I realised during my recent 10 day fishing stint that there are 2 distinctly different types of angling which I indulge in here in NZ. One is fishing for fish; the pursuit of incredible looking, usually large, rare specimens. The challenge is in the hunt and the first cast, possibly the only cast of the day. Or it’s in slinging an 8wt di7 from morning till night over a drop-off at a west coast river mouth. The other is fishing for fishing; the pursuit of any feeding fish of almost any size, usually in medium to large numbers. The challenge is in having your fundamentals absolutely right and adapting to keep them right without wasting any time. It’s easy to get lost in one and forget about the other. I did last season, I got lost in big fish hunting, but if you look at the archives from last March It’s easy see why. I did this season too, but not as much. Probably because there were fewer big fish about. Before my break I realised I was craving some fishing, not hunting, so my 6 days on the Mataura were exactly what I needed… after a quick big fish fix!
After catching a few fish in a riffle I was happy to stand in the river, watch and wait. 12 noon. An odd fish is moving but I’m not bothering with them. I expect the fish to move properly at about 2. I wait. I stand up on a log to allow my feet to warm up. Waders are essential here, once I walk a few paces from this log there is no place to stand out of the cold river. 1pm. Nothing moving. I’m not moving far, a few paces then back to the relative warmth standing out of the river onto a wobbly log can give. Watching, waiting. Some fish are trying to move but it stops again. 2pm. Nothing moving.. I’m too far from the comfort log now to go back. 2.15pm, a few fish move… lots of fish move. It’s on. Now every cast is to at least one rising fish. I’m casting almost constantly. I resist the urge to walk up passed rising fish to get to more rising fish. I’ll move very slowly and try to have a decent attempt at as many as I possibly can. I’m catching fish. My emerger (or whatever it is) is working well. As many fish as there are moving, each cast needs to be placed in front of a feeding fish. A few inches left or right and my fly will not be seen. I keep casting, keep fishing, keep catching, stay focused… I stop and take a deep breath, a quick glance around, a smirk and back to it. Loving it, utterly engrossed, there is nothing else. This is as good as it gets..
I’ve fished the Mataura from the source almost to the sea. It’s a fabulous river which offers virtually every facet of NZ river fishing. My favourite one of these facets is “the mad Mataura rise”. I’m not the only one!
It was great 10 days off. I fished with 2 great friends, Robbie Mcphee and Mark Adamson. I made a few new friends too at the holiday park in Gore. Russell and John, Great to meet and have the craic with you two. And great to meet and briefly fish with Pat Kennedy on the river. We have some mutual friends. Sometimes the fly fishing world is a small one! Hopefully we’ll cross paths again.
The season is not over yet!