Only 55km from Hanmer Springs, the Sedgemere Lakes sit in glaciated hollows on a broad tussocky saddle between the Wairau and Severn Rivers, surrounded by rugged mountains. We discovered them on a previous trip through Molesworth,and were keen to make a return visit on the way back from a West Coast tramping trip. This time, we had our rods ready.

On Waitangi Day we stocked up on provisions in Hanmer and continued on into the high country. Bowscale Tarn is an hour’s walk from the carpark, past Lake Sedgemere and over a low hill. When we arrived mid-afternoon a few fish were rising near the lake edge, but none were impressed with Nick’s woolly bugger or my tassie devil. Fortunately there was another fisherman working his way along the opposite shore, and when he’d finished fishing he rode over on his e-bike for a chat. With 47 years experience fishing these lakes, he’d whiled away his afternoon catching about 30 of them, and recommended that we tie on a blowfly and move over to the stretch he’d just fished, where the fish were concentrated. Good advice – we had a few rises to our humpy blowflies but without a hookup, although I did manage to foulhook a nice fat brown of about 2 ½ lbs. All too soon it was evening, time to walk back and set up camp at the DOC Sedgemere Shelter.

Next morning started with a 2km walk to Fish Lake. There were good numbers of cruising eels, and some cruising trout as well. Eventually one of them chomped my blowfly, and I had a fish on, another nice brown of around 2 ½ lbs. But alas, no landing net with us, and no easy place to bring it ashore. I walked it 100m or so towards the shallow end of the lake planning to haul it up onto a grassy patch, but in the end it released itself unharmed by
bending the cheap Chinese hook. Go fish! Strong winds allowed only short casts as we progressed around the lake edge. A few more rises to the blowfly in the now murky water, but no more hook-ups.

After lunch we continued our journey down the Wairau, stopping by the river at a good-looking stretch. Strong wind was still a problem, but after extracting his rig from the matagouri a couple of times, Nick got a good cast in. With the net ready this time, he landed a superb brown. Enthused, he
disappeared upriver for over an hour to explore more lies, but on his return reported no takes.

The rest of the drive down the Wairau was spectacular, particularly through the rugged gorge of Hell’s Gate. We passed plenty of brilliant looking water, but no time to get rods out and explore as we had to be out of the Rainbow Station gate before 6pm.

High on the agenda for next summer is another trip into the area. But allowing ourselves more time to spend hunting for fish in Lake Tennyson, Lake Guyon and the Clarence River as well as the wonderful Sedgemere Lakes.

Jan & Nick


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