|28 June 2010
As readers of my blog to date will know, we
are waging a battle to ensure that we can pass on a fishing resource
to our grandchildren that is at least as good as that we inherited.
It is also my belief that the greatest conservationists and the
people that take the greatest care of our environment are the outdoor
recreationists. Few anglers, hunters, trampers, birdwatchers or
kayakers wish to see the environment they love despoiled. Nor do
they want to see access to our public resources eroded. To this
end I urge all those who love our fishing and the wonderful egalatarian
heritage of free access to the outdoors that we inherited from our
farsighted forefathers to be vigilant and to be prepared to speak
up if or when you find things are not as they should be.
For instance, let us know if you are denied access
to any river or lake. In law these waters belong to all New Zealanders
to enjoy. Tell us about instances where a waterway has been polluted
through poor farming or industrial practises. Be aware of what others
have planned for our waterways such as a dam and be prepared to
speak up in favour of protecting our precious rivers. It is a fallacy
to say that hydro power is a renewable resource: once a river is
destroyed by a dam it is detroyed forever. It is not "renewable".
Please whoever you are and where-ever you are,
do not let our iconic country be destroyed in the name of short
term economic "progress". Our long term wealth lies in
our beautiful landscapes, our unpolluted waters, our superb fishing
and hunting and the fact that it is free for all to use. As the
Inuit saying goes, "We do not inherit the earth from our parents,
we borrow it from our children".
|The Windsor Cup
My apologies for the delay
between reports - something called fishing got in the way. In particular
my first foray into a competition known as the Windsor Cup, possibly
New Zealand's longest running trout fishing competition. The rules
for the competition are simple: You must be staying at Windsor
Lodge and to win you have to catch the biggest fish on the Waitahanui
River. Oh, and as there are people like "Grumpy" who
have been entering for decades you need a good sense of humour!!
I don't think I have ever met someone with a more inapt name as
Grumpy. It is worth entering to meet him and have him entertain
All the competitors were hosted by Sandy and
Rich from Windsor
Lodge. I arrived on the Friday and the river looked so good
I had to get out on it for an hour before dark. No luck the first
day (but it was not a competition day anyway - the real competition
started at 5 in the morning). Now I am a person who believes the
5 on my watch in the mornings can only stands for "25 past"
and there was no way I was getting up that early. Other were much
more keen with a good group setting out at 4 am to get upstream
where word was that the best fishing was to be found.
I staggered onto the river an hour or two (three)
later and found that the overnight rain (that continued to persist
down all day) meant the river was much higher. I was hopeful that
it would mean a fresh run of fish had entered the river. I fished
all day but were those fish spooky. The ones I spotted (usually
after they had spotted me) were rather shy and not tempted by my
I spent the day wandering right up to the limit
pool, hooked and lost two fish, and then decided that it was not
my day and headed back to the lodge. At the last pool I decided
to give it one more try and first cast saw the indicator bob down
and I landed a fish just under 2.5Lbs. Not a big fish but in very
good condition. Having heard that others were not faring much better
I decided to enter it. The fish that won was only 3.5lbs so it was
not a day for great fishing. But mine was the prettiest fish!!!
Pity there was no prize for beauty though.
The Windsor Cup is a real institution with 2010
being its 47th year. If anyone knows of a longer continuously running
trout fishing competition please let me know.
|16 June 2010
|Please read this...
Over the past week since our newsletter wnt
out we have had a huge number of emails of support. It is from poet,
Snady Bain and I hope you take a moment to read and enjoy it.
dawn lifts the sun from the river
on the tide of the autumn equinox
to welcome the weight
of dew, and a soul footprint: ours
rods flick and bend, mending on
in swelling light, hushed companion
of the salmon lazing luminous and languid
trout nuzzling gentle on the rise
dancing reels click and spoon, ripple
water weeps from lines that gather on
the river, weeping
lest wilder schemes win
|Saving our wild rivers
As many of you know I recently sent out a newsletter
asking for people's thoughts on the threat that many of our wonderful
wild rivers are facing from being dammed. If you would like to receive
a newsletter please register
with nzfishing.com). The response from around the world has
been amazing and 100% in favour of saving our remaining wild rivers.
We will be publishing some of the responses we receive over the
next few days. The following is from Alan Griffin from the USA.
"I live in Roswell, New Mexico, USA,
but I come to New Zealand to fish as often as I can, usually every
year for at least a month, sometimes more. Even though I live 7000
miles away, I consider certain New Zealand rivers to be my "home
rivers." I am always astounded and dismayed to read in the
Fish & Game magazine that another river is possibly going to
be dammed. Great rivers like the Wairau, Nevis, Mokihinui.
I understand the need for irrigation -- I
was a farmer for 10 years. And I understand the need for electricity.
But every other option should be considered before a great river
is dammed. I'm still angry about Lake Dunstan! I know that New Zealand
anglers get a bit fed up with so many tourist anglers on their rivers,
but we do spend a lot of money in New Zealand, and other than the
increased fishing pressure, we don't cause much harm.
I wish New Zealand would realize the value
of wild rivers before it's too late. In the U.S. some dams are actually
being removed. It sure would have been a lot better had they never
been built. Thank you for taking note of my views on this issue."
If you would like your thoughts published please send them to email@example.com
|15 June 2010
|The effect of damming a valley
Not wishing to walk across
the mine fields that are variously called "climate change",
"carbon footprints" and "renewable energy resources"
etc I have a question that I wonder if anyone has an answer to.
As trees are regarded as a good thing to have
lots of because they soak up the greenhouse gases that humans produce,
what is the effect on the carbon equation when we take into account
the loss of a valley of thousand year old trees when a valley like
the Mohikinui is flooded? Has anyone looked at that side of the
We know during the building stages of a dam an
inordinate amount of greenhouse gas emitting energy is used but
that seems to be ignored because after it begins producing electricity
propoenents will claim it does so with a limited "carbon footprint"
(Sorry I have to use those awful terms).
But if the loss of literally tens of thousands
of tons of trees and other vegetation is taken into account, what
is the true "greenhouse" effect of a dam? If anyone can
help me with this I would be grateful as I am wondering if this
is ever thought of by those who propose the destruction of our environment.
Please send your thoughts through to firstname.lastname@example.org
|13 June 2010
|Nelson Mail prints opinion piece
||Recently I spoke to the Nelson Fishing Club and
while there submitted an opinion piece to the Nelson Mail for publication.
They did print the article and I have had great feedback about it.
If you wish to see the article you can read
|12 June 2010
|Tipping in New Zealand
I recently received the following
question from an overseas visitor planning to fish in New Zealand.
"I tried to search the nzfishing.com
site for the appropriate monetary guide tip for a full day of fishing
but haven’t had any luck finding the info. Can you tell me
how much it is or steer me in the right direction to find out?"
My reply was as follows:
In New Zealand tipping is not the norm. In
fact most people do not expect to be tipped for service (they feel
that they are paid to do a job and that is that).
As many guides however do take overseas
clients from countries where tipping is the norm, they do get a
"tip" at the end of the day; particularly if they have
had excellent service. It really comes down to what you feel - it
is not expected but I assume that most guides do not mind receiving
What are your views on tipping? I would be keen
to hear your thoughts.
|8 June 2010
|Silver Flies now in Poland
Over the next few weeks we will be following
Flies as they prepare to challenge the best anglers from around
the world in the 30th Fly Fishing Championships. We will be getting
regular updates which you can read on our site. You can also send
your encouragment to them by sending an eamil of support. Just click
on the link email@example.com
and type in a message.
|1 June 2010
|The Silver Flies head to Poland
This Friday June 4th the
Flies head overseas to Poland to represent New Zealand in the
30th World FlyFishing Championships that start at the end of the
month. The team of six have all been preparing and practising for
this even for months and we at nzfishing.com wish them well. You
will be able to follow their progress with regular
updates on our website. Have a look at the competition
page which has photos and video links as well as background
information about the team.
If you wish to send the team messages of support
there is a link there for you to do so. Having attended the 28th
Championship as a helper when it was held in Rotorua in 2008 I know
this is a big event and one that requires considerable skill to
be successful. In 2008 the NZ team came second; lets hope they go
one better this time.
|27 May 2010
|Help required in Christchurch
Fish & Game have joined
forces with a number of groups to organise a gathering in Cathedral
Square in Christchurch to express concerns on the way water is being
managed in Canterbury. Helpers are needed to distribute 250,000
flyers to Canterbury households to advertise the event that will
be held on June 13th at 3pm in Cathedral Square.
