Just One of Those days

Jason, my middle son and I sneaked away one evening for the three and a half hour drive to Taupo, and on to Te Rangiata. Bright and early next day we headed for the Hinemaiaia River.

The Hinemaiaia is a pretty little river, but it is very difficult to fish. First the bush grows right to the river’s edge in most places and the bottom is a veritable minefield of snags. But there can be some good fish in amongst the jungle especially this time of the year, and some very big browns are regularly pulled out around this time.

The upper Hinemaiaia is closed from end June to December 1 to allow for spawning, so by going just a day or two since the river opened we were likely to be fishing to trout who had not seen too many anglers. Well, few anglers or not it was hard and hot work. The early summer sun was pretty fierce.

Jason got 4 or 5 fish, I managed two or three, nothing big, but all over 45cm (18”).

But the highlight of my session was seeing two fighting Jacks, swirling and turning as they drifted, fighting, downstream. They passed just inches from my legs, totally oblivious to my presence. Twice they chased each other to the top of the pool and then drifted down again, once I thought they were going to touch my legs. Magic moment.

By early afternoon Jason and I had had enough of re-rigging from flies lost to snags and we headed off to the Tongariro.

I fished the bottom of a shallow run, below a guy at the head. I watched as he pulled out three fish without me getting a touch. But when he left I slipped in, and fished without a touch. The guy who I had watched, moved down the run, I little below where I had been fishing and pulled out another fish.

Then he moved to another braid of the river and I watched him pull out another fish. That was it, frustrated and still fishless I wandered over to see what brand of dynamite he was using.

His rig was basically the same as mine. A gold ribbed Hare’s Ear with a bright orange tungsten bead on a  #12 hook, then tied off the bend of that hook, a Gold bead Prince Nymph #12. We had roughly the same length leader.

So why was he catching fish, and I watching? Who knows. But I have seen this happen so many times before, sometimes I have been on the successful side, often not. I guess it must be that quite subtle differences in the weight, shape, colour and bulk of the flies, and the way they drift that determines which will get bit and which will not.

Still it might be my turn next time, and that is part of what keeps me coming back.

Posted by Tony Bishop in fly fishing

Fugly Foam Flies for Fabulous Fishing

I was first introduced to foam flies around ten years ago. One of my favourite dry flies up to that point was the big ugly ‘Madam X’, which is basically a big clump of deer or elk hair, over a yellow body, with rubber legs in the shape of an X, hence the name.

Madam X was very successful for me, but it had a major drawback, the same one that affects all fur, hair and feather dry-flies, you have to dry the damn things every five seconds.montanahopper

So when I saw foam flies I was hooked, and as it transpires so were plenty of fish. I would back a big fugly foam fly splashed down over fish feeding on miniscule somethings, to an imitative pattern any day.

Read the rest of the story here.

Posted by Tony Bishop in fishing flies, fly tying

Great Whites Deep Divers


Malcolm Francis, of the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), says, “We used to think great white sharks were shallow-water coastal species that lived in cold areas, where there were lots of seals to eat,” he said. “Now we have changed our impression of what they do.”

What changed his mind were three four-metre-plus great whites tagged off the Chatham Islands, east of New Zealand’s main islands, which arrived in Tonga, 3000km north, for a midwinter feast of humpback whale calves.

NIWA and the Department of Conservation in New Zealand  have been attaching satellite tags to great whites, to measure position, depth and water temperature. After several months, the tags pop off and float to the surface, where the data is transmitted to a satellite.

Dr Francis said that this year two Stewart Island whites had gone 4000 kilometres to Queensland’s Great Barrier. Surprisingly, they go in a straight line. “They seem to know where they are going,” he said, noting that they moved through the water at between 4kmh and 5kmh, or an impressive 120km a day.

Up to 70 per cent of the time they are near the surface but this winter one of the whites dived. “We’ve got what we think is a world record of 1000 metres for a white shark.” He believes it would have gone after a giant squid or phosphorescent fish. At that depth it would be pitch black and the white would have been guided in by the fish glow.

“They head off to the tropics, and we’re not quite sure what they are doing but we think they are showing interest in humpback whales,” Dr Francis said.

Tags were found in humpback whale calving areas. Evidence exists of whites feeding on dead whales and dead calves. Now NIWA thinks the whites follow the whales when seal numbers decline in colonies over winter.

Posted by Tony Bishop in weird fishy stuff

Trash Flies for Fly Fishing

No, not the flies that gather round your rubbish bags in Summer, but flies to catch fish using items found in trash.


