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Flaming Underpants

I believe in fairness for all. Oh yeah, and before I go any further let me explain that when Carl said that reading Snapcast would make you more attractive to the ladies, he meant to say that reading Snapcast would also make you more attractive to blokes. So that's something to look forward to. Thanks to all the ladies who wrote in to complain. Sheep will also find us more attractive I think.

So anyway, back to fairness and Helicunters. Ronan says he doesn't like the word “helicunters” by the way, and doesn't like any word with containing the letters “heli”.

It's been twelve years since I've tramped into Mystery River U.

There are three routes – not tracks – routes into Mystery River U. One is an 10-11 hour hard tramp up through a gorge, involving technical boulder hopping, climbing, cliff scaling, scrambling, bush bashing, getting lost and being absolutely trashed upon arrival.

That's the quickest way although probably not the easiest.

The easiest is a three to four day hike: track for the first two, a downstream route and then a challenging route up another river, traversing a saddle and dropping into the upper reaches. But if you take that route you fish less and tramp more.

The hardest route is also a four day tramp, but the final day – a ten hour tramp – is a nightmare; scaling two enormous bluffs, scrambling over rocks the size of small trucks, and avoiding quicksand, of all things. That's the route I took last time on the back of a ten day hike.

There should be places like this: New Zealand wilderness fishing. You have to be experienced, fit and stubborn, and once into this sandfly infested hell you'll experience helicopter-free fishing. Or that's how it should be and is how it's intended.

11 hrs tramping later we came across three Americans who had flown into Mystery River U, spent three days fishing it because it was a no-fly zone and that sucks.

To put this in perspective, we'd just flogged our guts out for a day and a half, bruised and bashed our way upstream, made four technical river crossings, expecting virgin water or – at worst, although it's not too bad to have good company – other hardcore flyfishers, and we find three pussies who've destroyed our dream and our fishing. Personally that makes me mad and they're not part of our Brother – and sister, Carl, – hood.

I've always hated helicopters; I've been buzzed, jumped and basically screwed by helicopters over the last twelve years of NZ backcountry fishing. I can put up with them – that's me being fair – but it's not real wilderness fishing and they really don't belong here. Especially in places where they're not allowed.

I think there are some things you have to earn and these guys hadn't earned it, so we killed them and buried their bodies in the bushes.

I bet women wouldn't have flown in. See, Carl?

We were left a bit stuffed, to put it mildly. To quote Sir John Kent: “The Cawthron Institute conducted research on trout behaviour in 1999 on this river. They found that spooked trout took at least 24hrs to reappear from their hide, whereas fish that had been caught and released remained hidden for up to three days. Trout are also aware of the fly they had previously taken, and were resistant to accepting that pattern a second time.”

So we took off our Royal Wulffs, threw our packs in the bush, slung our sleeping bags over our shoulders and tramped hard into the upper reaches. Four hours up we started to hit fish, but still found footprints all the way through.

Interestingly it rained and we were forced to build a man shelter out of beech and fern leaves. We had a good memorable fire that night. The fishing was OK, but not spectacular as it should have been.

In tramping out I taught Ronan how it was possible to float downstream whilst wearing your pack. We also crossed a stretch we nearly didn't. And ran out of food. POD series follows.

All in all it was a good trip, considering.

I hope NZ manages to enforce these no-fly zones, especially since there is significant pressure to extend them. We'll report the missing bodies to DOC.


PS I smell a bit.

PPS Ronan smells a lot worse.

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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