NZ Xmas in HariHari West Coast

The La Fontaine , Harihari

La Fontaine 4 lb

8 lb brute took a mouse pattern !! Thomas the Dane

Oreti River

Hello , well after my trip up the Clinton I headed up the Oreti River and base camped at the Mavora lakes . Tried to fish the Oreti however my foot was starting to hurt badly making mobility very difficult !! That evening still in pain I hobbled to the banks of South Mavora lake and bolted a mouse pattern on to a stiffish leader and waited till dark !! Then taking great care not to lose an eye I cast Mickey out into the darkness , the idea being that large trout cruise the margins eating mice that are looking to cross the lake not wise !!
I was fishing near to a dane who was also trying his luck ! It was cold and very dark , however the stars were amazing as were the loud glooping noises indicating a mouse going to meet his maker !! I felt as if the rod was being wrenched from me only to be given back , the fish or thing had missed the hook !! Thomas the dane was encouraged his next cast resulted in the 8 lb beauty shown above . We fished on for an hour and I felt it increasingly harder to stand and increasingly harder to get the short distance back to my Hammock due to the pain in my Toe , I knew something was up and I made the sad decision to get it checked out which meant leaving this place and heading to civilisation !!
A visit to the GP in Wanaka confirmed the toe was infected and prescribed antibiotics and rest as Xmas was looming I headed north to Harihari and the bech hut I`d stayed in on the way south .
After a day the drugs kicked in and the inflammation started to reduce thankfully .
As the La Fontaine is very near I gave it an afternoon , a small spring fed stream I managed to hook a 4 lb fish and land it not until I had to wade out to dislodge it from a reed bed !
Heavy rain that evening (downside of the west coast ) put the rivers up , so I checked out a few rivers nearby .
Next day went to look at the mouth of the Waita river were it enters the sea and found this amazing beach .
Stayed and watched the locals spinning for Kawwai ? 5lb Mackerel is the best I can describe , at serious risk to my six weight I bravely dodged the flying metal and cast hopefully into the incoming tide fruitlessly I may add , however my six weight is still intact and as a local took pity and handed me a bled fish I left to cook it up at the hut , instructions to cut out the red meat flour and fry in hot oil where followed and I had the best fish supper and equal to the best I`ve eaten !!
Next day saw me fishing the Whangunuitaeona !!! I think , anyhow saw plenty of Fish some very big , but lying in suicidal nymph territory , so I looked on in envy and respect , anyhow caught two fish 3lb and 2 1/2 Ib , which as the wind had started to blow trees over !!! making spotting and casting trickier then I was pleased . 20` leader and small beadhead needed this length of leader is the minimum I am finding to prevent spooking these fish , the plop of a heavy bead will also have them scurrying away you only get one shot normally screw it up and your history if you get a second shot change nymph if it sees the same unappealing offering twice your history !! What amazes me is some fish if suspicious will swim downstream to look at you then shoot off !!
Wind got too bad as it is today so will return as soon as the wind eases , however I am keen to kick south again towards Jackson bay south of Haast and try some rivers in this remote area .

Clinton River , Lake Te anau NZ

Large Brownie about to spook !!!!

The Jetty start of the Milford Track and the GODDESS

Whitebait omellette

Resting and reflecting on pain and exhilaration

First Rainbow it was very cold !!!!

The junction pool a stunningly deep blue pool typical of this stunning peice of fly heaven

Hi , recovering and resting up in Te Anau after an amazing adventure up the Milford track fishing the Clinton , hope the pictures represent a feel for what was a privilege , I was very fortunate to gain access to this wilderness river due to being invited to join Deano on his Boat the Goddess after a perfect storm arrival at midnight in a howling gale which tried to drive us aground as we tried to berth at the jetty Very Scary !!!!!!!!!!!!!! we woke after a few nerve settling whiskys to a perfect calm in paradise , only to be rudely disturbed by the arrival of the daily ferry depositing trampers departing on the three day trek to Milford sound . We however where here to fish , we still had some tramping though and it was tough but worth every agony .
Gin clear river , large hard fighting rainbows and browns requiring stealth and cunning to deceive them . Pictures of me resting and waiting on a plate of Whitebait to be cooked up NZ just got better a memorable trip that will live with me always

New Zealand 13th November 2009

Hi to my army of followers !!! Two weeks now and it seems I`ve lived here all my life , its been an enormous adventure and numbing on the senses so many sights and sounds to take in .