The flyers can be picked up between 8:30am and
5pm on Saturday the 29th and Sunday the 30th of May at 311 Montreal
Street (opposite the Christchurch Art Gallery). Read
|25 May 2010
Thanks to those of you who
replied to my last post about outdoor recreation and politics. In
particular I would like to reply to Mark who enquired as to why
I was supporting UnitedFuture and not other parties such as the
A few years ago a party was set up by Zane and
Stuart Mirfin in Nelson called the Outdoor Recreation party. They
did this to try and get enough votes to pass the 5% threshold as
required by our proportional electoral system, MMP. In fact they
gained 1.4% of the party vote in their first try: a very credible
effort but not enough to gain representation in parliament. After
one more attempt at the following election they realised that they
needed to affliate with an existing party that already had a presence
in parliament if their policies were to ever gain traction. They
were courted by all the main parties but chose to go with UnitedFuture
as they felt this was the party closest to their ideals.
I believe this was a farsighted choice and one
that can pay real dividends at the next election. As Peter Dunne
has held the Ohariu seat for the past 26 years and will likely do
so at the next election, the UnitedFuture party is not subject to
meeting the 5% threshold to gain seats in parliament. (Under MMP
if a party gains at least one electorate seat the total party vote
they receive nationwide counts to the number of MPs they get into
parliament). So if UnitedFuture gains just over 1.2% for example
(and Peter Dunne holds his electorate seat) then there will be two
UnitedFuture MPs elected; 2% ofthe party vote would bring in three
UnitedFuture MPs and so on. So if those 1.4% that voted for Outdoor
Recreation earlier transferred their vote to UnitedFuture at the
next election they will add an extra 2 UnitedFuture seats to parliament.
Should United Future gain enough votes to take
in five or six members to the next parliament they will form a sizeable
block that will be able to negotiate some significant policies that
will be of benefit to the outdoor recreation lobby.
This is why I am now standing for UnitedFuture.
Because for the first time the Outdoor Recreation lobby is almost
assured of gaining seats in parliament and having its voice heard
when policies that affect our sport are being devised. A vote for
Outdoor Recreation will no longer be wasted but will bring the results
we need to reclaim our outdoor heritage for this and future generations.
|24 May 2010
|Outdoor recreation policies.
The past few days have been
busy in an exciting new way. I have become a member of the Executive
for the UnitedFuture party and will be helping them develop policies
around the Outdoor Recreation areas. Having had years fishing around
the country this is a great opportunity to be able to give soemthing
back. And believe me, there is a lot of issues that need looking
Issues that need addressing include ensuring
the public retain access to our public resources including waterways
and the coastline. That waterways are kept clean and not seen as
convenient drains for farming, towns and industry and that we protect
our outdoor heritage for this and future generations.
Do look at the UnitedFuture
policies on the outdoors and in particular at the policies that
relate to freshwater
recreational fishing. I would be keen to hear what you think
about these. Do they go far enough? Do you see there needs to be
some changes or would you be happy with what is proposed? I would
value your input into this.
20 May 2010
Just because the weather
is colder and many rivers will now have closed, do not make the
mistake of thinking fishing is over for the season. Did you know
there are 136 waters that remain open all year in the North Island
alone? And did you know that many of these fish best during the
colder winter months? And I am not just refering to the rivers around
The Kai Iwi lakes in Northland and many of the
lakes around the Waikato and Rotorua for istance are better fished
when the weather is colder. There are less competing waters sports
on the water and the fish are often very close to the shoreline.
Early afternoons on a warm winter day can also see some great hatches
of mayflies on the waters and this will induce a feeding frenzy
from the resident fish.
Recently I was driving through Mangaweka and
stoped down a small side road to see if I could find a fish on the
Rangitikei. I arrived at midday and saw no activity or sign of fish
at all. But at 1.30 as the afternoon warmed up to about 14 degrees
Centigade, fish started rising. And they continued all afternoon
until near dark when they all disappeared as if a switch had been
thrown. They were hard to tempt I must say and did not seem to be
taking dry flies as all the ones I enticed including a 5.5lb brown
jack were taking emergers fished just subsurface.
I will be writing more about winter fishing and
where to go (you will be surprised at what waters are open near
you) over the next few weeks. So put on warmer clothes and enjoy
fishing throughout the winter - I guarantee you will be surprised
by what you discover.
|16 May 2010
|Saving our wild rivers
Over the past two days I
have been attending the Wild
Rivers campaign as a NZFFA representative. This is a vital issue
that affects all New Zealanders that will affect both this and future
generations. If we allow our wild rivers such as the Mokihinui
to be dammed, they are lost forever. New Zealand unique forests
and landscapes have taken hundreds of thousands of years to become
established yet will be killed forever by a single dam. At this
meeting we saw archival footage of the Waikato
when it was a magnificent free flowing river; now it is a series
of still waters.
While it is too late to save the Waikato,
if we speak up we can ensure that the remaining wild free flowing
rivers are retained for this and future generations. We at nzfishing.com
are in total support of this campaign and would love to hear your
opinions. I will be writing more about it over the next few months
as the Wild Rivers group
steps up its action campaign to ensure NZ remains one of the few
remaining unspoilt areas of the world where the outdoors is for
everyone to enjoy - not just an economic resource.
|13 May 2010
|Back to the Rangitikei
With the long period of fine
weather still on us, I decided to fish the wonderful Rangitikei
one more time prior to preparing for my annual winter Taupo fishing
season. I was very fortunate to be accompanied by John Coney, the
owner of Morton Estate wines who provided not only excellent company
but also superb wines from his vineyards.
Again we headed to Tarata
Lodge and spent the day rafting and fishing down through what
must be one of this countries most beautiful rivers. If you have
not had this experience then I do suggest you make a promise to
yourself that you will do so at some stage. Every angler deserves
at least one time where they can fish this wonderful river.
Stephen picked us up at the very civilised hour
of 8am and we were fishing a little over an hour later. The river
was low and very clear and we could see big fish scuttle away from
the raft as we drifted down the immensely deep pools. The weather
was fine and cool and the fish were deep though Stephen told us
to set our watches for 2pm - the trout would start to rise when
the small hand was on the two and the big hand was on.... well you
get the idea.
We fished the morning with limited success and
so stopped for lunch about 1pm and then headed of downstream again.
At 2pm we saw the swallows start to dart around the river and then
immediately we saw the first rise. This was not a big splashy rise
as we experienced the last time on the river but a slow slurp as
a big mouth appeared out of the water and gently sucked in a large
mayfly. Off came the nymphs and on went an adams
and after a few tense moments we had the fish to shore- about a
3.5lb rainbow jack in superb condition.
For the rest of the afternoon the fish rose steadily.
Often several fish fish were seen rising along a short stretch of
water as the mayflies
were rising thick and fast. But these fish were spooky and one bad
cast could send them all deep and scurrying for cover. John caught
the biggest fish of the day - one that took some taming as it headed
for a rapid downstream. If it had gone over the rapid I think it
would have been lost but eventually it was landed and released.
The only problem with this day was that being
nearly the shortest day of the year and by 5.30 we were packing
up on a clear cool evening. But what a day! Despite the cold it
was again a day to carry me through the winter. So if you are looking
for some great fishing remember the Rangitikei
(and to make it even better take a bottle or three of Morton's wine
to help lubricate the memories over one of Trudi's excellent dinners).
|4 May 2010
|A childrens fish-out day to beat all others
As readers of my diary will
know I have been in negotiations with the army at Waiouru Military
base to see if we could get them to allow fishing on the beautiful
Lake Moawhango which lies just off the Desert Road between Waiouru
Major Hibbs has been most helpful with this request
and has helped set up what we hope will be a kids fishing day to
beat all others. This will be where kids, accompanied by an adult,
will have the opportunity to fish almost virgin water with a very
high chance of catching a good number of wild rainbow trout. The
fish will not be big (average is slightly less than 1lb) but as
the lake is hugely overstocked and virtually unfished, this is a
true opportunity for young anglers to truly experience the thrill
of angling in a beautiful setting.
The date set for the first of these days is Nov
20th 2010. All participants will need to register and there will
be, for obvious safety reasons, very strict controls on where participants
can fish. The New
Zealand Fly Fishing team will be present to give instruction
and lunch will be provided. Composite
Developments will be supplying some gear and there will be a
competition though the main aim is for youngsters to experience
the thrill of the capture of a wild hard fighting fish.
I will be sending out more information about
this in newsletters so if you are interested and have not as yet
registered with us please do so now so we can keep you informed
with updates. Numbers will need to be very strictly controlled and
we will operate this unique event on a first in first served basis.
|3 May 2010
|The complete range of fishing skills
From Turangi I went north
but could not resist a few hours fishing the Whanganui
near the small township of Mahoe. This was near where the 2008 World
Flying Fishing Championships were held. The river was in near perfect
condition and although most fish appeared to be deep I was able
to get a few to rise to a mayfly
pattern during the warm part of the day. There were many small
fish with a few around 5lbs with all in superb condition.
