Thursday, 26 February 2015

When it Rains, it Pours - New Zealand 2015

Last week I wrote about snapping the tip of my Orvis Helios, the first time I have ever broken a rod. I replaced it with a New Zealand made Riverworks rod. It wasn't exactly cheap at NZ$150, but the cheapest I could find to keep me going while Orvis repair the Helios (Orvis has since said it will take up to six weeks to repair excluding shipping time - I really thought they could have returned it in a shorter time given my circumstances). Well, the replacement rod literally snapped in half today. I was threading the line through the eyes and pulled on the leader to bring the fly line through the tip, bending the rod in the process in very normal fashion, when it broke. I didn't even have to fall this time. I can't even boast it was broken on a large fish. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. On top of it all I had slept in my car the night before so that I could secure a beat on the upper Oreti, and even then arrived too late to secure the best of the two. Two old American codgers had been sitting in their car since before 7am to secure the better beat. The one in the driver's seat wound down his window, looked at me a little apologetically, and said "you gotta get here early if you want this beat". At least I had the second, even if my beat started from the car park and even after driver seat American told me I'd be lucky to see a fish in the first kilometre ("all the lazy fishermen fish your beat"). I watched as four other cars turned away from the car park after me, too late. It turned out to be a beat I wouldn't even get to fish. Two broken rods in one week. I reckon I am just about starting to build some serious credit in the good fortune stakes what with this second break.

I asked a local sheep farmer where the nearest tackle store was and he said Te Anau, 45 minutes drive away. I had to fork out another NZ$150 for a 9' 6wt Redington Path. A replacement for the replacement. At least this time Redington is a familiar brand and I'm hoping it lasts a little longer than the previous one. It casts OK but is perhaps a little under-lined with my 5wt line. I surely can't break three rods, can I? It's getting silly and just a little expensive!

Anyway, being in Te Anau brought back fond memories of my previous time here in 2010 when I fished the Eglinton for about half an hour and came away with a 4½lb rainbow. I made a swift decision to fish it again rather than waste an afternoon of great weather. I'm glad I did as I caught a 3lb rainbow after spotting it and it did a lot to lift my mood after the failed Oreti/broken rod debacle.

I'm hoping I will have better fortune and better things to write about as I continue my way through New Zealand. I do realise that the overarching tenor of my posts since arriving in New Zealand has been a little gloomy.

Mataura Browns - New Zealand 2015

For my first hit out from my new base of Queenstown I took a drive to Athol to check out Stu’s “World Famous” Fly Fishing shop and hopefully glean some local info. Stu wasn’t in and the old Scotsman behind the counter was not a fisherman so I mooched around the fly shelf and purchased some. Being so close to the Mataura* I decided to try it.

3½lb brown

From a bridge I spied a good sized fish holding beneath a halo of willow fronds. It looked to be feeding and I took it as a propitious sign, but doubted I could get a cast into its difficult lie. I moved downstream and helped by the bright conditions immediately spotted several other fish in the clear water. They were treating the slow flowing pool like a lake, cruising around and rising effortlessly to small somethings. I lengthened my leader by adding a few feet of 6x tippet. Several patterns were rejected before I arrived at the winner - a small red CDC mayfly pattern I had purchased at Stu’s shop a little earlier. I caught two on the pattern, weighing 3¼ and 3½lbs, before I stalked up to the fish I had seen a little earlier from the bridge. I poked my head through the willow fronds and watched it rise casually to small somethings. I inched forward to a rod length away at most and couldn’t believe the fish hadn’t noticed me while it continued to rise! With no other option I used a bow and arrow cast and after about the sixth attempt the fish took my fly. It bolted instantly, shaken from its feeding reverie, its seemingly infallible lie proving fallible, and it showed in the way it stripped line from my reel at a furious speed. This fish weighed 3¾lbs, the largest of the trio. To round off the session I later caught a fourth fish of 2½lbs on a yellow Humpy.

The best of the lot

Its home

Seeing so many fish and catching four in less than two hours, even though small by New Zealand standards, was just the tonic I needed after the tough going of Reefton.

