VOLUME 29, ISSUE 07. February 2023

The first night having dinner at The Blue Duck Inn, during our trip to Big River (Upper Mitta Mitta River) in May 2021.

Our end of year Christmas Dinner Meeting in December at The Ranch Hotel in Epping. It's always a well attended and enjoyed event by our Members, and we had around 60 attending this year.


Next Members Monthly Meeting

Our next Members Monthly Meeting will be held at The Freeway Hotel in Artarmon, on the corner of Reserve Road and The Gore Hill Freeway. The meeting will kick off at 7:00pm on Monday, 13th February 2023.

Our guest speaker will be member Christopher Williams.

Late last year Christopher had a wonderful trip in Montana, and he will be sharing with us about his trip and that wonderful part of the world.

Please view further down the Flyrodder for the details.


Next Members Monthly Fly Tying 

The Next Monthly Fly Tying Meeting will held on Monday, 20th February 2023 at our usual venue in the Green Room of the Henley Community Centre, kicking off at 7:00pm.

See further details below under the Monthly Fly Tying segment.


President's Report

Denis Hill with a 6lb brown from Thompsons Creek Dam in late October 2022.

Dear {Contact_First_Name},

My very best wishes for 2023 everyone. We finished 2022 with a great Christmas party, our Christmas party is normally the biggest club attendance of the year and this year was no exception. Unfortunately our guest speaker Brian Henderson was ill, but the upside of this was the attendees having additional time to mingle and catch up with friends, everyone enjoyed the night. Of course, the Christmas party started with the AGM, where I thanked the outgoing Committee on behalf of the members for all their time and efforts throughout the last year – they were a great committee and did a terrific job.

 I also took the opportunity to thank those regular club members who conduct the vital support roles that add so much to the Club, David Caddies our Casting Master, Master Fly Tyer David Wilson, John Baricevic our Rod Building Guru and Andrew Corkish our Librarian and Manager of won raffle prizes. Then James Webber delivered the Treasurers report for the year, showing we again remain in a strong financial position.

Happily, most of the Committee agreed to stand for the 2023 Committee in their roles. The changes from the 2022 Committee, to those standing for election in 2023 were, Maddie Chew Lee stood down from the Committee to take care of her newborn twins, Luke Flory stood down from the Secretary role and Will Appleton stood down from his role as Events Manager. Both Luke and Will have young families and were finding the extra workload for the Fly Rodders difficult to keep up with but were happy to stand again for election as regular committee members. To replace Luke and Will we were very lucky to have Leigh Atallah stand for the role of Secretary and Jared Klein stand for the role of Events Manager.

The new 2023 Committee was unanimously elected on a show of hands and is as follows.

President – Denis Hill

Vice President and Membership Manager – David Major

Treasurer – James Webber

Secretary – Leigh Atallah

Communications Manager and Flyrodder Editor – Gavin van der Wagen

Alan Baldry – Web/IT Manager

Mark Bransgrove – Environmental Officer and our Fly Tying Co-Ordinator.

Phil Burton – Social Media Manager & WCAS Representative

Steve Peach – Guest Speaker Co-Ordinator and Producer of the Club’s video library.

Jared Klein – Event Manager

Brian Horton – Committee member

Luke Flory – Committee member

Will Appleton – Committee member

* All members of the committee can and do organize events.

So that’s your new Committee and we launched off with organizing the Club weekend for the end of January. We had a few teething problems with this first try of the new monthly format, the Committee will review the approach to the registration and co-ordination process and we will be more mindful of the time of year and its associated weather implications in future. The hot weather meant that the access spots on the Fish River were filled with everyman and his dog – literally!  Those fishing the dams didn’t face the same problem of people and fish swimming together, but were cooked on the shoreline. We will get the monthly format sorted and, in the meantime, we have multiple events over the next few months that will keep you busy, off the streets and out of trouble (hopefully).

Tight Lines



From the Editor

Gavin at Swansea fishing the Salmon Classic in August 2022.

We are about to hit our busy period in terms of organised fishing trips for our members.

These trips are wonderful opportunities for new members and inexperienced fly fishers, as you will always have a fishing buddy who knows the ropes and the area that we will be fishing. We always have experienced fly fishers on these trips and you can learn so much in addition to having great time, which is why we really do it, and meet fellow club members. So you can rest assured that you won't be left alone, as it will be quite the opposite as other members will go out of their way to include you and to ensure that you have a memorable time.

