ALTITUDE BLOG

New beginnings, new adventures...

After a solid four years full time in the outdoor retail industry working for Manawatu Hunting & Fishing, progressively guiding and instructing on my days off from the shop,

I decided to make a jump in life. I've learnt an impressive amount about clothing, gear, tackle rigging, service and the outdoor industry itself. I've met a huge number of amazing people through the shop, many of whom are close friends and I wouldn't change it for anything.

As much as I loved my days selling fishing, hiking, hunting and especially fly fishing gear

to local and travelling anglers, my real passion was in showcasing my local trout waters to

international anglers as well as spending much time instructing local anglers of all abilities.  I guess doors only open once in a while, and this one in particular I couldn't walk away from. And so the journey begins.......

2018/2019 Season Summary

The lower North Island had possibly the hardest hitting episodes of short, condensed heavy rainfall, many in thunderstorm form. The rate of erosion in the Northern Ruahine Range was staggering to say the least. Some rivers having the biggest riverbed change in many decades. As a result of tops and slip erosion in the headwaters, rivers had filled up with a large amounts of sand and fine gravel. This had even spread down as far as the lowland reaches of many catchments, but consistently we found solid numbers in many of the catchments, and often in stunning condition to my surprise. Amazing how hardy the buggers can be in those major floods. The Southern Tararua Range

on the other hand tends to be more stable with erosion, and therefore the

draining watersheds didn't seem to take on any noticeable changes at all. 

A couple big early-season missions saw some stunning clear water sight-fishing

action to very un-pressured fish after their long winter without anglers creeping

up on their tail.

Although the clear weather gaps can be a little more sparse at this, I've found

it tends not to affect the quality of the fishing. Last October we stumbled across

an incredible large mayfly hatch on a beech-clad mountain river very close to

Wellington City. The day consisted of freezing cold, cloudy, wet and borderline

sleet conditions. Fish were very active on the surface accepting offerings

in a free-rising manner. Sometimes if you don't go, you just won't know! 

As 2019 rolled around in January I noticed the lowland rivers fishing quite tough. The long spells of beautiful, fine weather kept river flows low and often very warm. More time was spent on the spring creeks and more backcountry style rivers where the water temps were favourable. Here we found the fishing to be as good as any other season, the cicada hatches were quite stunning at times with the long spells of hot weather. As much as big rubber-legged patters such as stimulators, foam terrestrials and large PMX dries rose fish, the humble blowfly pattern probably seduced more than any other. Not often will you see my vest's fly patch without a bunch of trout-induced, chewed up blowfly patterns. Make sure to bring them on your next trip with me. They seem to eat em year round like they're some kind of mint chocolate biscuit!

"If that's what they want, thats what they're gonna get!" - Gary Borger - USA

North Island New Zealand Fishing Guides

Last day at the fly shop and standing in front of our self timer tramping photo that was used on the front of the new shop.

The lower North was blessed with solid periods of fine, late season weather. Our days were often clear and the nights sitting in backcountry huts were very crisp until the log fire started cranking. We found some amazing late season fishing around March/April this year in terms of the fish size and quality. I guess the cicada season here really was exceptional and the condition factor proved. Often these fish didn't come easy though. Generally, well thought out impeccable drifts/presentations were key in the first few casts to get some sort of eat, otherwise a large articulated streamer of some kind did the business. If they don't like it one way feed them another!

I owe a huge thank you to all customers who fished with me this past season. I look forward to helping you all and many more make new memories here in the Lower North. All in all, I'm quite proud of my solid break-out season with the success of customers exceeding my expectations most days on the water. Some of 'em were tough fishing days to say the least, but thats the way the cookie crumbles here. New Zealand can put on it's stellar days as much as it presents us with the challenging ones. I think the beer tastes better on the tough days when we work for it a little more.

'Earn your beer here!'

2019/2020 Season Prospective Forecast

With the growing trend of New Zealand winters becoming a little

milder, the 2018 and current 2019 year has been no exception. Our

river levels have remained somewhat stable during usual flood prone

periods. This should set our friends up with a good spawning season

and a consistent holding condition factor across the board. I'm hoping

the rivers have kept/gained excellent riverbed structure also.

 

There's certainly a forecast of a 'mega mast' this season ahead, with

beech trees flowering prolifically and rodent numbers starting to ramp

up quite significantly higher than previous seasons. Often the mast can

be quite isolated within a mountain range. We can never be too certain

on these things, but if you do have an ambition to be put

on brown trout unusually larger than standard, the 2019/2020 season

looks the most promising for sure. Its never an easy gig chasing big fish as the

natural isolation of these wilderness locations present far more physically challenging country and often more time and dollars invested to access via foot or helicopter. The rewards though are significantly larger and very achievable with a bit of determination. If this is something that interests you please give me a call for an honest opinion on our odds and what we need to put in for success. I'll be putting in some solid miles over the next 2 months finding fish, cutting tracks and clearing campsites for multi day adventures so you don't have to. This is one of many perils by fishing with professional New Zealand guide. This type of back-round work that you wont see takes years and has allowed me to dial these particular zones in. Just turn up with your A-game and as a team we will achieve something special. Here's a wee extract from a NZ Stuff News article on the prospective mast:

Nelson-based DOC scientist Graeme Elliott says it's when heavy seed falls are expected pretty much everywhere, in all the beech forests. (He points out, however, that it doesn't take a heavy beech seed-fall to cause a mice and rat plagues. "The heaviness of the seedfall isn't so important as the widespreadness.") He reels off the places like eastern Fiordland, Te Anau, Eglinton, Landsborough, Arthur's Pass and Kahurangi, where it's flowering prolifically. "The Tararuas, for example, they've kind of gone ape-s...." It's far from a complete picture, he says. "But everywhere we've heard back from suggests it's going to be a biggie."

The Lower North is gifted with multiple small streams and creeks. If you want to experience small water sight fishing at it's absolute best, I have days available in October when these are at their peak before many fish drop back into the larger water lower down in the systems. It's some of my absolute favourite fishing of the season.

For those traveling to Wellington City for Business of travel i'm now offering  daily guide trips here and can offer road-trip style multi day ventures from Wellington as a pick up or drop-off location point.

The prospects are looking very promising for good early season fishing and a solid year of high quality wilderness fishing. Get in touch and book some guide days with me this trout season.

Johnny