The Fly Junkies New Zealand Tour finished with a short trip on the well regarded Ahuriri River in Mackenzie country. This river was the pinnacle of the trip, proving to be the most challenging and most rewarding.
The Ahuriri River is a beautiful water to fish. The river meanders through a picturesque valley lined with snow-capped mountains. The clear water flows through deep pools, undercuts, back eddies, slow glides and eventually into braided chutes, providing an interesting variety of fishing for wondering anglers like us. Gav and I took great pleasure in fishing this quality Trout river.
The Ahuriri challenged us in many ways, particularly in our presentations to fish. The popularity of the Ahuriri and the angling pressure it receives has created interesting behaviour in the fish. We encountered fish that swim out of their feeding lanes to inspect our flies and spook once realising what they were. We encountered fish that would follow a drifting fly and spook once the fly began to drag. We encountered countless other fish that would almost spook themselves. Targeting pressured fish late in the season challenged our angling skills greatly.
These situations were a reality check on our ability to catch Trout. Lengthening leaders, downsizing tippets and changing flies were insufficient to get fish to eat our flies. Despite making the best presentations we could, we still struggled to hook fish.
Changing our approach and presentation was the key to success. Different presentations were the missing ingredient in tempting fish to eat our flies. By allowing fish to find our fly as opposed to drifting the fly to the fish, the fish appeared less aware of our presence and remained eager to eat. This approach was a revelation to us after battling for hours to hook fish.
For me personally, our day on the Ahuriri was the best day fishing of the tour. As I struggled to even present a fly to many fish and was out of my depth in angling experience, I was forced to concentrate and fish hard. This was very satisfying and made the fish I caught all the more rewarding.