I have tried unsuccessfully to update the blog at my last stop in Reefton however it crashed and I had to move on , anyway I`d been camping on the Grey River close to the confluence with the Robinson River , after meeting the farm manager who kindly allowed me access , after a beer or two !! I spent two days here weather not too good rain and bad visibility and tough on my leg , bad experience when got lost in the bush !! however I relievedly found my way out .

Second day much better weather still the odd shower . I`d decided to fish the Robinson as my leg was sore from my bush wanderings , and encouragingly spotted fish , however they obviously took offence to me ogling them and pissed off , this happened repeatedly and a consequence of seeing them too late as they saw me !! pleased to be spotting them in bad light though ,can only improve , I will have too its a whole new ball game but the rewards are unbelievable , so after spooking most of the fish the only one I didn`t turned out to be a fish shaped piece of wood :)

I headed back tired bruised and beaten , back at the truck I brewed up and pondered on some really nice fish , made a hot brew of tea on the stove as English men do when under fire ,I took the decision to tramp down the Robinson to the confluence where it meets the Grey , it meant I had to cross It to get the best position to fish up to where they meet , a tricky crossing I scam bled to safety and strode to my assault position I began my creeping up the bank knowing this water would hold fish it was a classic lie , but worried I would spook them ! call it luck or doggedness I spied a fish feeding and it continued to feed a good sign , my first cast fell short my second drifted perfectly that resulted in a 20 min battle with a fine fish it went ballistic and I could feel its anger through my rod hand it all ended well and after a few hurried pics I released the bristling beauty back to the flow Awesome !!!!!!!!!!!:)

I went back to the farmstead and shared a whisky with Perry May and we chatted over looking the valley where I`d caught my fish and chatted , I then went and set up camp and decided to depart for somewhere new first thing , I said farewell to my black robin who shared camp with me and after an hour I rolled into Reefton an old Goldmining town , coffee and few calls and txts home as found a signal , and decided to Camp on Larry`s Creek weather bad rain and cold and sandfly HQ , I am still itching the scars ,I had a tough day and got soaked and sore , still managed to spot fish but these where actually telepathic !! So I ended up very cold and wet .

After a wet night I woke to find the river high so set off into Reefton for a coffee , I then got a call from Deano offering me his Dads Batch ( NZ for camping hut ) Which was at Harihari fuher south down the coast and also would I like to spend four days with him fishing on Te Anau in Fiordland and maybe fish some Rivers on the other side , which was really kind of him .

So I headed south crossing river after river all running high and coloured till I reached Harihari and found the beach hut with a range which I Lit and soon had hot water and a shower luxury , in the morning I checked a few rivers local one being La fontaine however all high , found Berry`s Creek a spring fed river and so was fishable , it was here I encountered a massive shock at er negotiating a tangle of electric fencing similar to Tom cruise in mission impossible !! I was wading under one when I touched it with my back !!and nearly bit my tongue off shit this wasn`t a soft buzz you get in the UK this was adrenaline charged NZ voltage , so shaken and smouldering I staggered back to the truck as the rain continued to poor down . At the hut I prepared to depart for the long haul in the morning to Te anau .

What a trip Jeremy Clarkson eat my dust ! Stunning rainforest glaciers waterfalls , Haast gorge , Wanaka , Great lakes (simalar to the lake district But on steroids ) Queenstown ( Towers of Mordor ) the remarkables and after a stop at Mossburn I am now in Te Anau awaiting Deano and the boat , in the library with aload of backpackers using free wi-fi access .

It was an amazing drive yesterday and you could spend a month just doing it justice .

I will be away on the boat for four days I think so on our return I will visit here again .

Best regards mark .

First Days NZ

Recovering the morning after outside the hut with black coffee and paracetamol . Have you seen the view ??? Lake Mason a place I will never forget my first taste of backcountry fishing NZ style Deano is a great guy , if a rubbish pig hunter , came on a herd of wild pigs in full flight !!out came the rifle and hunt on ,

pigs escaped unscathed much to Deans frustration !!!

My first night in a back country hut , met these two great guys cooked us a first class meal , with great wine , as one owned his own vineyard , the hut was in a stunning location .

Fish safely returned calm by beating heart !!

Fish in the net !!!

Little over a week here on the ground and have not stopped , been out in the backwoods most of the time so have pulled out to resupply and do communication !!!

Have got some great video but seems to take an age to upload so will settle for pics thus far , all I can say is its awesome truly , weather been poor so far which has made spotting fish difficult but well worth it when you do !!!!!!!!!! not for the faint hearted .

