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Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Saltwater fly-fishing in NZ

95 cm Kingfish on a #7 trout outfit and cassette reel

I've been salt water fly-fishing for years for Kahawai - Arripis trutta - aka Australian Salmon. I use a 5-7 weight. Last Summer I got on the Kingfish chasing bandwagon. These are the next size class up of salt water predator. Fly-fishing for them them is getting very popular in NZ since Anton Donaldson started writing about them, and guiding for them in the South Island.

I won an 8 weight fly-rod as part of the prize for taking out the heaviest fish category at the Lake Coleridge Opening Weekend competition in 2016, so I took this rod on a week long trip to Northland at the top of the North Island on my Christmas holidays. Unfortunately, the rod, which shall remain nameless, broke on one of the first days I fished with it. Luckily I had my #7 weight outfit along with me as a back-up rod, and so I was able to keep chasing the Trevally and Kingfish on the flats.

Conditions were tough, with no-one catching much. I camped out at one renowned location for 3 nights, and despite constant angling pressure from many fishermen,  no Kingfish were caught. All along the East coast and the top of North Island the reports were the same; hot, still conditions, and very little fish activity.

On the last day of my fishing week, I was passing through Whangarei, after visiting my cousins Cameron and Nathan Adams, who are renowned sea fishermen. Nathan Adams specialises in swordfish and marlin, and also holds the all tackle IGFA World Record for the heaviest Bluefin Tuna! For a job he hand makes Red Gill brand trolling lures which sell for up to $300 each! Check out his Bluefin tuna here;
Cameron told me about some spots around Whangarei, so off I went with about 2 hours left in the trip.

I went down to the beach at the mouth of the harbour and after some exciting sight-fishing on the flats caught this beauty on the #7 trout outfit. The reel was an inexpensive casette type, and I had to apply a lot of the drag by palming the reel!
After that experience I was hooked on chasing Kingfish on the fly.

Since then me and my mates have caught a bunch of other large Kingfish.

My First Golden Bay Kingfish, early 2018

103cm Kingfish

In July 2018 I am off to Fiji to try my hand at GT's - Giant Trevally, and other species of Trevally which inhabit clear tropical waters there. 

I've got a new Sage 8010 Pro saltwater reel, one of their biggest, top of the range ones. It's got 5 different gears, and I can choose the setting that I am after by just turning a dial to a certain number. This will enable me to instantly go from a light drag setting suitable for pulling line off the reel, to a precisely set heavy fighting drag. 

After my experience palming the cassette trout reel, and using various borrowed reels this summer, and losing fish through fiddling with the drag knob mid-fight, I've realised that you need the best reel you can afford for the salt. 

I don't want to go all that way to be messing around with unsuitable equipment. I did a test week salt water fly-fishing with the new reel, at the end of the season, and was very happy with it. Even the Kingfish guru Anton Donaldson was impressed with it.

Thank you again to Tore at Fly Tackle NZ for the support with this top quality Sage and Rio tackle.

I'll be travelling the mainland on my touring bicycle too, which should be really fun.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Interviewed for a River conservation film: "Seven Rivers Walking"

Through my river conservation work I was interviewed for this New Zealand River Conservation Film in 2017. 

I also did an extended feature about industrial pollution of the Heathcote River, which is available in the bonus features section of the DVD of the film.

It is a film about Canterbury Rivers, now showing in Christchurch, and on tour around New Zealand.

For you keen salmon anglers, it features interviews with Fish & Game New Zealand and Salmon Anglers on the Rakaia.

It was a privilege to appear in this documentary talking about Heathcote River protection, which is what I do for a day job as a freshwater advocate.

My focus is Haytons Stream in the upper Heathcote River, near my home in Christchurch.

Haytons Stream was once so clean that wild salmon ran up the Heathcote River to breed in it, but these days I have never seen anything living in it. I am working on that though, and hope to enable fish to return to it one day!

Click here to watch the trailer:

Seven Rivers Walking

I'm going to go watch it at the Tannery theatre tomorrow!

One of the sponsors of this film was my employer, The Canterbury Regional Council.

P.S. remember to enrol to vote in the central AND local Government elections, and make your vote count for clean water for fishing!

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Filming Fly-fishing in NZ with the BBC Natural History Unit

In 2016 I was privileged  to fly-fish for the BBC's Natural History Unit in New Zealand.

We flew into a wilderness NZ river with the BBC cameramen and worked hard for a week to capture the footage of the trout taking a mouse fly. Perhaps 80 hours of fishing and work to capture just a couple of minutes worth of the perfect footage. 

They did an amazing job with their cameras and drone, and I'm very pleased with the end result.

Thank you to Tore at for the excellent Sage rod and fishpond waist pack used in the filming.

In June 2017 the BBC posted an extended version of just the fishing footage on YouTube, and my good mate Svend Jensen recently sent me a link to it. I am stoked to see that it has received almost 100,000 views in the year since it was posted.

Check it out: 

The video is called "Huge Trout Eats Mice".

