Our latest trip to the Clinton river at the begining of the Milford Trek in the heart of Fiordland was another success. With Alastair back in Scotland now catching some large spring salmon on the river Dee it is now just Richard and myself. I knew what a treat we were in for whereas Richard still being a virgin to New Zealand's jungle fishing experience was filled with anticipation.
We haven't had rain for around 7 weeks now and many of the rivers are getting seriously low. On our previous visit we hiked 4 miles to the junction and fished from there but given the low water conditions we hiked just a mile and fished up the main river.
Some were as spooky as before however the first cast to a fish of the day Rich hooked a lovely brownie which fought well before darting down stream giving rich a tangle of slack line and came free. A good start and we were optimistic for the rest of our camping trip.
A little further and rich landed a nice rainbow followed by me landing a beauty of a brownies around 5 and a half pounds.
We continued fishing the turquoise green water of the Clinton up stream and had some great sport up to the junction. One fish to remember was Richards almost 10lb brownie!! He was casting at a smudge which he thought was a rainbow trout, when as the large blowfly drifted down alongside a log, a large dark brown shadow swung out and hit his fly. I was upstream at this point and after hearing all of the commotion headed down to Rich. We both knew it was a good fish with solid runs sending his reel screaming. As I tailed it on the second attempt struggling to get my hands around the tail on the first we both began laughing..... both in awe of this awesome brownie.
This is what we came to New Zealand for!! I said.
Rich was still speechless and after some pictures we released him back to his lie.
We had some more sport another rainbow and I had a good brown come to my fly 4 times and every time turned away at the last minute, I tried all the flies in my box and could only move him to big black dries. After what felt like an age of heart stopping moments willing it to take each time it followed he went back to his log. So to get a closer look I placed down my rod and quietly walked up the other side of the fallen tree until I was level with him and popped my head over, he was a good 8lb brown!! Without too much hope I thought I would see if a little tickling would work.... so I gently reached down and placed my hand under its belly, although before getting chance to do any tickling with a swipe of his tail he darted upstream splashing me in the face in the process!
We reached the junction and were a little surprised at how few fish we had seen in the last few pools, then we bumped into John. A 60 year old American who had been up there for 3 days fishing. Now the terrain isn't easy for youngsters like Rich and myself so hats off to John for doing it at 60!! We talked fishing for a while and decided we would head up the north arm as Alastair and I hadn't made it that far on our last trip.
We headed up and set up camp for the evening.
Sandfly bitten from the night before we woke, left the tent set up and made our way up the north branch which consists of a gorge for the first 2 miles then opens to nice water...or so we had been told. We bouldered our way up involving jumping from rocks and gill scrambling in places we were absolutely knackered by the time we reached the top and hadn't seen a fish all morning. The river did level off and looked stunning, although given the low water conditions there was very little flow and the fish were extremely spooky.
We found a possum trap line back down which was far easier then the gorge and got back down in around 40 minutes.
As we approached our camp we bumped into yet another fisherman. You would think no-one else would make all the effort of an hour boat ride and 5 mile walk to get here for some fishing but it seems this place has become famous in Te Anau and very popular.
Luke his name was and we instantly felt for him dressed in his shorts and T-shirt planning on camping for a couple of days rod in hand. Have you not got leggings for wading I asked him thinking to myself that he is going to be eaten alive by sandflies. He hadn't and was on route to fish the North Arm of the Clinton where we had just been.
There was no point him following us up so we packed up talked fishing for a while and the 3 of us headed down stream to where Rich and myself had some sport the previous day.
The wind had picked up and made spotting very difficult, we fished until dusk with only one brown which was past its best and had a humane kill which would also substitute as supper.
Luke had come off the ferry with two Scots who went up the south arm so now there was a small gathering of fishermen, which is nice for company but not great for fishing as in NZ the fish are spooky and you would always try and avoid following anyone up a river. We camped had some beers and talked fishing around the fire until the early hours.
Rich and I had work the following evening so we headed back in the morning, we had a successful day and one not so much but thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and met some great people.
Coincidentally Luke is now living with us in Te Anau and our fishing team now has a 3rd member for our adventures!