Swinging Flies In The Back-Country Mid Winter

A well overdue fish with a good mate on Sunday was just what I needed !
I had been at the vise all week tying streamers in anticipation of our winter time back country mission. We are very lucky in the Wanaka region to have several sections of river open through the winter months that are great to swing streamers on. After a stop off at the Hawea cafe for a Brekky pie ( the best pie ever! IMO) a coffee and a couple of cheese rolls topped with loads butter we wer'e on the road again. We headed to the Makarora river and drove down a dirt 4WD track to the confluence of the Makarora and Wilkin rivers , we are fortunate enough to have the section from the confluence down to the lake open all season. This section of the Makarora river is quite big in places and has quite a few long bouldery runs and deep pools that are perfect for swinging flies down and across over the drop offs and lips .

I fished my Airflo Vibe 11'6 Switch rod with a 420gr Airflo Skagit and T11 tip which was perfect for getting down quickly in the deeper pools. I chose an Olive streamer pattern first up to tie on, one that I have been playing around with on the Clutha river over the past few weeks and have been doing well with. I worked the pool and the drop off section first up and hooked a nice fit rainbow of around 5lb just as my fly was at the end of it's swing and I was starting to strip it back , after a good battle the fish was netted and carefully released. I continued to fish down through the pool and touched another 2 fish towards the back end of it but didn't get a solid connection to either.

Trev had started just below me in the tail of the pool but hadn't touched anything so had moved downstream to the top of a deep run and was working his way down stream, Not long afterwards I heard the unmistakable sound of a powerful jet-boat engine in the distance that was getting closer, 2 minutes later 4 jet-boats full of happy waving people came around the bend and through Trev's pool and then through mine, I don't have a problem with other river users as we are all entitled to use it for our own recreational past times ,but I get annoyedwhen people don't slow down and give other river users a wide berth ! We caught up to each other and decided to let water settle and grab a bite of lunch.

After about 30mins we started heading downstream again focusing on the drop offs and deeper edges in against the bank on the far-side of the river ,where the most structure and better holding water was located. We covered the water well and tried a couple of different sink tips and streamers through out the afternoon but didn't touch another fish between us, we guessed the combination of the cold snap and the jet boats may have put the fish down so around 4pm we decided to call it a day and head for the truck, not lots of fish out and about but still a super fun day on the water with a good mate.

Feel free to contact me if your planning a trip fly fishing to New Zealand and need some questions answered, and if your looking for a guide I still have some great dates available through out the season...I look forward to hearing from.

Cheers Paul