New Zealand Fly Fishing Guides - Ben Kemp

New Zealand Fly Fishing Guides - Ben Kemp

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Lake Brunner

"Where the Brown Trout Die of Old Age!"

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Angling Report: Aug 2001 Lake Brunner Fly Fishing Report

August 24th-27th 2001

The weather conditions had been erratic over the preceding few days, and the arrival of my guest, Anne Colston Wentz, coincided with more heavy rains. Earlier in the month, low hydro lake levels had pretty much forced a shutdown of the Arnold and Dillmanstown power stations. Down here, a couple of days is a long time, and conditions can change in dramatic fashion - for better, or for worse! 

Angling report Aug 2001 Kingfisher Lodge fly fishing reports Lake Brunner
The rains pours down as another trout takes exception to the taste of cold steel! Anne Colston Wentz holds up this nice winter brown trout

The 24th dawned dull and threatening. Black clouds to the west indicated the likelihood of a downpour, so we donned chest waders, raincoats and hats in anticipation. The lake levels were high, and I chose to take Anne for a session of streamer/lure fishing with sinking line along the lake margin. Sight fishing to cruising trout from the drift boat is great fun, and any lure representing the trouts staple diet of cockabully, smelt or koura is a good choice. Anne was new to this technique, in fact could not remember the last time she'd had to make a back cast! Roll casts are all the rage in Colorado, it seems...

The first fish was hooked within minutes, and a second followed after only a couple more casts! Others followed as we progressed along the lake shore. Anne, like many clients, was eager for advice from the guide.... the guide, on the other hand, was markedly reluctant to proffer any! From the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Chapter of Guiding, I certainly was not keen to distract her by attempting to make improvements to a winning technique!

The morning's session saw a total of seven fish caught and released, a wonderful winter's morning by any standards! 

The evening saw us drifting down the Arnold River, the outlet fom Lake Brunner, down as far as Kotuku. A change of technique down here, a size 12 Hare's Ear Flashback on a dropper 2 ft beneath a Stimulator dry. The drift boat enables long, drag-free drifts right down the slot! Two nice trout were caught and released, a couple were lost, and we kept the third, the tenth of the day! Anne was impressed at dinner by the entree of brown trout Sashimi & celery, both thin-sliced.  

Angling report Aug 2001 Kingfisher Lodge fly fishing reports Lake Brunner
An Arnold River brown explodes into action, spray flying high beside the drift boat. Anne holds him up for a quick photo shot before returning him into the river. 

The 25th was tougher - a drift down the Arnold again, down to Stony Creek, and a total of four trout caught and released for the morning. The Flashback on the dropper accounted for all of those, and all were caught earlier in the day, above the main road bridge. We tried a more traditional nymphing rig in the deeper section below the bridge - a Flashback with a beadhead Pheasant-tail, but no takers. The last section near Stony Creek, where the dam forms the lake-like lagoons, we fished a streamer but never saw a fish. The weather was much improved, with only one heavy shower as we were approaching the lull-out point. 

In the evening we went back to the lake, fishing the western corner of Cashmere Bay, where Anne hooked a nice fat jack fish of around 24 inches and an estimated 4.5 lbs. This one was turned into spicy Thai-style fish cakes by my wife, which were most delicious! 

The 26th was, by comparison, a disaster. The 7 hour morning session along the southern shoreline of Lake Brunner was disappointing. Only a handful of fish were seen, in areas normally alive with trout. The day was beautiful, fine and sunny after morning fog had cleared. In the evening we spent 3 hours down the Arnold in the areas which had produced fish the previous two days, without success! Not a single strike for the entire day! I can only put it down to a drop in barometric pressure as a series of thunderous cloud banks rolled across in the afternoon, with several heavy showers.

The 27th saw us at the Dillmanstown reservoirs, and we were disappointed to discover water cascading over spillways, and levels extremely high, and without the drift boat no effective fishing was possible. The previous week, it was nothing but cracked mud, and the power station was shut down due to no water! We drove down to the Taramakau River in search of sea-run browns, and hooked one before my guest had to depart on the TranzAlpine Express for Christchurch. 

All in all, an enjoyable few days of West Coast winter fishing, with 15 trout landed in 3.5 days, and all of those in fine condition. Average weight close to 3lbs, with the largest fish close to 5lbs. 

Angling Report: Aug 2001 Lake Brunner Fly Fishing Report

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