AITUTAKI, COOK ISLANDS - DIY

Scrolling through work emails before heading into a daily operation, one email stating ‘short notice annual leave available’ freshly popped up at the top of the list. I recently returned from a month of family holiday in Europe, this sort of leave is usually first come first serve, mostly approved straight away after a quick chat to your manager. All I need to do is take 4 days off between my rostered days to have a total of 8 days……my eyes widened. In a heartbeat I ran into my manager's office yelling “I will take it man, I will come back after the turnaround”

    The best part about working for Air New Zealand is the perk of staff travel. All I really need is a bit of luck and one seat available on an aircraft.

    Where should I go....????

_DSC7273.jpg

Kia Orana!

    “Welcome to the beautiful Island of Aitutaki” a little slice of heaven.

 Considered one of the most magnificent lagoons in the world with small uninhabited islands on its surrounding reef. It is without doubt the most picturesque of the southern group islands. Aitutaki is 220 kilometers north of Rarotonga, the capital of the Cook Islands.

There I was... sitting on a sparkling white beach overlooking a flat at outgoing tide, trying to create a master-plan. All the local guides were unfortunately booked out, I was therefore left to proceed with a DIY trip. I had done some solid research prior to leaving for the trip, I did not expect it to be an easy task as I am a virgin to bone-fishing and in a new environment.

 


I brought 4 different sticks with me, but ended up using only one the entire week. Such a sweet weapon. PRIMAL #9 The MEGA salt water series rod.

Day one saw me trying to figure out the tide, how to approach the flat and mostly adjusting my eyes into spotting fish. I understood that bonefish are not the easiest to pick out, to my surprise I was able to see them with relative ease and in good numbers. Undoubtedly many passed my eye, I feel my chances would have been greater in the presence of a local guide. All I had to do was convince myself “man I recon I can do this" were the words echoing in my head. I spooked a solid number of fish before finally setting hook into one, admittedly a smaller catch but stunning, nonetheless. It’s no wonder why these ultra-fast body shaped fish are called ‘Ghosts of the Flats’. Throughout the day I gradually caught more bones of varying sizes, each bigger than the last. My Primal Mega #9 finally got the test it desired and was handling the situation with ease. I found this crucial to be able to throw tight loops, deliver the fly with accuracy and get the attention of these predators. They need to see the fly!

Fortunately for me the good population of yellowfin trevally was also present. Cruising the edges of the flat providing great entertainment while putting some solid bend into the rod. The sun set on my first day in Aitutaki. I was so hyped and ready for the next day of adventures!

Early the next morning I ventured out to a different flat, one that is well known as a challenging prospect. The bonefish were much larger here mostly riding solo rather than in schools. I struggled on regardless in the hope I’d succeed.

They did not want a bar of it, I was not ready to give up so easily. Feeling the same way when exploring new trout rivers back in New Zealand, I always want to see what’s around the next corner. It did not happen on the day, after an exhausting 10 hours I finally pulled the plug, ready for a Sailor Jerry’s and reflect on the day.

This became somewhat of a pattern for me over the next few days. Got some bones, then pull up blank, more success, then blank again.

Aside from bonefish and yellowfin trevally I hooked up to some funky looking fish, mostly when stripping bait fish patterns along the corals.

Peacock Grouper, Hexagon Grouper, Yellow stripe goatfish, Needlefish and Lagoon Triggerfish.

I was having an amazing time and using the whole trip as a massive learning curve but did not feel entirely satisfied, thinking there was still more to accomplish and remembering I only had one day of fishing left.

_DSC8104.jpg

I spent the last day of my trip in the company of Butch and his son Cleto, over a couple of beers the previous night at the Boat house, he kindly invited me to hit the flat with him on his day off from guiding. I woke up to the calmest day you could imagine. The lagoon was glassy with zero wind, perfect conditions. Within 5 minutes I was hooked into my Sunday #1 bone. Butch followed shortly after with his, then me, then Butch, then the school of 50 swam past. The first double hook up was on!! I ended up losing mine, it wasn’t long before another bone was on. In the timeframe of about 4 hours we landed a dozen bones plus some yellowfin. It felt seriously nuts. I had caught 7 bones over the previous five days which I would describe as some of the hardest fishing experiences I have ever had. Then, the last day happened’ and what a day, I landed 8 bonefish and 2 yellowfin trevallies both showing me the colour of my backing on multiple occasions.