*Knowing it could be a contentious issue I had previously given some thought to whether I should name the rivers I fish in New Zealand. It has been my general policy since starting this blog to put a name to rivers but in exceptional circumstances in the past I have kept the venue to myself, so there is some precedent. The reason for withholding a river’s identity is simple - to keep it from being over fished. Either for my own selfish reasons, to respect the privacy or request of local anglers or to ensure the continued sustainability of a threatened trout population. New Zealand’s rivers are already heavily fished. The decision I reached for the time I am in New Zealand is to name rivers only where I blank or catch what would be described in New Zealand terms as “little” (something under 5lbs I guess). But it's not a hard and fast rule. I may choose not to name a river at all and I don't write about every river I fish. I never discuss the access points I use. Nobody is going to be encouraged to go out of their way to track down a river, perhaps walking well over 10kms, on the premise that I toiled for a single fish of 3-5lbs. In addition, a river such as the Mataura is so famous that when I visited it most of the angler access positions were already filled by vehicles. Me writing about the Mataura is not going to do anything to increase pressure on an already over-fished river. It will however be a much different picture were I to catch a large fish or find a hidden gem. Then I will keep the identity of the venue to myself (it just hasn‘t happened yet!). Besides, the real joy in fishing New Zealand is to get out there and explore it for yourself. 

Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Stopgap - New Zealand 2015

I've never broken a rod before so snapping the tip off my Helios this week has been particularly galling. Even worse, it happened in New Zealand of all places. I packed light so the only other rod I have with me is a 7'6 3 weight, nothing more than a pop gun in New Zealand.

So passing through Christchurch briefly to catch a bus to Queenstown I took the opportunity to pop into a fly fishing store and buy the cheapest 5 weight rod on their shelves. A local brand called Riverworks, it set me back NZ$149.99 (about £75). I've tested it on the grass and it casts surprisingly well with a pleasing amount of power. I'm impressed. It will do for now while I sort out the guarantee on my Orvis rod. There's something comforting knowing I have a rod just in case.

Friday, 20 February 2015

A Bit of a Shambles - New Zealand 2015

So the remote river I mentioned in my last post is the Ohikanui. This is what John Kent (author of ‘South Island Trout Fishing Guide’) has to say about it: “There is no marked route up this river but a rough track follows upstream from the bridge on the true left bank. Only active, fit anglers should attempt this river, as there are no huts, tracks or roads in this valley… This remote, bush-lined, rough, bouldery, clear river offers great sight fishing for the fit angler who is unafraid to camp out. The best fishing lies well upstream where crystal clear greenish pools and runs holds a good population of medium and large brown trout. Wear overtrousers and take insect repellant for the sandflies. The upper reaches are now designated as a wilderness area so helicopter fly-ins are no longer permitted.” 

The confluence of the Buller and Ohikanui Rivers on a misty morning

Just about to set off

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, we gave it a go. We packed for 3 nights and 3½ days of fishing up this 20km long river. A small annoyance an hour into the walk upstream when I realised I had left my SLR camera in the car but no matter, I had my compact with me and I was grateful for the lighter load. Perhaps it was a portent of things to come. We pushed on upstream, with my new Japanese fishing friend, Takahiro, saying “we go up and find big fish in every pool”. I happily agreed with his obvious enthusiasm but the full meaning of this would only be comprehended later that day. It was hard graft made a little easier by someone with the foresight to mark the track for us with intermittent pink ribbon and later pink spray paint. Initially the path is quite noticeable and level, obviously fairly well used, but later on it became a little more steep and difficult to see. Quite often we would stray from the path then double back until one of us would spot the small splash of pink spray paint on a tree or fern and yell out “pink”. We probably walked about 10kms upstream and it took us 8 hours, stopping for lunch and for Takahiro to rig up his rod and cast to a trout of about 3lbs which had risen to sip an insect from the surface while we watched it (he had no success).

The track

We eventually found a small gap in the trees to set up our tents. Someone had once had the same idea as us as I found a tent peg buried between rocks in the beach sand, but it must have been years ago given how rusted it was. Just as I had shrugged off my rucksack and sat down on a rock to rest Takahiro declared the river to be devoid of big fish and said he wanted to go back early the next morning. Now I had just walked 10kms, possibly more, with a heavy pack, in hot, humid weather and I hadn’t even unpacked my fly rod. To say I struggled to see the funny side of it is probably an understatement and the ensuing conversation was likely lost in translation. He did have a point in that we had only spotted fish up to about 3 or 4lbs on the way up but we had half the river still to explore. And look, my present fishing companion means well but I have to say he is perhaps just a little obsessed with the idea of catching a 10lb trout. He explained that a well known Japanese fishing guide visited Reefton in 2004 and wrote on his website that there are many rivers in the vicinity which, after a bit of walking, have trout of 7lbs plus in every pool. I now understood his earlier reference. Whether a hopelessly false expectation has been created or such rivers exist, I don’t know. I mulled it over in my mind as we set up our tents, which was then in light rain which did nothing to help my mood.