Click here for Youtube video 

The series showed to an audience of 120 Million people around the world. In different counties the 3 part documentary series went by different names, and in New Zealand it's called Wild New Zealand. 

If you were in NZ you could watch the full Wild New Zealand documentary online at

If you're outside NZ, then it can be accessed through the BBC's website.

The BBC documentary makers were real professionals, and it was a privilege to have this opportunity to work with film makers at the top of their game. They had amazing stories from their previous locations, such as the elephants of India. 

They were also surprised to discover that New Zealand is rapidly being transformed into one giant dairy farm. Where ever they went they found paddocks, grass, stock, and lost forests - this is the untold story of NZ which lurks behind the 100% pure marketing campaign.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Winning the Lake Coleridge Fishing Competition in 2016

Around 1,000 anglers, over 200 fish weighed in, the biggest trout wins, and I won!!

My 8.2 pound wild brown trout on fly rod.

This is a great annual competition run by Fish and Game North Canterbury, and sponsored by the Hunting and Fishing NZ retail company.

This was the first time I had entered the competition. I entered to win it, as I needed some new fishing equipment.

There is a great story behind this fish, which was the last fish entered at the weigh-in, just before the time deadline. I will write this story up in future, for a magazine or my book.

This image appeared in numerous newspapers thanks to publicity from Richard Cosgrove at Fish and Game, and also earned me the cover of the Fishing Newspaper, which is distributed throughout New Zealand.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Early February 2015 Co-incided with Buller Aniversary Day & Labour Weekend

I had a lovely trip, deep in snow, huts, freezing cold, long hikes, and a day of cicada sweetness. No other anglers, and heaps of trout, perfect.

When I saw cicadas I was glad I had the right fly from Stu's Fly Shop.

7lb, mad fight!

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Tuesday, 10 February 2015

La Fontaine Spring Creek December 2014 - by Andrée Dubiel

I have no fly fishing experience at all, so it was quite the opportunity to follow Nick along at the famous La Fontaine stream, on the evening of the summer solstice last December 2014.

It is quite challenging, and finding the right spot takes some time, but he doesn't get discouraged. I follow him with my camera, taking it all in, trying to be careful not to get ahead of him so the fish won't see me. The first fish comes quickly, so we get excited and keep on going along the bank. We finally come to a spot where you can just see the fish jump out of the water. It is getting dark by then, and I'm wet and cold (having accidentally fallen into the water along the shore), but it's difficult to get away, and quite a beautiful sight.

I got to watch an artist at work, learning as much as I could, careful to follow directions and not to make a lot of noise, snapping photos when appropriate. All in all a fine challenge as a professional photographer, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to have learnt from an experienced fisherman.

The Scott S4 hard at work. What magnificent country.

The scene of the ballistic evening rise! So exciting, even a beginner like Andree landed trout!

Thank you for your kind words and great, patient photography Andree! If you would like to hire Andree then contact her through

I landed 5 browns, almost all on dry fly! My highest numbers session for the season so far.

Friday, 21 February 2014

A lesson in Simplicity - January 17-19, 2014, with Kieran Lee

Kieran Lee is a minimalist. His gear for 2 days fitted neatly in a small duffel bag in the back of his wagon. My gear took up the rest of the car. Including the 3 back seats. He gave me stick about this of course. 

However, as usual, there came a point in the trip when he really wished that he had something that he'd left behind. On this trip it was some camp shoes, as he was freezing in sandals at night. Or maybe more water in his pack, when he woke up as dehydrated as his back country meals, after trekking all day on 600mLs or so.

However, apart from getting freezed and dried, on the whole, he seemed to be having much more fun with his gear than me. I was drowning in a sea of choices and complexity - with all the fishing gear recently out of storage - arranged on the grass around me, while he sat in a comfy chair, eating his 2 seconds to prepare dehydrated meal in a bag, wondering if I'd ever my kit packed and get to bed before dawn. The choice of the correct net for the water, from my arsenal of 4, was crucial I assured him.

I have resolved to buy more dehydrated meals, set up my leaders before leaving home, and take less gear. Maybe only 3 nets next time.

My most memorable fish of the trip. Isn't he Beautiful? Size is less important than difficulty for satisfaction. Also my only brown,and the first fish of trip after along walk and a lot of prospecting.

Kieran sleeping with the enemy

Fish till you drop. Kieran taking a power nap late arvo on day 2 after many miles of scorched water.
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 Kieran with a 6lb trutta
Tied down for the NW Gales!

Didymo in A NW Gale. Please Check Clean and Dry ur gear to prevent

As you can see, we had some great fishing on a rare SW day, and I relished walking for 15 hours and over 10 kms on day one. And then doing another 5kms+ through heavy bog and into a fierce NW on day 2! My feet however did not. I need new Tramping boots.

For the record I landed 5 and lost 4. I think Kieran landed at least 7 - a foray up a fishy looking side braid resulting in the 2 extra browns trout for him on day 1. Although I'm sure he will correct me if I have underestimated this number.

A great back country trip!

Photos courtesy of Kieran Lee and Nick Moody.