A WEEK IN HAWKES BAY – late November 2017
The weather forecast promised fine, but cloudy, conditions with mild heat during the trip. The weather was to be the controlling factor during the next 6 days of fishing. It had a significant effect on fish presence and activity.
The 1st day, on the Tukituki River, started overcast with a cold wind and some rain spots. The sun peeked through the clouds & the day warmed up. Four fish were caught in the start of Papa runs during the morning session. After lunch, a different spot down river yielded another 19 between 2 anglers – many on small wets. The temperature had risen to 25 & this enhanced fish activity, which dropped right off once it cooled down.
THE 2ND DAY involved a trip much further down river on the Tukituki. At the 1st fishing point the weather was cloudy & cool. There was no fish activity or sightings, apart from large mullet, so we moved to another spot upstream. There was no surface action at either spot, but we eventually found a pair of feeding fish on a drop-off. A nice 5lb Brown was landed. The weather had only marginally improved so our guide, Gary, recommended another move upstream.
By this time the sun had broken through the cloud, helping greatly with fish spotting & the afternoon yielded multiple hook-ups with a good number landed.
THE 3RD DAY was on the Tukituki again, upstream from Patongata. The fog cleared to a mild day & rising fish provided the enticement for good fishing. The action started once the cloud burnt off, with some memorable dry fly fishing but the rises ceased once it became full sun. The fishing activity switched to spotting targets (by the eagle-eyed guide) from a high bank. This yielded several more good fish before lunch.
The mid-afternoon session commenced under full sun with high UV & higher heat. Everything shut down – no birds & no fish. We retired early.
DAY 4 (Saturday) was moving day & another river. A later start saw us on the Ngaruroro River not far from Hastings with an immediate success on a dry fly. A false alarm as the weather was overcast & cool with no fish activity noticeable. However, 11 fish were landed on a variety of dries & nymphs. Fish action varied depending on whether the sun was out or not. The wind rose & cancelled all activity. In summary it was a tough day on a river that would normally yield a much better catch result.
DAY 5 was scheduled for a visit to the upper middle reaches of the 3rd river to be fished – the Tutaekuri. Again, the weather was overcast with high cloud & temperature neither warm nor cool. Early fish encountered close to the access point were spooky. The weather stayed overcast all day & got progressively cooler. An upstream trek of about 6km revealed many fish sighted but only 2 rises in total.
However good directions from my super guide with fly selection, fish spotting & drift instructions resulted in 12 fish landed. A notable feature was the lack of fish sighted in runs – a usual habitat.
DAY 6 saw a return to the Tukituki river, mainly for easy access. It was thrilling to park beside a long glide pool with a number of rising fish present. The day was overcast with a bit of sun poking through from time to time. Several fish were taken on dries from the long pool before moving downstream. One angler scored well in deeper water on nymphs & the 2nd scored 2 fish on dry further downstream. Rises were very sporadic. More fish were caught in runs & drop-offs where riffles met deeper water & the long pool yielded another 2 good fish on the dry. Hotter weather then put most fish down.
A move upstream to the site of the 1st afternoon yielded 2 more fish on wets before a violent thunderstorm curtailed fishing for the day.
Over approximately 5.5 days of fishing I hooked 64 fish, most of good size in the 3lb to 5lb range
I left NZ very satisfied with some super quality & memories of many great hook-ups. I can vouch for the value of having a guide (ours was superb) as I reckon that I would have caught less than half (or even a 3rd) of that number without the benefit of his skills, experience & direction. This can make the difference between a great & an ordinary trip.
The tough weather conditions made his presence even more essential for quality fishing.