With my tent up I sat on the shore watching the water, mulling over the issue when I saw a trout leap completely out of the water right in front of the camp. In that brief moment the setting sun filtered through a break in the clouds and amplified the golden-yellow colour of its flanks to a colour which resembled freshly deposited leaves in Autumn. It splashed back into the water with a thwack audible over the sound of nearby rapids. I called for Takahiro, in his tent out of the rain, as he had yet to catch a fish in our time together but he poked his head out and waved his hand dismissively. I asked if I could use his rod which was already rigged up and standing on the shore and he agreed before going back into his tent with a squeal of the zip. I quietly entered the water and cast, too wide of the main current where I had seen the fish leap, then again, this time just right as the dry fly (a mayfly type pattern with a deer hair wing and a twist of hackle tied by Takahiro) disappeared in a gentle boil of water only just visible against the low sun. The fished again leaped in the air but this time in outrage and I followed it downstream where I could lead it to shallow water and land it. It weighed 4½lbs. As I was releasing the fish back into the water two eels emerged from the rocks. Perhaps they were aroused by the struggling throes of the fish and they curiously investigated my landing net lying in the water and the fresh scent of the trout.

The rain had ceased by then and perhaps sensing my mood Takahiro said “I’m so sorry but I just cannot go on fishing this river.” I acquiesced - better that than forcing somebody to be someplace they don’t want to be - but with a compromise. There was still light for 3 more hours, lets walk upstream as far as we could to see if we could spot any large fish to target the next day. Agreed, we set off but saw none, the task made a little harder under cloud cover and in fading light. It started to rain again, harder this time and the large rocks on the river’s shore became very slippery. I slipped and fell and my rod tip snapped. Disaster. By that point I wanted nothing more than to be home (home being the modest comfort of the holiday park in Reefton where I could at least have a decent hot meal, a beer and a hot shower unhindered by sandflies). I got back to our camp just as it was getting dark with a mist creeping eerily up the valley and boiled enough river water for the hike back out the next day. I hadn’t taken along a lid for my pot and the water resembled a soup of sandflies by the time I was done. We hiked back out the next morning under our still heavy loads (I’d planned on the weight of the food at least being missing on the walk out) and I was relieved when I saw the road bridge. I’d say I might even have cracked a little smile at the first road sign for ice cold Coke on the drive back to Reefton.

The Ohikanui on the walk out - a great day for fishing!

All in all a bit of waste of time - the loss of two day’s fishing and a broken rod. At least I got a fish. Now it’s time to test how good the Orvis guarantee is!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Getting there... slowly - New Zealand 2015

Just the other day I allowed myself to feel a little sorry for the trout of the South Island, well those around Reefton at least, which is probably a bit odd for a fly fisherman to admit. In less than a week I’ve come to realise that the trout here face an onslaught from anglers and those in the more popular rivers probably have flies chucked at them near enough every day. I’ve run in to fly fishermen pretty much daily here or seen tell tale boot prints. Seeing boot prints is heart dropping and you quickly start to beat yourself up about those extra 30 minutes sleep and pray that someone hasn’t beaten you to the punch that day. Funnily enough, I’ve yet to meet a New Zealand angler, they’ve all been foreigners just like me - other South Africans, Irish, Norwegians and Japanese and in the local hotel over dinner a group of Australians were chatting about their fishing efforts. You can spot a fellow angler a mile away by the sunglass tan, the fishing branded cap faded by the sun, the vented shirt and preponderance of khaki, tan and brown clothing. Cars parked in town have rods in them, still made up and ready to cast at a moment’s notice and some sport bumper stickers like “Gone Fishing” or "Work is for People who Don't Fish". That sort of thing. All of them have been incredibly cagey, keeping their cards pretty close to their chest like a dog with a bone - “Oh I got a 12lb’er in a river up that way” but in the next sentence they’re happy to provide precise directions to a river where you can catch loads of 3 or 4lb’ers. I even suspect that a bit of deliberate misinformation goes on. There’s only one way to fish out here and that’s to cover ground and find out for yourself.

