New Season New Licence

Fish and Game NZ recently circulated an email campaign asking “Are You Ready?” This simple question marks the build up to the new 2015/16 season which opens on 1 October, and also encourages people to get in early and buy a licence online.

“To help you get ahead of the fish, we’ve opened up the online licence buying facility so you can get hooked up early with one of the durable plastic licences – and be all set to go on Opening Day, 1 October. Your plastic licence will be mailed within five working days of you completing this order. It may take seven to ten days to arrive by post in your letterbox” says the campaign release.

This year see’s the introduction of a number of new licence options that will offer anglers the chance to fine tune their licence to fit with fishing plans – apparently not everyone shares my need to fish in a variety of locations at the drop of a hat!

Local area, loyal senior, family and non resident options are among the full season licences available, with a number of part season options also on offer. A handy Fish and Game table helps makes sense of it all – click image to see a larger version.

Fish and Game Fishing Licence options for 2015/16
Fish and Game Fishing Licence options for 2015/16

As usual I’ll be opting for the gold plated fish till you drop option – Full Whole Season. Find out which option suits your level of obsession at the Fish And Game NZ website:

On a serious note, it’s very important that all anglers buy the right licence before going fishing. The funds raised through licence fees are used by Fish and Game to protect and nurture our fisheries. With the huge pressure currently on our freshwater resources they need every cent they can get. Find out more about some of the environmental threats here>

So, get in quick to secure your licence. This will give you more time to work out where you’re going to kick-off the new season, determine a ‘plan B’ for when the weather turns to crap, identify what new gear you’re going to need…

James Barnett

Fly Fishing Meets Art

One of my main motivations for developing the Wilderness Trout website is to share my ‘trout inspired’ artwork – bringing together my passion for both fly fishing and art.

I’ve been fortunate to have had a career that includes design, brand development, education and communications management. All of which has allowed me to develop a creative outlook and an eye for detail… a brief bio can be found here>

When my children were younger my focus was on ‘family time’ and of course work. I would grab opportunities to chase trout whenever I could but this left only limited time for painting and drawing. Now my children are more independent, it’s time to develop my art further. I plan to focus on capturing those amazing moments when the angler and trout’s worlds collide.

It is often said that the ‘take’ is the most exciting part of fly fishing. While that may be true, there is a whole lot more to the sport than that. Fly fishing can be an adventure that takes the fly fisherman to wonderful places, following rivers and streams through a patchwork of incredible country, forever curious to find what’s around the next bend… just one more pool!

The art of combining hook, fur, feather and synthetic materials to create the trout fly is another huge element to fly fishing, that for many becomes just as important as the fishing itself. Some subscribe to the idea that the trout fly simply needs to suggest something edible, while others will take a far more detailed approach exploring the world of entomology in an effort to create artificial’s that closely resemble aquatic and terrestrial insects.

Fly fishing requires a specific set of tools. The rod, the reel and the fly-line are like nothing found in any other form of fishing. For most serious fly fishermen these beautifully balanced pieces of equipment are chosen with the greatest of care. From hand-crafted to high-tech, the choices can be very personal. In addition different set ups are required for different situations… so begins the collection!

These varied aspects of fly fishing all provide inspiration for me to put pen to paper, or indeed brush to canvas. However there is an even more compelling motivation.

Once the trout has been landed, I find particular satisfaction from taking a moment to admire the raw beauty of the fish – incredible survival machines that battle the harsh elements. When you pause to take a closer look you will see they exhibit an extraordinary range colours – from an athletic bar of gleaming silver and purple, through to a dark gold and yellow muscular bruiser. All amazing fish and a worthy challenge to capture both on fly and on canvas.

James Barnett

RISE Film Festival Starts in August

The RISE Fly Fishing Film Festival is due to start screening around New Zealand at the end of the month. Starting in Gore 31 August, the event travels around the country, visiting 12 towns and cities until it draws to a close at Arrowtown 23 September.

The event serves as a showcase for the best filmmakers in the fly fishing industry. After enjoying many of Gin-Clear Media’s films, I can’t wait to see the main feature film this year – ‘Backcountry, South Island.’

According to a media release, “Gin-Clear Media’s ‘Backcountry, South Island’ is the feature film of the festival. This sequel to the highly acclaimed ‘Backcountry North Island,’  explores the stunning fishing opportunities in the New Zealand backcountry. The South Island has vast tracts of some of the most intact, undisturbed natural areas left on our planet. These last truly wild places deliver beauty and isolation in spades but it is the allure of giant trout in crystal clear water that draws anglers from around the globe to this treasured land.”

“In its 10th year, RISE is celebrating a decade of bringing the best fishing entertainment to cinemas around the world. Kiwi audiences can look forward to stunning footage from Iceland, Australia, New Zealand and the USA presented in high definition on the big screen.

Tickets are still available for most venues. If you’d like to see the full schedule check out the RISE website:

James Barnett

Tongariro On the Up

If you visited the Tongariro this winter there’s a good chance you had a productive trip.

Much has been written over recent years about the decline of the Taupo trout fishery, and in particular the winter spawning runs on the world famous Tongariro River. Conversations with some of the more ‘mature’ anglers will often turn to tales of ‘the good old days’ when huge runs would occur and trout averaged over 5lb. We may not have returned to those glory days yet, but for me, this year stands out as a step in the right direction.

While local folk are always in with a good chance of being in the right place at the right time, visiting anglers have had to contend not only with fewer and smaller fish, but also the fact that spawning runs were taking place over an extended period of time – in effect reducing the chance of encountering a good run of fish on any individual visit. This winter however has been different.

Andrew Harding a.k.a. ‘troutboynz’ recently managed to capture some amazing action –

Why has this year been different? Many believe it’s because more frequent periods of heavy rain have pushed river levels up regularly, providing more opportunities for fresh trout to enter the river. The net result, greater numbers of trout running the river in the traditional winter period – an observation supported by DOC’s spawning traps. When you also consider that most trout have been in excellent condition, you start to understand why it’s been a good winter for local and visiting anglers alike.

For my part, I’ve taken the 2.5 hour trip down SH1 from Cambridge on a number of occasions and as a visiting angler I certainly felt there were more fish to be caught – and a few good ones lost too for that matter!

On one trip I managed to convince my wife that Turangi would be the perfect spot for a quiet weekend away… a chance to stay in a nice lodge and take a morning stroll along the river and reconnect with nature. I may have forgotten to mention that we’d be taking a fly rod with us. Anyway we successfully managed to connect with nature, be it mostly in the form of angry trout! As a bonus my wife discovered a hidden talent for filming –

So, if you get the chance to fish the Tongariro River this winter, especially after rain, I strongly suggest you go for it. But even if you miss the rain it’s always worth a trip. The Tongariro is more challenging when the river is low and the weather is bright but its a big river and if you’re willing to explore you should come across a few fish.

James Barnett