Fishing Travel

Unexpectedly Great Fishing: Again!

A couple of my previous articles, ‘Expect the Unexpected’ and ‘No Great Expectations’, were based on the sometimes fabulous fishing that seems to pop-up out of nowhere.

I have just had five days of truly unexpected and exceptional fishing.apr5rainbow2

Like other trips like this, it all started out pretty much as usual. I was going down to the Taupo region of the central North Island of New Zealand, for what I hoped would coincide with the start of annual run of brown trout into the rivers and streams that flow into Lake Taupo.

I arrived to weather that was also pretty much as expected for autumn, clear skies, (maybe too clear) and a hint of a chill in the air. The main river I was going to fish, the Tauranga-Taupo, was low and very clear, again, maybe too clear. So, I was not expecting great fishing.

The next morning I set off up the river, and found there was no one else on the river where I was fishing. Big plus tick for that.

I also noticed lots of fish in the river. Well, to be truthful, for the first hour or two, most noticed me about one second before I noticed them fleeing to wherever it is where trout go when they notice fishermen.

But soon enough I shook off the city cloak of unawareness, and began to notice fish before they noticed me, and fling a fly at them. Sometimes they liked the fly and bit it, other times they treated the fly with utter disdain, and after repeated casts slowly moved off to that secret trout place.

Now, you may remember I was down at Taupo to catch browns, but I never saw one, but rainbows where there in big numbers.

Big numbers of rainbows was encouraging, but what was even more encouraging and unexpected was the size of the fish. In recent years the average size of Taupo area rainbows has been in decline, to the point where any fish over three pounds was considered a good catch.

Recent reports however suggested that the average rainbow size and condition coming up to spawning was well up on recent years.

The reports were spot on. That first day I caught and released 16 or 17 fish, not one of which was less than 3lb. Most were over a pound or two over that weight, a couple may have been even bigger.

The fish were in wonderful condition, deep and round, fat as butter, and fought long and hard… [full story]

(Terrible photo I know – but left my camera at home – and my phone camera is, well you can see.)

Posted by Tony Bishop in Fishing Travel, fly fishing, my fishing trips, New Zealand Fishing

Smartphone swell and weather for New Zealand


Be safe this summer and weather prepared with the new SwellMap mobile site.


New Zealand is a unique place for weather – the variability and complexity we experience daily means that our population is very aware of the weather outcomes. Everyone knows that the weather can be very different only 20 km down the road, and that’s why SwellMap provides forecasts at a resolution of 6 to 18 km. This allows us to predict the weather at many of the smaller towns in New Zealand, as well as splitting our bigger cities into smaller weather (and activity) areas.

SwellMap, New Zealand’s premier marine forecast site has a new mobile site. Designed with a smaller data feed and faster download time, boating and fishing enthusiasts can check the weather on the go on their smart phone. SwellMap provides colour coded weather map forecasts at a resolution of 6 to 18 km: sea temperatures, tides, wind, wave height, period and precipitation are all at your fingertips. Plan your outdoor fishing and boating trips safely to avoid strong head winds, heavy seas and rig up with appropriate gear. Simply login with on your mobile and you will be directed to the mobile version. Double tap on screen to zoom into maps.

About SwellMap:

SwellMap system has been developed by MetOcean Solutions Ltd, a science-based consultancy who provide high quality weather data to the offshore and marine industry in New Zealand and overseas.

SwellMap uses the latest atmospheric and oceanographic numerical models, and a large computing facility, to produce forecasts which are updated 4 times per day.

Posted by Tony Bishop in Fishing Safety, Fishing Travel, New Zealand Fishing

The Trout Diaries: A Year of Fly-Fishing in New Zealand


As a New Zealand fisherman with over 50 years experience, I am acutely aware of the almost dreamlike reputation New Zealand’s trout fishing holds for many overseas anglers. Unfortunately much of that dream has been fuelled by over-hyping in print, TV and other media. Sure we have big trout in superb surroundings, but the big trout are hard to catch, and require for the most part good fly-fishing skills, where casting and presentation techniques are key.
Fortunately Trout Diaries is extremely well written, and through an anecdotal style reveals the true nature and reality of New Zealand trout fishing, and the techniques that can lead to success.
In many ways the books title is a misnomer, it is most certainly not a ‘I did this on this day’ book, but covers a years worth of fishing trips throughout both the North and South Island of New Zealand. On the way you will meet some of the true characters that fish our waters, and learn a lot.
I cannot recommend Trout Dairies highly enough.

Another review:

“This is such a fine book; one that is able to be enjoyed on several levels.
It has inspired me to fish some new water, and it offers some gems on how to fly fish. The Trout Diaries is occupied by some of the most interesting characters to inhabit our angling literature, and the author has captured their voices beautifully. The book will appeal to people looking for the adventure that comes from new places and people, but primarily for me, it was about an adventure of the soul. This ultimate adventure, so well described, is the most important journey of all, and is what will make this book appeal to an audience well beyond anglers. It is a book that can make you laugh and cry, which is quite something for a book supposedly about angling.”

Yet another:

“Derek Grzelewski sees what most others do not; his thoughtful observations are carefully wound into stories that are neither just about technique, nor about the requisite equipment but rather how fishing for trout, pounding miles of river bank, chance encounters with locals and peering from bridges into running water, feed us. He threads his 12 months of fishing with his life experiences. This is not a book about pounds, numbers or the one that got away. He recounts his meetings with professionals, scientists, cockies, novices, old timers, whitebaiters… for each of them a different slant on what they take from the fabulously fresh still and running waters of New Zealand. I couldn’t put the book down.”

Posted by Tony Bishop in Fishing Travel, fly fishing how-to

Looking at Water

Ok, so you are a fisherman driving alongside a river or sea – how hard is it to keep your eyes on the road?

Nice little piece of philosophical writing from Flyfishmagazine…

“My wife just doesn’t understand why I always feel compelled to look at water. Many times as we drive down a road that just happens to be running along the bank of a small stream or river, I have to be reminded to keep my eyes on the road and not glued to the creek to our left or right…” [More]

Posted by Tony Bishop in Articles and stories on fishing in general, Fishing Travel

The Winterless North

The Taupo region, central North Island, is best known as a winter (May – August) fishery. This is the time trout move out of the lake into the many rivers to spawn.

But this ignores the wonderful fishing that is available over summer, when the restriction on sections of most rivers to allow uninterrupted spawning are removed. It also ignores the fact that many fish enter the rivers to spawn all year round, although in nowhere near the numbers of winter. It is also true that there are far fewer anglers as well. A couple of weeks ago I fished the upper regions of the one of the most popular rivers and saw not one other angler, on a Sunday, and 7kms each way up and back.

The fish in general will be smaller than the winter on average – but big fish do lurk in deper pools. From Febuary on, browns move up river, some of these fish are really big.

There are also so-called ‘resident’ fish. These are fish that have moved up river to spawn and then stay upriver.

The only real annoyance is likely to be hordes of 8″ to 12″ fish, last winters crop feeding up before heading down to the lake in Autumn.

As an idea of the fish available, here are two photos of fish caught by my youngest son a few weeks back. The silver fish is a maiden hen on her way up to spawn. She would be close to 18″. The other darker fish is a hen that has very recently spawned and is on her way back down river. She would have been over 20″.

Posted by Tony Bishop in Fishing Travel, New Zealand Fishing