As I was quietly fishing a lovely run I had this
feeling that I was being watched and turned to see a young lad holding
a spinning rod standing behind me. His name was Ethan and we quickly
struck up a friendship. He was soon joined by his mate, Scott and
three of us moved upstream to a new spot where Ethan and Scott told
me of a place where there "were heaps of fish". Their
enthusiasm was very infectious as they took me to a great looking
stretch of water; long channels, short stable pools and big boulders
- perfect fish holding water!
I fished it for about 20 minutes but only touched
one fish! I went over to my two spin fishing mates and asked what
was so good about this water. In great excitement they told me how
Peter Scott of the Silver
Flies (NZ's National Fly Fishing team) had fished it the day
before and caught 23 fish from this very same stretch of water.
They were even able to point out many of the places where he had
caught fish! I knew then why I was not having much luck.
I know Peter at Rod
and Reel in Auckland and spoke to him later. Indeed he had fished
the same place (and had had the same two companions accommpany him)
as he prepared for next month's World Fly Fishing Championships
in Poland. We at nzfishing.com will be following Peter and the team
at the championships with regular updates and wish the Silver
Flies good luck as they pit their skills against the best in
And I would also like to say thanks to Ethan
and Scott for their time with me on the river. It was great fishing
with new anglers who reminded me so much of the passion and enthusiasm
I had when I started out learning this great sport.
For those who are looking for a great place to
fish, the Whanganui
around Taumaranui would be hard to beat (this section closes at
the end of June so there is still plenty of time). There is good
accommodation at the Taumarunui
Holiday Park which is right on the river or for a more remote
experience at Go
Bush Cabins. And for those that prefer some real home comfort
at the end of the day, Fernleaf
Farmstay, a beautiful restored homestead, is only a short drive
|30 April 2010
|The importance of etiquette
While I was in
Turangi recently for the AGM of the NZ Federation of Freshwater
Anglers, I took the opportunity to fish the Tongariro
on the one free afternoon I had. The river was low and anglers quite
scarce. I was staying at a friend's place and wandered down to fish
Jones pool. This is one of my favourite pools and one that I
usually find myself sharing with a number of other anglers. When
the pools are crowded, as these become during the winter spawning
runs, it is important to obey the rules of angler
etiquette to avoid conflict with other anglers.
This time I started as the only angler on the
pool. As I was getting ready to fish from the tail of the pool another
angler turned up and asked if he could come in behind me (we were
both up-stream nymphing) and I said that was fine. After asking
me however he suddenly decided that he would start fishing the middle
section of the pool ahead of me! I was not impressed but as there
were only two of us let it go. He left quite quickly anyway.
I fished once up the pool and had returned to
the tail of the pool to move upstream again when I became aware
of another angler joining me. This time it was completely different.
Again I was asked if he could come in below me and I again I assented.
He then carefully moved around me and went downstream and we fished
happily up the pool together. As I prepared to leave the pool I
went and thanked him for his courtesy (his name is George and I
have since found he is a first-class cricketer so can only get to
fish in the winter months). We have struck up a friendship and have
since exchanged emails and plan to get together some time for some
fishing over the next few months. So thanks George, it is appreciated
when anglers understand the reason for following the
rules as it makes for a much more pleasant fishing environment
And the fishing? Well I landed only one fish
of about 3.5lb and lost two others, both small.
|26 April 2010
|A letter and a reply
Over the past
few days I have been away attending the New Zealand Federation of
Freshwater Anglers (where I have been co-opted onto the executive)
as well as getting in some late season fishing. Prior to leaving
home I read with horror an
article in the Dominion Post how the Manawatu Regional Council
had "put to bed the scaremongering rampant amongst advocacy
groups"and effectively sanctioned the Manawatu River as a convenient
drain for farm effluent.
The reason given: Farmers say they cannot afford
to run their farms in an environmentally sustainable way because
the cost would cause them to "suffer a financial blow".
After I calmed down I sent of a letter
to the Dominion Post expressing my dissappointment that the
Horizons One Plan had been abandoned and the Manawatu Regional Council
had caved in to the vested interests of the dairy industry. The
letter was published last Wednesday and brought a
response the next day from the Manawatu Council.
What has intrigued me about their reply was that
they argue that the Manawatu
is not the dirtiest river in the world but only that it is "the
most unhealthy river in the country". A sad admission no matter
how you look at it.
So farmers are able to continue to pollute this
great water as they say they cannot afford to do anything else with
the waste their farms produce. I am tempted to try and use the same
reasoning when I next need to take the rubbish to the rubbish dump.
If I say I cannot afford the fees can I just throw my rubbish onto
I do hope that we in this country wake up to
the fact that we have something very precious in our land and that
we must not allow it to be squandered. Our rivers are the envy of
the tens of thousands of anglers, both from within NZ and those
that travel to our shores to fish. But we must not let this great
resource, which on purely economic terms adds hundreds of millions
of dollars from anglers to our economy, be destroyed by the few
who see it is their right to use rivers as convenient drains.
16 April 2010
|New Zealand fishing books
When ever I enter a second
hand book shop I find I am irresistably drawn to the fishing section.
I always hope to find a copy of a real gem hidden in the shelves
such as Hamilton's "Trout Fishing and Sport in Maoriland".
I did once find a copy but the owner seemed to be anticipating inflation
by about 3 decades and had priced accordingly.
Now for anyone who wants to know what is available
and the price / value of the hundreds of New Zealand books about
trout and salmon fishing that have been written over the past century,
there is help available. Pual Corliss has written two excellent
books, one earlier book called "New Zealand Freshwater
Fish and Fishing" which was followed recently with "More
New Zealand Trout Books".
These two bibliographies are a book collectors
dream as they alert you to what books are available and more importantly
what they are worth. Written as a true labour of love they are only
available direct from Paul and only 250 are available (each numbered
and signed personally by Paul).
These information rich books are available for
only $25 each and that includes postage within NZ (overseas buyers
please enquire as to the cost of postage). To order contact Paul
by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
|A truly international sport
A very enjoyable feature
of running this website is the information we receive from all around
the world. Like many of you I was really impressed by the research
that showed that rainbow trout are (arguably) now the most widespread
species to be introduced around the world (see my 24 March entry).
connection to the introduction of brown trout to New Zealand
and that the salmon that originally came from California are soon
to be "reintroduced" to their native waters where they
had all but died out (see March 23 entry)
Now I see there is a place where each of us can
test our skills at casting as the inaugral world
fly casting championships are to be held in Norway in August
this year. Are any kiwis prepared to enter this event? If so do
let us know so we can follow your progress.
|14 April 2010
|Manawatu River backdown
It is with huge embarrassment
(that I actually feel quite personally) when I have to write about
how a river or lake has become degraded or polluted in some way.
This website is read by several thousand people a week from over
180 countries and while the vast majority of our rivers remain pristine,
it is very discouraging to read about terrible things happening
to great rivers whether that be the damming of the Mokihinui
River or the pollution of the Manawatu
River. (See the recent news items about the Mokihinui
dam and the Manawatu
I was therefore appalled to read in the news
today about the backdown by the agency set up to protect the environment
in the Manawatu region, including the Manawatu
River. (See the news item about the backdown).
Please do not let this travesty happen without
protest. In the
article Garrick Murfitt, the Chair of Horizons Manawatu (the
agency charged with protecting the environment in the region) is
quoted as saying the Regional Council have "put to bed the
scaremongering rampant amongst advocacy groups" and so the
Manawatu River is now officially sanctioned as a convenient drain
for farm effluent. The reason; farmers say they cannot afford to
run their farms in an environmentally sustainable way as the cost
would cause them to "suffer a financial blow".
Taking this argument to its logical extreme,
does that mean to say that if I find that taking my garden waste
to the dump to be a financial hardship, can I just leave it on the
street? After all, a river like our roads is in fact a publically
owned resource for all New Zealanders to use.
|6 April 2010
|An about turn on the Mokihinui River
A few weeks ago we reported
that Gerry Brownlee (the Deputy Prime Minister) had declared at
a meeting that the Mokihinui River was not going to be dammed. This
decison was applauded by many as it was hoped that it signaled a
change of direction within the Governments ranks as they a realised
the importance to this and future generations of preserving our
Today however it
has been announced that the Mokihinui,
one of the great wilderness rivers of the South Island will be dammed
with an 85 metre high dam creating a 14km lake. Not only will this
be hugely detrimental to anglers but it will also destry one of
the great kayaking and rafting waters.
