FFF instructors in the Southern hemisphere and runs casting clinics around Australia every winter. So to those I guide from the Western Isles I can’t think of a better w ay to invest 2 days to improve and advance your casting skills. His teaching method is without compare and I can’t recommend him more highly. Contact him direct at firstname.lastname@example.org I unashamedly plagiarize The Gospel of Haysie when offering
casting advice to anglers, so at least the source of m y advice is sound.
Alarmed was the initial response I had when questioned by a client about my retirement from guiding. A rumor had been circulating among the guiding fraternity further north and spread far enough to reach Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I liken it to reading your own obituary. It is forward and progressive from here. Expansion from a single guiding operation into offering the services of a second guide I’m hoping to be in place by next season. Finding the right person to fill this role is not easy, simply as I have very high and exacting standards. I now have the right person and am excited about the prospects…watch this space!
At present m y books are a little over half full. Availability exists throughout the season but is very limited in December and February. The sooner you can commit to New Zealand the better chance of securing dates of your choice. Somewhat out of my control has been the slow progress of the DVD I have been working on the past 18 months. It is in the final stages of editing so hopefully it will be released before too long. Again it falls into the category of watch this space! In it is some great footage of Fiordland and me fooling with a few fish, but I feel its streng th will be in the detailed commentary and advice offered as I verbalize my thoughts before, during and after each fishing scenario. It is an in depth approach to fly fishing successfully in New Zealand from analysis to execution. As another snow shower arrives from the South and I can only dream of warmer climates, enjoy you r approaching Summer if you live in Northern latitudes . Embrace and share with family and friends all opportunities life has to offer. Until we wet a line together again.
Warmest Regards – Dean
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