Women On The Fly

Women's fly fishing adventure

Southern Rivers Fly Fishing Blog

Women On The Fly

Guest blog and article – Eye Magazine 2020/21 Edition 4 

In a hyper-connected world that’s run on technology, more and more people are seeking out experiences from the past. Immersing themselves in nature, remote far off locations and experiencing the wild. And in New Zealand, we’re spoilt for choice.

With borders closed, cruises cancelled and tropical island getaways a distant memory, Kiwis are looking to their backyard. Not just for a quick holiday but for an experience that can not just give them a break from the hustle of everyday life but rejuvenate them, and perhaps even change them. One of the more alluring outdoor activities available in rural New Zealand is fly fishing, and no one knows the sport or the area like Jake and his team at Southern Rivers Fly Fishing.

A professional hunting and fishing guide, Jake Berry was born and bred in Wanaka and Otago area. Living amongst the beautiful fishing region of the lower South Island, Jake quickly caught the fishing bug and later, found himself immersed in the art of fly fishing. Jake combines his passion for the outdoors and wild New Zealand game to create an experience like no other, quite literally. The wildness of New Zealand’s South Island is rarely experienced and Jake and his team can take you places you wouldn’t dare to dream of. Jake’s returning clients entrust him to put together a tailored package for a 1 to 2 week trip, revolving around fly fishing – with a few surprises in between. Every last detail is taken care of – all you need to do is book your flight.

More often than not, a helicopter is used to access remote locations. For some clients, this itself is an entirely new experience. Coasting through the stunning Southern Alps is absolutely breathtaking, starting the trip off on a high. Clients are then taken to a remote Fiordland beach where they can relax while the hosts dive for crayfish to be cooked on the beach fresh from the sea along with whitebait, paua or wild venison. The wilderness plays a key role in every aspect, expect to find yourself chasing trophy-sized trout in stunning South Island rivers. More importantly, you get the opportunity to see a side of New Zealand that most people never will. The trips put you outside your comfort zone, whether it’s being in a chopper or making the connection of where your food comes from. Some clients take this chance to shoot their first deer or big game animal, learn how it’s prepped and consume it.

“Often first time clients tell me they don’t like eating wild game,” laughs Jake. “But once they try what we prepare they are blown away and hooked – and from then on request it every trip! Often I introduce my clients to the high country farming way of life and the station owners whom they would never have met had they travelled on their own itinerary.”

Jake’s trips are more than just world-class fly fishing. Sure, it’s a great skill to learn and an adventure in itself. But he finds clients are mesmerised by the people they meet, stunning locations, delicious cuisine, and most importantly stepping out of their comfort zone and feeling more alive for it. An insider’s guide to the beauty of the South Island’s wilderness, Jake is not only an expert fly fisherman but also incredibly detail-orientated, making it easy for both his new and returning clients.

“Fly fishing is what these people often love doing and they come to New Zealand because it has the best trout fishing in the world. It’s up to me to show them that it is also the best country in the world,” explains Jake.

International tourists come to New Zealand year after year to experience the power of nature and the ruggedness of the landscape. Now, it’s time to explore our own backyard – and what a backyard it is. The Southern Rivers Fly Fishing high-end package for women focuses on groups of four or eight with an emphasis on fun and the experience of the new. A four day trip, the group will fly into Queenstown where they are picked up by helicopter or by a luxury vehicle. From here it is a marriage of luxury and adventure, expect to stay in a high-end lodge, eat the finest cuisine including wild New Zealand food caught from the land itself. Learn the art of fly fishing or for those who already know how to, advance your skills to the next level whilst on a wilderness adventure. The true allure of these trips is seeing parts of New Zealand that many Kiwis don’t get to see, let alone tourists. Jake has mastered the art of putting his clients out of their comfort zone by just the right amount. The result? Leave feeling rejuvenated, accomplished, with a feeling and memory of doing something you wouldn’t normally do. This is no vineyard weekend or ladies lunch – it’s an experience, an escape – a true adventure for the adventurous and the not so adventurous looking for something new. All in the name of fly fishing.

Uniquely New Zealand

Southern Rivers Fly Fishing Blog

Why Fly Fishing New Zealand is Unique

Guest blog – Dave Garst – 22 May 2021

I always feel like I’ve won the lotto when I receive a confirmation number after purchasing a ticket to New Zealand.  No matter what is going on in my life at the time, all is suddenly forgotten, and my attention drifts to day dreaming about fishing in a place that is unique in its pristine beauty.  It’s unique in that once you’ve caught trout in the New Zealand backcountry, you think about it all the time.  The confirmation number only elevates these thoughts and dreams into your consciousness.  It doesn’t matter if your family planned all sorts of sightseeing and tourist activities around the South Island, all you can really think about is a trophy brown trout casually rising out of gin clear water and taking your dry fly.  Did I really just say that out loud?  

So, you’ve seen the photos, heard the stories, read the books and magazines, watched clips on YouTube, and think you have it all figured out. Wrong. New Zealand fly fishing is unique.  It is unlike any fishing you’ve ever experienced.  To think otherwise and that it will be a piece of cake will lead to extreme frustration, anger, and possibly vows to never return.  It’s a long way to travel to not catch many fish or get blanked on world class water.  I’d never heard the term “blanked” until I fished in New Zealand.  Having learned how to fish in Montana, the thought of fishing all day without catching a single fish seemed preposterous.  Even on a bad day in Montana, you’re still going to catch a few small trout and even some whitefish for crying out.  To be clear, you’re not going to just step off the plane and catch a trophy brown.  You need a guide.

