A couple of weekends ago my Dad and I decided we were well overdue for a boys fishing trip to the South Westland region. We made a rough plan to head up to either Lake Paringa or Lake Moeraki and try our luck fly fishing from both the boat and from the shoreline. Stalking trout on a clear day around the weedy lake margins is a blast and something he and I really enjoy doing. We booked ourselves into some accommodation and headed off late Friday afternoon, arriving in Haast about 6pm in time for a beer and a dinner of steak, eggs and chips !
We were up and away early the following morning and had decided to try our luck on Lake Moeraki first up. We awoke to a super frosty, clear morning without a breath of wind nor a cloud in the sky ! We drove the 3okm to Lake Moeraki cautiously as several stretches of road looked like they hadn't seen the sun for a week or two and were very icy. State Highway 6 runs along the northern side of Lake Moeraki, an extremely picturesque lake set amongst stunning native bush and with the Southern Alps just in the back ground its just stunning !
There are two rough tracks that lead down to the waters edge where you launch a boat , drift boat or kayak from. The lake has limited areas available to the shoreline angler due to the thick vegetation that grows right down to the waters edge. We spent the first couple of hours drifting with the motor off on the boat and casting our Airflo Di1.5 intermediate lines towards the shallow edges and slowly retrieving our well hackled #8 Olive Woolly Buggers back out over the shallow weed beds into the deep water. I had several chases right up to the boat, a couple of solid hits but didn't land anything, Dad on the other handed netted a cracking 6lb brownie about 30mins into the day !
The section at the South Eastern end where the Moeraki (Blue) river flows in offers a small amount of lake edge stalking over weed beds that I have done very well on the 2 previous visits to Lake Moeraki. The delta area where the Moeraki river flows into the lake offers some great flats stalking over a shingle bottom and we both sight fished to cruising brownies that drifted in from the deeper weed beds in search of bullies along the stony edges. The fish were eager to chase our flies and looked like the winter has been treating them as they are in superb condition! Hamills Killers, Stus Bionic Damsel Fly and Olive woolly buggers are a few of my favourite still-water patterns and always produce fish on the peaty South West-land lakes.
Above is one of half a dozen or so nice browns that made it too the net, there's something special about the browns from the peaty west coast lakes, their colours, their condition and boy do they put up a fight once hooked !
We found a good number of fish cruising among the long grass and native flaxe's in the shallows, so its important to wade slowly keeping your eyes peeled for any movement, bow waves or tailing fish ...take your time, don't rush in, you'll be pleasantly surprised where you will find fish feeding in these smaller South Westland lakes !
We are very lucky here in the South Island of New Zealand too have so many choices over the winter months for fly fishing. From sections of back country rivers, large southern glacial lakes, peat stained South Westland still waters to canals for giant browns and rainbows near Twizel ! its all here and accessible to all those brave enough to get out over the chilly winter months and have a crack !