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It's not really about numbers; it's about moments. However it's also about lots of moments, so in a way it is about numbers. The really good fish catchers I know, all count their fish. I know it sounds weird, and it is when you think about it, but counting drives you on, makes you fish harder, for longer, with an edge and, I think, gives you more. More fish, more knowledge, more sore legs, more falling-ins, more experiences. So basically it's a good – albeit weird – thing to do.

I landed 45 fish in the week I was offline and on holiday. Which is OK, which makes it good – nothing electric, but nothing really bad either. I figure a ten fish day in the backcountry is a great day, and there were three of those and there would have been a fourth, no doubt, had I not busted yet another rod.

So it went something like this:

Two (short day, lost a third), three (missed four excellent takes because my flies were too good – the fish would see the fly and career half way across the river to leap on it, making it completely impossible to hook, so I tied some crappier ones in green, and then…), twelve, ten, three (caught on the broken tip, before I spent the day fishing with Jeanie), ten, five. Out.

And it's not really about size, although big fish are always nice. My first three fish went seven pound rainbow, six pound brown, eight and a half pound rainbow – I've written to Deano several times now because I know he'll be interested to know. There were plenty of other good fish and the average size for the week would have been close to five pounds. The river fish were bigger, the lake fish smaller. So that's New Zealand for you.

Ten fish averaging four or more pounds is a pretty electric day. Lots of moments, sore legs, falling in, fishing with an edge.

Yeah it was good. Not amazing fishing, but a good trip. We got dumped on by rain for the last four days, which screwed up the rivers where we really wanted to go hard. Still heavy rain was needed in this area and beside it's why it is the way it is here.

Hang on, must go fish the evening rise…

… and the next three days in fact.

So that was the fishing, but of course it's much more than just fish on a trip like this – it's also about company. My company was Jeanie, who calls herself Jennie, and Carl. Jeanie's great company, fun to be around, doesn't get bothered by too much. And then there's Carl.

Carl was a bit of a problem, it should be said. One minute he was falling down holes and the next he was trying to blow everyone up “making stoves”, as he put it. By the last night we had run out of beer – Carl again. Still, he's good with his potatoes.

This is a very beautiful part of the world. The mountains for some reason just seem to go straight up. I'm not sure why they do this but according to Maori Legend it's because one of gods chopped the land with an axe, and by this point he was pretty nifty. There's certainly nowhere else quite like Mystery Lake X.

Back to Carl, he's currently sleeping on the ground, dreaming of big fish and Royal Fuckups. Tomorrow we go bush for a couple of days – I know, so soon! – but the weather's looking good and we want to make the most of it.

We went fishing the Clutha last night but Didymo has screwed this river and it's no fun to nymph anymore. All you end up doing is picking Didymo off your flies every cast. The Clutha is New Zealand's major waterway, more water flows through this river than any other in New Zealand and in my opinion large parts of it are now completely fucked.

Didymo is now confirmed in Lake Dunstan, the Whitestone, the Oreti, the Clutha, the Mararoa, the Waiau, the Von and the Buller. Following Christmas it can only be in many more rivers now.

The testing station in which we had to clean our boots to fish Fiordland backcountry was a bucket of water containing Napisan around the back of a petrol station. No one oversaw the procedure. We did it ourselves and then filled out the form ourselves, writing out the gear we had cleaned. Once in Fiordland no one checked us.

I'm not very optimistic for the future of New Zealand trout fishing at the moment and I am an optimist.

Yet another disjoined newsletter. Fuck me, anyone would think these came out the back of a truck.


Essential Bush Skills

The start of any flytying good flytying sequence involves squirting The Light of Apgai on your polyprops
Both alarm and curiousity set in when the polyprops start melting
Putting the lid back on the jar to stop *that* happening again
The flytying proper is underway
Notice the composure, that's true class that is
A difficult bit, you can tell that from the vacant expression
Essential bush skills: the third hand
Notice my hat here, it's quite daring
Snip, snip
I'm not quite sure what I'm doing here, but it's cool
Trimming an oversize hackle that appears to have become trapped in the whip finnish manoevre
Delicate precision work, the hallmark of any good flytyer
A sexy catch...

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