As Peter Dunne of UnitedFuture said in his
press release, "This decision is disappointing not only
for the river, fishery and native forest that will be destroyed
but by the sheer narrow-mindedness of it. Once a river is damned
its natural character and the character of the land around it is
changed permanently and can never be gotten back.Rivers are a finite
We invite you to have your say on this issue
by writing to email@example.com.
|4 April 2010
|Canterbury's threatened water
The threat to our water in
many regions is hotting up. Fish and Game have written a
letter about their concerns regarding the attack by the government
on water conservation in the Canterbury region. This letter, signed
by a large number of other parties, outlines the concerns that many
are feeling. And this email to us from Greg Henderson shows that
the concerns are not confined to Canterbury alone.
"Just a few words on Nick Smith' s machinations
with Canterbury rivers and their administration. As I see it, John
Key thinks irrigation on a big time basis is the way to prosperity.
The way he wants to sell it to NZers is via the "water storage"
theory. Only problem with that is that control over entire catchments
will need to be handed over to farmers, with recreational interests
I see from today's Dominion Post that some
Hawkes Bay spruikers are also lining up for free water, with big
plans for irrigation in that region. It will just be the same story
as in Canterbury ie overallocation, dubious conflicts of interest,
and maladministration, I suspect".
If you wish to have your voice heard please write
to me with your thoughts and concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org
|30 March 2010
|Access to the Rangitaiki River
The issue about the closure
of the Kaingaroa Forest area that has stopped access to many kilometres
of fishing and hunting is outlined in the
letter from Alan Collins from the Whakatane Trout Fishing Club.
This festering problem needs urgent action or the access that has
been available for many decades will be lost for ever.
I recently brought this issue to the attention
of the Walking Access Commission with a request for them to take
some urgent action as they are required to do under their terms
of reference. Nearly a month has passed since that meeting and the
presentation of my
submission and as yet I have not had the courtesy of a reply
let alone seen any evidence of action being taken.
|A Nordic connection to the introduction of trout to
Many of you will have seen
news item about the American Winnemem Wintu tribe who came to
New Zealand to "apologise to the chinook salmon". The
salmon we catch in the South Island are the descendants of the fish
that originally came from their tribal areas between 1901 and 1907.
While they have flourished in our waters they have gone into steady
decline in their native rivers in northern California. The Winnemem
Wintu people wanted to say how sorry they were to the fish as they
strongly felt that they had not properly protected them in their
native habitat. Through the damming of the major salmon rivers,
the annual spawning migtration had been disrupted and the fish stocks
had gone into steady decline.
In relation to this debt we owe other cultures
for the sport we now appreciate, I was recently sent an article
from Rolf Steinar Bjørnstad, an avid Nordic angler who has
fished around the world including 7 trips to fish New Zealand in
the last 26 months. His article, "Trout
ova introduction to New Zealand: a Nordic connection" gives
a fascinating insight into how Norway played a vital role in the
introduction of trout into New Zealand.
|28 March 2010
|A well-kept secret in the central North Island
What a lucky country we anglers
inhabit! This weekend Bev and I headed to the Central Plateau for
three day's rest and recreation. We decided to stay in one of the
chalets at The
River Lodge near Ohakune and that was the first great decision
made for the weekend. The
River Lodge, run by Gayle and Denton, sits as close to the Mangawhero
River as is possible and this small river was a revelation in what
a small stream can produce.
The first morning, after a leisurely breakfast
I decided to fish the stretch alongside the lodge. On the first
pool I quickly hooked and landed a large brown trout that would
have tipped the scales at 2.5kg. Unfortunately I had left my camera
in the chalet and so had no means to record this fish. But by a
stoke of luck Denton was passing and we both agreed that 2.5kg or
around 6lb would be a good estimate. I then walked slowly along
the river frontage and hooked but lost two more fish of about 3lbs
each. These were great fighters and what impressed me most was that
they were all caught within 100 metres of our accommodation. Where
else are you able to stay in great surroundings with Mount Ruapehu
hovering in front of you and fish such magnificent water?
The next day Denton and I set out to explore
some of the more remote corners of the Manganuioteao
which is a short drive away. The river was a little discoloured
from rain earlier in the week but did yield a good fat brown trout
from under a willow.
Anyone looking for some great late season fishing
would do well to check this area out. Not only are the two rivers
mentioned above easy to access but there is also the spring fed
Tokiahuru for those days when other rivers are dirty and the Lake
are a short drive away. This is a true anglers paradise and The
River Lodge is probably the Central Plateau's best kept secret.
|24 March 2010
|How rainbow trout have overrun the world
Having just seen the story
about the American Winnemem Wintu tribe who have come to New Zealand
to "apologise to the chinook salmon" I was sent an article
Strange Fish Tale" by an American academic who writes that
rainbow trout, originally only found along the Pacific Rim of the
US "have been introduced to every state in the United States
and to at least 80 different countries on every continent except
Antarctica". He notes this is an expansion of range that took
humans, corn, sheep, and dogs thousands of years to achieve.
This is a fascinating insight to how one of the
mainstays of our freshwater fishing, the common rainbow trout, has
spread around the globe in just over 130 years and the means (some
rather dubious) by which this was achieved. I will be ordering a
copy of the book "An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How Rainbow Trout
Beguiled America and Overran the World". I have no doubt that
it will be both amusing and enlightening.
|23 March 2010
|The debt we owe to many countries and cultures for
I was moved when I read the
article and saw on the news the members of the Native American
Winnemem Wintu tribe who had come to New Zealand to visit the Rakaia
River to "apologise to the chinook salmon - known here
as quinnat - on the banks of the Rakaia
River through a ceremonial dance". These fish that now
make up the bulk of the salmon catch in Canterbury are the direct
descendants form the original salmon first brought to New Zealand
between 1901 and 1907 from the rivers in their tribal area.
While the salmon have flourished in New Zealand
they have declined steadily in their native Northern California
homeland due to the damming of rivers which have cut of the seasonal
salmon migratory and spawning runs. It is a timely reminder to us
all that we need to take due care with the environment and work
to avoid any drastic alterations such as that done on the McCloud
and Sacramento rivers in the 1940s which has all but destroyed these
once famous fishing rivers.
|21 March 2010
|The economics of fishing in New Zealand
When I was at Wairata
Station recently I met up with an English angler, Simon, who
was in the adjoining chalet and had fished the Waioeka
rivers for many seasons. He travels to NZ each year and spends several
weeks fishing the Waioeka river. He was great company and I really
enjoyed being with an angler from another culture and being able
to observe a very different style of fishing. (We in NZ seem to
favour fast action rods like the CD
XLS series while Simon preferred a much slower action rod. As
a consequence our casting styles were really different).
Being with Simon also brought back to me what
a wonderful country we have. A country where it is easy to take
for granted that we can get in a car and in a short time be fishing
on any number of rivers around New Zealand. Few people in New Zealand
live more than an hour's drive from at least one good fishing water.
But what we take for granted is a rare treat for anglers from other
As David Haynes said on the TV3 programme "Privatisation
by Stealth", when he lived in the UK and wanted to fish
a reasonable quality river (the Itchen) it cost him NZ$27,000 to
be able to fish every second tuesday on a 2km stretch along one
bank of the one river for one season! No wonder it is cheaper to
fly to New Zealand and experience the best fishing in the world.
Let us keep it that way and ensure that the access to our lakes
and rivers remains freely available for all licence holders.
|20 March 2010
|The access issue gains momentum
item on National Radio about the rising problem we face in accessing
our lakes and rivers, TV3 has followed up with an excellent piece
- Privatisation by stealth where the problems facing access
to rivers and lakes was given good exposure. The main person being
interviewed was David Haynes who has recently contributed an article
to nzfishing.com called "Access
not all Areas".
We hope that the publicity that this media attention
is giving the loss of access to much of our water will stir up more
debate, particularly at the political level as it now appears that
only a change to some of laws will ensure the egalitarian access
we have enjoyed to our publically owned waters for over a century
will continue. We must not see our country go the same way as places
such as in Europe and the UK where the cost of fishing a river is
prohibitive and out of the reach of most anglers. As David said
on the TV3 programme, when he lived in England he had to pay the
equivalent of NZ$27,000 to be able to fish 2 kms on one bank of
a river every second Tuesday for one season. In other words it cost
him the equivalent of over $2,000 for each day's fishing!
We are interested in your opinion and thoughts.
Do read David's
article and listen to the
piece on National Radio and view
the item on TV3 and let us know what you think. And please do
tell us if you have had any issues accessing water in New Zealand.
We are keeping a register of problem areas and already have found
over 20 rivers where access is a problem (the list can be seen in
submission to the Walking Access Commission on March 3rd).
|19 March 2010
|From the worst to the best
After the scare of the previous
day and a timely reminder of how we need to treat all rivers with
care and caution, I was a little apprehensive about the planned
day's fishing. Stephen, owner and guide for Tarata
Lodge, was taking Andrew and I for a rafting / fishing day down
14kms of largely inaccessible water on the the middle reaches of
River. There was no need to worry however as Stephen showed
himself to be a master with his rafting skills and we were treated
to one of the best days fishing I have ever had.