 We were sitting at the Boat shed having a cold one with big smiles on our faces. I could not help myself and asked Butch “why in the hell was today so different?”

He sipped his can and said. “Man.. Aitutaki does not get much better than that”

Splash 💦

Splash 💦

Butch, Cleto and Bonefish

_DSC8097.jpg

Gear:

Primal Mega 9wt

Hatch Finatic 7+

Airflo Flatsmaster Intermediate tip 9wt

Hatch Leader and Tippet material 16, 12 pound.

Tim Angeli’s shiny flybox full of goodies

F-R-A-G-M-E-N-T-S

Some of my favourite photos and little clips of the regular fishing season. Thanks to everyone for the good times. Yeah boi. Now Let’s enjoy some MAY fishing

ManuherikiaRiver-JKPhoto-10.jpg
ManuherikiaRiver-JKPhoto-22.jpg
ManuherikiaRiver-JKPhoto-45.jpg
EglingtonRiver-JKPhoto-December2018-2.jpg
EglingtonRiver-JKPhoto-December2018-30.jpg
fishingwithKub-2019-JKPhoto-3.jpg
_DSC3029.jpg
_DSC4366.jpg
_DSC4585.jpg
_DSC4284.jpg
_DSC4312.jpg
_DSC4318.jpg
_DSC4260.jpg
_DSC4255.jpg
_DSC4212.jpg
_DSC4180.jpg
_DSC4166.jpg
_DSC4069-2.jpg

_DSC4100.jpg
_DSC4093.jpg
_DSC3929.jpg
DSC07640.jpg
_DSC3747.jpg
_DSC3639.jpg
_DSC3605.jpg
_DSC3620.jpg
_DSC3166.jpg
_DSC3045.jpg
_DSC3091.jpg
_DSC3038.jpg
_DSC3074.jpg
_DSC3081.jpg
_DSC2942.jpg
_DSC2937.jpg
_DSC9570.jpg
_DSC6706.jpg
IMG_5771.jpg
_DSC8592.jpg
_DSC6474.jpg
_DSC6726.jpg
_DSC6152.jpg
_DSC1100.jpg
_DSC0939.jpg

UNTAMED NATURAL WILDERNESS! SEASON OPENING 2018

The time of a year that most of us fisherman have been waiting for had come around again. We always put some serious effort into preparation for what we call the OPENING TRIP! But as per every year the biggest worry is always the unpredictable weather. You can have a super solid plan, but trust me you should always have couple of back up plans from which you can get started and adjust the plan to your needs. Marek and I headed out three days prior to the Opening day to cut out a bit of decent driving time which needed to be done. Of course we had to wet our lines. Quick stops by the lakes and exploring some estuaries for a sea run was on the daily menu. With the weather bomb approaching from down south we were pretty much traveling away from it, each day hoping that we could stick to our plan A for October 1st.

Then it rained all night and day and it carried into another day and night of solid rain. By then we knew our plan A would need to be postponed. Matt had arrived the night before and options were discussed at a small bar over couple of beers.

Waking up at a silly hour to make sure we got to water we had chosen early enough, was a great call. We arrived at our spot to find out that the water was quite discoloured and running higher then when we had scoped it out the other day. It was still pretty dark out but as we flashed our torches into the water we were able to see the bottom. We stuck to our gut feeling and decided to shoot further upstream to get to a different access point.

HERE WE GO!

To our surprise by 8 am the clouds had slowly begun to clear and the day started to look quite promising. The river we had chosen meanders its way across swampy farmland and provided good sight fishing opportunities even with the water being discoloured. We knew that sea-run trout were present, boosting up the numbers of fish for this time of a year. With 20 to the net, and most fish being a pretty good size and condition, we could not complain about a single thing!


TOUGH GOING!

Pretty bloody hard day on a beautiful gin clear and fairly large river. We covered some good water but hadn’t seen many fish. And those we spotted were way too spooky for this early in the season. To our surprise, we found out from couple of trampers heading out, that there was a party of 3 fishing not far up from us. Pretty weird as there was no car at the access point where we left our vehicles. There surely was one when we walked out…. Yeah I guess we got jumped..

Marek saved the day with this stunner of a brown to the net!


CAMP OUT!

The next couple of days we spent fishing in a slightly more remote location. The first day we sighted many fish, but we got literally smoked. We had some good hook ups, but they all got away in the swift water, and as the day progressed fish were not really interested in anything we would throw at them! Luckily I was able to land one and save the day for the team!

