Two Brothers, a Nissan Sunny & Pristine NZ Rivers – Part 2 – Upukerora River

Our weary bodies woke from a big day of travelling and fishing from the day before. The legs and hips were a little tender but we were in high spirits! Having already landed fish on the Whitestone the evening before – well… my brother at least – we were expectant to have a ripper day on the Upukerora River today. This spring fed, freestone river, empties into Lake Te Anau just outside of the Te Anau township. In the middle and upper reaches, it shields itself from the public eye in dense tussock fields. Our plan for the day was to have a poke around at the bridge near the township in the morning, and in the afternoon, we’d head further up to the middle reaches.

We had a quick breakfast and managed to get our joints and muscles moving sufficiently well to head off to find a spot to get in near the bridge. We found a road that led to the river but we had to cross immediately before we could make a cast – due to there being trees right along the side we parked. We crossed the river to the other bank and I began to flick up the deep cut bank that we had previously found ourselves cautiously having to cross. It was a delicious stretch of river, with good depth, cover and flow. Both Nat and myself managed to hook and land a rainbow each of about 2 pounds a piece on trusty NZ nymph pattern. To be honest, I was expecting a few more fish out of that section of river but it was rather close to town and was most likely heavily fished.

We advanced beyond the bridge to where the river forked in two. Nat made his way up the left fork and I prospected the right side. As I cast my way upstream, I saw a boulder that was half submerged and would have provided slack water for a big lazy trout, looking for an easy meal. I launched my Parachute Adams and pheasant tail up just above the boulder and in the flow to the left side. Suddenly, as it bobbled past the boulder, there’s an almighty, “WALLOPP!”. What sounded and looked like a huge fish just smashed my dry. I stripped and struck whilst I watched a very strong fish rocket up the shallows and pop my line on the boulder in its hast. My dry and nymph were gone… no curly end of my line, just a clean break. If I had my time again, I probably would have tried to be more alert, ready to strike, and ready to avoid the large boulder ahead. Sometimes though, the fish just wins! As I ruminated on what could have been, we decided to grab some lunch and move onto the middle reaches.

We found an access point to the middle reaches and took the Nissan Sunny down a relatively steep and rugged track that led to the river – whilst considering how and if we’d get back up the track later on. This section of river had quite different characteristics to the bridge section we’d just fished. The river was much narrower which meant that the volume of water was concentrated to a smaller area and therefore the flows were fairly strong and was deeper then most of the lower sections. We rambled our way down river along the tussock banks for a few hundred meters and fished back up river until we reached our point of entry. It was hard fishing! The wind had sprung up, and it was howling in the same direction the river was flowing. For a couple of amateur fly fishers, it was very hard going. Truthfully, I was stoked if I got my line to shoot out 5 meters ahead! I’d managed to hook a lively rainbow that darted for a broken of and submerged piece of bank which had roots and grass all over it. It tangled my line under some roots and through some grass. I pretty much gave up all hope of landing this fish and tried to untangle myself with my rod tucked under my armpit. Surprisingly though, it was still on and we landed it promptly. One very unlucky fish!

It just goes to show – sometimes a fish can do everything right and still get caught, and sometimes an angler can do everything right and still not land one or get the hook to set. That’s fishing isn’t it!

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