If you were to read the magazines, watch videos, and view reports on the net, you could get the impression that New Zealand fly fishing was confined to the South Island – or the ‘Mainland’ as South Islanders call it – and confined to Summer. Not so!

The South Island Fishery has a great deal going for it; big fish in clear water, demanding fishing even for good and better fly fishers. Most South Island waters are open during Summer, but closed during Winter. But the North Island too, has superb fishing, in clear streams and rivers as well, especially throughout the central North Island, and especially for anglers prepared to venture off the beaten tracks. But many of these streams and rivers are closed over Winter as well. So what do do over Winter, apart from tie flies, tell lies, and wait?

The good news is that much of the Lake Taupo area, on the Central North Island Plateau is open over Winter (May through August), and it is the time Rainbow and brown trout head up the rivers and streams (all 47 of them that flow into Lake Taupo) to spawn. (Most of the rivers, have closures on the upper reaches to facilitate undisturbed spawning from the end of June, and many smaller streams are closed over Winter.)

So what is the attraction of this fishery; remembering it is often colder than a mother-in-law’s stare? Well trout that average 2.2kg (4.5lb) is for starters, for more go here.

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Waders don’t deserve lethal reputation

by Tony Bishop on June 8, 2006

From Fishing Jones, a link to a story about the drowning of a US fisherman, while wearing waders.

As usual the myth that waders filled with water will make you sink is trotted out with little regard for the facts, as outlined in this article.

But don’t take the fact that waders filled with water will not pull you under is a license to ignore basic safety when wading. I have taken three trips down a river in waders and it is not an experience I want to repeat. Trying to keep my head away from boulders, my body from being caught around trees fallen in the river, etc., left me utterly exhausted, and in one case suffering from hypothermia. All in all – not goodness.

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The Mystery of the Ratty Fly

by Tony Bishop on June 2, 2006

“It’s an ages-old question: Do trout sometimes prefer a beat-up pattern?”
The excellent MidCurrent blog features an excellent (of course) article by Paul Schullery on the old question of whether ratty, beat-up flies catch more fish than neat’n’tidy offerings.

I’m a believer. I have written a couple of articles on this theme, Rufazgutz, and Imitation or Approximation.

If you buy store-bought flies, have a read of these articles and then take to your flies with something rough like a piece of hacksaw blade or a piece of Velcro. Picking out some fur with a pin or needle will help too. And as the article says if your fly gets a bit ratty, but is still catching fish, for goodness sake keep using it.

Commercially tied flies are tied to meet the demands of the first rule of fishing tackle retailing; ‘First Catch Your Fisherman’. I should know – I owned a tackle shop for ten years.

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The Road to Wingless Wet Flies or Flymphs

by Tony Bishop on May 28, 2006

An interesting piece on Global Flyfisher covering ‘flymphs’ (sometime called ‘Spider’ flies, mainly in the UK) which are flies halfway betwen a dry fly and a nymph. As it should be; the flies represent a nymphs making their way to the surface.

The article covers a little of their history, how to fish them, and some patterns to tie. I regularly carry some flymphs in my fly boxes – they have provided a way to catch fish when all else has failed – which of course begs the question, why don’t I use them first?

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Promises, Promises

by Tony Bishop on May 24, 2006

Paul, my brother-in-law is, a very keen fisherman and hunter. He does the fishing report on a local radio station. He also works in a tackle shop. Which is where I visited him an hour or so ago.

I was hoping he would tell me he had a bunch of mallard feathers, as promised, from his shoot on the duck-shooting opening day a couple of weeks ago.

He greeted me with a reminder of an article I wrote a year or two ago about the dangers of promising someone, anyone, a feed of fish. It is a certain way of ensuring no fish. So it was for Paul – he was skunked for the first time in over 30 years shooting.

So no ducks for Paul, no mallard feathers for poor old Bish. But all is not lost, you might get a chuckle, (and a warning) out of the Promises, Promises article.

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From FlyFish Magazine :

Women anglers are getting into fly fishing in great numbers. It seems that they are not only using their new found knowledge of the sport to catch trout or bass, they are using it to catch men! Behold Gail Ruben’s book “A Girl’s Pocket Guide to Trouser Trout.”

“The trout hunts by sight. Men and fish are attracted by visually stimulating lures. Look your best, and wear eye-catching accessories that start conversations, such as unique jewelry or outrageous cowboy boots.”