First fish on the Hurunui with Deano

Not sure this is the correct video Deano took a few and Hope i`ve chosen the correct one , if not will sort later , but he took some great stuff .

Any how after returning to Christchurch and a night at Deano `s with Bec`s and Emma , I set off back to the Hurunui on my own and spent two days there , one fish the first day , and landed two lost two the next day !! soooooooooooo strong !!! Reluctantly I headed off through the Lewis pass heading for the Grey?Robinson Rivers close to Springs Junction home of Trophies !! Weather not good overcast and rain making spotting trickier than it is anyhow . you only have to look at these fellas the wrong way and your sussed !!!

All in all my first week has fulfilled my wildest dreams so far , I am spoiled for choice as to where to go next currently in an old gold mining town Reefton ,drinking coffee and buying a net with scales , its tough landing these beasts without one and I don`t like beaching them , plus opportunities can be limited , hence the losses and my gammy leg doesn`t help !!! Plus I need to know how big they are , I am thinking 5ib + however think I`m wrong !!

Enjoying the camping in spectacular country and met some great people so far , really friendly and helpful no negatives at all .

Lasrry`s creek is near by and will give it a look later , the video is taking an age and I am itchy to get goiing as the sun is shining hotly for the first time since my arrival .

Will post more soon but will leave it for a rainy day , thank you for following me .

Mark Whitehead adventures down under .


Dear Tom , will be in touch soon love you loads Dad XX

Johnny Cash Hurt

Thoughts before I go !

My last night

Tonight I bade farewell to Mia and Tod , as dogs are apt to do they sensed my departure and Mia as always took up position in my bag , Tod is young but sensed his Mothers concern !!
I took this shot this morning of a rainbow piercing the Abbey a good omen I hope .
Anyhows I have been touched by the words and gifts I have recieved prior to departure , you all will know who you are , special thanks to Helen for undertaking the task of Mia & Tod X , and thanks to Sue & Moira for the gift X .
I am pleased to hear you are expecting your first child X To all my friends thank you .

I will let you know my progress as it unfolds .

Mark Whitehead

24th November 2009 0800 hrs

River is falling slowly as at 0800 hrs , however this could easily alter ! the skies are heavy and dark and the rain is falling steadily onto already sodden ground .
At present the colour is good and the height is favourable for nymphing/bugging .

22nd November 2009

Sunday morning 0800hrs , river falling slowly good colour and ideal for bugging methods . Feels decidely fresh today after the mild spell , surface food will be scarce .

21st November 2009

Sorry been busy on our Pheasant shoot today so have been absent from the river .
There has been little rain today and the glimpses I had of the river looked good will update in the morning .
A few picks of the beaters fine dining and a shot of smokers corner .

21st November 2009

Apologies for no pics ! I am hurriedly scribbling this as I am off chasing Pheasants this day .

River conditions are good and a days bugging is on the offing for those inclined , still very mild

1115 hrs 20th November 2009

Since the video shot at o830 hrs the overnight rain has caused the River to rise rapidly , currently conditions are bad and set to get worse , I will keep you informed for the weekend however prospects are looking bleak !

20th November 2009

19th N0vember 2009 0800 hrs

As you can see the River has fallen significantly over night , conditions are favourable for all bugging techniques , the water clarity is good . Heavy rain is forecast and the wind is gusting strong , still feels very mild though .

18th November 2009 Trashed

Heavy rain over night falling on already sodden land , has pushed it to present level and still rising , today and tomorrows`s forecast is for more of the same so the outlook is bleak . However the feeder streams are running well and will benefit late spawning Trout seeking the redds .

Mia `s disdain is clear to see !!

17th November 2009

0800 hrs 17th November 2009 river falling as can be seen from the picture above , colour is good and improving .

16th November 2009

River as at 08.30 am 16th November 2009 , river in good condition , however raining hard and falling on already sodden ground .

Wind stong and due to increase as the day progresses , this is due to continue with Wednesday looking the worst !!

I expect the conditions will change during the day if this rain continues .

15th November 2009

After a day chasing Grouse it was good to tackle up with Jim and Tom and head down to the river for a few hours prior to them leaving south .
Mainly using Jim`s outfit consisting of his 10' #2 and his slinky leader we took turns at nymphing likely holding spots . Check out his blog for more pics !