Leaving the lodge at 7.30 we drove upstream to
the section where River
Valley Adventures is located (another place where you can raft
or hire kayaks or canoes from) and launched the raft. From there
we drifted downstream (though I am sure watching the effort that
Steve put in on the oars he would not appreciate the notion that
we "drifted": for him it was really hard work). Steve
skillfully maneuvered the large raft down through runs and rapids
and rowed us along some deep pools in the most spectacular scenery
imaginable. Huge cliffs looked down on us along both banks and we
felt we were the only people left in the world - until we started
on the inevitable "Deliverance" jokes.
But our eyes were really on the river and what
it contained! It was not long before Steve drew into a stony beach
and we were out with the rods and prospecting the water. Andrew
was quickly into a couple of fish and I managed to get one to rise
to a dry fly. What I was fascinated to learn was where the fish
were to be found.
As soon as we stopped I headed to what I believed
to be the most like water – a long gliding run with some deep
sections that looked very fishy to me. Stephen told me not to bother
with that water but to stick close to the shallow edges and even
the slow backwater eddies. I followed his instructions (though not
without some misgivings I might add) and found his advice sound.
These fish seldom see anglers and so are not spooked and forced
into deeper water. Consequently they are often in very shallow water
and at times almost appear to be living on the bank. Stephen continually
got us to cast to within an inch or two of the bank and it was here
that we picked up the most as well as the biggest fish.
And what a day! A full 10 hours of fishing with
an expert guide. Stephen has fished this water for decades and knows
the pools and runs better than anyone else. Positioning the raft
he will give precise instructions as to where the fly should land
and if you got it as he instructed it was usually met with spectacular
results – those Rangitikei fish sure can fight.
At the end of the day we had lost count of fish
landed and lost (almost all on dry fly) and will never forget a
day of superb fishing. I often say after a great day on the water
that I will return. This time I truly mean it. For this was fishing
as it is meant to be: the scenery, the fishing and Stephen's knowledge
and humour providing all rthe ingredients of great memories.
|18 March 2010
|A timely lesson in safety
I have had some great fishing
lately as the summer draws to a close. Andrew and I decided that
we would like to fish the Rangitikei and so stayed a couple of nights
at the superb Tarata
Lodge in the mid section of the Rangitikei River.
The first night however was a very sobering experience
for me. Steve, Tarata
Fishaway owner and guide, drove us down the steep track to the
river to fish the evening rise (the lodge sits on a cliff high above
the river with the most specatular views). I wandered upstream and
picked up two fish in one run. Looking further upstream I decided
to cross the river at at a bend. Examining the potential crossing
point I thought it should be OK. How wrong I was. Half way across
I found the current was much stronger than anticipated and the water
much deeper than it appeared. The crossing point I had chosen was
above a very fast rapid that shot downstream for about 30 metres
before hitting a cliff face and veering at right angles away downstream!!
I quickly realised that if I tried to turn around
mid-current I would likely loose my footing so I continued on. But
it was not a good move. In the middle section the water flowed between
two rocks and the sudden increase in velocity caused me to lose
my footing and over I went . Luckily (and that was all that it was:
luck) I was able to grab at a few rocks and slow my progress downstream
but I was still at the mercy of the river. I eventually was able
to grab a rock and pull myself in a series of crab like moves to
the side (the other side!!!).
This event really shook me up. I was soaking
wet and now on the opposite bank and knew I had had a very lucky
But now I had to cross back again. This was done
by going much further upstream and crossing some deep water which
at times was literally up to my neck.
I write about this because I hope that my
stupidity (and that is what it was) will help others not do the
same. There are now some rules that I will always follow:
- If in doubt (and especially if you are on
your own) do not risk it. If it looks dangerous and difficult,
- Carry a wading stick! The extra support from
a good wading stick cannot be over-estimated and can save a tumble
or even your life
- Talk to your local club about safety courses
on what to do in situations where you loose yor footing. Most
clubs run these events and if they don't request that they do
- it may save your life or that of others.
I have fished for many years and this was the
by far the worst experience I have ever had on a river. I will also
be attending a water safety course run by our club to ensure I know
how to best survive any further tumbles (and as you will know this
is my second fall when crossing a river in a fortnight).
But from the worst experience on the water to
the best. The next day was one of the absolute best fishing............
but more about that tomorrow!
17 March 2010:
|The Walking Access Commission fails to act on concerns
I mentioned in the last entry
my disappointment with the Walking Access Commissions approach to
the submission I made to them (and the fact that they claimed on
National Radio that they had not received any submissions to date).
I had had a meeting with the Commission on March
3 and presented a
paper outlining our concerns about the loss of access to rivers
and lakes especially those in the Kaingaroa Forest area including
the iconic and hugely important Rangitaiki River. The meeting lasted
an hour and a half and though amicable I was surprised that the
commission seemed to be reluctant to take action on the major issue
I presented evidence about.
They said they would look at the points raised
but also said that it was unlikely anything would happen this season!
When you realise that one of their stated functions is to; "faciliatate
resolution of disputes about walking access, including initiating
negotiations about disputed issues, mediating disputes, and referring
disputes to a court, tribunal, or other dispute resolution body"
this was a sad reflection on their unwillingness to act on a very
important area that has closed one of the North Island's fishing
resources to the general public.
As yet I have had no communications from anyone
within the Walking Access Commission about the information and substance
of my submission. I find this very disappointing.
|15 March 2010: Anglers say access to
fishing spots is declining
|Anglers say access to fishing spots is declining
In an item this morning on
National Radio's Morning
Report entitled Anglers say access to fishing spots is declining
I was able to highlight the issue of anglers being denied access
to rivers by landowners on National Radio's on National Radio's
Listen to the report...
One thing I was very disappointed to hear was
the spokesperson from the Walking Access Commission who said that
they had not received any formal complaints about access being denied
to anglers. This was blantantly untrue as I had made a 1.5 hour
presentation on March 3rd 2010 to the committee where I also presented
seven page document outlining how access had become an issue
on 21 rivers and lakes. This document also gave a very detailed
description and history of the specific problems being experienced
on the Rangitaiki River.
|Rivers and lakes being privatised by stealth
the article by David Haynes written for nzfishing.com on how our
rivers and lakes are becoming privatised by stealth. Please email
me with your thoughts and comments for publication to email@example.com.
|Support from the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers
The following comment was
posted on the Radio Network website which shows others are feeling
the same way.
"The NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers
congratulates Doug Stevens for highlighting ('Morning Report') a
growing problem about which we have expressed concern for some years,
namely 'fishing access being sold for pecuniary gain'. Sports fish
such as trout are publicly owned in this country, and live in rivers
that are also publicly owned. The fish are managed by Fish &
Game NZ, a public body. It is an unfortunate truth that increasingly
rural landowners are either charging for access or preventing admission
to these public resources. It should be noted that it is illegal
to sell or let the right to fish in any freshwater. It is one of
the reasons that the Walking Access Commission was set up.
The sale of fishing and game-bird shooting
rights are protected under the Wildlife Act (Sec 23) and the Conservation
Law Reform Act (Sec 26ZN) in New Zealand and we are passionately
against seeing any changes to these acts.
The NZFFA condemns this reinstatement of
the archaic feudal system of private ownership of public resources.
Our forebears were determined not to see this transplanted into
New Zealand law. We wholeheartedly agree with their sentiments!"
It is important that we do not allow the egalitarian
fishing access be lost and I would be very keen to hear your thoughts
on this contentious issue that is possibly the biggest threat to
our sport at the moment. So if you've been denied access or know
of others who have been unable to access fishing waters, please
let me know about it, and also advise whether or not the details
can be shared or published. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|14 March 2010: Taking an unintentional
|Enticing the fussiest of fish
After speaking with to the
Tauranga Fishing club I was able to spend a couple of days on the
superb and scenic Waioeka
River. I stayed at Wairata
Station in one of two delightful cottages -that are a short
stroll from one of the best stretches of this marvellous water.
The first day was spent slowly walking upstream
and fishing to the large, freely rising fish. In some pools and
runs several large fish could be seen sipping gently on something
as it drifted past them. Others were making crashing and splashy
rises and all the fish seemed to actively be feeding. The first
two I cast to nicely rose and took a small parachute adams
and my confidence rose accordingly. Less than an hour on the water
and two fish already landed. But as I moved upstream the fish suddenly
seemed to become more selective. I could drift fly after fly over
them to no avail. They hardly looked at them and let them pass overhead
without any sign of caution. At times I would find one would take
a hopper or a blowfly
but most just ignored my offers.