What all this means is that the fish are incredibly spooky (I’ve even heard that some refuse to eat in daylight hours) and I’ve quickly realised you just about get a maximum of two casts to a fish before something in the wind lets it know you’re there. It then either darts off up river or bunkers down and ceases to feed. I guess you could say New Zealand has become a victim of its exceptional fishing reputation and the size of the fish. In the end you just have to adapt and be prepared to walk long distances to get away from the easy access points. Even then there’s no guarantee that you will find fish in the most pristine and trout suitable water you will ever see. Just yesterday I walked a total of 21km with Takahiro, a Japanese student I met at my camp site, and we spotted four fish. Even worse, the dreaded helicopter (I have seen or heard them every day here since I arrived) could deposit a wealthy angler ahead of you after you’ve trudged into the wilderness.

I don’t want to dwell on the negatives. Indeed there’s just something about seeing large fish and the promise of catching a 10lb’er that makes it all worthwhile. This has to be the most challenging and rewarding place on the planet to fish for trout (I’m yet to be fully rewarded mind you). Hopefully the above will help anyone intending to come out here for the first time by getting expectations in the right place. Get fit and be prepared to walk! Improve the accuracy of your casting and work on spotting fish. You will in all likelihood cast to fewer than five fish a day (especially if you are fishing with a partner) so make your casts count!

On Monday Takahiro and I fished Larry’s Creek, one of the more well known rivers here and easy to access from a gravel road and walking track. We spotted good numbers of large fish (about eight in all) but all were ultra spooky and we had no success. Two anglers who came up behind us suggested 6x tippet is the way to go but I don’t know, 6x tippet on a  8 or 10lb trout would probably last just as long as if you were using cooked spaghetti.

Takahiro on the Haupiri, casting to a large fish just visible at the right of the image

Cone Creek

Yesterday we fished the Haupiri. As I mentioned earlier, we only spotted four fish (in about 7 km of river - with the walk in and out we covered 21km). Takahiro had his chance on the largest, a fish of about 7 or 8lbs, which came up and took his yellow Humpy. He struck too soon and pulled the fly out of the fish’s mouth. That was his only chance all day. I got to cast to a fish spotted in a deep pool. I tied on a heavy nymph 8 feet under my dry and after several casts through the swirling eddy the dry fly dipped and I lifted into one very surprised brown trout. This was someway up a tributary called Cone Creek, a series of tumbling rapids between pools, and the fish used the rapids to its full advantage by heading downstream. I’m not sure I would have been able to net that fish on my own. It weighed 5lbs. That’s two fish in five days of fishing - you really learn to savour them!

Today is a rest/provisioning day and tomorrow we will hike out to fish a really remote river. The only way to get to it is to walk (it’s in a declared wilderness area so helicopters are not allowed in). We’ll take our tents with and spend 3 nights out there and hopefully get a chance or two at large fish a little less accustomed to humans. The weather forecast looks good and I’m excited! Until next time.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

First notch on my school tie - New Zealand 2015

After two humbling days of hard fishing and no fish I'm off the mark on day 3 in New Zealand! Considered just a wee nipper in these parts but it feels good to finally spot and land a fish. So many rivers to fish, so little time!

Inangahua River

Wednesday, 11 February 2015


I thought I would arrive in Australia in January to sun and heat, the height of summer here, and packed only a single fleece. Big mistake. The first ten days of my camping trip in Tasmania could have been spent back in the UK for all I know, or any other European country gripped by winter at the moment. It was cold and wet and the wind blew a gale and always annoyingly downstream when I was out on a river. Even the headline of a local newspaper cried “Where has our summer gone?” My 900g sleeping bag, supposedly meant to keep its occupant warm and alive at a minimum temperature of -2C, proved no match for single digit degrees and I had to suffer until I got from Hobart to Launceston (there is nothing in between but fishing and rolling hills covered either by dry looking grey-green eucalypt forest or pasture) where I could hit the shops and splurge on thermals and warm clothing. Being under prepared for the weather almost, but didn’t, put a dampener on the novelty of fishing a new state and the thrill of camping in the trees with a log fire and the sound of a trout stream lulling me to sleep (except some nights my Bear Grylls skills couldn’t get a fire lit in the rain…and some nights it was too wet to contemplate). Just as I leave the weather has improved dramatically and temperatures are anticipated to rise to the 30s this week. Typical. This isn’t a pity plea but rather a reminder to anyone intending to come to Tasmania to pack warm. The old adage ‘four seasons in one day’ is very apt in this part of the world. It’s also a good idea not to plan your itinerary too inflexibly and to be prepared to adapt your plans to the weather conditions.