So join up to the next trip that suites your needs.

February is particularly busy with trips to South Island New Zealand, Jindabyne, and Tasmania. There are still spots on the Jindabyne trip, where you can fish many excellent rivers such as the Thredbo, Moonbah, Perisher, Snowy etc, not to mention Lake Jindabyne. They are all fishing very well!

So without further ado, register for a trip and get things going!!

Hope to see you at some of our many events that we have planned for the coming season.

Gavin van der Wagen




Last Monthly Meeting and Guest Speaker Report

Jared Klein and Steve Peach

At our December Members Monthly Meeting we had our Christmas Dinner at The Ranch Hotel in Epping/North Ryde. It's always a wonderful and popular venue and the food and service is also great.

This year our planned guest speaker took ill at the last minute and Steve Peach and Jared Klein filled in at the very last minute and provided us with a great insight into their recent trip to the National Competition in Jindabyne.

You can view this meeting video and indeed all the previous presentations on our Members Private Video Library on YouTube. To view them please Login to our Sydney Fly Rodders Website; click on Members and select YOUTUBE CHANNEL, as per the picture below.

We have many wonderful videos in our Private Members Video Library, in fact they're all wonderful and informative, plus you can view them at your leisure!

Some photos of the meeting follow:

President Denis Hill opens the December Members Christmas Meeting

Members enjoying the dinner; Life Member and Guru fly tier Dave Wilson in the middle. Craig Symonds on the left and John Vaccaro on the right.

Trevor Sweeney saying some nice things about the club and supporting the work of the Committee. John Vaccaro in front.

Andrew Corkish wins his obligatory raffle prize

On the left our wonderful sponsors from BWC Flies, Brett Clarke and Cherie Forbes. They have a wonderful shop in Tuggerah that is very well stocked and they provide an exceptional service to our membership. Many thanks for your support.

Erkin Osman happy with the raffle prize that he won

Looks like Woody, Robin Woodroof, has also won a raffle prize.

Dave Wilson also a prize winner, with Craig Symonds on the left, and President Denis.

Billy Newbold a prize winner and Laurie Gaudry on the right.

Andrew Cornish, Phil Burton and David Caddies enjoying the festivities!

John Baricevic, our wonderful rod builder, Craig Symonds on the right

Steve Higgins, Geoff McMillan, Trevor Sweeney and Vorn Sweeney enjoying the evening.

Life Member Radge Diakiw, on the mike, and fellow Life Member Alan Rogers on the left.

Billy Newbold up to "no good", well great fun!!

Vice President & Membership Manager, David Major saying a few words.

Jared Klein and Steve Peach during their talk on competition fishing.

Click on this link to view all the photos in our Google Gallery:



Next Monthly Meeting and Guest Speaker

Our February Members Monthly Meeting is back to our usual venue at The Freeway Hotel in Artarmon, on Monday the 13th February 2023, kicking off at 7:00pm.

Our Guest Speaker will be Member Christopher Williams, and he will be presenting on a recent fly fishing trip to Montana in the USA. This is sure to be a most interesting and informative presentation, as the Montana, Wyoming and Yellowstone area is prime fishing locations in the States. 

For those unable to attend the meeting we will be recording the presentation and then uploading it to our Club Members Private Video Library on YouTube. 

You will also be able to view all the previous meeting presentations that we have recorded, and view at your leisure.

Many of our attendees arrive a bit earlier and have dinner either before, else the bar staff will deliver your meal order to our meeting room and you can enjoy your meal, and or drink, whilst the meeting is underway. The food is good value for money and the company is priceless!! So come along and have a relaxing and entertaining meeting where you can meet other members and pick up on useful snippets information that is shared amongst the group.

Our Meeting is normally held on the 2nd Monday of each month, unless it is a public holiday; in which case it will be delayed a week. 

There is ample parking in the parking garage under the Freeway Hotel, which is accessed from Dickson Avenue (at the back), just off Reserve Road, in Artarmon.

The address is 115 Reserve Road, Artarmon 2064 (for for GPS). 

Looking forward to catching up at the meeting.


New Members

We had seven new members join the club in December and January.

We welcome Nick Croom, Raphael Gorrez, Clinton Griffiths, Kent Heffernan, Jack Kerr, Jamie Knight and Richard Jiff to our Club.

