New Zealand Part II

I just got back from a three week trip to New Zealand's South Island. I had never been before and was really blown away with the people, landscape, and especially the trout water. Immediately after stepping out of the Auckland airport I was greeted with the electrified cacophony of cicadas. Hundreds and hundreds of them. 

My trip spanned from Garston (about a one hour drive south of Queenstown) all the way up to Nelson which is the on the northern coast of the South Island. I spent the first 10 days fishing and driving from small town to small town on the left hand side of the road with my dad. It was a great opportunity to spend a lot of time together. We met some great people along the way, some of whom are pictured below, and discovered meat pies. It's kinda hard to resist a meat pie for any meal...

The second part of my trip was hosting 5 anglers at River Haven Lodge in Murchison for 7 days. As I discovered, the rivers near Murchison were spectacular and diverse. While often challenging due to wind or the length of a cast or marching kilometer after kilometer on river rocks, the overall experience was the most phenomenal trout fishing I've ever had.

Scott Murray, the co-owner and head guide at River Haven, made calls daily to other local guides figuring amongst themselves where they'd like to go and where they had all been, essentially making it much easier to get on a piece of water that had not been fished in at least 3 days. This alone was worth its weight in gold.

Scott and the other two guides including renowned fly tyer Peter Carty, tied all of the flies we used over the course of the week. On the sunny days we relied on sight fishing and on the cloudier or rain days Scott taught me the fine art of blind casting which he eloquently argues is much more difficult than sight casting. His passion for not just fishing but blind fishing made it even more enjoyable. His sense of humor made the whole experience even better...

A few of the best one liners I heard all week came from guide Pete Carty at the breakfast table prior to heading out. "I shot a pig with my head in a cave and now I have a cicada in my ear." I actually thought he was kidding when he said this. When I asked about a fisherman Peter had fished with many years before, Peter's response was, "He cast like a dyslexic spider."

Kiwi guide Pete Carty hiking up a track on an extraordinarily rainy day.

Scott Murray getting the best angle he can.

Inangahua Valley

Guide Scott Murray let me have a few casts. He even took my camera from my shoulder and got a few images including this one of an 11.2 lb Brown.

Scott Murray and a great South Island Brown.

It was an incredible experience being guided by Scott Murray for an entire week. As a full time guide myself, I learned that in addition to many other things, hiring a great guide taught me more than I ever could have imagined.


Below is a slideshow:

Lake Hawea Panorama

New Zealand Part 1

Below are a few iphone images of New Zealand's South Island. The spring creeks we have found are pretty remarkable. 

The first thing I heard when I walked out of the Auckland airport was cicadas. Lots of them. Their sound has been buzzing up and down the South Island's west coast.  

 

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A dreamy spring creek on the west coast.  

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Lake Hawea

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A Brown caught on a spring creek not far from Garston. Photo: Craig Price

 

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Southern Alps from the air.  

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Styx River

Jardines de la Reina, Cuba Bonefish Flat

I will be hosting a trip along with John Huber whom I work with to Jardines de la Reina, Cuba next February aboard the Avalon II. The Avalon II is a live aboard yacht that acts as a base camp in the middle of Jardines de la Reina, a marine archipelago of over 600 cays and in excess of 160 kilometers long located 60 miles off the south central coast. Other than Avalon guests, there are no other fisherman allowed to fish, including Cubans, in the entire marine protected area other than a couple of lobster fishermen. This is a special place for sure. Email: ndprice@cox.net for inquiries

Jardines de la Reina, Cuba. Bonefish Flat. Nick Anderson puts on the brakes as a bone takes his backing to the mangroves.

Winter On Silver Creek

We have had a lot of rain over the last week, it's sunny now, and that has caused the flows on both the Big Wood River and Silver Creek to go up. When it comes to fishing Silver Creek in February, the last winter month to fish the Creek, that's a good thing. We want the water high and off color for streamer fishing...

Silver Creek. February

Release

John Huber holds a winter Silver Creek Brown Trout

Phoebe Bean & a Silver Creek Rainbow

John Huber

Fly Fishing Cuba

I will be hosting a trip along with John Huber whom I work with to Jardines de la Reina, Cuba next February aboard the Avalon II. I just got back from Jardines and can say from the staff to the guides to the Jardines de la Reina Marine Archipelago, this is an incredible trip. I am also very glad I spent an extra day in Havana as there is a lot to see there including taking an old taxi to Hemingway's house, walking Old Havana, listening to Cuban music, etc. Email me with inquiries: ndprice@cox.net

Jardines de la Reina is a protected marine archipelago located about 60 miles off the south coast of Cuba. It encompasses over 860 square miles and is approximately 170 km's long. One of the unique features is the complete lack of fishing pressure. Avalon is the only entity with permission to fish this area other than a few lobster fishermen. Staying on the Avalon II allows quick access to the fishing grounds.

