Mark Hoffman said, “There may be kingfish in this bay – be sure to concentrate at all times”
I said: “Mark, saltwater fly is bollocks, I know that you're a respected and well known flyfishing writer here in New Zealand, and that you believe that saltwater fly is some sort of holy grail, but I have been fishing the salt for over ten years now: I'm an expert, and on top of all my natural talents, which are numerous and far reaching, I have been unusually lucky, and I have caught an impossible ten fish in that time, and so you can't pull the wool over my eyes talking about catching kingfish, I know what we'll catch: we'll catch bugger all”
Five hours later, Mark said, “Paul, you are right, saltwater fly is impossible, thank you for enlightening me in this small but very important matter, I will now give up this crazy past-time and do something useful with my life and become a trout fishing bum”
One of the best things about Sexyloops is that I get to meet up with all sorts of experts and it's a genuine honour to be able to give them some new knowledge with which they were previously unaware. Sometimes it's something to do with casting, but in this case, I was pleased to be able to save Mark countless hours of frustration in the salt.
Strangely, I have done more fishing this week than I did last week, and I didn't manage to get the Pulsewagon stuck, not once. This is because I've met up with a friend, one with whom Sean and I fished with in Ireland, and this friend, Tom, has a four-wheel drive and so long as he's around, the Pulsewagon will positively bound through mud, leap over rocks and is quite nippy when it comes to mountains too. Shortly Tom will be dashing off to Tauranga for New Year, and I'll be going somewhere else, Turangi probably, not that they celebrate New Years there – someone lets off one firework by mistake and everyone goes to bed by 12 – and so by New Year's Day I should be bogged down again, and up to the axles.
Tom is another of these guys who's come over here for the entire summer. It's not really worth coming to NZ for just one or two weeks, you have to come for a season, sometimes several. And so we fished a river together, one which will remain nameless, and which is willow-tree lined. I used to fish this river with the odd friend quite regularly and we'd catch browns of between four and seven pounds, and a few years back, and a bit lower down, ten pounders were not all that uncommon.
In between a tangled mass of willow branches lay a trout's head. It was an impossible cast but by poking the rod, my rod I might add, through the branches and lowering the fly, Tom could almost balance the fly on the fish's nose, and so he did. The trout remained undisturbed by this circumstance, and continued to sleep unperturbed. Had the trout had any sense at all, it would have woken up at this moment and buggered off. Tom repeated the process with various flies until I handed him a size 8 Woolly Bugger.
Tom said, “Isn't the rule: 'When in doubt go smaller?'”
I said, “Tom, this is a big fish, and he's sleeping, you could spend all day balancing little flies on his nose, frankly life's too short and I have other things to do, fish of my own to catch, you've got to wake him up a bit, give him the Woolly Bugger and stop fooling around”
And so Tom tied on, poked it through the branches, lowered and jiggled it about a bit – using my rod remember.
The fish woke up, rolled over and ate the Woolly Bugger. This I state as a fact, I offer no further explanation, sometimes these things happen, life is like that. Several things immediately happened and all at once: Tom jumped in shouting, “The net, the net”, I carried on filming regardless, and started shouting, “The net, the net”, the fish started thrashing around the surface and Tom gave it absolutely no line whatsoever.
Now I don't know about you, but when I hook a large fish in an impossible position, I give line and follow the fish, through what may, which in this case would be through the willows and out into the main current. Tom didn't do this, instead, using my rod, he chose to grasp the rod half way up, clamping his hand around both the blank and the line, and continually holding the rod tip directly above the fish, chased after it with the net.
I learned something here. This is a better technique: keeping the rod tip above the fish disorientates him and not knowing which way to run, he doesn't. It's dramatic as well since you get to jump in, although admittedly diving head first through the willows is a considerably more dramatic experience.
The fish was a good size, being nine pounds, and was landed in less than a minute, and no line was given.