I call foul on this tactic! Any woman who would resort to trying to lure a man by wearing some sort of high heels or cowboy boots, or cheerleader costume…or leather …….. sorry, I just lost my train of thought completely.

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Double Trouble Jigs – For Fish That Is

by Tony Bishop on April 9, 2006

Several months ago I was reading either a website or magazine based in the US, memory fails me as to exactly where, but I came across a method of using jigs, which by that account was very effective indeed. Most saltwater species, many similar to ours here in New Zealand, were all falling to the methods charm.

So I have been using the method and it sure works… read about it here.

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According to the IGFA – (International Game Fish Association) – the people who administer the World’s fishing records – there are two species of yellowtail kingfish.

One that seems to swim off the West Coast of the Americas – the so-called Californian Yellowtail – and one for the rest of us, called the Southern Yellowtail Kingfish.

Here is the problem:

Virtually all the World Records for the Southern Yellowtail Kingfish are held in New Zealand. Fact is that they grow to prodigious size here.

Average size in New Zealand is 90-120cm, reaching over 150cm, weighing to over 68kg (150lb). The current world record is 52kg (115lb) .

But years ago someone convinced the IGFA that the species that grew in the South Pacific was different to the species off the West Coast of the Americas. Problem with this is that it has now been proved conclusively well over ten or more years ago that the species are the same: Seriola lalandi.

The second reason given for separate records for kingfish were held was that the two populations do not intermingle. You say what!? Does this mean that if any fish specie populations do not mingle then they should have separate records? Of course not!

This would mean we should have separate records for Atlantic and Pacific Tuna, Atlantic and Pacific Marlin. Can you imagine different World Records for trout, salmon, or bass depending on which river or lake they were caught. It is a nonsense of course.

World records are just that. The biggest fish of that species in the World – not just where you happen to fish.

So, c’mon IGFA, get real and scrub those separate records for yellowtail kingfish.

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Fishing Woolly Buggers

by Tony Bishop on March 27, 2006

I guess if I had to pick just one fly to fish with, it would have to be the Woolly Bugger. I could use it in lakes, rivers, streams, and saltwater. I could fish it with a floating or sinking line. I could fish it as a baitfish imitation, a nymph, a damsel, koura (NZ freshwater crayfish) – you name it and a Bugger will catch it.

Midcurrent have an excellent article by the creator of the Woolly Bugger, which provides some valuable insights into the way this wonderful fly can be fished. Of particular note is the section on fishing the Woolly Bugger upstream as a nymph – too many anglers see the Woolly Bugger as a downstream fly.

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Over the sixty plus years I have been fishing I have seen many funny things happen, but for some reason, launching a boat at the boat ramp seems to produce the most funny incidents; most as in number and most as in high giggle factor.

A few years ago myself and a number of others watched one of life’s little dramas unfold on a ramp, and it stuck in the back of my mind for a long time. There just had to be a story behind the story of what transpired on the ramp, so here it is…

They’d ‘had words’. Their faces and body language told the story, even to a casual observer.

Milly’s face puckered into that ‘I was weaned on gherkin’ look, that some women practise to perfection. She stared out to sea, her mind a seething riot, as it reviewed events leading to this situation.

At the top of the boat ramp, Ted stomped about the boat, preparing for the trip. His jaw was clamped, his nostrils flared.

Yes, definitely, trouble at mill. Trouble that began brewing two weekends ago.

Ted was preparing his boat and fishing gear, ready for an early start the following morning. Milly, watching his eager work, fired the first shot, “You think more of that boat and fishing gear, than you do me.” Ted, realising that full-blown hostilities could erupt at any moment, raised the truce flag, “Don’t be silly Milly, you know I love fishing, and it should be a good day tomorrow. That’s why I’m excited.”

The truce held for 3 or 4 minutes, so Ted was beginning to think the truce might hold, when Milly fired another shot. “You used to take me fishing, but you never do now.” Ted thought, “That was thirty years ago, before we had kids, and she said she didn’t really like fishing, and she made me put on bait and take fish off hooks, and, and…’

Ted thought that, but instead said, “Would you like to come fishing the weekend after next?” It just popped out, and there was no way of taking it back.

Milly pounced, “Oh, really? I’d love to.”

 There it was, set in concrete…..continued here.

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