A Relaxing Activity?

The hard fighter that ran upstream

It was a week ago that we got back home from our fishing trip to New Zealand. Time to browse through thousands of pictures, delete a lot of them and keep the good ones, while savouring the memories that each photo brings back. Also time to reply some emails, messages and phone calls. A question is prevalent: how is the fishing over there?

John Kent is the author of a famous New Zealand trout fishing guidebook. Some paragraphs from its Introduction summarize admirably the kiwi fly fishing experience. Enjoy.

To the observant nature lover no sport affords so much pleasure. At times the excitement can also be intense. Imagine, after scrambling for an hour up a back-country river, you finally spot a magnificent wild trout swinging from side to side, feeding in the current. There’s plenty of time: no other angler is within miles. A careful plan of attack is called for.

First find a place downstream, sheltered from view by river bank scrub, and watch the trout’s feeding pattern, observing the direction of the breeze and the flow of the current. Is the fish nymphing, and if so how deep, or is it rising and feeding on surface flies? What are the insects it is consuming? Do you have a pattern in your fly box resembling these? Observe the feeding lane and estimate where you will need to cast your fly in order for it to float down close to the fish. Is there a ripple on the water that might obscure the plop of a weighted nymph or an inaccurate cast? Should you lengthen the tippet so as not to line the fish?

You select a fly and notice that your hand shakes a little as you tie it carefully on to the delicate tippet. Now is the moment to put your plan into action. Keeping low, you creep up behind this magnificient wild fish, strip line off the reel and prepare to cast. Suddenly, you feel a great surge of adrenaline and become full of self-doubt. Your heart beats loud enough for the fish to hear and your mouth dries. Have I selected the right fly? Can I make an accurate first cast knowing that I botched the last one? Is my tippet sufficiently strong to hold this fish? What if it turns when hooked and races downstream through the rapids? Can I avoid that overhanging beech tree? The task becomes even more daunting under the critical gaze of an angling companion. I’m sure to botch it! Maybe it’s my friend’s turn?

Just at the crucial moment, a cloud darkens the sky and the fish is momentarily lost from view. You wait patiently in cold knee-deep water and ponder the words you have heard for years from non-angling friends: “Fishing must be dull and boring.” “I haven’t the patience.” “You’ve been away all day and returned with nothing. What have you been doing?” And here you are standing knee-deep in this cold mountain river, shivering with nervous tension and excitement. Who said trout fishing is relaxing?

Suddenly the light returns, and thankfully, the fish is still there feeding. You begin false casting away from the fish, carefully measuring the casting distance as you strip out line. With great care and a little good fortune your first cast is accurate and delicate. The artificial drifts down with the current and the unsuspecting fish swings across without a moment’s hesitation and sucks in your fly. You lift the rod quickly and tighten the line. That is the essence of fly fishing: the moment of take.

All hell breaks loose as the fish dashes madly upstream, stripping line off the screaming reel.

John Kent

New Zealand on my Mind

Visiting New Zealand is in the dreams of every fly fisher. Traveling there for the first time doesn’t relieve the itch. In fact, you can’t wait to get back!

Not an easy feat, to be honest, as money and spare time are hurdles difficult to overcome.

But, when more than a year ago I received an invitation from Chris Dore for some fishing in the South Island, I decided that it was time to jump those hurdles. So almost two years after my first trip to the sight-fishing paradise, I was there again.

Thanks a lot to Chris for his fantastic hospitality, we enjoyed a lot our stay at The Cottage! Not to mention those steaks!

Well deserved after a hard fishing day

Chris’ knowledge of his waters is encyclopedic (if you are planning a visit to NZ and want a guide don’t think twice, this is your man!), so we took advantage of his advice.

Chris and Varo discussing the fishing plan for the following weeks

So there we go!

A few weeks of fishing are waiting

Cold, wind, rain… a very particular summer.

Somewhere in Fiordland. Photo by Álvaro G. Santillán

Anyway, not cold enough to ruin some evening hatches.

A double on some very small emergers. Photo by Álvaro G. Santillán

There is more to fishing than catching trout.

A ray that ate a big streamer

New Zealand fishing isn’t about the numbers (although there were some memorable days in that regard); definitely it is about the size of the trout, but also about the pristine landscape and, above all, the sense of solitude. Specially the latter. Something almost impossible to experience in Europe anymore.

A few last casts before the storm

Now, back at home, it is time for the memories… and for dreaming of New Zealand again!

Thanks to Chris and Varo for their company and advice: I have learnt a lot.

And last but not least, thanks to the trout that were kind enough of coming to the net, and specially to those that avoided it due to my clumsiness —every one of them taught me a lesson.

What a fight!

The-machine-of-the-truth or Why McLean Weigh Nets Rule

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niceone.300 brown and happy angler. Photo by Chris Dore

We are all entitled to our bragging rights, it is part of the fly fishing heritage. However, balancing those “the really big one got away” and “my smaller one was 50 cm” with some objectivity doesn’t hurt either. Continue reading

¡Ve preparado!

 

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En algún río neozelandés; Parachute Adams #16; primer lance. Foto de Chris Dore

 

Lo suelo ver a menudo. Me refiero al hecho de embarcarse en un viaje de pesca pobremente preparado, especialmente en lo que se refiere a estar a la altura de las circunstancias en cuanto a técnica de lanzado. Yo mismo he sido culpable de ello más veces de las que me gustaría admitir. La frustración —agravada por una cuenta bancaria seriamente mermada— aguarda impaciente.

Continue reading

Get Prepared!

 

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On the dry fly. First cast. Photo by Chris Dore

I see it all the time. I mean being ill-prepared for your upcoming trip abroad, specially regarding the proper casting skills to match the challenge ahead. I myself have been guilty of it more times than I would like to admit. Frustration —highly aggravated by a depleted bank account— awaits ahead. Continue reading