I don't know if you've ever lived in a car before but I'm sure you have romantic visions of the thing; dazzling sunsets, Scandinavian hitchhikers, gypsy women dancing naked around the campfire, a carefree nomadic timeless existence – all of which are true of course, but something which probably doesn't immediately spring to mind is rain.
Being a flyfisher you're probably quite used to rain, and even quite like it. No doubt you have a healthy fetish for plastic Macs and rubber waders like the rest of us. The big difference, however, between what you probably do and what I normally do is what happens afterwards: you go home and get dry, I go home and make everything wet.
Here in Fiordland, we've just had six inches of rain in two days. That's not a hell of a lot of rain as far as Fiordland goes. In the past I've had 8 inches of rain in two hours, or something ridiculous like that, and had to sleep up a tree. And then there was this other time I had 18 inches overnight and slept in a river. And anyway that's not the point; parts of Fiordland receive (yeah, like it's a gift) 6-8 metres of rain each year – so, not to put too fine a point on it, if you hang around here for any amount of time you're going to get wet.
It's stopped now and I'm sitting here on the shores of Lake Te Anau, listening to the South Island birdsong. In the distance there's the continual call of grasshoppers and every so often a bee buzzes his way past, on a mission somewhere no doubt. I'm not sure what the birds are singing to each other, but it must be pretty damned interesting.
That was there for Carl, by the way, who asked what it's like here.
It's funny what you notice sometimes; tall trees surround me – Silver Birch, I think. I really don't know their names – which doesn't mean that I don't appreciate them of course – it's strange how people who do know their names think that's important and can be quite condescending about it; they say things like, “See that tree there? That's a Sycamore Imananus – and you didn't know that – HA! How can you appreciate trees when you don't even know their proper Latin names… you plebe!”
My memory's really poor with things like that – with remembering names of people and animals and stuff. Although I'm pretty good with artificial flies, which says it all really.
Hello. A fisherman just pulled up. I know he's a fisherman because he's wearing a waistcoat.
So yeah this rain. I don't mind it. Even when it's raining and cold I'd rather be outside in it, breathing fresh air – so fresh you can taste it – and I love the smell of wet forests. In fact it's the wet days that makes the whole campfire thing all the more important. I have a large blue tarp I rope up between trees or – if it's a mozzie-free area – over the backdoor of the Red Herring. Sometimes it feels like a veranda; two nights ago I was camped on a ledge, looking down over a river, on the edge a forest. The rain was incessant, the fire a bitch to light, but I wouldn't have traded it for a palace. I love it.
Everything gets wet – and I mean everything: food, clothes, me. I keep quite a bit of clothing under the bonnet – you know, the worst of the wet, smelly stuff. But the majority sits inside somewhere, steaming up the windows. Vans are worse since vans drip from the ceiling. A couple of wet days aren't too bad. A couple of wet weeks can be a bit of a bummer, yeah that's true...
Anyway, I'm going to let you in on a bit of a secret: I've got myself a double-handed stick. Now I know what you're thinking – after you've got over the initial shock – you're thinking: “But, Paul, salmon don't eat in freshwater” and “But, Paul, salmon anglers all wear tweed and most of them are wankers” and “Paul, you don't have any money; how are you going to afford to go salmon fishing?”
Which are all valid points of course, but I'm not going to use it to go salmon fishing (and I'm not going to use it for Tarpon either, Max). No, I'm going to use it on trout.
Now before you start jumping up and down, telling me I'm a fool, I should explain that I didn't actually get the beast in the first place so that I could use it so. Rather, I got it because I got fed up telling people I couldn't cast double handed sticks. But now that I've got it, I'm going to use it on trout. And that should prove quite interesting. In fact it already has and I've been fishing it with Woolly Buggers at night, and that's been fun, and soon I'll be trying it out during sedge rises. And it's going to be damn cool for presenting midge pupae at 50 yards.
14 ft 1 inch of 9-weight Sage. And it's a launcher. Just don't tell anyone; I want to surprise them with it. You know, in a different way this time.
“Launch the Woolly Bugger… 55 yards… well, bugger me…”
Related links: Autumn PoD series - and why not? It sure feels like it...