Camping in better weather at Myrtle Bank

Despite the inclement weather I was able to pick up fish in every river I stepped into but one, so the trip has been a success (trout eluded me on possibly the most renowned of them all, Brumby‘s Creek, but I couldn‘t devote much time to it because the wind was blowing a gale). I even caught one particular river (the Mersey) on a hot still day at the end of my trip and the fishing was exceptional, one of those blue ribbon days when the trout were looking up and hungry for dry flies.

The Florentine River

Tasmania is of course known for its exceptional wilderness lake fishing. One cold morning I even got as far as the end of the 2WD dirt track at Lake Ada, the springboard for a hike into the wilderness to fish the innumerable lakes and lagoons where sight fishing for large brown trout is the game. I had a backpack packed and was ready to go but the weather was just too foul and the wind too strong. The hike and fishing would have been uncomfortable and I would have had no price polaroiding fish with no sun and choppy water. I brewed a cup of coffee in the parking lot hoping for a break in the weather but instead it started to drizzle. I decided to push on north to fish the rivers near Launceston, which I hoped would at least be a little more shielded from the winds. At the back of my mind I felt if the weather improved and time permitted I would make my way back to the central plateau to fish the lakes but in the end I never got round to it. I was having too much fun exploring the rivers of the north east and north west. So I guess this is a report a little unusual for Tasmania, with no lake fishing to speak of.

The Styx River

I started my trip in Hobart and was glad when I eventually got on the road in my hire car and out of the stuffy hostel dorm room. I headed a short distance north west towards the Styx, Florentine and Tyenna rivers. On the way I stopped in at the Salmon Ponds Hatchery on the Plenty River which is the first place where trout ova were reared in the southern hemisphere. I paid my Aus$2 for a tub of pellets and had fun throwing them at the trout and ugly salmon. It was warm and bright that first day (a Saturday) when I set up an informal camp in the Styx Forest on the banks of the tannin stained Styx River. The river looks dark and foreboding, presumably why it is named after the river in Greek mythology. I caught nine trout in a few hours of glorious evening sunshine, saw a platypus, and went to sleep content and flush in new adventure. It was so warm that I went to sleep in a t-shirt and sleeping shorts… but that soon changed at about 1am when I woke up chilled to the core. It had started to rain and little did I know that I wouldn‘t see a completely rain free or cloudless day for another nine days. It was only a light rain at first but enough to make me move my tent to higher ground in the morning and worry about my 2WD sedan getting out on the short but steep and now puddled dirt track back to the Styx Forest road. It all worked out fine in the end and I skidded my way out the next morning. It was however a wet and blustery day on the Styx and I only managed four trout in the vicinity of the beautiful Big Tree Reserve where the river is especially scenic. The best fish was 13 inches. I spotted it rise against the left bank just before a torrential downpour which lasted a couple of minutes. I stood stock still while the rain pelted down noisily on my rain jacket, all the while marking the place where I saw the rise. When the shower passed I cast a CDC & Elk to the left bank and it was immediately snatched by the trout.

That night I was woken up at 3am by some noisy animal intent on entering my tent to get at my salami (possibly a Tasmanian Devil but more likely a possum I guess - I‘d like to think it was a Devil) and from then on all food remained locked in the car boot.

Typical colouration of a Tasmanian river trout

The Florentine was a strange river. Also tannin stained the colour of dark roast coffee, it consisted of deep, slow moving pools which were eerily quiet. It was a hard slog beating my way through the bush to get around the deep water and stone cliffs but I found no riffles or wadeable water after some way so I beat my way back through the bush a little disconsolately at the wasted effort. When I got back to the car I noticed a couple of rises downstream of the bridge and I entered the water below, very different limestone water with trailing weeds which was shallow enough to wade and clear enough to spot fish which were lying between the weeds rising to little olive mayflies. I could have been on the Derbyshire Wye! I missed the first four rises to my olive CDC fly but then got serious and caught the next two, both about 12 or 13 inches. It was fun casting to fish in such clear water and seeing them react to the fly. Most patterns were simply rejected, some after interminable scrutiny.
A trout from the North Esk

The Tyenna is probably the most popular river near Hobart and I caught it on a good day. It was mostly sunny and the water level had dropped a fraction from the day before. I accessed the river from a railway line in the vicinity of Mt Field National Park and had a great day catching sixteen fish in total. The biggest was around 14 inches but I lost a bigger fish which must have been about 16 or 17 inches. The Tyenna is a fast flowing river and whilst I could have landed the fish if I had a landing net, I just couldn’t get the fish to me in the strong current. When I reached down to hold the tippet with my hand, unable to move up or down the bank and the fish agonisingly close, the fly dislodged and the fish was off. I saw four platypus that day too.

