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Why I Married My Wife

Aside from all the usual reasons … because she let me go fishing on our recent honeymoon to New Zealand! I managed to negotiate 2 day’s fishing (one on each island) during our recent trip to the Land of the Long White Cloud which is home to some of the finest trout fishing in the world.

My first day out was on the Akatawara river (a tributary of the Hutt River) north of Wellington. My guide, Andrew Harding, met me at the hotel and we set off for an hour’s drive to the venue. When we got there I got kitted out for wet wading. This involved a pair of wading boots and polyprop leggings instead of waders as we had a 50 to 60 minute hike to get to the section of river we were going to fish.

Andrew told me that there is a low population density of trout (15 to 20 fish in a 3km stretch) but they are invariably 4lb or larger. We would be sight fishing with a cicada pattern as the cicadas were in full chirp. I found casting such a large fly on my #5 rod to be tough (I think I needed a punchier line) but gradually I managed to get a respectable line out. In fact, with cicada fishing, a splashy hit with the fly attracts the interest of the fish … which is lucky as that suits my casting style perfectly.

The first fish we saw actually resulted in a take for me but I was way too early on it and pulled the fly away from it which caused the fish to go off in a sulk. We moved on upriver and we spotted a big fish. My first cast to this fish landed 2 metres to its right and I thought I’d have to cast again but this was one hungry fish. It turned round, zoomed onto the fly and gulped it down.

A strike and I’m connected with it … a swift battle to keep it away from a sunken tree and 5 minutes later it’s in the landing net …

all 7lbs of it! A real NZ monster.

I also managed to catch a 3.5lbs hen fish, again on a cicada pattern.

This New Zealand fishing is not like fishing on a chalkstream in Hampshire. There’s a lot of hiking and scrambling around to be done.

In the South Island I had a trip on the Mataura River with Stu Tripney. Stu runs a fly fishing shop outside Queenstown, signposted as the “Stu’s World Famous Orgasmic Fly Shop”. For all the lunacy, Stu is an excellent caster and fly tier and he endeavoured to improve my casting (a hard job but I really did improve). The fish in New Zealand are tricky and wary as the water is so incredibly clear. You really need to have the fly turn over perfect. Needless to say I fell well below that level of perfection many times. During the day I managed to miss no fewer than 7 takes! Some were due to incompetence/too much slack line (take your pick) but the one that took the biscuit was at the end of the day.

We’d spent an hour trying to catch one of 4 trout cruising around underneath a willow tree on a little side stream and after missing a take (too early on the strike) we departed back to the car. Near the car were some overhanging willows where we’d seen fish earlier in the day. I had a willow grub imitation (apparently Stu’s taken eight years to perfect this fly) tied on. I cast the fly. Everything was perfect … only one or two false casts, the line shot straight, the fly had perfect turnover, a drag-free drift with no slack line to interfere, then … a take … the strike … which connected with thin air! Ever so slightly frustrating (!) but, unfortunately, just one of those days. Still I had a great time and my casting was much better than before. There’s still a lot to work on with my casting “style” but it’s getting there.

New Zealand is an incredible place and if you get the chance to get out there, don’t forget your rod (but remember to declare it all at customs or face a hefty fine!). It’s hard fishing but the rewards are amazing.

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