We caught Grayling thanks to Jims leader which performed amazingly due to its high visability and ease of use .
2 weeks to go and good to see Tom before I go , gonna miss him big time .

To a special lady thank you for your words the other day!
I do hope you find the time to take that walk !

Tom I Love you as a father will , stay safe .
To Jim Williams thanks for taking the time out to see me before my departure , and my apologies for making you eat dry toast !!

Please check out Jim`s blog as he`s much more technically brained than I ! and this is reflected in his coverage of the outing .

15 th November 2009

Sunday 15 th November , river falling again after another lift following yesterdays rain , Jim Williams from Wiltshire Flyfishing School and my son Tom are staying with me for the weekend and we are planning to give it a fish .

Forecast is to stay dryish !! with bright spells .

13th November 2009

A hurried shot of the River as at 0800 this morning , as you can see the river has risen as predicted , however the level has fallen quickly , check out the tide mark !

However as is normal with a rapid lift , the colour is bad but is improving .

Not ideal and would leave it 24hrs to settle , unfortunately gales and more heavy rain due late afternoon from the south , Saturday looks bad too .

To summarise fishing conditions are not ideal , however no pain no gain , and that roll cast can be worked on !

The Grouse Moor 2009

Just a few images of Barden Fell on a shoot day , Halton Heights below as the drive is brought in .

Keepers , beaters , loaders and pickers up take a break at lunch .

Grayling 12th November

Met up with Jim Curry again today , he`d been on this morning with a client . Following a cup of tea at lunchtime , we decided to have a go at a few fish showing at the stepping stones .
We had an hour before Jim had to disappear , anyways Jim geared up with a Klinkhammer on point and I grabbed the camera .
Surface food was very scarce and little wind to supply any extras so rises where infrequent however we soon located three fish moving and one seemed decent .
Jim entered the water and covered the fish carefully avoiding any drag and with gentle presentation , key to not putting them down .
A few passes with the Klink and it was time to step it down , so 0n went a size 18 Griffiths and it was greeted with an immediate nod of approval , however the fish was missed !
Jim offered the Griffiths a few more times , however the fish showed interest but failed to take and sank down .
A change of fly was needed so a size 20 spent midge with a bit of sparkle in the wing was tied on unhurriedly to allow the fish to relax .
The following resulted

After release and seeing her swim off powerfully , we left the river as the threatened rain clouds gathered from the west , as I write the rain is falling heavily and my guess is the River could be trashed for the weekend as the forecast is not good !

I will update first thing in the morning .


A upane kaupane whiti te ra ! ( into the sun that shines )

12th November 2009

River conditions recorded at 0800 hrs this morning , good level and steady and running clean , forecast for showers later arriving from the west !

Very light breeze so all looks well for a days fishing for the ladies . Cavendish (beat 3 ) is fishing well and producing numbers of Grayling around 12"-14" as well as upstream of Waters Meet .

Trout have been seen by myself cutting reds in Strid Wood 03rd November 2009 .

09th November 2009

River settles down .

River fishable again after yesterdays lift , a cloudless frosty morning of what promises to be a glorious day ahead , waterproofs can be left hanging today .

Currently uploading the above video clip , prior to my walk to the estate office , collating Octobers catch returns , and meet any anglers fortunate to have the day free to fish .

After a spate my priority is to check on any debris carried from up the dale ,normally a variety of sheep feed sacks which manage to find inconvenient spots to get caught up !

08th November 2009

Persistant rain overnight has pushed the river up and its rising slowly as at 0800 hrs .

Saturday 07th November 2009

Short video clip of the river below the Priory bridge at Bolton Abbey showing current condition as at 0900 hrs 07/11/09 .

Not a significant drop on yesterday , colour remains good and will fish well today .

New Zealand South Island 3 Months

Follow my solo adventure to New Zealand starting very soon !!!
Have been planning this trip for some time now , kicks off with Dean Harrison pictured above holding an 8lb Brownie !! Renting a truck off him and spending two days fishing with him before I strike out on my own .
My destination is the South Island starting at Christchurch , and planning to fish most regions .
I depart on the 27th November 2009 and return the 28th March 2010 .

Friday 06th November Cavendish

This is my first blog as River Keeper @ the reknown Bolton Abbey stretch of the R. Wharfe at Bolton Abbey

Today I accompanied Jim Curry in the search of the elusive Grayling as you can see we found the lady, albeit not easily , however we where successful as you can see . Our rig was very simple . River was falling and very clear , little surface movement .