Time: 11:00AM – 2:00PM
Location: Diamond River
Gale force winds greeted us on Wednesday morning in Glenorchy. At one point I stepped outside and marveled at a huge rainbow in the southern sky, so I returned to the room and snatched my camera for a couple photos. The change in weather was welcome after the last week of intensely hot weather, but wind is a four letter word for fly fishermen. My guide on Tuesday, Nick, suggested that I return to the Diamond River on Wednesday and even showed me the best section and productive techniques. When I heard the rushing air on Wednesday morning, I decided to take my time, and for this reason Jane and I did not reach the carpark until 10:25.
Jane brought her book and beach towel, and we tramped for thirty minutes, until I reached the lower end of the section suggested by Nick. The wind was already in a blustering state, but I spotted a couple sporadic rises, so I unhooked my blow fly and began to cast. In the middle of the stream I noticed a decent brown trout, as it darted to the surface and snatched some form of unidentifiable food. I executed quite a few drifts over this area between frustrating gusts of wind, but I was unable to interest the sighted fish in another meal.
As this scenario was playing out, I observed a couple splashy rises ten feet out from the opposite bank. I responded and moved upstream, until I was above the last rise, and I began shooting casts toward the far shore. With each cast I extended the drift ten feet. I also adopted the ploy suggested by Nick of walking downstream at the same pace as the fly to avoid drag, and then allowed the blow fly to swing across the river, until it was below me. Finally I extended the rod over the water and stripped line to bring the fly back toward me, and then I allowed the fly to drift downstream along the near bank, while I wiggled my rod tip and fed line. The entire process enabled me to prospect for bank dwellers on both sides of the river with relatively long drag free drifts.
I repeated this sequence three times, and on the fourth circuit a fish slashed at the dry fly, as it began to drag across the river. This elevated my optimism, since my fly was attracting interest, and it identified the location of a trout. Another cast and drift was ignored, but on the following effort after a long twelve foot drift, a nose emerged, and a fish chomped on the fly. I responded with a swift hook set, and a combative brown trout responded with a noble battle. I was forced to slide down the bank, where a tiny side creek entered the river in order to be in a solid position to fight and net the brawler on the end of my leader. I applied side pressure and guided the brown just below me, and then it made several attempts to dive into some thick aquatic moss. I was having none of it and managed to leverage it into my undersized net. The curled fish in front of me was heavy and in the eighteen inch range. While this episode was unfolding, Jane snapped some photos and video clips. What a thrill! I landed my first quality New Zealand trout without the assistance of a guide.
After this bit of fun, Jane and I moved upstream at a slow pace, as I scanned the river for additional surface feeding activity. The constant wind made spotting rises and fish quite a challenge. I stopped a couple times in quality segments to employ the Nick Clark cycle method, but I never observed another rise. The ferocity of the wind accelerated, so we decided to move directly to the lake. Nick suggested that I should not underestimate the lake, as quite a few large trout cruised the shoreline looking for food.
Whitecaps greeted us at the outlet from the lake, and I quickly abandoned any thoughts of fishing. We sat in the midst of some small yellow wildflowers and snacked, while we admired the spectacular scenery.
On the return hike I stopped at two locations and blasted some casts toward the far bank. After the wind generated a discouraging tangle, I replaced the blow fly with a Jake’s gulp beetle. On a downstream drift ten feet out from the bank that I was standing on, a small brown trout elevated and nosed the terrestrial. Two casts later I drifted the beetle through the same area, and the eleven inch brown crushed it. Catching a fish on a fly I tied was my last action on Wednesday, as the wind raged with utter fierceness. In fact when we returned to the Bold Peak Lodge later in the afternoon, we discovered that there was a “power cut” (outage), because some trees between Queenstown and Glenorchy were blown down on power lines.
After we stowed our gear in the van, we drove farther around the lake to Kinloch. The Kinloch Lodge was recommended by our New Zealand travel advisor, but we were unable to secure a booking because vacancies were not available on the dates we stayed in the area. We wanted to see what we were missing. The lodge rested on a hill overlooking Lake Wakatipu, and it appeared to be a charming and well maintained establishment. It was obviously a step up from the Bold Peak Lodge, but Jane and I were not exceptionally disappointed.
Fish Landed: 2