Originally I’m from the center of New Zealand’s South Island, Twizel to be exact. The area is now famous for its hydro canal systems and abundance of trophy trout. However when I grew up and learned to fish this area, it was not what it is today, sure there was world-class fly fishing in the surrounding rivers and streams but the man-made canal systems in question were only in their infancy and barely showing the signs of what they now display.
So I decided to head back to the homeland. This was my umpteenth journey back to the area in search of a monster trout on the fly. The trip started two days before the high country rivers were due to open and these were to be the main focus of the trip, revisiting streams and rivers I hadn’t fished in several years. The first 2 days I intended to fish the canals, but with the first morning producing nothing I decided to quit and head to a river that I had fished a few times in the past, it really wasn’t that good, but I had heard of some better fish being caught of recent. A 20-minute drive and my first investigation of a likely looking edge revealed a fish the size of which I had never seen in this river, I backed away excited and returned to the vehicle to get geared up.
This is also the point I turned on the cameras and filmed the intro to what would soon become the most amazing day of fishing I have ever had. After spooking the first fish, which actually turned out to be 2 fish I slowly worked up the rest of the run. A few more steps upstream this time with eyes focused like lasers, I focused in on a fish. This fish blew my mind as it came closer to the net and I realized it was actually a great fish and the net scale revealed 9lbs of rainbow trout!
After retying fresh gear to be safe knowing what I could potentially hook and also to give the pool more time to rest I returned and was happy to see fish still feeding and quite happy, after catching a few 3-5lb fish, fish I would normally easily see but missed due to the company they were with. I got a shot a larger fish that had dropped back, the fly I had tied on was a Size 14 Pheasant Tail. The cast was well to the fishes left but my heart stopped as the fish promptly made his way towards my fly, and watching my indicator dip fish on! I knew this was a much bigger version, a frantic trip downstream to land the fish revealed 13lbs of rainbow trout, this was my biggest fish on fly and I couldn’t believe what had happened, I had never seen so many big fish in one area and was having the time of my life.
After tripping around the river looking for more fish, finding a few and messing it up i returned to that area to have one last look. This time there was not a lot of fish about but there at the very top of the run was holding one more very large trout. I crossed the river to check another likely looking piece of water only to spook yet another fish, when I returned to the other side it made for a much better cast and drift opportunity. The fish was actively feeding and after a few looks and 1/2 dozen fly changes having tied the Pheasant Tail back on the fish finally drifted towards my fly the tiny indicator I had on was worn out and sinking so I waited for the visible flash of the fishes mouth, between that point and tension seemed like an eternity and I was shocked to find myself connected to a truly monster trout I had just sight fished from not a lot of water. The fish became wrapped at one point and I was sure I was not landing her, but somehow much further downstream the fish ended up in the net and I was pumped. My net scales bottom out at 14lb and this fish sat on the stops hard. My initial guess on the river was 20 lb but I later revised that to 17lb
In under 2 hrs, I had topped my personal best trout on fly twice! This river will never be the same in my mind and I’m sure I will spend many days searching for some fishing like that again. This was easily my best day of fly fishing I have ever had and may never get close to repeating. I hope you enjoy the video and be sure to subscribe to my Youtube Channel here.
Article and photos from Gareth Bayliss (@trouthuntingnz), a YouTuber, Creator & Fly Fishing Guide New Zealand.