We encourage new members to join in on the many activities that we run as this is a good way to meet other club members and also to improve your fly fishing skills and most importantly to have a great time.

Looking forward to meeting you at our Monthly Members Meetings and at events throughout the coming year.


Last Months Casting Practice Report

SFRC CASTING PRACTICE REPORT - 4 December 2022 & 8 January 2023

As is fairly usual, 10 or 12 members turned out for casting practice each month. A sprinkling of first-timers and new members made the plunge. Good to see. There being no January Flyrodder, these notes cover both months. 

We seem to be wading our way through the casts in the FFI Bronze Casting Skills Development program, without actually doing any of the assessments in a formal way. Except for one of the regulars, who completed his Bronze in January. Well done, Tony. We’ll get back onto that process more formally in coming months, but in the meantime these foundational casts are our ‘good form’ practice syllabus.   [For more information see the FlyFishers International website and look for Casting Skills Development in the Learning Centre. Also good for videos on basic casting. You’ll need to enter an email address to get into the site.]

We also looked briefly at the shape of flylines and how those things affect our cast, which leads us to understand the design of lines for specific purposes. Even if you only have one line, you will at least start to understand why it’s very good at one fishing purpose and poor at another or, more usually, why it’s just ordinary at everything. With such an understanding, you can at least stop beating yourself up about not being able to cast short and land your fly delicately as if it’s a mayfly with sore feet and with the same line also cast 60 or 70 feet into a crosswind. To some extent it’s the line: to another extent, it’s you not knowing what to expect the line to be able to do. So, the more you understand the line, the more you can focus on its proper use and work on those skills. That said, I don’t advocate buying new lines in multiple weights for a range of different purposes: that would be just to chase after the marketing people as they wish you to do. Unless of course you have the opportunity to actively use them all frequently or have buckets of cash to lay out in the name of research.

Well, if you do only want one line, the best choice for an all-purpose line having regard to value for money, is the double-taper (DT). No, I’m not advocating that you now go out and buy one.  It’s not always right, but it’s less wrong than anything else in more situations. To my way of thinking, it’s the one line you would take if cast away with on a desert island or whatever the freshwater river equivalent is to a desert island.  (Along with ‘Catch 22’ to re-read and some Miles Davis to listen to). If you listened carefully to Simon Gawesworth in his interview with Justin (Club youtube channel) you will know it’s the line you can instantly pick up and redeliver for a long, quick cast, when a weight forward at the same distance would need to be stripped in first, losing time and opportunity. If you do strip in first (and we all should – but how far in, you ask) you are using your WF line correctly. Have you ever tried it with a DT?

Whew, that got away from me a bit there, so back to the bread and butter of what happened at practice. Demos of loop shapes, guys holding up rods and lines in various phases of a cast; moving them about; pretending we are looking down a gunsight, making a cast and immediately throwing the rod on the ground to see what happens to the cast. A bit of a sideshow really. Then, after recent months of practising casting accuracy in the vertical plane (not what you may think – the rules on casting planes apply even when you cast out at an angle to your side), we turned our attention to the idea of accurate tracking. (Don’t know what tracking means in flycasting? Best to find out, I think – it could be a turning point.). Casting with the rod going like a windscreen wiper is a fault in the vertical plane. Poor tracking is the sideways equivalent of that fault (usually not as terrible though) and will take more metres off your cast than most other faults. The most irritating thing is that if your tracking is poor, you almost always blame lack of power that fails your distance cast. It will also affect your accuracy and put your loop at the mercy of the wind. You think its all down to a lack of power, so you try to throw harder and longer and it all gets worse. Fix your tracking and you eliminate a major impediment to all the power that should have found its way into your forward cast. 

So, more emphasis on tracking coming up. To anybody interested in improving their distance cast, note that we don’t bother with practising long casts. We practise things that contribute to good form: the fundamentals, like good tracking. Distance comes after good form. Good form can, and should, be learned and practiced in casts of 40’ or less. Distance will then find you: you can’t force it, so enjoy the journey. 

See you at the park. 

David Caddies

Our next Casting Practice will be held on Sunday, the 5th March. See the following section for further information.

December Casting Practice Photos:

Click on this link to view all the December photos in our Google Gallery:


January Casting Practice Photos:

Click on this link to view all the January photos in our Google Gallery:



Club Monthly Casting Practice - Details and Event Schedule.


