Paul had told me to practice my casting. I wish I had done more; I know it can be better. I am a complete beginner with a beginner's abundance of enthusiasm and energy. However, no one really prepared me for how difficult it is to catch fish!
Paul spotted fish and pointed them out to me - after a while I actually got a feel for looking for them. It was generally easier to see them in the lakes. This was great, to see large trout swimming around. “I will definitely catch one”, I thought to myself. We caught a couple together - Paul helping me cast. Fantastic! But soon afterwards, when I was on my own, I just couldn't get to grips with my casting.
Whenever a fish was spotted and it was up to me to cast, I immediately messed everything up and I mean *absolutely* everything. I couldn't get the fly off my rod quickly enough – where I had hooked it up because I was walking – and without getting in a tangle. (This happened often and to my complete horror). Then, if I did miraculously manage to be ready, I just couldn't cast. Panic casting! A mix between a roll and overhead cast, everything ended up either tangled around me or in a heap on the water in front of me! The fish disappeared and Paul would simply look at me completely bemused. Flies got caught on weeds, grass, in bushes – even if there was only one bush nearby you could guarantee that I would hook it – and I started to wonder what on earth had made me think that I would ever catch a fish.
Then, a small breakthrough, two beautiful fish, one spooked (think my fly landed on its back) and the second came zooming in at my fly. Yes! Paul shouted. Like an idiot I didn't wait, panic again, and although it was a strike, it was gone.
We spent a couple of days fishing these lakes and although I came fairly close a few times, I didn't catch one completely on my own. We checked out the river nearby but the conditions weren't ideal, and we returned to the lake. The river is however, where I managed to hook a small rock! Another example of my fly fishing skills at work.
These little black beasts, which seem at first sight to be similar to gnats, can cause weeks of discomfort. And don't I know it! The action starts when you try to get out of your tent in the morning. Before you can blink, they are all over you and you can't put your repellent on quickly enough. They were actually sticking to the repellent stick at times – so many were there!
They bite and then the bite itches, in fact in my case swells up and is absolutely unbearable. You can apply anti-histamine cream immediately to stop or sooth the bite but I must have been immune to the cream, since it didn't help at all and I awoke each night with arms and legs yearning to be scratched! Still, Paul assured me, next time I visit New Zealand I should be more resilient and not react so badly. Who says there will be a next time if I am bringing scars home as souvenirs?!
The day before we left these isolated lakes the sun came out and we decided to go for a run. I do a bit of running back home but nowhere near as much as I would like. Still it was a great day, sun shining with no one in sight. It seemed like a good idea; a way to relax. Paul told me to run down the track and follow the river – he would follow in a few minutes. Walkman on, I passed cows, running as fast as I could, trying to get a head start. Well, I know I can't beat him at fishing but I wanted to get off to a good start so he would have to run faster to catch up with me. And I am not a bad runner (my running partner at home is a man). It was exhilarating! The cows would move out the way, I couldn't stop laughing and had to avoid stepping in the **** and soon I came to the river. No sign of Paul behind me yet, I was making headway and a good gap between us. Then, I reached a point where I would have to get my feet wet! Quickly found another way round, looked back and saw Paul on the way down. Damn! I had lost time.
Suddenly Paul was there, grinning and running with such speed that I knew there was no way I could keep up with him. He motioned for me to run alongside him but 10 minutes at that pace and you could send me to the nearest morgue! So, he ran off ahead and I continued along at my own pace, which was not that bad at all. I really enjoyed it; the beautiful scenery took my breath away and I was glad I wasn't zooming past – like Paul – and that I had the chance to soak all the sights up.
Lesson number five: Paul is fit and don't even contemplate trying to keep up with him unless you are ready for some serious pain.
1,2,3,4,5, Once I caught a fish alive…
We arrived at the next lake and once again I am astounded by the beauty all around us. Paul wants to do some work for Sexyloops (don't really know what else to call it) and tells me to go off and fish the lake. I have to ford the river and then walk miles along the bank to get to a spot he has recommended to me. To my dismay (it a public holiday this day) there is one guy in the distance already fishing there. I have passed his friend on the way down and he is tinkering around without his fly rod and informs me he is just playing around a bit. He hadn't intending on going fishing. He wishes me luck and so I eventually opt for a nice place away from the others, taking into account that I want to be out of their sight, as I am still a bit ashamed of my constant messing up.
I make my way down the lake, the sun is shining, I am happy and Paul has given me a green damsel, which “is going to work”. After a while, I lost track of time, the guy I passed is suddenly approaching and asks me if I have caught anything. At that very moment my fly gets stuck, on what I believe is a rock. How totally embarrassing! I shrug and laugh stating that I just catch large stones and I am really very much a beginner. My fly doesn't come loose, so I try and shake it off, then… I feel something pull and realise to my complete surprise that I have actually hooked a fish!
Well, I drop everything, throw him my camera, ask him to take a photo, telling him excitedly that this is the first fish I have ever caught on my own and clumsily reel in the fish, trying to net it and unhook it and not mess it up now. It is beautiful and wants to jump back in the water before the guy has yet taken the photo. Proof for Paul. Wow! What a feeling! A brown trout, all on my own and off it swam happily back into the water. I didn't have a clue how big it was. I chatted away to my photo friend and he reckoned it was about 1˝ to 2 pounds. I really didn't care. It was just such bliss to have done this alone.
I then spent a total of six hours there and I am sure Paul was thinking of sending a search party out for me. Fly fishing as a hobby – well I think I could really get to like it!
"Loopy" Lisa email@example.com is Sexyloops' Superwoman has been flyfishing for just over a year. In that time she's fished Devon (one fish), Spain (nada de nada), Germany and most recently New Zealand. She has a unique approach to fishing, life and Tim Tams.