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From Autumn to Spring!

The past month was fantastic; great fishing, great company. And I've been learning – that's the amazing thing about flyfishing – it doesn't matter how much you know or think you know, there's always more to discover. For the last three weeks I've been travelling and fished with Ronan and for around half of that with Chris. We've been using small nymphs on 18s, which as a method it works incredibly well. Many of the 7 and 8 lb fish we were catching had taken this small trailing nymph in preference to the larger 14.

We fished the backcountry mostly and a few times there was some magic. The 9lb rainbow was a piece of magic, and a 7 fish sequence of last week is still fresh in my mind. I'm sure that Chris and Ronan had some magic too, although Chris' magic was probably just good luck.

Normally at this time of year I'm a bit lost, not really sure what to do next. In the past I've either headed off to Australia or Europe in search of sun. This year, however, I'm really excited to be travelling on to the States.

The “Eggplant” Jeep has been polished weekly by Wild Bill and I'm ready to get change homes. NZ is different to America; I won't be doing the campfire thing nearly so often, and everything's that bit bigger in America, including the women, and it's going to be a hell of a trip.

Many of you have been writing to me, telling me I should fly here or there on this or that date and asking me my plans. Well I don't have any.

I arrive in Texas, where Wild Bill, Rick and I will all fish and cast together, which is going to be a highpoint, especially since my imagination knows no bounds at the moment and I'm quite sure I'm going to catch some enormous imaginary redfish. I suspect Bill won't catch quite so many as me and no doubt his will be smaller too.

Later in the month I'll be hanging out with Frank in Florida. Frank has invited me over for a bit of Tarpon fishing, possibly so he can throw me over the side attached to a large anchor. I'll be driving over – so if you know of good fishing between Texas and Florida then please let me know; Bill doesn't. I haven't been to the Southern States in a long time. I have great memories of Charleston, New Orleans and a few other places.

Then it's the UK for a couple of weeks to visit “home”. Then it's back to the States and off to the Mid West. I may go to Alaska, I'll definitely go to Seattle, and then it's back down to Texas and back to NZ for Nov 1st so I can fish opening day with Camo-Guy. See? That's what comes of never planning anything.

I'm sorry to say that I don't have a wife, mortgage, children or a job – many people ask me this – and I know how much I'm really missing out in not having these wonderful and fulfilling things in my life. Maybe one day I'll get lucky with a woman but I'm probably just too ugly for one to want to marry me. So that's why I go fishing. It goes without saying I'm not as happy as you family dudes but I make the best of what I've been given in my own way.

Just as well I have an accent otherwise I'd never get laid.

Ronan said: “Paul, I know you're a Chillie Bean expert but I'm a Tinfoil Specialist.”
“A Tinfoil Specialist? What's that?”
“One who specialises in tinfoil and I'm particularly good with potatoes and turnips”
“Lucky me!”

So we lived on potatoes and turnips for three weeks and let me tell you, you really can't get enough potatoes and turnips in your diet, especially if they're washed down with generous quantities of good beer.

Ronan said: “Paul, the burnt bits are to add flavour and texture”
“That they most certainly do!”
“Have the turnips kicked in yet?”
“Not yet, Ronan, but the night is young!”

The turnips created some interesting side effects which I feel compelled to mention before Ronan does on the Board. Namely gas. There we'd be, sitting there quietly staring into the depths of the campfire, or up at the stars – Ronan, Chris and I – and suddenly there'd be a minor explosion and we'd all be shaken from the vibrations and Ronan would fall off the ice-box.

“Excuse me! Turnips!”

Chris was the worst I think – he's not used to such high-class eating, Ronan said.

Anyway let's talk fishing. I've fished New Zealand for 4-6 months each year for the last 13 or something ridiculous like that – which only ugly people can understand – and most of my fishing has been around Te Anau, Southland and Central Otago – although I have fished everywhere else too.

The biggest change has been in the number of people fishing. We're not talking San Juan numbers but enough to have an impact. Back in the old days when we were living in cardboard boxes we would welcome any encounter. Meeting another angler in the backcountry was both cool and unusual. You'd exchange ideas, flies and food. I even exchanged boots once. Not any more. Meeting other anglers has become commonplace and there are plenty of rivers I'll now avoid – more because of hold-my-dick guiding pressure than anything else.

Personally I don't mind the change. The fishing is just as good as it ever was, although mandatory catch and release in the backcountry would no doubt improve things. I'm sure it will happen eventually – I'd just like to see it now and not in 5 or 10 years time. And I'd love to see a broader ban of helicopters - who wouldn't [Bob]?

It's interesting to see how the fishing is changing. The fish don't bolt like they used to and they're undoubtedly becoming harder to catch. It's still possible to avoid company of course and let's face it, in backcountry NZ it's imperative that you are first up the river and fishing 10-15 Km in one day is not at all unusual.

I'm not saying it's a bad thing, or that we should do anything about it. Only telling it how it is and I'm quite certain that my best NZ fishing is yet to come. Just don't come over if you were thinking about it. The fishing kinda sucks, it rains all the time, the country's full of sandflies and the women are just not interested.

So that's it. Out with the old, in with the new. Hey look it's 4.10 in the morning in Texas, I've been night fishing for redfish and speckled trout with Wild Bill. That means it's 10.12 am in the UK and so this page is late.

Next week: A Vortex on Texas.


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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