Reminder: Leave your 9 – 10’ trout leader with the 5X tippet at home. Bring one which is 8’ – 8’6” and terminating in 8 or 10 lb tippet. This session will suit DT or WF floating lines, for the single-handers. Two-handers, bring what you got. 

Start time is 9am:

HOWEVER: If you wish to have a go at being evaluated for any one or more of the casts in the Bronze Skills Development Program and you would like to come earlier than 9, send me a text message to that effect on 0434 671 085 and I’ll be there to set it up, from 8am. Coaching and demonstrations will be going on after 9, but with not much opportunity for individual evaluations. Early notice would be appreciated, but don’t let that stop you from a late practice on Saturday to see if you’re ready! 

All members are welcome to join in the club’s usual monthly practice session. If you want to know everything about the club’s casting practice sessions, read the whole blurb in the Flyrodder magazine.

WHERE: Timbrell Park, Henley Marine Drive, Five Dock. Go to the western end of Henley Marine Drive, past the cricket pitches, baseball nets and just past LIvvi’s coffee kiosk and kids’ playground area. There is an open area opposite where Ingham Avenue intersects with Henley Marine Drive which we usually use. It is not part of the sports fields. If conditions there are not suitable on the day, we will be just opposite, across the canal, or anywhere within sight that I can find. 

If you can’t make it this time and want some good practical instruction to guide you, check out this site: https://www.flyfishersinternational.org/Learn/Learning-Center-Resources/Fly-Casting/Casting-Instruction

I don’t know if that link works for you. Google FFI flyfishing and delve around. Most stuff is open to non-members. 

David Caddies 

So come and give it a try, as there is so much to be gained  by attending these sessions. And they are Free!!!

The following are the remaining dates for Casting Practice in 2023:

5th March

9th April

21st May

4th June

2nd July

6th August

10th September

8th October

5th November and

3rd December.

Put these dates in your diary.


Last Months Fly Tying Meeting Report

Unfortunately no one turned up for our November Fly Tying session, apart from our leaders Mark Bransgrove and Kevin Kai.

It's disappointing to have a no show, but many members, who normally attend, were attempting to get some fishing in on our annual Long Plain Camping Trip which was pretty much snowed in and experienced some pretty inclement weather.


Next Monthly Fly Tying Meeting

Our next Monthly Fly Tying Meeting will be held on Monday, 20th February 2023, from 7:00pm to 9:30pm. The doors will open at 6:30pm to give you time to set up for a 7:00pm start.

This month we will have our Fly Tying Guru Dave Wilson showing us the correct way to tie the universal Woolly Bugger.

Confucius once said: “If you can tie your own shoelaces, you can tie your own flies!

This is the best new years resolution you will ever make.  If you have never tied a fly - now is the time to start

If you don’t tie your own flies,  you will never experience the thrill of catching a fish on your own fly.

We will be tying Woolly Buggers - one of the most universal flies used in both fresh and salt and in between.

There are many Woolly Bugger variants,

including the popular Magoo and Shrek used extensively in Tasmania.

We have experienced tiers to help and look forward to seeing you at Henley on Monday 20 Feb.

For those who don't have a vise, we have ample spare one's available.

We particularly welcome first timers and all levels of fly tiers as you will all learn something from these wonderful sessions.

If you would like to just come and observe, then please do so to see if this is for you. You'll be surprised at how "easily" you can get into tying your own flies.

The venue is the Henley Community Centre in Hunters Hill, and we meet in the  Green Room on the right as you enter.

The venue address is: Crown Street, Henley, NSW 2111. As you turn into Crown Street, from Victoria Road, take the first left and drive down a bit of a bumpy road, and it's the last building about a 100 yards down the drag. There's parking off the track and walk through a small road (some do park just outside the building), but it's a short walk to the front door past a bowling green (may be a veggie patch now).


CFA Interclub Event 17-19 March 2023

Dear Members,

Many fishing clubs like ours, are affiliate members of the Council of Freshwater Anglers and every year, outside of CoVid, a fund raising competition and get together is held. This year, in an effort to expand and better cover all affiliates, the Central Coast Fly Rodders Club is hosting it at Glenbawn Dam. It is both a team and individual event and I hope to put together a SFRC representation. The event is much more about getting together then competition and there are BBQs and Raffles with plenty of prizes. 

It’s a great weekend and opportunity to meet other clubs and their members. 