One strange thing I noticed (and it was easy
to watch what was happening in the crystal clear water) was that
any nymph that I drifted past them would cause them to instantly
spook and head for cover. Offerings had to be on or within the surface
That day I landed 5 fish and lost many more but
what a day and the quiet chalet at the station was a welcome sight
on my return. I will be returning to that river and wish to thank
Bob and Mary Redpath for the wonderful help they gave me. It was
great to find landowners that are so encouraging and supportive
and will allow people to access the many kilometres of fishing on
their land (Do ring them first to check howvever on 07 315 7761
to check it is OK as they are sometimes moving cattle near parts
of the river and it is best to know when and where this is happening).
|Keep your vest well secured when taking a drift dive!
The next day I decided to
fish the main tributary of the Waioeka,
Again a wonderful stony clear water with a good population of freely
rising fish. I found the Opato
fish more obliging and landed several, again on a wild assortment
of flies including hoppers,
adams and even one
on a Daddy-Long-Legs.
However I was also struck by the perils of a
warm summer. That evening on my return to Wairata
Station I decided to fish one more section at the memorial just
above the confluence with the
Waioeka. Walking down to the river I saw that I needed to cross
and with the confidence born of idiocy, strode into a rather fast
run. One rock however was not as stable as I had hoped acusing me
to take a rather undignified glide down a small rapid into the pool
Getting out I was met by two very attractive
young women who had thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle (though maybe
not the language) and continued with the taking of a number of photos
of me. The weather was warm and so I did not mind the unplanned
swim very much. What I did mind however was the loss of a rather
expensive buck knife, a reel and a box of flies! I had stupidly
not fastened one pocket on the side of my vest and I only discovered
my loss later that evening. From now on I ensure all pockets are
well zipped, velcroed, domed and buttoned before crossing any rivers.
A timely lesson that was to stand me in good stead as I will explain
|13 March 2010: Well educated fish in
|Proving good fishing can be found near big cities
Having a couple of hours
to spare while driving to Tauranga to speak to the club there I
decided on a whim to visit the small but picturesque Lake McClaren
and check it out. This very attractive lake actually lies within
a park and as it was a warm day there were many other water users
though no other anglers. I drove around several little lanes that
wound up and down through the park and inspected likely places to
cast a line (I did not really relish the prospect of having too
many onlookers) and finally came to the section at the far end which
was obviously much less visited.
The water looked inviting with channels through
weedbeds visible below the surface. As there was no surface activitry
I decided to firstly try a nymph and when that failed went to a
small woolly bugger (with the same lack of response). Walking further
to the inlet where a small stream feeds into the lake I noticed
that the water was much shallower and I suddenly realised I was
looking at a good fish feeding along a sandy ridge in quite shallow
water. But, as I have noticed on many other occasions, as soon as
I moved the rod an inch to prepare to cast, the fish shot for cover.
It seemed to let me stand and observe it for sometime but appeared
to recognise my dastardly intent when the rod moved.
I walked a few more metres and into some trees
and from the cover they provided saw two more feeding fish. I had
to walk through the trees and onto some swampy land to get to an
area open enough to cast. And again, as soon as I moved into the
open the fish disappeared. It would appear that these are well educated
Still, it was good to see fish like these in
a lake so close to a city. As I had to get to Tauranga I was not
able to explore further but would like to go back to this lake in
winter when I think the fish will be much less disturbed by other
water sports and park users. I also see this as a great place to
take a younger angler to learn to cast and fish.
My next fishing experience however found me looking
for fish in a much more disturbing manner.....
|11 March 2010: The best laid plans
of mice and anglers
|Access issues continue to be a growing concern.
Over the past few days when
I have been away from any keyboard and computer screen I have had
the chance to experience some truly great and some not so great
moments on the water. I will be describing these over the next few
But before fishing was buiness and I met with
Rob Pitketheley from Eastern Region Fish and Game to talk about
the access issues that are facing those wishing to get to the superb
fishing on the Rangitaiki
within the Kaingaroa Forest area. I found that although Timberlands
is allowing very limited access to the river (walking only and no
overnight camping allowed) and so most of the river remains out
of reach for anglers, Rob is making progress. We have to thank Rob
and his team for so tirelessly working on this important issue.
It has been a great example of diplomacy and patience as he tries
to ensure that the river and associated waters such as the Flaxy
Lakes and Wheao
River and Canal are open for all to use again.
We are pleased to report also that the access
to our waters and lakes is gaining some media attention and I have
been interviewed by National Radio on the issue and believe that
this report will go to air tomorrow (12 March) on Morning Report
between 7 am and 9am. TV3 is also making a programme about access
issues and hopefully this will go to air in the next few weeks.
| Some great fishing to begin with
And then there was some astonishing
fishing. While in Rotorua meeting Rob I thought it would be rude
not to fish somewhere around the region that evening and decided
to fish the Awahou River mouth on Lake
Rotorua. Rob had told me this section of the lake was really
firing with people reporting phenonmenal catches (Auckland guide
Hirtzel caught over 60 fish up to 5lbs in around 4 -5 hours
one day recently and catch rates of over 80 fish were doing the
rounds. While I was there a Welshman seemed to be hauling in a fish
every third cast making me glad that we could at least still beat
them in rugby).
This stream mouth is not to be fished by the
claustrophobic however! I was there with at least 35 other anglers
all lined up to fish the cool current where the Awahou spring creek
Rotorua. From my perspective almost everyone was catching fish......except
me!! For about two hours all around me pulled in fish after fish
while I laboured in vain with a sinking heart and rising frustration.
I had two touches in that time.
With quiet desparation I changed fly after fly
and then the fish took pity on me and relented and over the next
three hours until just after dark it was all on. I have no idea
what caused the sudden change in fortunes as the flies I found worked
(a green woolly bugger and a small black nymph had been tried earlier
with no success).
Many of the fish were not in the condition I
expect of the rainbows in Rotorua but there were some very good
fish amongst those landed including one that shot around my startled
neighbour's legs at high speed trailing my line with it (the fish
and I parted company when the hook straightened). In all I estimate
I landed about 20 fish with many more lost. It was a great evening
and a foretaste of some wonderful fishing to come.
|19 Feb 2010: Let me know where you've
been denied access
|Reports of growing loss of access
In talking to anglers at
fishing clubs this week, it has become clear that loss of access
to rivers and lakes is a big concern with reports of places where
permission to cross land is now being denied or granted to only
a few. How frequently this is happening is probably under-estimated,
as most us only know if it has happened to us or to a mate
If we can pool this information, the extent of
the problem can be seen and communicated. So if you've been denied
access, please let me know about it, and also advise whether or
not the details can be shared or published. Email me at email@example.com.
|18 Feb 2010: Issues that face our sport
| Identifying the issues
This week sees me travelling
in the East
Coast region of the North Island talking to fishing clubs in
Tauranga and Whakatane about the issues that face our sport.
The issues of which most if us are well aware
include loss of access to rivers and lakes, the damage done to publically
owned waters through land mismanagement and the ongoing destruction
of our rivers for electricity production and water storage.
Plus there are the new threats arising, such
as Federated Farmers keen desire to set up trout farming operations,
and proposals to allow some of our most iconic and pristine environments
such as the Mackenzie Basin become used for intensive dairying.
|15 Feb 2010: Further threats to Canterbury
|Hidden challenges to our fisheries
Hidden amongst the recent
attention grabbing announcements of tax changes, the Prime Minister's
opening statement to parliament included a series of statements
that will have a much longer lasting and more profound effect on
New Zealand. John Key stated that the government would be "looking
at regulations that may be preventing natural resources being used
most productively" and …."where the current regulations
are stifling all prospects of growth".
In particular he mentioned the removal of "particular
regulatory roadblocks to water storage and irrigation in Canterbury"
and that "this will be in addition to the work already being
carried out .... on progressing water storage infrastructure throughout
the country". This means that many rivers that already experience
low flows during the summer months could be further reduced to allow
water extraction to occur for irrigation and that many rivers around
the country, such as the Hurunui in Canterbury, will be dammed for
|12 Feb 2010: The need for a political
I am keen to make anglers,
hunters and others more aware of the issues and threats (and potential
solutions) to fishing and hunting in New Zealand. As a result, I
have taken on the role of spokesperson on environment and outdoor
recreation for UnitedFuture (the political party with whom the Outdoor
Recreation party merged).
Some UnitedFuture policies relevant to anglers
- Access to New Zealand’s freshwater
fisheries is a basic right that should be accorded to every New
Zealander. The exclusion of the average New Zealander from specific
fisheries through the denial of access is unacceptable
- The commercialisation of trout species and
other freshwater species will remain illegal in order to preserve
our freshwater fisheries for recreation and tourism
- All New Zealanders have a common right to
access unpolluted freshwater fisheries and waterways for recreational
You can see UnitedFuture
policies on the outdoors on the UnitedFuture website. Let me
know what you think by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
|9 Feb 2010: Politicians raise cause
|National Party cheers speedier consent process for
It has been a few days since
I have been out fishing and most of my time has been spent on the
website lately. I will be heading north for a couple of weeks visiting
and fishing around the Bay of Plenty starting Sunday and so feel
that a little work in between is OK.