Again, “what the heck do I need a guide for?  I’ve fished for decades?”  Forget all of that.  The reality is that fishing in New Zealand is unlike any fishing you’ve ever done before.  More than likely it is more sight-fishing that you have ever done.  “But I dry fly all of the time.  I only cast to risers.  I don’t blind cast.  I sight-fish.”  Yeah kind of… but no, not like in New Zealand.  You see to sight-fish you have to first see the fish.  When fishing dries elsewhere you fish to rises.  In New Zealand, it is way more technical.  You don’t just start fishing to rising circles. You need that first cast to be spot on. The cast has to be exactly where the fish is feeding or it’s game over.  You usually only get one shot, maybe two, before the fish is spooked and you’ve blown your chance.  The stakes are indeed high because that fish was probably the biggest trout you’ve ever seen.

When you first start fishing in New Zealand, you struggle to even see the fish.  You may walk several km without seeing a fish.  The guide is going to spot fish and teach you a thing or two about sighting trout in these New Zealand rivers.  If on your own you may walk past the fish of the trip because you never saw it.  What you also didn’t see is that the trophy was spooked and immediately swam upstream, spooking other smaller trout, and putting other trophies on high alert.  Kind of like when dog in starts barking and then the dog next door starts freaking out, followed by another dog, and then before you know it, every dog in the neighbourhood is barking.  Something is wrong, something is different, I need to warn others.  You the angler have been spotted.  Now the fish are on high alert and even the textbook perfect cast and presentation will spook fish.  You see in New Zealand, trout have no natural predators.  There are no birds of prey or other predators that can eat fish.  Their only predator is an angler, or what looks like an angler.  If you spook a pool and it sends off the chain reaction of fear and puts fish on high alert, that water may not be fishable for hours, or even days.  You have to first see the fish to be able to fish to them.  You also have to know what the fish is doing.  Is it taking dries, emergers, or nymphs?  If you chuck in the wrong fly, boom, the fish is spooked and it’s game over.  This is where the guide’s knowledge comes in.  “But this chubby foam fly works so well in Montana.”  Forget that nonsense. Trust your guide.  He/she will know what fly and what kind of presentation will give you best chance of catching fish.  The guide has usually fished that water a lot more than anyone else, knows the hatches, knows what worked several weeks before or in seasons past, may have a secret fly or inside knowledge on what will fool the spooky trout.  

Also, don’t think that your guide is a lunatic if they show up in full camo.  Fishing in New Zealand is more like hunting.  I chuckled the first time I saw a guide crawl on his stomach like a soldier in boot camp trying to get under a barbed wire fence as he made his way to a high river bank.  He then slowly lifted his head up to look down into a crystal gin clear pool.  I also saw a guide scale a cliff to get a better vantage point. You see even the guides can struggle to see fish in certain weather and lighting conditions.  New Zealand is a very wet country, so fishing in the rain is commonplace as is fishing in grey, overcast, low light conditions when glare makes spotting fish extremely difficult.  After much straining of eyeballs and the mind playing tricks (is it really a fish?), you get confirmation, “Yep, I’ve spotted one.  Ahh, it’s an absolute cracker.  Fish of the trip mate.”  You then peer into the run and don’t see a thing.

This is when you need a guide.  You can’t see the fish but the guide can.  This requires teamwork.  “You see that light brown rock?  Cast 2 meters in front of it.  Wait for my call.”  Again sight-fishing, you have to be able to see the fish.  You may be staring into the sun or into bad glare and can’t see.  Meanwhile the guide has climbed up in a tree and has a perfect vantage point of the fish and studies how it is feeding.  This is a fish that someone fishing on their own would have never seen and that fish more than likely would have been the fish of the trip.


Dave Garst – Hawaii USA

Battling large trout

Southern Rivers Fly Fishing Blog

It's more than just battling large New Zealand Trout

Guest blog – Rick Price – 21 June 2020

Learning the ropes of New Zealand conditions

“Learning new water is always a challenge even to the most experienced fly fisherman. My initial thought process to fly fishing in New Zealand was one of spending a day or two with a guide, then spending more time going out on my own. Since my first trip there eight years ago, I have been back four times since and as it turns out, the majority of my time has been with a guide. Though I still get out on my own as well. There are many reasons I’ve shifted my thinking and ended up fishing more with a guide. New Zealand is full of extremes from the variety of climates, the shifty weather, the terrain, and of course there’s the size and condition of the trout (my personal favourite).

Finding the adventures outside of the fly fishing

Over the years I’ve become well acquainted with these extremes and learned to appreciate them more and more with each trip. In particularly my appreciation for the value that a guide provides in adapting to them, this appreciation has grown immensely. I figure if I am going to dedicate the time and energy to chase fish so far from my home waters I should make the most of the experience and give myself the best odds of success. While I appreciate the huge effort my guide puts into the quality of the fishing experience,  just as meaningful is the fun and adventure that my guide brings outside of the fishing. Sometimes the journey is just as memorable as the fishing can be. It’s this combination of adventure, the unknown, and the fun that keeps me coming back for more punishment.

I have always enjoyed the add on adventures and experiences that I get when fishing with Jake. We have seen some spectacular country, met some really interesting Kiwis, hunted deer, choppered into remote wilderness rivers and caught some spectacular trout.

My take on fly fishing in New Zealand with the right guide

My take on fishing New Zealand is that yes you will enjoy it and have fun fishing New Zealand on your own terms, but by fishing it with the right New Zealand guide your experience is taken to another level. It also fast tracks a huge amount of learning in what is one of (if not the most) difficult/rewarding trout fisheries in the world.”

-Rick – California USA