Tyenna trout

A typical Tasmanian gravel road. Is that a top hat?

I pushed on north, stopping to look at Lake Echo, Great Lake and Arthur’s Lake along the way, all big, daunting waters for a shore fisherman and, quite frankly, so big and monotonous that I’d be bored fishing them. I got to Launceston and did what all modern travellers do these days - looked for a plug socket to charge my phone and found some free wifi to check my emails and send a Whatsapp or two. Launceston felt a little more interesting and upbeat than Hobart, but I couldn’t tell you why.

The headwaters of the St Patrick's River

A trout from the Great Forester River

In the north east I camped on the banks of the St Patrick’s River and from there fished the St Patrick’s, Great Forester, North Esk and South Esk rivers. In the north west I camped on the banks of the Meander river and fished the Meander, Mersey and Leven rivers. The best of the lot by a country mile was the Mersey, even though this river had the smallest average size fish. It could not have been any more different from the River Mersey at Liverpool in the north west of England! I probably just caught it on the right day when everything including the weather clicked but besides that it is remote and set in beautiful scenery, is crystal clear and relatively easy to wade. It’s trout were quick to rise to a dry fly too. It was from the Mersey that I caught the largest fish of the trip, a brute of over 20 inches which had unusually few spots. Fishing up a shallow riffle I spotted a large snout break the surface and casually sip in some hapless insect, then again after a few seconds. My pulse quickened at the sight of it. I cast the fly I had on at that moment, a Royal Wulff, but it elicited no response so I changed to a Parachute Adams. The very first cast saw the fly submerged in a gentle boil of water and elated, I lifted the rod into the biggest fish I had caught that day. It was a fish of 13 inches and whilst obviously pleased I thought to myself how misleading fish can sometimes look in the water, often appearing larger than the reality. But I was sure I had seen a much larger fish to I flicked the Parachute Adams out again after giving it a quick dry and this time there was no mistaking the size of the snout which broke the water’s surface and swallowed the fly so nonchalantly. A fish of 20 inches plus fights a bit differently to a fish of 13 inches, using its full weight and boring down into any deep and dark space it can find, trying to grind out a war of attrition. I prayed my tippet would hold and when I released the fish I noticed my hook had almost bent straight.

The best fish of the trip

The Mersey

The most scenic river was the St Patrick’s, followed by the Mersey, upper Meander, Styx and upper South Esk. I’d recommend all of these rivers to anyone bound for Tasmania. I’m naturally biased towards freestone rivers though, and many people who spend a lot of time fishing in Tasmania prefer the broad, smooth flowing pastoral rivers. My most memorable catch came from a pastoral stream - the North Esk. It had been a tough day with little interest from the fish but right at the end of the day I came across what I could tell was a decent sized fish rising consistently to something. I never did work out what it was. Something miniscule. I must have thrown about 5 or 6 different dry fly patterns to the fish over the course of about half an hour, and once or twice it came up and tracked my fly for a second or two before deciding otherwise. Eventually a moment of genius dawned on me (so it turned out) as I tied on a small nymph pattern with only a hint of exasperation. I cast it to the fish and with no apparent doubt in its mind it took the nymph as soon as it saw it. It was a plump fish of 16 inches.

North West Tasmania

So is Tasmania worth a separate trip especially given its proximity to New Zealand? I’d say so. Fish were abundant and I could reasonably expect and did catch good numbers of fish in the 13 to 16 inch range every outing with a few sightings of much larger fish. There are plenty of rivers to choose from in a small geographic area making it easy to move from river to river and of course the wildlife is completely unique. In some places the little state is trout mad, like Cressy, where all the street signs are in the shape of trout. I like little things like that. And on top of it all I didn’t even have time to try the famous lakes and lagoons. Yes, Tasmania is worth it and doesn’t deserve to be judged by its close neighbour.

This was taken at the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Centre, not in the wild where these things are almost impossible to see

Speaking of which, I’ve just arrived in New Zealand…