Today I did something very different and went
down to watch the opening of parliament and to listen to the Prime
Ministers speech. Much had been previously reported but I was very
disturbed to hear about how the government sees water as a resource
and will be looking at ways to speed up the process so that dams
can be built (particularly in Canterbury - much to the cheers of
the National Party members) to make more use of the "water
resource". There was no mention of the cost of this to the
many members of the public that will loose a valuable fishing resource
and those like guides and lodge owners whose income depends on it.
On Friday I am meeting again with Peter Dunne
from United Future who has developed sound outdoor recreation policies.
The outdoor recreation wing of UnitedFuture needs to be revitalised
and given a new life. I have looked at all the political parties
policies and believe that UnitedFuture has the best policies that
will protect our rivers, lakes and forests. (This came as a surprise.
I thought the Green Party would have the most appeal but they seem
anti fishing and hunting and even seem to want trout and salmon
removed from some waters).
Maybe we need to get political. After all, the
politicians seem intent on moving in on our recreational pursuits.
|4 Feb 2010: Fishing a forgotten land
|The Kaiwhakauka Stream
The last day of this trip
and Anna and are taken by Wendy from the Blue
Duck Lodge to look at a very remote water the Kaiwhakauka Stream
that enters the Whanganui a few hundred metres below the Retaruke
confluence. While the lower reaches of the Retaruke are quite tannin
stained and discoloured due to the effects of the farmland the river
flows over, the Kaiwhakauka remains pristine even after heavy rain
because it flows through native bush.
What is more it is one of those small streams
that calls out to be fished. But beware, although you can see it
from the track (easily walked to from the Blue Duck) it requires
some scambling to get to. The stream is a series of pools and rapids
and although it does not hold many fish those that are there are
feisty and acrobatic. This is one water where you will not meet
There are two ways of getting to the Kaiwhakauka.
One by scambling down a steep bank (and remember what goes down
at some stage has to go up again) or taking a kayak or boat to the
mouth and walking upstream. There are plenety of kayaks for hire
at the Blue Duck Lodge and if you are lucky and / or plan ahead
you could even get taken in by jet boat.
This is a country steeped in forgotten history.
The government at the turn of last century tried to open up the
whole area for farming giving returning soldiers from WW1 parcels
of land to develop. The steep country and poor soils meant that
even the best efforts of these pioneers were doomed to failure and
now you can see the remains of old houses and shacks that were abandoned
over the years. The hills are now reverting to native bush and the
bird life is returning. And through it all, the fish have remained
as always with few anglers to disturb them.
Anyone is looking for an adventure away from
the crowds with the chance to explore almost virgin water, I can
thoroughly recommend this idyllic valley. But if you do venture
in here remember that Wendy came for a few days and is still there.
It seems to have that effect on people.
|3 Feb 2010: Anna and an eel compete
|Fishing the Retaruke
The one thing we can say
about trout fishing is that the best fishing is usually found in
the most isolated places. Driving from the Waiouru area to the Blue
Duck Lodge on the
Retaruke brought this truism very much to mind. This is really
the backcountry - huge bush clad hills and wonderful bird-life including
Duck Lodge and its sister accommodation, the Whio
Lodge, are a long way from any shopping malls or cinemas. To
get there is a 45 km drive down a side road (much of it gravel)
but on arrival you realise why the effort was worth it. This is
truly beautiful New Zealand. And the drive should be done slowly
with a few stops to appreciate this wild and mostly untamed (and
as the past failed settlers will attest, untameable) country. The
lodge is not far from the ill-fated "bridge to nowhere".
Duck Lodge / Whio Lodge
Dan, the owner of the Blue
Duck Lodge and his manager Wendy, are into conservation in a
big way and will show you with huge enthusiasm how they are restoring
the bush and wildlife into something we all can be proud of. And
the lodge itself is a fantastic place to stay - quiet and very clean.
Anna and I fished the first evening at the confluence
of the Retaruke
and the Whanganui.
The river was still high and rather silt laden in these lower reaches
and although a couple of fish could be seen rising they were not
to be tempted.
So next morning we headed to the Retaruke
headwaters. It is quite a drive back up the road but the fishing
was great. Both brown and rainbow trout to about 2kg in weight.
The water always looks slightly stained but in fact is clear and
is a delightful series of runs, rapids and very deep pools. And
Anna at last achieved her ambition - she cast to and landed a very
good fish. The only problem was that as she was playing it an eel
decided her catch looked like its dinner and took a huge bite out
of its stomach. When the fish was netted we saw that it was too
damanged to return so (without much reluctance) we decided to keep
it. Over a campfire by the river we cooked it for a wonderful meal
that evening. What a day - though after nearly 10 hours walking
and fishing we did enjoy the comfort of the Blue
Duck Lodge on our return.
|2 Feb 2010: A spring creek saves the
|The Tokiahuru a real find
Having been unable to fish
Lake Moawhango Anna and I needed to find a new place for her to
practice her casting on some fish. Unfortunately the rain the night
before had meant that most rivers in the area where we were heading
would be unfishable. It was then I remembered the spring creeks
near Ohakune and so we headed down the Whanganui Road to see what
At the first bridge we came to we found a very
friendly farmer fixing a fence who gave the usual 'go for your life"
response to our request to fish on his property. He even suggested
we park near the old school which we did. The river was a little
high and dirty but still very fishable.
On her second cast Anna landed a small brown
trout - and oh boy was she pleased with herself. We then meandered
upstream and fished a number of pools and runs generally touching
or landing at least one fish in each. The Tokiahuru
is a delightful water, swift and cold with plenty of bankside vegetation.
The trout (a mixture of rainbow and brown) seem to be between 1
- 2 kg and pretty feisty. In many places the trees completely covered
both banks and met in the middle of the stream and while this made
fishing these sections impossible it obviously provided good cover
for the fish.
We realised how lucky we were when we arrived
at the Retaruke
later that evening and found it flowing high and brown. The Tokiahuru
had saved the day by providing a superb afternoon's fishing. And
is a fast clearing river so tomorrow should be great!
|1 Feb 2010: The safest trout in New
|Lake Moawhango update
I think I have found the
safest spot in New Zealand for trout to live out their days undisturbed
by man, bird or beast. And that is the Moawhango River as it leaves
the tailrace of Lake Moawhango.
This small river is directly in the path of the
firing range for the military to test their shooting prowess and
while that may not sound safe, the fact that the recruits are firing
over the river at targets on the surrounding hills means that the
worst a trout can endure is the noise and vibrations from the heavy
explosives. I for one would not like the idea of fishing this most
attractive small stream as shells howled overhead.
Last Friday Major Hibbs took my daughter Anna
and I onto the Waiouru military base to see Lake Moawhango and to
give a first hand look at why it was probably not the best place
to let itinerant anglers wander around. While the lake itself is
seldom part of the maneuvers and target practise, there are plenty
of hills around that are. And lets face it, not every recruit is
a good shot. While there we watched as some military personnel blasted
away at targets near the lake. These seemed loud enough but I was
assured that the shells they would fire a few hours later were several
hundred times more powerful. I did not wait to see these fired.
Children's fishing day
What I did discuss with Major Hibbs was the possibility
that we set up a "Take a Kid" fishing day(s) at the lake
when there was no firing practise happening. This would need to
be very tightly controlled as the area allowable and safe to be
in is around the southern shore by the dam. Everyone coming in must
stay in a defined area and no-one can wander around as there are
unexploded shells outside the area.
But as some sections of the lake are safe and
clear of any danger this is a wonderful venue to learn to fish for
feisty wild trout. The fish are extra-ordinarily plentiful with
catches of around 10 per hour the norm (but a 1lb fish is a good
fish and there are very few that reach anywhere near a kilo).
DoC and Fish and Game are keen to assist set
up this day's fishing event and the army will no doubt turn it on
for the youngsters. What we can promise is a day that the kids will
remember for the rest of their fishing days.
We hope to set up the first Take a Kid Fishing
day on the lake early next season (mid to late November was discussed)
and so keep an eye on the nzfishing.com website for more information.
|24 January 2010: The threat of trout
With the weather still being
foul I am unable to get out on the water today (never mind, I am
going for 6 days fishing with my daughter Anna next week and that
includes a day on the Lake Moawhango no less, courtesy of the Waiouru
One issue that needs to be carefully monitored
is the threat being posed at present by Federated Farmers in their
drive to make trout farming legal. We have been alerting readers
to this issue through our In the News
pages and the thoughts of many anglers from both here in New Zealand
and abroad are summed up by this comment by Will Thomas:
I am a retired airline pilot and life long Trout Fly Fisher. I have
fished New Zealand many times during my life long quest for Trout.
