Cyclone Fehi was followed by Gita and Hola, all leaving the South Island with more than enough water this “summer”. New Zealand rivers are known for being clear, but flush them out with massive amounts of sediment laden water and you get a river bottom with a “polished” finish. We wear rubber soled wading boots for hiking/walking and to limit transmission of microbials. Rubber soled wading boots are not as sticky as felt, but post water events this year they were as sticky as aluminum. The damage to the rivers all over the South Island was immense. Massive piles of debris were in parking areas hundreds of feet from the rivers normal bed. Ancient trees stripped of bark and dislodged were twenty feet above you as you walked the rivers. Trees ripped from their homes and placed in between gigantic boulders above the high water mark. The fact that any fish were able to hang on was incredible. Add in a very sub-par cicada season and you have the makings for a late summer struggle in terms of catching fish.
We did have a few nice days, and we did catch fish despite tough conditions. Day after day you expected to see more fish. We knew fish would come back with some stability. The problem with late summer of 2018 at Cedar Lodge is that we really never had any water stability. It was one flush or high water event after another. You got the sense that there were about 20% of the normal numbers of the fish around.
We had some really understanding guests and some that even took time out to to other things like shoot dinner!
Eternal optimism has me excited for next season. A fresh slate for bugs and fish to proliferate in their new environments usually means good things!
I got a chance to use and loan out some new gear this season. Notes below.
The new Winston Air was a fantastic all round trout fishing rod especially in the six weight. The Air has power with presentation. If you need to bang out a mid to long range cast you can, while maintaining a very “Winston” rod tip. A rod tip that helps present light tippets and feel every quiver of the fish you are landing. I found the Air six weight to be very much a “true trout six”.
The Scientific Anglers Amplitude MPX line was fantastic. The Amplitude MPX loads fast action rods beautifully. We fish a lot of large dry flies and dries with short droppers, most casts are in the 35-50ft range upstream. Often there is wind in your face when trying to turn over a longish leader with two flies. The Amplitude MPX really helps in this situation. I also found it to give less experience anglers a better feel for loading a variety of rods at most “trout” distances.
The coolest piece of gear for this year was undoubtably the new Patagonia Middle Fork Packable Waders. The Middle Fork is the perfect New Zealand wader but has so many other great applications. It’s so light you can wear it in the morning and take it off and put it in it’ pouch (about the size of a small loaf of bread) and put it in your sling or vest or day pack. It’s super tough seamless rubber booties and extra light breathable fabric make the wader the easiest wader to get on and off on the planet. Wearing the wader is like not wearing waders, they are that light. It you are traveling and want a compact pair of waders the Middle Fork Packable is the way to go. For summer wading and boating when you just need to hop out and fish a run these are perfect. I did not bush wack (“Oregon Coast style”) in these a bunch but we did slide down banks, hike and crash through some brush. Zero issues with seams or pin holes so far. Patagonia has it’s breathable fabric down and the seamless bootie technology is really comfortable. Do take a close look at these waders.