I'm back in that glorious wondrous fantastic heaven of a place. That place where all the girls are beautiful and all the fish are big (or is it the other way around?). The one and only Invercargill. Oh what a lucky man am I.
(It was mentioned to me that some famous English flyfisherman made the local papers here and just in case it was me – you never know, stranger things have happened; like me having a break from women (six months – only seven (7) weeks left :-) mind you written like that it seems like an awful long time) – and just in case the Invercargill residents have a look through my old newsletters and get the impression that I'm not 100% behind the place and have plans to lynch me, I'd like to state categorically, on the record, that Invercargill is without doubt the best, most exciting place I have ever visited (and I've been everywhere) and oh yes, what a pity I'm having a women-break)
APGAI world tour
Jim Curry and Paul Arden's (me) AAPGAI world tour of New Zealand (South Island) came to a dramatic end on Saturday when Jim and Paul arrived in Invercargill. Jim had one short quick look around and fled. It had been a wild week of fishing and mugwai-hunting. On Monday we fished the D'Urville up in Nelson Lakes district.
It was a pretty good trip had by all. Jim cunningly slipped me some old tippet material making him single-handedly responsible for the loss of two of my fish. To celebrate this and our tour in general I have included a short movie at the end of this page.
Many thanks, Jim, for your excellent company and I hope that we can fish the back of Fiordland before you head back to the UK. I should like to point out that Jim and I discussed all the world's problems over a somewhat large (but useful) alcohol intake every evening and together we feel that if we can't solve the world's problems, we can at least solve our own. All that is apart from the mugwai.
On the way down from Nelson Lakes we stopped in at Christchurch so that Jim could catch up with a guiding friend there, Dean Harrison, who is a really nice guy btw and, judging by all accounts, he doesn't spot fish; he feels them, and so that I could catch up with an old girlfriend. Which was actually rather nice too.
Some of you may remember Birgit. She is now happily married, living in NZ and has a beautiful baby boy, Jake. She has changed her name, of course, and is now called Caitlin. Some people simply change their last names when the get married, this is old hat; Birgit changed her first name – and good on her for being original.
It is nice to stay in touch with old friends :-) Of course she didn't recognise me, I've changed (grown?) into something completely different; for a start I don't eat fish anymore…
So why fly fish then?
Last week it happened. I came to the conclusion that I was now a non-fish eating veggie. It's weird stuff this eating vegetables. For a while I was avoiding stuff wearing legs simply for health reasons. I know there are arguments for and against eating meat. Nutrition experts are a bit like casting instructors; they can argue themselves into any corner they choose. The proof for me was in the pudding. Or just after. And in the running.
So I gave up eating animals about a year ago. At first I intended a 6-week trial. Well I'm still doing it and frankly I just can't imagine eating meat again. I'm fitter and I feel better. That's where it's at for me.
Or at least it was.
Now I have acquired a conscience. I'm not entirely certain whether it's simply a result of chomping carrots or a deeper spiritual awareness, but I just don't want to kill anything anymore. Animals and fish are alive and all life is precious.
However, these are my beliefs and one thing I have learned above all else is that your beliefs – whatever they may be - are sacred. They are yours and you should never put anyone down for their beliefs. Every one of us creates our own world and that's why life is perfect – or whatever we choose to make it.
So I started a debate on the discussion board. I get the impression that there is resistance out there; a feeling that if we were to look too deeply at whether or not it is right to flyfish, we may give it up. Well this is precisely why you should look deeply. You have to follow your inner truth whatever that may be.
I'm not starting these discussions to make you give up fishing or to give up killing fish. These are your choices. I am simply trying to increase or awaken awareness amongst those who are merely living in a surface mind.
Fish require our utmost respect whether or not you chose to kill them.
This has to be at the root of all our fishing. These fish are alive. This is why I detest competition fishing and am against the stocking of farm-reared rainbows into wild waters. I do not believe that either of these two activities show fish respect and whatever your path may be, respect for the fish has to come first.
Mugwai and Bullhead Association (MBA)
Jim and I have decided it is time to found the Mugwai and Bullhead Association. We both feel that not enough is being done to protect these two species. For example, so far we have been all around the South Island and neither of us has successfully landed one Mugwai. In fact we haven't even seen one, although admittedly there was one close encounter with a plastic bag eating trout last week.
I should like to point out, and make it very clear that the MBA has nothing whatsoever to do with the STA (Salmon and Trout Association) an organisation with which neither of us are members and we won't be forming links with the British Field Sports Society either, although we are thinking of creating a National Instructors Certification program called the MBANIC (suggested pronunciation em-banic) - the Mugwai and Bullhead Association National Instructors Certificate.
The MBANIC, unlike any similarly named certification programs, will require the ability to both flycast and teach. It's a pretty tough call I can tell you; of course most AAPGAI members instantly qualify.
("I wonder what that's all about then?")
We were directed to the mouth of Dunedin Harbour by a tackle shop in Dunedin for a spot of very exciting flyfishing. "Barracuda everywhere, mackerel, blue sharks, the odd salmon; basically we've got everything… and you'll need these flies boys!"
"Do you have mugwai?"
So we drove with light hearts and lighter wallets to the place.
Well if there were barracuda everywhere; I didn't see them. Mackerel? Not a touch. Blue sharks – not a fin. Salmon – what in Dunedin? Mugwai? Well Jim foul hooked a small fish, not much bigger that the flies we were using. "Could be a baby mugwai," Jim said, but Jim obviously doesn't know what a mugwai looks like.
Determined to wreck Jim's 4x4 (we tried sticking it in a river last week) we decided to attempt circumnavigation of Waituna Lagoon. Assisted by a complete disregard for safety (I was driving) we managed about ten percent. Then we discovered some really deep gravel and decided that we had travelled far enough and that the large trout (and mugwai) would have to swim to us.
And surprisingly they did. Of course we didn't land either. Although Jim pinged a good trout (definitely over ten) and I had a take from what could have been a mugwai.
Food fit for kings
Many people have been asking me "What sort of food do you live on in the bush, Paul?" to which I always answer "Beans."
You know you can do a lot with beans. They are very versatile like that. A couple of tins of beans and a jar or chilli and you have an instant meal. Jim and I are constantly surprised by these guys who can't cook. Women are always telling me, that they only wish that they would meet a man who could cook. Well, are they in for a surprise in seven weeks time.
Jim and I have been living on beans and chilli for about three weeks now. And we are still alive.
Only the other night, over our evening meal of beans and chilli (with a bit of sweet corn - just for bit of variety; not that we needed it of course) we discussed the rich and their fancy meals. Jim said:
"What do they know about good eating, when with two tins of beans and a jar of chilli you can produce this?"
We both looked at our plates.
"Nothing Jim, absolutely nothing"
"Beans, Paul: food fit for Kings"
And I think we really believed it too.
Fiordland on form
It's meant to be good – certainly better than when I left. The Waiau is at fishable levels and even Mystery Lake X has dropped (not enough to find my hat of course). BTW I'm still waiting for the Universe to provide me with another (make this one sexy please…)
Now that I'm back in Invercargill (lucky me) I have lots of new stuff to do on the site and this is going to be one busy week :-)