opinion piece by fishing guide Chris Dore first published on Sexyloops,
6 Dec 2007
So what is with people these days? Let me talk
about my day yesterday on the upper Mataura...
A friend and I began our day in bright sunshine,
probably the nicest day thus far of the season. The snow melt had
finally disappeared and the river was in cracking condition. We
picked up two or three fish right off the bat as they nymphed along
the edges and dropped another on the dry. A gorgeous morning down
the Nokomai and truly a glorious day.
Then we heard a vehicle... But wait wasn't this
area entirely foot access only? One should park on the road as the
farmers signs dictate and stroll across the paddock to the river.
Then, in full view of us a truck pulled up and out jumped three
anglers, who proceeded to jump into the very next pool above us,
in plain view, 100 metres away and begin to fish.
Frustrated at this blatently rude disprepect
for us who had been on the water since much earlier, Paul and myself
(different Paul) went back to the jeep and drove off upstream. (Aggro
encounters are not my bag as I have no time for idiots and unfortunately
have a penchant for letting them know.)
Finding a nice section of river several minutes
drive away with no others present we began our upstream stalk. Again
we picked off a few fish, and now being afternoon they responded
nicely to a wee emerger. Then, crouched near the tail of a pool
no wider than your living room, throwing down to a couple of avidly
feeding browns we were astounded to have this aussie fella walk
straight along the riverbank across from us, wave and continue along
his way! Of course being so close and walking so high along the
opposite bank our avidly feeding trout were no more, instead bolting
for the nearest undercut to hide.
Paul (still a different Paul, probably not as
handsome) and I looked at each other in astonishment – who
the heck did this dude think he was just walking straight by us
and - you guessed it – begin fishing the very next pool above!
I fear that old school angling ethics and common
courtesy is fast diminishing in the persona of the modern day angler.
Whatever happened to strolling up to those on the river before you
for a friendly chat and to ascertain their intentions for the day
before agreeing on a suitable stretch of water to jump in at without
impacting upon the aforementioned chaps day?
Upper Oreti beats
In an effort to combat such encounters on the
River, Fish and Game Southland have erected three signs detailing
'beats'. You simply park beside the sign describing the beat you
wish to fish that day, leave a departure time in the windscreen
of your vehicle for latecomers and the beat is yours. First person
on the river has the right of way. There is no camping allowed,
and being accessed through private farmland the farmer has put a
ban on vehicular access between the hours of 11pm and 5am due to
unsavoury incidents on his property in the past.
Latecomers may also fish your beat, but must
enter from the downstream end and fish their way up behind you.
Your displayed departure time notifies them of how long the water
has been rested and a fun day can be had by all.
I applaud the Southland F&G lads for initiating
such a system, and hopefully instilling a sense of doing what's
right into newcomers to the sport. At present this is a voluntary
system, for they do not wish to enshroud this wonderful fishery
in regulation, but if people abuse this system and keep ignoring
others on the river, impacting negatively on their day then regulated
access may soon be forthcoming.
A few old school common courtesies
A few old school common courtesies could well
improve the angling experience for all. So what can we come up with?
1. Do unto others as you would have done unto
2. Respect those already on the water before
you. Consult them as to their intentions and abide by any water
sharing arrangements made. Beware – not everyone fishes in
an upstream direction and jumping another angler not only makes
you a wanker but also less attractive to the ladies.
3. Take only photos and leave only footprints
– there is far too much trash being left on our riverbanks.
If you take it in, carry it out – beer cans and lunch wrappers
DO NOT improve the scenery.
4. Abide by the laws of the land and all fisheries
regulations and landowners requests. Do not drive through paddocks
where a short walk will get you there.
5. If no Fish and Game sign posted access is
present, always ask permission from the landowner before crossing
his property. A refusal is very uncommon and many valuable contacts
can be made.
Those already on the river must also realise
that the days of many miles of untouched water are a thing of the
past. Angling is fast gaining popularity and with improved access
and vehicular access to the backcountry these areas are becoming
much more popular. When approached by a latecomer seeking a water
sharing arrangement bare this in mind, and be generous. You may
not be able to fish all the water you originally wanted to for the
day but by being generous you create good karma, and what goes around
always comes around eventually. Slow down and enjoy the water –
you were probably fishing too fast anyway!
A little courtesy will go a long way. Enjoy your
angling but also ensure you are not impacting negatively on others.
Our New Zealand trout fishery is a precious and unique resource.
Don't stuff it up for others.