February 8, 2007 - Queenstown, South Island
The problem with fishing New Zealand is there are just too many places to go. After leaving Middlemarch (I was just getting the Taieri River dialed in) I met up with “Trout Bum Diaries” member Nick Reygaert up in the Mavora Lakes area. The valley was extraordinarily beautiful…..and as I found out….chock full of big mice! I discovered this, and the fact that my tent is NOT mouse-proof, at around 11pm when a bunch of the rat-sized mice waltzed in and began making a meal of my tasty sourdough bread, the plastic wrapping and anything else that was sitting out. I didn’t sleep much that night.
Anyway….back to the “too many places to go” theme…… Within 30 minutes of our camp was the Oreti, the Mararoa, the Greenstone and the Von Rivers. This is in addition to the North and South Mavora Lakes and Lake Wakatipu. All of these hold world-class trout! Since the wind was howling, we decided on the Von since it is somewhat protected in the bottom of another scenic valley.
There is a misconception about fishing New Zealand that every angler is going to catch prolific numbers of huge trout everyday. It is true that many of the rivers hold massive trout. However, it is not true that there are many large trout in the rivers. The Department of Conservation releases “drift dive” fish counts for many of the prime fishing rivers and most of them came in around 40-60 fish per kilometer. That’s 64-96 total fish per mile! Furthermore, the numbers of fish over 40 cm came in around 1 to less-than 1 per km. Compare that to almost any of the “blue ribbon” trout rivers in the Western U.S. and you’ll see just how few fish there are here. Subsequently, if an angler lands one or two big trout per day, it should be considered a resounding success.
Finally, a note about the secrecy of fishing spots….. I find it somewhat humorous to hear of the degree in which anglers will go to keep a “secret” fishing hole secret. Everyone who does any research on New Zealand knows almost all of the lakes and rivers hold fish. Some hold a few big trout, some hold more plentiful stocks (150 per km!) of medium to small fish. If an angler is willing to work hard (cover 5-6 miles of boulder-ridden river; bushwack through 500 yards of thick, thorny bush; cover 20 miles of lake by boat and then hike into a sand-fly infested river) they will undoubtedly find the fishing to be equally as good as any “secret” fishing spot. In New Zealand, the big fish are definitely there, but you’ll have to do a bit of work to find and land one. I think that is the way it should be.
Anyway, I am now off to the Mount Cook (Aoraki) area. Hope everyone back home in Salida and Salt Lake City is staying warm!
Dan with esteemed Middlemarch residents Chris and Dean
My camp in the Mavora Lakes Valley
Dan proudly displaying a hard-won Von River ‘Bow
Dan releasing a beautiful Rainbow
The view of Lake Wakatipu looking towards Glenorchy
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