Good night camping, up early and what gorgeous a day for us! We ended up fishing a beautiful gin clear backcountry river, with plenty of fish actively feeding and not hesitating to take our flies. After a couple of fish for each of us the first double hook up was on! The day got better and better, and as the temperature heated up fish started to rise to mayflies! Good dry fly action was just a cherry on a top!


We headed out to civilisation to check the weather forecast, have a good feed and discuss what to do next! The weather looked very promising and Matt suggested we go back to our original plan. There was nothing to chat about anymore. We quickly nodded as a sign that we were still keen!

BACK TO PLAN A!

Matt took a day off to organise everything, resupply and get accomodation sorted as the next morning we would be jumping on board a helicopter and flying into some remote location of the South Island.

Marek and I were pretty close to taking day off, especially with a forecast of heavy rain, but we ended up fishing all day instead. It was a good day to put some of our Simms gear to a solid test. We ended up fishing the lower reaches of a river with no easy access or any marked route. I instantly fell in a love with this place and made a little promise to myself to come back one day and explore the whole length of this remote, crystal clear, bouldery river! Fish were not easy to spot due to the constant rain but Dore’s mister Glister got a lot of attention and some stunning fish were landed!

_DSC5560.jpg

YEAH BOI!

Everybody was up early! Quick breakfast, coffee, double check of our gear and within half an hour we saw ourselves on board a Helicopter heading out to a very special place where we were going to spend 4 days fishing some remote rivers and their tributaries.

I believed that due to the previous week’s weather, we were most likely the first bunch of fisherman able to fish the area. Water levels were lower then we expected and were dropping significantly every day. Blue skies, pleasant temperatures, and some pretty good hatches mostly after lunch time kept us going strong every day. Fish were hungry and in very good numbers and conditions. Matt kept slaying them crazy on a dry fly every day, while Marek and myself were more successful with nymphs. We experienced some of the best wilderness brown trout fishing up to date!

It was surely a highlight of our trip and at the same time the most amazing end to it!

STATS:

Kilometres driven : 2134

Distance walked: who the hell knows

Time in a chopper: 25 minutes

Gear lost : 2 broken rods, 1 smashed reel, dry backpack gone to heaven…

# of Fish released : plenty to keep us smiling!

# of Fish kept: ZERO

CHEERS BOYS!

_DSC6021.jpg


DINE AND DASH

This trip has been on my list since a not very successful attempt last year due to the weather! We sorted out annual leave well ahead and with the superb summer down here in the South Island the level of excitement was high.....but then the shit hit the fan! Not even a week before DAY 1 things started to go against us. Cyclone Gita was approaching New Zealand, vehicle breakdown, flight cancellation for my mates arriving from Canada and I started to panic about everything...

By DAY 1 our plan fell absolutely apart.... so we went from plan A TO B,C to D and ended up going on a family road trip around the South Island instead.

DAY 10 - text: hill is open, you guys got in yet? DAY 11 - dropped off my family at the airport! (Thanks heaps for letting me go!)

In the end I had a chance to spend 5 days fully submerged into fly fishing surrounded by absolutely top people!

Scroll Down and Enjoy!

Peter with a beast of kingfish!

Hit and Run!

Despite the rain and coffee stained water we headed out to try our luck. First day on the water left us with no fish, but later on the weather conditions slightly improved and we were lucky enough to encounter some Kahawai and finally got our chance to chase after some stunning KINGFISH! With every other day the weather got better and better and so did the fishing! 

Ocean Hunter

Tailing the flats as the tide rises!

Tailing the flats as the tide rises!

I am at home now writing a little blog post with a smile on my face already dreaming about another saltwater trip, but the rest of the boys are still there... and I really hope they are having a great time! It was pleasure to meet you all! You are a freaking cool bunch!!

P.S  SORRY J Kells there was nothing I could have done, but don`t worry mate, plenty of adventures ahead of us!

TIGHT LINES! 

Dry fly double hook up galore!

Little photo essay from our last overnighter! 

Marek's back again from Yukon after another busy season of guiding at Dalton trail lodge, and what a first trip we had to kick it off for him! Blue sky, no wind and fish back to being keen again after much needed heavy rain! Exploring new water, blue sky, zero wind... no wonder we pulled out pretty much 14 hrs session on day one and day two got me into trouble coming home very late after I promised early return.... but you just can't leave the river when multiple dry fly double hookups are on the menu.

Scroll down and enjoy!