Jardines de la Reina, Cuba after sunset.

Avalon II & Skiffs. Jardines de la Reina, Cuba

Portraits Of Cuban Fly Fishing Guides

I took the images below aboard the Avalon II in Jardines De La Reina, Cuba. While I was only guided by two of the 6 guides pictured, I was able to spend some time talking with all of them. As the trip progressed we all warmed up to each other a bit more and by the last day I was able to, using my aging Spanish, get to know them more.

Each and every one of them was a genuine and friendly person. Three of them are brothers and were all raised in Júcaro, the closest town to Jardines. Their father was a fisherman and taught them the ropes including the Jardines De La Reina Marine Archipelago.

Of the six pictured guides two of them had never been to Havana before and all but one had only been to the capital a few times. Travel, including domestic trips, is considered very expensive. Not one of the guides owns his own fly rod. All of their personalities make up for their lack of possessions.

Bemba, Keko & Titi. Brothers with 18, 19 and 14 years respectively of guiding this area under their belts.

Keko. The oldest of the three brothers at 42 was one of my two guides. I would fish with Keko anytime as he's a great person and guide. He knocked on my door one morning at 4:30 saying, "Tarpon?" None of us could say no and we began a fishing day under starlight.

Keko may have been surprised after I caught a bonefish when I asked him if he could hold the fish for a pic.

Titi. The youngest of the three brothers and another one of my two guides.

Bemba. Calm and what appeared to be the most respected guide on this trip by the other guides including his two brothers.

Bemba

Lázaro.

Leonardo

Juan Carlo. The Cuban casting National Champion. He also holds the current Cuban record for casting distance which is 36 meters using an 8 weight and floating line.

From Havana To Jardines De La Reina, Cuba

One of the first things I noticed about Cuba was how relatively clean it is. With the exception of La Habana Vieja, and a few other neighborhoods in Havana, Cuba really is clean of trash. On my flight to Havana I sat next to a beautiful young Cuban woman who sometimes sang as she listened to music on her Discman and gazed out the window at remote cays somewhere south of Cuba. She told me a lot about Cuba on this short flight but what I will never forget is when she looked at me with a genuine smile and said, "I am very proud of my country." From Havana to Júcaro to the guides and staff aboard the Avalon II where I was a guest for 6 nights, the people of Cuba seemed genuine despite their impoverished conditions and what surprised me the most, their universal sense of pride.

This was the only baseball I saw being played in the streets of Havana. These kids though were super eager to have me photograph them.

Baseball bats are worth their weight in gold on Havana streets.

A Havana Street

I stumbled across these kids and their grandmother one morning in Havana.

The grandmother seemed super pleased I was taking their picture.

Above is a slideshow of Havana and a few images of central Cuba and the south coast town of Júcaro.

Jardines De La Reina Barracuda

Bemba, Keko & Titi. All brothers and great guides as well.

A dreamy Jardines De La Reina bonefish flat

Anglers Journal

There's a relatively new print publication out there called Anglers Journal. It's a quarterly publication with an emphasis on salt but also includes freshwater.

Here is the new cover for the winter 2015 issue. What I really like about this publication is the focus on people/faces/personalities of fishing. While there is not a dedicated web site that I know of, you can subscribe to (it's worth it!) Anglers Journal.

In the latest issue, Winter 2015, I have new work featuring Salmon River Steelhead. Below is the lead image:

Anglers Journal Winter 2015 Issue

South Fork Of The Boise River. Winter.

With temps forecast to be well above freezing yesterday a few of us decided to make a quick run over to The South Fork of The Boise. I had not been there since prior to the fire in the summer of 2013. While there are certainly some major changes to the river, the South Fork still has the same mojo it's always had with me; the potential for large rainbows and even rising fish in the heart of winter.

Winter. South Fork Of The Boise River

Zac Mayhew reaches out for a South Fork rainbow.

Silver Creek Alpine Glow

The image below was taken yesterday of Silver Creek just before the sun dipped below the horizon. The lower reaches have been frozen over from the recent cold which has been exacerbated by an inversion making it far colder in Picabo than in Ketchum or even the top of Baldy (Sun Valley Ski Area).

Alpine Glow. Silver Creek Near Picabo, Idaho. Winter

East Oxbow Silver Creek

Recent cold temps coupled with a wicked inversion have made it downright chilly on Silver Creek near Picabo, Idaho. Silver Creek, pictured below, was completely frozen over near Picabo.

East Oxbow