Fly Fish Magazine has an interesting article on tying flies using  materials rescued from all sorts of discarded stuff that would usually end up in the rubbish tip.

Carolina fly tyer, Brad Sprinkle shows that a bit of creative recycling can be a real asset at the fly tying bench. The fact that it can save a bit of money on materials is a definite bonus as well.

Posted by Tony Bishop in fishing flies, fly tying

Who’s Name Goes in the Record Book

I get a lot of questions and some I can even answer, or find an answer, for my Answers page.

But this question was very interesting:

I have two friends that went fishing in the Michigan U.P., USA. and on this particular trip landed a very large Muskie.  The first fisherman owns the cottage on the lake and has caught Muskies before, the second none.  As you listen to their individual stories they both claim to have caught the same fish.  Both took separate pictures holding it, both plan on having their own mounts made, both continue to brag about catching it.

I was raised in believing that a fish is caught by one fisherman, the person who hooked it, while the other person being a participant by netting the fish or holding the pole while the fisherman that hooked it brings it into the boat is just a witness or bystander.  Boy…. did the arguments start.  

I asked them if it was a record holder who’s name would it go under?  I can’t seem to get a straight answer to that question either as they each said themselves.  Can two people be listed as the catchee?

Even though it was just the two of them and not a charter, the second fisherman tells me that when a boat is chartered everyone on board catches all the fish.  Is this true?  Can you help me sort the rules out….  

Thanks, Curt    aka… milwpacker

Here was my answer:

On one hand, it is just great that two friends got such a kick out of catching the fish – and if they both want a mount of the fish that is their choice – whatever floats their boat, I say. If both of them believe the fish would not have been boated without the active participation of each of them, then that is for them to call.

But on the other hand, and it is a big but, as far as records go, only the angler who hooks, plays and lands the fish can claim the record, and only that one angler’s name can go in the record book.

This applies to all fishing records, even big game fishing, where the active involvement of all the crew is necessary to boat the fish, but only the one angler’s name is recorded . So your comment about everyone other than the angler playing the fish being just a bystander is I am afraid way short of the mark as well. It may well be that the angler could not boat the fish without the aid of one or more other people in the boat.

In fact it is usually true that a big game angler would not be able to get the fish to the boat without the skipper moving the boat around to help recover line, prior to all the crew action at the end. This can also apply in small boat fishing.

So, I am not sure if this clears anything up, except the one-name one-record business, but this has been one of the more interesting questions I have received.

Posted by Tony Bishop in Articles and stories on fishing in general, big game fishing

Use The Frisbee Cast in Tight Situations

Imagine this – you are tight up against one bank, with all sorts of vegetation hanging out over the bank and the water.
You cannot move out into the stream because you will put the fish down. You can’t do a roll cast, because your back is up against the bushes. The other side of the stream is no better, with the same over-hanging vegetation, under which the trout are lying.
Just the situation for trying the Frisbee Cast


Go here for the full story.

Posted by Tony Bishop in fly fishing how-to

Yet Another New Fishing Quote and Saying – Nov 4, 2008

Number 707:

“A river is God’s handwriting across the landscape”

I forgot to put up the last quote’s number – 706 – sorry about that, must remember to take the pills, but how can I remember to take the pills if I have forgotten to take the pills – that is more than enough of that:)

Posted by Tony Bishop in fishing quotes

Fly-fishing: Setting the Hook

There is a good article on setting the hook in Shallow Water Angler. “Most of us work so hard on our fly-casting fundamentals that closing the deal once a fish takes the fly seems an afterthought. How many times have you heard a fellow fly fisher bemoan a botched hook-set after a perfect presentation or a hair-raising strike? It boils down to poor fundamentals—how you stand, where your rod-tip is, and what you do with your line hand.”

While this story is primarily aimed at saltwater fly-fishing anglers the sections devoted to striking with the rod-tip close to the water and pulling back with the line –hand is great advice for all fly-fishers in fresh or saltwater. I have been a strong advocate for this method of striking.

The one divergence that a fresh water angler may have with that recommended in the article is that the author recommends pointing the rod-tip at the fly, and this is good advice where current is not usually an issue. But in freshwater where currents can bend the line, the rod should be pointed in the direction the line is coming off the rod-tip. If the rod is not pointing in the direction of the line you run the real risk of just lifting slack line off the surface of the water and not setting the hook.

Posted by Tony Bishop in fly fishing, fly fishing how-to, salt water fly fishing