I've finally lost touch with reality. I suppose it had to happen sooner or later. But driving around Lake Benmore looking for a camping spot for the night I almost ran over a couple of roos. Lake Benmore is in New Zealand. All the kangaroos that I have ever met live in Australia. I know what you're thinking; you're thinking, “Paul's been smoking seal's fur again”, but it's not true. Maybe it was some sort of flashback, you know like a flashback nymphet. Whatever, tomorrow I'm going saltwater flyfishing. I may even catch a Mugwai. If I can create kangaroos in New Zealand I'm in with a good chance in the salt. I just love this separate reality flyfishing.
Anyway, I'm really fishing hard. I don't think I've had this sort of “must go fish” attitude since I started having relationships with the womenfolk. I'm not sure what that says about life but I really like this feeling and I aim to keep it this time round. Fundamentally it is me. I've just been fishing with a mate, Deano (Master of the Hedged Bet), and for the last 10 days. And we had some great fishing together. Deano is definitely the man on form at the moment and was nailing fish everywhere.
I'm not nailing them, not everywhere, not yet, not like Deano was anyway, but I certainly intend to. I've only just tuned into seeing them again. It's taken me two weeks to get there; to go from “looking for a fish”, to “looking for fish”. I'm back into tying as well (“what Paul ties flies?”). I have a really good selection of materials in the truck and am making one hell of a mess. The way I look at it is this: I've gotten where I want to be with the casting - I mean, sure, I still want to get better - but now I'm going to fish. I mean like all the time.
After all that's why we're here – so it's a spiritual thing. So it's not that I'm being lazy. I used to feel guilty about fishing all the time, and say stuff like, “well it's a job you know”, and try to get some sympathy. But it's not; I'm just not here to work, I'm here to play. Some people are here to work of course. Great, we all have our calling in life, and if some people are here to work and have a life with a purpose, then fantastic. How great it must be to have that purpose in life. Me, I'm just here to fish; it's a spiritual thing, unlike life of course, which isn't. Not if you're here to work anyway. So yeah, God's on my side. I don't know if you believe in God, hell I don't even know if I believe in God, but if there is such a thing then he meant for me to be a flyfishing bum. You know like stuff happens for a reason? Well I've never been any good at working and I've always been quite good at not working. Am I convincing anyone here?
“I call it the Terminator”
Everywhere I fish is secret in New Zealand. I notice that Sean named a river in his latest Fishmail, so I'll take the opportunity to use this particular river, the Oreti, which is actually extremely well known anyway, to discuss why everywhere else is nameless.
The Oreti is stuffed. It is a high-pressure water with extremely spooky fish. Yeah, you can hit it right, but more often than not you won't. What you will definitely see is other anglers, and you'll have to get up damn early if you want to beat them – it really is a race. And I'm not a morning person. And even if you get up early and do everything right, it's more than likely that someone else will jump you, get in upstream, and will spook your fish. OK it's a free country and there are no rules about this sort of thing, but I just don't need that sort of hassle in my life. I know rivers where I can fish for bigger fish, less spooky fish and more importantly I won't get jumped. So I fish it maybe twice each year.
“I think it looks more like the Refrigerator”
One thing I do happily discuss is methods and in particular Deano's madness. It all happened over a bottle of whisky; the best things often do, I find. I started out by tying a fly for Deano to use: the “Yellow Peril”. Deano said he thought it was “gay”, and he'd rather tie his own fly and so invented the “Terminator”.
One of the more striking things about the Terminator is its sheer size. That and it has two different sides.
“That's so I can show the fish two different flies without tying another on”
“That's brilliant, Deano, just brilliant, of course you'll have to swap banks between casts”
“I can do that. And it's an efficient use of materials; you should be pleased - it's your flytying kit”
Four inches long, grizzle hackle on one side, silver twinkle on the other, olive bunny strip tied – with what I hope is - matuka style (although it's hard to tell), with just the hint of a fluorescent pink chenille underbody. This is a mean fly. Actually fly was the wrong word I think.
“It reminds me of a drowned sparrow, Deano”
That it caught I think surprised Deano. It certainly surprised me and although I didn't see any kangaroos that first day, it was probably just as well. Kangaroos I can reason with; I've seen kangaroos before and I know they're a possibility, even here in NZ where there aren't any. That it not only caught fish, but in some places with devastating effect I know surprised Deano; he couldn't stop talking about it, once he'd remembered how.
We now have another NZ method. It seems to work best in pools, which is interesting because spinners work best in fast water. Of course the Terminator is not a spinner; it's a sparrow. I've played about with saltwater flies in rivers before of course but my approach had always been “yeah I'll give this a go, heh heh heh” and not taken it very seriously. I'm now much more practical: dry first, then nymph, then Terminator.
I don't think you can go too big with this thing. You certainly can't go too ugly. I'll keep you informed.