For further information please contact Radge Diakiw, who will be co-ordinating the team for Sydney Fly Rodders. Radge will also speak about the event at the February Members Meeting next week, plus will cover the accommodation options available.

Radge. (diakiwv@live.com) 

More Information:

The NSW Council of Freshwater Anglers Interclub Meet is a social weekend for fishos to share the love of fishing and to engage as teams in friendly competition.  After a pause of three years because of Covid the Interclub Meet is back on in 2023 but, in its 20 th year, there are a few changes to venue and format. 

The Central Coast Fly Rodders will be hosting the Interclub Fly and Lure Fishing Meet on behalf of the NSWCFA at Lake Glenbawn on, Friday - Sunday 17-19 March 2023. Club Teams will compete in catch and release, lake and stream, fly and lure fishing and fly and lure (plug) casting in the quest for best team and the winner of the NSWCFA Club Teams perpetual trophy.

This is also a fund-raising activity for NSWCFA and critical to support their ongoing work to promote, support and improve freshwater angling in NSW.  Entry fees will be minimal only  to support event overheads, and will include a Saturday BBQ lunch and Sunday brunch.

Competitors will be responsible for their own accommodation. The Lake Glenbawn campground has plenty of camping/caravan sites but cabins on and around Lake Glenbawn are filling fast. Link: (https://bookings.reflectionsholidayparks.com.au/lakeglenbawn ).  See also Lake Glenbawn Holiday Cottages: http://www.lakeglenbawncottages.com.au/.

There will be small prizes awarded for individual achievements in the competitions but the main objective for competitors is to gain team points and win the Club Teams trophy.


Mitta Mitta Trip at End April 2023

This will be our tenth annual pilgrimage to Mitta Mitta.

It will be in on the Saturday, 29th April and out on the following Saturday, the 6th May 2023; so 7 nights all up at $385.
We will be staying at the “Pink House” which is just a stone’s throw from the Mitta Mitta Pub and Bistro; and in fact the mighty Snowy Creek; and also on a farm property just 5 minutes away. So just a short trip to quench your thirst or dine at their fabulous and reasonable Bistro.

Every attendee has their own bedroom.

You can take your own food and drinks, or you can eat at the Mitta Mitta Pub or a combination. Many members eat only at the pub. 
Further up the road, about 30 K’s, there is also a good pub at Eskdale (which you pass through) and also an IGA and fuel. Mitta Mitta has a very small and limited general store and fuel.
The local dairy farmers allow us to fish on their properties, so we have access to many spots without competition!
There are many river options to fish, including the Mitta Mitta, Snowy Creek (runs right past the pub and caravan park), Lightning Creek, Wills Creek, Little Snowy Creek (near Eskdale) etc.
It’s about a 7 hour drive and 646 kilometres away.

I will provide more information to the attendees as required and then prior to the trip.

This event is open for booking. Just log onto our website and select the Mitta Mitta event.

Gavin van der Wagen.

A lovely stretch of water on the Mitta Mitta River

The pristine Snowy Creek, which is an important spawning river for the area

We always meet for dinner on the first night, and most other nights, in the Bistro/Pub

Another popular stretch of water on a farmer's property on the Mitta Mitta


Sydney Fly Rodders Facebook Pages

We run two SFRC pages, one is our public page and it posts events and activities of the club. It also shares posts from other pages like CAS, DPI on things relevant to the places and areas that we fish.

I post some fly tying every now and then and share links to events I find that might be of interest to followers. This page is a little like our Web page, it showcases the club to attract members and provides details of club events. It has about 450 people following the page and any post will be seen by between 180 and 240 people.

We added another page. This is reserved for members only and cannot be seen by anyone outside of the group. You will need to send a request to join. Any member can post on this page and it is a great opportunity for members to put up a post or two about anything fly fishing. I would like to encourage members to use this page to post fishing reports or photos of flies that you tied. Being connected to other members you can ask for some casting or gear advice, or organise a short trip when you suddenly have some spare time.

There are also hundreds of other groups; bream on fly, carp on fly, bass, trout....areas like alpine trout, Sydney Kayak Fishing....fly tying groups, buy sell swap fly gear pages and individuals like Aussie Flyfisher, Sydney Flyfishing to check out. 

Phil Burton


Sydney Flyrodders Instagram Page

The Sydney Fly Rodders are now on Instagram. Many thanks to our Member Maddie Chew Lee, who offered to set us up and apply her significant experience with marketing and communications in particular within the social media space. 