IMG_8507.jpg
IMG_8466.jpg

TIGHT LINES!

Tribs and Tackles

Not your usual New Zealand fishing photos! J Kels and myself decided to explore some tiny tributaries in search of brook trout. We didn't manage to catch any brook trout, but holy shit those little creeks were fun to fish. Left us absolutely amazed by the quality and quantity of these little juvenile trout.

Scroll down and enjoy! (Shaka)

FishingSeason2017-18-JKPhoto-101.jpg
FishingSeason2017-18-JKPhoto-46.jpg
IMG_6021.JPG
FishingSeason2017-18-JKPhoto-50.jpg
FishingSeason2017-18-JKPhoto-97.jpg
FishingSeason2017-18-JKPhoto-62.jpg
FishingSeason2017-18-JKPhoto-75.jpg
IMG_5948.JPG
IMG_6010.JPG
FishingSeason2017-18-JKPhoto-47.jpg
IMG_5934.JPG

B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

Just got back from another BANGER trip with my mate Matt Butler. I think we need to team up more often because in the words of Gwen Stefani This shit is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S! We got extremely great weather with temperatures peaking at 30 degrees, and the fish just loved it too. They were actively feeding and changing flies pretty much with every fish was  the HIT! We got some Epic dry fly eats, fish on nymphs and of course streamers. Even the worm came out of the flybox!

SCROLL DOWN AND ENJOY!

DRY FLY EATER FROM A SKINNY WATER

IMG_3942.jpg

This beauty took Matt for a solid run

Bow casted Dore`s Glister into a tricky spot got it done!

Look at those spots!!!!

Epic Start!

Epic Memories - It has been a great opening week of fishing here in NZ with some decent weather and even better fish, but today was one we'll never forget. We hit a notoriously tough river on a red letter day, with the fish just mowing down everything we threw at them without much effort! Then came the moment we got a double hook up on a pair of serious fish from opposite sides of the river, making every step of the 15km walk worth it, not to mention the other 30 or so hookups!! 

Scroll down and enjoy!

IMG_3366.jpg
IMG_3351.jpg
IMG_2936.jpg
IMG_3251.jpg
3P1A3356.jpg
IMG_3198.jpg

© Lockie Sutherland

© Lockie Sutherland

© Lockie Sutherland

© Lockie Sutherland

© Lockie Sutherland

© Lockie Sutherland

© Lockie Sutherland

IMG_3182.jpg
IMG_3119.jpg
IMG_3138.jpg
IMG_2904.jpg
IMG_3204.jpg
IMG_3146.jpg
IMG_3238.jpg
IMG_3226.jpg
IMG_2984.jpg
IMG_3111.jpg
IMG_2970.jpg
IMG_3150.jpg
IMG_3183.jpg
IMG_3274.jpg
IMG_3060.jpg
3P1A3444.jpg
IMG_3000.jpg
© Lockie Sutherland

© Lockie Sutherland

Tight Lines!

Winter vibes!

It`s been warming up lately and everything is coming back to life again! There is plenty of water to be fished over the winter months in lower South Island, so if you feel anxious this would be the best time to get out and get into it again. Smaller lakes which remain open the whole year round would be my place to go. You don`t have to rush as the mornings are still cold and there is not much competition. But on the other hand it`s quite impressive to see how everything changes as the day progresses! Fish are patrolling shallows again looking for food. It`s important to get their attention without spooking them. If you struggle with your presentation, or fish simply follow but never take, here is my advice:  Cast well ahead of the moving fish and let the streamer sink all the way to the bottom. Twitch as the fish are about a meter away, your streamer will most likely get smashed straight when the mud swirles and if not, a few strips should do the job. Fish drop offs, across weed beds, along tree logs or any obstacles in the water. Don`t forget the river mouths as there will always be fish lurking around and it`s also a great place to try different techniques and practise casting. Get out, explore, get the fishing going or just go on a walk (don`t forget to bring the rod though, always bring the rod)!

IMG_0656.jpg
IMG_0978.jpg
IMG_0681.jpg
IMG_0686.jpg
IMG_0675.jpg
IMG_0769.jpg
IMG_0050.jpg
IMG_8552.jpg
IMG_9274.jpg
IMG_8063.jpg
IMG_1014.jpg
IMG_0079.jpg
IMG_9821.jpg
IMG_1052.jpg
IMG_0776.jpg
IMG_0924.jpg
IMG_0932.jpg
IMG_9214.jpg