Field Report – Chopper fishing out of Haast

After the bizarre first day where the Haast Heli Service wouldn’t take us out due to “bad weather”, even though conditions were perfect, we managed to fly the next two days without any trouble or drama. In total the four of us fished three separate rivers over the two days. Conditions both days were as good as you could hope for, with clear blue skies and very little wind. The only negative was that river water levels were low and this certainly impacted the fishing, especially on the one large river that all four of us fished on Day 2. But we made the best of it and there was some decent dry fly fishing to be had.

One of the really special aspects to trout fishing in New Zealand is the way in which helicopter fishing has been integrated in to the country’s trout culture.  Getting into a chopper at the beginning of the day to a remote and very hard to get to river, is a magical experience worth so much more than the price of the flight. The excitement of early morning flying to a hard to get to river is palpable!

I use every opportunity to fly while in New Zealand and most of my best days on the river have started out by climbing into a helicopter. And day 2 was no exception. We started out by seeing a fish 15 no more than 10 yards from where the helicopter dropped us off. It vanished behind some logs and we never really saw it again but it was a good sign of what was to come. 10 minutes later our guide Steve saw a nice sized fish down about 3 feet in a fast-moving flow, which is somewhat unusual for Browns. My friend and client David from Ireland, snuck up as close as he could and got down on his knees and made a lovely cast. The fish came up and ate his cicada fly right away and it turned out to be a fat 7.5 pounder. It was our first fish of the day and our best fish of the day. 

The morning was very productive, with five or six fish landed and a couple of more lost. The afternoon turned out to be quite slow but we certainly didn’t care. The river and its views were simply spectacular and even our guide pulled out his phone to take a couple of pictures. None of us had been to this particular river before but all three of us agreed that we all wanted to come back. Hard to beat this kind of an angling experience.