Please follow the site and add your comments, and lets grow this platform for the club. It will also attract new members to the club.

Below is a snapshot of the site. We aim to sync (in particular look and feel) the Instagram account with our Facebook account and also our new Website, which I talk more about in the preceding section.


Sydney Fly Rodders WhatsApp Group

We have an Exclusive Group on WhatsApp for our Members, which is a great way to communicate informally and to share ideas, seek advice and also to plan and seek interest for impromptu/planned fishing trips.

I can highly recommend this to members. We have arranged a number of trips now from a weekends bass fishing through to a casual and social Sunday morning or afternoons fishing at Narrabeen Lake or Hen & Chickens Bay etc. And there could even be a BBQ thrown in for a social get together afterwards. This will happen on most if not all occasions.

Should you wish to be included in this group, then please email me to request your inclusion, quoting your mobile number which is required to link you into the Group. You will need to download the WhatsApp first if you haven't already done so.

Please contact me for inclusion.

Gavin van der Wagen

Editor, Flyrodder



Snippets of Information

A Report on fishing in Jervis Bay.

Provided by Bob Hart.

BOXING Day morning last week at a Jervis Bay beach. A bunch of keen anglers are out early to beat the beach crowds. They’re a mix of seasoned regulars and holiday makers, many of whom are youngsters armed with Christmas rods and reels. They’ve all got good bait, worms or live nippers, and appropriate soft plastics. But they’re catching almost nothing, despite this beach being known for its runs of summer whiting, bream, flathead and tarwhine when it’s rougher, plus the occasional silver trevally, Australian salmon or mulloway.

Why so quiet? Well, one reason might be that despite the beach being adjacent to a marine park no-take zone, there’s still at least one estuary general licensed operator still netting the beach. And the locals report it was netted a week before Christmas, just prior to visitors arriving to spend several thousands of dollars a week for a beach experience… which for many will hopefully include catching some fish.

NSW DPI’s own website says rec fishing in the state generates $3.4 billion worth of economic activity annually and provides 14,000 effective fulltime jobs. If that’s so, how can beach netting on heavily fished beaches in peak tourist season be even remotely considered to be a sensible, equitable practice? Even fish evading the nets are likely to vacate the whole area for a period of time after the nets are run.

When the Jervis Bay Marine Park was set up, there were recommendations to buy out the two remaining Estuary General licences, for a reported cost of around $500,000 in total. Supposedly, NSW Treasury baulked at providing the funds and it didn’t happen. Again supposedly, the licences were not to be renewed when the holders retired, but subsequently DPI allowed at least one to be on sold.

Which is an example of why prior to the last NSW election four years ago, the then shadow Minister for Fisheries Mick Veitch was lobbied to push for making creation of an independent Recreational Fisheries Management Authority Labor policy. The party agreed but didn’t win the election. Mick has been replaced as shadow minister since.

So, what now? Don’t know as yet, with Labor leader Chris Minns taking a Albanese-style low target approach to campaigning and slowing drifting out his party’s policies. As Dave Rae noticed in his magazine piece a couple of issues back, DPI remains primarily committed to the commercial and aquaculture sectors in its fisheries management and research activities. Rec fishing is not a primary industry. It’s a wealth creator for NSW sure, but it’s essentially a recreation and lifestyle activity. What it does, and how it spends our licence fees, should be determined by an independent board advised by specialist committees of experienced anglers and researchers.

Whether this is still on the radar of the major electoral contenders is at this stage unknown. Hopefully editor Scott is preparing to ask the players for their rec fishing policies and plans as the election draws closer.

Fishing the South Island of NZ end November 2022

by Bob Hart

 The flight across the Tasman went as smooth as could be. Check in could not have been easier. You put your passport in a machine, and you answer a few easy questions. Then out comes the boarding pass plus the luggage tag. Then off you go to drop off the luggage, and go through emigration, and security, and that’s it. I was one of the few people wearing a mask on the plane. No one seemed to care about covid anymore. When I arrived at Queenstown, and passed through emigration, I headed to quarantine, where I expected to go through a thorough examination. But I was wrong. I was asked if my equipment was clean, and when I answered it was, I was told to go straight through and out. 