Without a bit of exaggeration I believe NZ is the best Trout fishing
on earth and I have fished in many parts of the world.
After reading the articles about fish farming, I would like to say,
PLEASE don't destroy what you have by allowing this industry - like
you I am appalled that the fishing may be made legal to farm."
The Federated Farmers do not understand the issues
and the cost to our sport, tourism industry and operators, and our
reputation as the "anglers eldorado" if trout farming
were to be made legal. One consultant claimed that, "the
fish.. (would be) ... fed a natural red pigment, the same given
to salmon, turning the meat a deep red contrasting with the white
meat of wild trout" and went on to state that "You
rarely find a wild trout in the same condition as a farm trout.
Why would you want to eat a wild trout when you've could have a
farm trout?" See the
full article and others on In the News
Is this what we want? Trout with dyed flesh?
Sections of our lakes and rivers (which are all publically owned)
given over to "commercial trout herders"?
The big difference to salmon farming of course
is that salmon are mostly farmed at sea in cages; trout would be
farmed in our publically owned rivers and lakes. And once trout
became legal to sell, the black market for our fish would be huge
as the authorities would not be able to distinguish between a farmed
and wild fish and so poaching would be a threat to our fragile fisheries.
Trout farming must never be allowed to happen in New Zealand.
Let us know what you think about this issue by
sending an email to email@example.com
|23 January 2010: Access issues
|Lake Moawhango update
I have been in contact by
email and phone with the authorities at the Waiouru Miltary Camp
and have been contacted by a number of others such as the Taupo
Dept of Conservation (who are in charge of the fishing and hunting
in the area) about the issue of accessing the fishing on Lake Moawhango.
Many people have expressed concern that this lake is out-of-bounds
for anglers and are hoping that the lake can be opened up for access.
I have learned however that the lake itself does
have some issues as a fishery. Being a man-made lake when the Moawhango
River was dammed to provide water for the Tongariro Hydro scheme,
it is subject to huge water level fluctuations (up to 17 metres!)
and so does not provide good habitat for fish growth. In fact it
is filled with huge (and I mean huge) numbers of small fish of around
25 - 30cms in length. Apparently a 1lb fish is an excellent size
from this water. It is also used at times for firing practice by
the military - not the times I would want to be out chasing small
That said, when the miltary are not shooting
across it, it is an ideal water for young people to learn to fish
on as catch rates are astoundingly high. Apparently DoC ran a Take
a Kid fishing day there a few years ago and 10 fish per young angler
per hour of fishing was easily achieved even by novice anglers.
I am visiting Waiouru next week and will keep you posted. But having
talked with the military and DoC, my thoughts are at present to
see if a compromise can be reached where we have the lake open for
certain times of the year where clubs and others can take kids to
the lake for a superb day's fishing. There is nothing like catching
your first fish to be hooked for life. If you have any ideas or
comments please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
|Rangitaiki River access
Also of concern is the issue
that has simmered over the past few months regarding the removal
of access rights by the new owners to that section of the Rangitaiki
River that runs through the Kaingaroa Forest and includes some
of the best fishing on this fabulous river including the Wheao
Canal and Flaxy Lakes.
There is a
brief summary of the history and the situation to date and we
are in contact with Eastern Fish and Game and others to ensure we
keep informed as to what is happening. This is a very serious issue
and we are keen to see that it is resolved as soon as possible and
the rights of anglers to access the fishing on the Rangitaiki is
quickly restored. Again please send us comments and thoughts to
|19 January 2010: Fishing the Rangitikei
Anyone in the lower North
Island looking for a great river to spend a few hours (days / weeks
or even months) would be hard pressed to find a more beautiful river
than the Rangitikei.
Rangitikei headwaters are renown for their huge fish in crystal
clear water (and many anglers flying targeting the wary double figure
trophies the water is famous for) and so we decided to stay in the
These middle reaches are easier to access (though
not that easy) and have fantastic runs and pools with a great head
of fish in wonderful water. To make matters even better is the scenery
- it was not by chance that some of Lord of the Rings and the River
Queen films were shot here. The backdrop to your fishing is spectacular
(though I must admit my attention was firmly on the river).
Andrew and I had dropped in to visit Stephen
and Trudi at Tarata
Fishaway and were able to spend the afternoon on the water.
While I cannot say we caught a heap of fish (three each) we did
see others and lose a few. We enjoyed it so much our two families
have booked in for a weekend later in January at Tarata (we were
lucky that there had been a cancellation) and will then get Stephen
to take us down river by raft (a Tarata speciality). This way we
will be able to fish some of the more remote sections (and Stephen
having lived and run a lodge in the area for years really knows
where the fish are). By then I hope the cicadas will be out so I
will let you know how it goes.
|15 January 2010: Keeping our access
open to rivers and lakes
||I rang the Waiouru Camp again today about fishing
Lake Moawhango but the person I need to speak to is still on leave
and will not be available until later next week. I will continue to
pursue this issue and wish to thank those that have been in touch
with me about the issue of access to the lake. It is good to know
others feel the same way I do about it.
|Retaining access to our fishing
On the subject of access I received this heartfelt
plea from Graham Hughes at Central South Island Fish and Game today
“Close the bloody gate!
I have recently received a call from a frustrated farmer at Lake
Ohau who reports that he and his neighbour are about to lock gates
because of the number of gates left open by anglers during the recent
holiday period. Anglers and hunters have always been well received
in the Lake Ohau area and will continue to be, provided this simple
task is adhered to. Follow the golden rule, close and securely fasten
any gate you open.”
|11 January 2010: Lake Moawhango update
|Gaining access to lake Moawhango
Today I rang and spoke to
the Executive Assistant to the Commandant at the Waiouru Military
Camp and asked for permission to fish on Lake Moawhango that lies
close to State Highway 1. (There are good roads leading to and around
much of this man made lake). I have heard that this is a superb
fishery yet it is closed to the public (though I understand that
military personnel are able to, and regularly do, fish this water).
I received a cool and cautious reply and was asked to send in an
email making my request. I have sent an email asking for permission
and asking for any reasons why it cannot be given.
I am yet to receive a reply and will keep you
updated on this issue as I know that I am not the only person that
is frustrated that such a wonderful fishery is being kept away from
the public. And as I said in the first email, I do not think that
the excuse that there may be live explosive around carries much
weight as it appears that the defence force personnel can and do
fish this lake regularly.
I am keen to hear other people's opinion on this
|7 January 2010: Central Plateau wanderings
| Lahar Lake a real find
I was lucky with
the weather recently when Andrew and I headed north to the Central
Plateau to fish some waters we had not been to before. We stayed
at the budget Snowy
Waters Lodge and were extremely well looked after by the host
Sandy Waters. For those looking for cheap, clean, comfortable accommodation
to explore the rivers and lakes around Raetihi I can thoroughly
Waters as a great base. It is presently a work in progress but
has all you want. It is very quiet and best of all is at a great
One area we wanted to fish was Lahar Lake. This
remote lake (you will not find it on any map) is man-made, being
created in 2000. It is spring fed and quite deep in parts. Most
fish are stocked rainbows and these grow to impressive sizes. I
am ashamed to admit that I lost the first eight fish I hooked as
they seemed to know instinctively where any snag in the vicinity
was located. Having two flies on a leader was a disaster and it
wasn't until I tied only one fly on and upgraded to 8lb leaders
that I was able to tame these beasts. This lake is like a small
- small water, huge fish. They seem to average around 4lb plus and
as they have an abundance of food are plump, fit and feisty. Watching
big fish leap out of the water to attack a dragonfly was great to
Anyone wishing to know how to access this water
should contact me. It was found by chance and is a real find. It
is not easy to access as it is at the back of a hunting block and
permission from the land-owner is absolutely necessary. And if you
go do stock up on blood worm imitations - these were the lethal
fly that the trout loved. I only had a few and these are now all
firmly embedded in some submerged tree trunks.
|Access to Lake Moawhango denied
We were also hoping to fish
Lake Moawhango which is on defence force land. Initial enquiries
were positive. We were told by a friendly member of the army that
all we needed a special permit but when we approached the range
controller it was a different story. We were told in the bluntest
terms that there was "no way that we were going to fish their
lake as we were not members of the defence force". The reasons
were not given but it appears that this beautiful lake is seen as
the private domain of the army in the area.
We will be investigating this further as we at
nzfishing.com are absolutely opposed to private fisheries being
established in this country. And the argument that there may be
unexploded bombs in the area and so it is not safe does not wash!!
If there are bombs lying around I think someone should go and pick
them up - they could also hurt army personnel as well as any intinerant
angler that goes into the area.