10 Pounders and Other Dreams
Greetings and salutations to all our friends!
I’ve been back from New Zealand for two weeks now and the glow from this fantastic experience has still not faded. It was that good! The influence of the “Mouse Hatch” on the northern section of the South Island was really quite remarkable and I’m delighted that our guests on the trip were able to experience it. The KIWI hospitality was at its usual “long lost brother” level and the weather was absolutely spectacular, with clear blue skies and little if any wind, for the duration of the trip.
While knowing that the Mouse Hatch was having a big impact on the fish this year, none of us on the trip were prepared for the overall average size of the Browns we were encountering daily.
For some perspective, the smallest fish landed on the trip was “only” five pounds. Our friend Felix Borenstein, who owns and operates the superb Owen River Lodge, on the South Island, emailed us last week to say that he had a guest land an incredible 14.5-pound Brown Trout, which is a new lodge record.
I can’t tell you how many times I watched one of our guests’ sight casting to a fish that we thought was of a decent size, only to discover how big it actually was once we got it in the net. If we got it in the net? For the trip, we had six Brown Trout of ten pounds or more landed, with five or six breaks offs of fish in the 12-14-pound range. What was truly remarkable was the number of seven, eight, and nine-pound fish that were landed. This really bodes well for next year as this years’ seven- and eight-pound fish will be eight to 10 pounds in a years’ time.
The Browns were definitely not ready to eat the bigger flies we traditionally throw at them in mid-January so we were using much smaller flies than I’m accustomed to using on the South Island. My 11-pound fish, above, sipped a size 14 Parachute Adams, to give you an idea of the size of the flies many of us were having success with.
Of the numerous highlights produced on this trip, I think my favorite memories were of watching two of our guests land their first double-digit Brown Trout, on back to back days. In both cases, we knew that these were good-sized fish but it was only when they were in the net and that we fully understood the size of these magnificent trout. To watch a friend land a milestone fish is as good or better than catching it yourself and it’s a big part of why I got into this business. A big congratulations and thank you to Tyler Thompson and John LaGow for letting me be a small part of your New Zealand fish tales.
We have one slot still available on my hosted Tortuga Cuba live aboard trip May 8-17, if there are any single anglers out there looking for a great springtime tarpon and bonefish trip.
KULIK LODGE, ALASKA
Located in the heart of Alaska’s Katmai National Park, the venerable Kulik Lodge is beautifully positioned to deliver a high-quality fishing experience in Alaska, whether it’s your first fishing trip to the state or your 10th! The location for the lodge was chosen in the 1950’s, when fly-out fishing lodges in Alaska simply did not exist. Kulik Lodge is wonderfully positioned between the eastern shore of Nonvianuk Lake, and the mouth of the Kulik River. This means that the lodge is centrally located between many legendary Alaska rivers, streams, and lakes across Bristol Bay (and beyond), the majority of which are within a short twenty-minute floatplane flight from the lodge.
What we really like about Kulik is the flexibility that the lodge offers. You can tailor your week to the number of fly outs you want to do during your time at the lodge. Another huge bonus to staying at Kulik is its proximity to the Kulik River, and its outstanding Rainbow Trout fishing. Renowned as one of the finest Rainbow Trout rivers in the state, having the Kulik in your back pocket is an excellent Plan B if the weather turns bad, and fly outs are restricted for a day or two. Guests can also extend their fishing day by fishing the Kulik after dinner, with four to five hours of additional sunlight, depending on when in the summer you go.
If you haven’t fished Alaska but have wanted to, and have been thinking about it, Kulik Lodge is an excellent introduction to this great state. The lodge delivers a quintessential Alaska fishing experience, and there is still some good availability during the summer season of 2020.
We’ve been fielding a decent number of guest inquiries for Christmas Island over the past month and it’s understandable given the quality of the fishing that guests get to experience when they arrive at Christmas. To be sure, Christmas Island is a remote and isolated destination and there is an investment in time and money to get there, beyond just the actual week you are fishing. That said, we feel that the reward at the end certainly justifies the travel and time that guests invest to get there.
This is a “bucket list” trip for many saltwater anglers and with good reason, given that the bonefishing is fantastic and it offers some of the best combination of wading and sight casting that I have ever experienced. Firm hard-packed sand flats are everywhere, as are the bonefish. The largest bonefish one of our guests landed at Christmas in the past year was 8 pounds, and while fish this size are not the norm, it demonstrates that there are some very big fish to target on the flats at Christmas.
The GT fishing the last 6 months has been pretty hit and miss but you have to be ready at all times for when these Flats Thugs decide to show up. GT’s in the 20 to 40-pound range are regularly being seen and cast to and each week much larger fish are caught somewhere on the Atoll.
If you are interested in doing a trip to Christmas Island, please keep in mind that space is already starting to get limited for the winter and spring 2021 season. If you can get away in the fall or early winter (before Christmas) for a visit to Christmas, we highly recommend doing so.
This time of year offers calm seas, limited winds, and excellent flats fishing.
LE FARIO LODGE, ARGENTINA
For guests with the ability to travel on fairly short notice, we’ve just received word from the owners of Le Fario Lodge in Argentina that they are offering a 20% discount on their weeks in March for the few available slots they have remaining. That’s next month!.
Le Fario is a really exceptional, small lodge that only caters to eight anglers per week. The lodge places a significant emphasis on their food and wine program, and the level of guest service is of a very high level. Both the owners are chefs, and the priority that the lodge places on the gastronomy side of the trip is simply spectacular. Comfortable, relaxed, and well-appointed, Le Fario Lodge is a great location for a first-timer to Argentina, particularly when you consider the excellent value that a week at the lodge represents, before the 20% discount, combined with their stellar angling program.
From an angling perspective, Le Fario Lodge has a privileged location near the Los Alerces National Park, and this directly translates into a highly diversified fishing program. The lodge has access to a wide variety of water, including spring creeks, private waters, small and large rivers, still waters, and some highly productive lakes. Guests can anticipate targeting wild rainbows, browns, and brookies with dry flies, streamers, and nymphs.
CLIENT TRIP PIC OF THE MONTH
At Slipstream, we’ve had the good fortune to travel the world fishing the most unique and prestigious angling destinations on the planet.