Sometime I feel like a broken record, when I say that without good weather conditions, you are going to struggle to get good fishing.  As we all know New South Wales has had its share of very wet weather last month, and all that moist weather blew down to New Zealand. Once those fronts scudded over the stormy Tasman, and slammed into the mountains, down came a deluge of rain and snow. 

My friend Ian was there to greet me at Queenstown airport. “I do not think we will have good conditions to fish the rivers for a couple of days. That is providing we get no more rain. We have had loads of rain before you came, and all that rain, and melted snow is cascading down the mountains, causing the rivers to become murky, and completely uncrossable.”

The next morning we checked a local river, which not only was high, but a dirty milky-grey colour as well. “As I thought,” said Ian, “ We will fish a lake today.”

Off we went to Cromwell, and to Lake Dunstan. This man-made lake is lined by masses of brown weed beds. Here, brown trout patrol the shore, eagerly searching for snails or nymphs of any kind. It wasn’t long before we spotted several eager fish. Not to bore you, but after several hours we released six nice browns between three to four pounds on my twenty four year old venerable Sage XP 6 weight. How I love that rod.  

The following day the rivers were no different. So wisely, Ian chose to fish the lakes again, but this time they were three made-made lakes near Omarama. These lakes have extensive flats, where fishermen can wade, and search for marauding browns.  It is like fishing for bonefish on the saltwater flats. Casting with speed and accuracy is paramount, as the fish do not stay in an area for very long. I was most fortunate in that Ian is very skilled and knowledgable in still water fishing. As a matter he is brilliant at it. Due to the high water of the lake that day, we could not wade where we would have liked. Fishing was tough, but enjoyable. Three nice browns were released for the day. 

On day four Ian decided that the lower end of the Ahuriri might be okay. The river was high, and here and there we could cross, and yes, the water was far from crystal-clear, but as the say, it was “good enough for government work”. We released ten small rainbows around the one to one and a half pound mark. No monsters, but great fun anyway.

The following day looked promising, and we headed out to another river. We met two fishermen on the river who told us that they had not seen a any fish. We were heading down river where they had been, and they continued up river. Ian thought we would have a good chance of fish , as he thought these guys were not very experienced. It was not long before we released our first rainbow between three to four pounds. The day continued to provide excellent fishing with more rainbows of the same size. It was about noon when the skies suddenly became dark and threatening. At first the rain was a light sprinkle, but as the day progressed it became heavier, and more constant.  Still the fishing remained very good until, at the very end of the day, the water turned a dirty yellow. But how cared? We had released ten nice rainbows, and two browns all between three and four pounds - a great day.

One evening Ian and I were invited to dinner by the Hawthorn Fly Fishing Club from Melbourne. They were twelve of the nicest guys you could possibly meet. We had a most enjoyable night with these great hosts. It just goes to show that there are some wonderful people in our sport.

Next morning we woke up to a sunny day with little wind. “Perfect,” said Ian, “for the Mount Cook Stream.” And it was a magnificent day as we headed up the valley. Unfortunately the stream had changed, and its holding waters was almost non-existent. We spotted very few fish, and the one we did, were screwed to the bottom of the stream. They just did not want to eat. A couple of hours later, I managed to release a rainbow. During the afternoon the wind picked up, as it usually does in this valley. Again an odd fish was spotted here and there, but during the late afternoon, Ian spotted a feeding brown in shallow water. I made one good cast with a dry fly, and I was on. He took about ninety metres of line across and then down stream. I ran after him as he continued on his rampage down the river. 

He finally tangled in some brush in the middle of the river. As Ian is a very tall and sturdy fellow, I hand him the rod as he headed out in the middle of the strong current. As soon as he untangled the line, he handed the rod back to me, where I managed to steer the fish to calm waters. Once landed, weighed - 6 & 3/4 pounds, a quick photo, and the release, and that was our day.

On our last day the rivers rose again, and it was back to the lakes. Although we could wade a bit better that day, we did not see as many fish as we expected. Still it was a beautiful day for spotting, and we released six very nice brown trout.

Although the fishing at times was challenging, it was most enjoyable. The scenery was as usual, magnificent. It was wonderful returning to this most beautiful country after a long three year hiatus. I would like to mention to our members the following suggestion. Even though you may be a seasoned fly fisher, if you have not done any casting for a while, it would be most beneficial if you practiced your casting before you travel to NZ. This is also the advice of Peter Morris, one of the founding members of our club. Personally, I think this is very good advice. It certainly worked for me big time.

The End