I said, “Blimey I've never seen that before, how did you know it wouldn't break the rod”
Tom said, “I didn't, I've never tried it on trout before”
From now on I'll be using my rod and I won't be lending it around to anyone, no matter how sensible they seem at the time.
On Saturday we drove over to New Plymouth see Herb Spannagl. One of the main reasons to come up to the North Island, apart from wishing to travel abound a bit with an Austrian girl, as you do, was to meet up with Herb. Herb's a bit of a casting guru in NZ, he catches fish as well, he says, and, incredibly, is another of these fishing writer dudes who believe that the Blast that is Saltwater Fly is not only possible, but an effective method. I emailed him to say that I was coming over to show him some fancy Spey casting stuff, and more importantly, to prove to him that Saltwater Fly is a con. Herb replied that he would rather go trout fishing.
Herb showed me some fancy casting of his own, and in particular a nice clean way of slipping line prior to roll casting, which he calls the Tongariro Roll, named after the mountain no doubt and not the river. If ever I invent something new over here, instead of naming it after one of my shoes, I'll call it the Mystery X cast, and then keep it a secret.
We also went fishing, which was nice, if ineffective, and I've realised now, that I have to go fishing on my own for a few weeks. You know, solo, and probably back country. In fact I know a place where I can reasonably expect to find some large double figure browns, and although I've never been particularly interested in how long my dick is, or anyone else's for that matter, in fact especially anyone else's, I quite fancy spending a week or so catching some monsters. And best of all, there are so few of these fish, and there is so much distance between each one, it seems like the perfect opportunity to go run-flyfishing for them.
Anyhow, it's New Years Eve shortly, well technically right now and I may actually miss it and I certainly have no idea what I'll be doing, although I have a sneaking suspicion that I may regret it – whatever it is. Assuming that I remember it in the first place of course, which is highly unlikely, almost as unlikely as catching a kingfish on a fly, or a mullet, or even a Mugwai, and I'm becoming a little bit disillusioned with the flyfishing over here.
The fishing is great, it's always been great, but there are certainly a hell of a lot more anglers than when I first came over ten years ago, and although one could argue that this site doesn't help matters, and I suppose that it doesn't, in spite of the fact that I've always considered the Sexyloops readership to be educated and ethical fishers, that's still not the real problem. The real problem is that the fishing appears to becoming private.
There are lodges and guides buying “access rights” to waters, by this I mean that they are paying farmers for sole access across their property in order to get to the rivers. Although most people in NZ consider the waters and the fish in them to belong to everyone, which is very enlightened, by restricting access the waters immediately become private.
Of course, perhaps it's none of my business, and perhaps Kiwi anglers are happy to see their prime fishing becoming affordable and therefore accessible only to rich tourists, but I think there is something wrong in this, and actually that was tongue in cheek, in case you missed it; no right minded Kiwi angler wishes to see his best fishing become unobtainable.
And of course there are other problems: there are Maori issues, where they too are preventing access, some headwaters are fished daily by guided anglers and dairy farming is destroying the rivers – to name just a few. What a shame that money always seems to come first.
I've been approached a number of times, let's face it, Sexyloops has a large UK readership, and is becoming a bit of a global player and has a large NZ section which is well ranked in the search engines, of course I'm going to be approached by lodges and tour operators. Let me make this clear: I am not interested in the slightest in promoting private fishing, I don't believe in it, and you can't buy me either.
I don't care what it is you believe in, you should never compromise yourself for any reason and never ever for money.
As soon as Steve is back from holidays (I've been doing the frontpage, which can be a real hassle, especially when you make a mistake and the mobile phone cuts out, and doesn't let you back online for over an hour), I'm going to try dropping in another day of content. What with Mike, Sean, Ben, the newsletter and the Friday Movies day, that will give us six days of new content each week. We have a plan for the seventh, but I need to get hold of a landline for this, in order download the entire site. This alone could take over a month.
Happy New Year and may all your fish be Mugwai.