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Freshwater fishing

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Heli fishing? Why not walk?

An opinion piece by fishing guide Chris Dore first published on Sexyloops, 12 Jan 2008

There are very few rivers in New Zealand which require heli use ...and there is something special about packing up the gear and 'going bush' for several days, the build up being the long walk in, tent and cookers clanging in the pack and the mates' comradere whilst you bush bash up mountains and down gullys.

The reality is, the most heavily choppered rivers here usually have good walking access. A few hours beating the feet will get you into the mid Greenstone, and if you wish to add another few you can reach the upper river! An hour's walk will get you into good water on the Young, Caples and Hunter and yet these waters recieve almost daily heli useage. Why?

To me, going backcountry means feeling the legs at the day's end and the walk is as much of the experience as the fishing.

One often heard argument is that "we only have one day". Well tough! Fish a more accessible river, otherwise put aside an extra day or two to give the river the respect it deserves - We don't call it wilderness due to its proximity to the local cafe now do we? Is bungi jumping or Milford sound really that important? Don't make 6pm dinner reservations if you want to fish the backcountry. This is just Tryhard!

So what is the solutiion? Less landing permits? More designated winderness zones?

Policing such initiatives can be tough and there are always people who will abuse regulation. Just look at the Upper Oreti no fly zone - could there be an easier place to walk into?

Suggestions for ensuing good relations between heli-fishers and walk-in anglers

Flying in?

So what to do if you choose to fly in?

Ensure you buzz the carpark or road end on the way in so you know potentially where people may be.

Buzz the valley downstream of where you plan to land as well as huts etc to ensure there are no others already on the river or on their way in... If I walk 4 hours in and someone lands above me you can bet there will be a confrontation! Make sure you aren't jumping someone who has put in the effort you haven't and has walked in with an often heavy pack! These detours may cut into your allocated time by 10 mins or so, or throw an extra $100 onto your chopper bill, but you are taking a shortcut to the backcountry - accept it!

Walking in?

And the rest of us walking in can play our part too! I've heard horror stories from conscientious friends using choppers who have had anglers on the river try and hide when the chopper has flown past, only to emerge to confront them once landed and the chopper has departed.

If you are walking into the wilderness, wear a bright pack and make yourself visible. Carry a bright piece of material you can wave at any passing choppers and once your presence is known, most pilots will leave you ample water for a days fishing. [Note: This may not be a good idea since they may think you are in trouble and try to rescue you].

Helicopters are not ideal, but they are here and are in common use. Maybe once Rudi, Clarke and the crew sort out NZ's public access issues they can move onto the heli situation on easily accessible waters!!

Chris Dore

 

 

 

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