Well then, Happy Christmas :-)
I'm not actually having a Christmas here; instead I'm going fishing. After all it is the middle of summer and today is the one day in the year when I can reasonably expect to be able to fish just about any river I choose.
It's been a pretty chaotic week for me, I'm obviously feeling restless for some unknown reason and I've been driving all over the South Island. Last week I was driving up the West Coast, this week I've been all around Golden Bay, through Nelson and now I'm camped out on Marlborough Sounds. Don't ask. Needless to say I'm looking for something, but I haven't a clue what it is. I only hope I'll know when I find it.
Last night I experienced some of the best evening's fishing I've had in a very long time. I don't normally do well when fishing estuaries (remember saltwater is toxic to fish) but yesterday was an exception and by a complete stroke of luck I managed to drop on top some fantastic fishing. Obviously “slob” trout – I'm not sure why they're called such, although I'm quite sure that someone does, and will tell me – these have to be been amongst the hardest fighting fish I've hooked.
At one point I landed three fish in three consecutive casts, out of an area no bigger than about 4 square feet. Not enormous fish by NZ standards, mostly being around the 4-5 lb mark. It would appear that the trout live in the estuary during the day and come up the river to feed – on shrimps – at night. I know they were eating shrimps because they were everywhere and the rises were quite dramatic.
I'm going to do more of this sort of fishing. Tonight in fact. Despite never doing the same thing once, this could be something well-worth repeating.
It's quite strange really, when you travel and fish different waters, you don't seem to get the same number of red-letter days, and they have definitely become the exception. From the age of 15 through to 25 I worked on a stillwater (Ardleigh Reservoir, which is no longer a trout fishery), I worked there quite simply so that I could fish the place.
In fact even then, indeed especially then, as indeed before then, my life revolved around flyfishing. From the last Saturday in March through to the end of September I'd fish this water every single day of the week, no matter what. I knew that water inside out. I could tell you where the fish would be on any given week of the year, what flies to use and with which methods.
You really get to learn a water's secrets under these circumstances. And I was particularly lucky for another reason: I got to fish with all the best anglers. Ok, so in the end it became a bit dull. Life's only interesting when it's a lesson. When you start to know it all, or at least when you start to think you know it all, then you lose your enthusiasm.
Of course that's why we don't really want to work it all out; the fun is only in the trying.
Travelling flyfishing is different of course. For one thing the fishery is bigger. It's grown from 110 acres to a planet. And the strange thing is, my approach has changed too. I used to tie quite specific patterns for those Ardleigh fish, imitating buzzers mostly (chironomid pupae), but now I try to make my flies more suggestive, and less localised. That and there's always a flytying kit close by for when I'm caught out.
But even so, the chances of dropping on top of a fantastic evening's fishing are quite remote. Sure, access to local knowledge plays a part, but I've always been more inclined to go it alone and I have a need to discover the fishing by myself.
Maybe I've just found it.
Next week I'll explain some of the “behind the scenes” changes that have been taking place, which will only go to make this site better :-)
Blimey this column is becoming quite short isn't it? :)