It will come as no surprise to anybody that since the arrival of my son three months ago I’ve been spending far less time on the water. On a positive note, things are not as dire as many predicted, the talk of “you’ll never go fishing again” were a wild exaggeration. So while I am not fishing as much I am spending time on the water. The key has been lowering ones expectations and making the most of small windows. Two hours free is more than enough time to head down to the local creek to present some fluff to some carp, four hours and heck, I can get 2 hours on a trout stream. Maybe not a good trout stream, but a trout stream nonetheless. Heck, sometimes I’ll even catch a fish.
Which brings me to to New Zealand. We made the trip over to celebrate a wedding, my cousin Ben marrying Alice, the love of his life. The wedding was amazing, all the guests dressed in white, a mountain backdrop dripping with epicness, friends and family. What more could you ask for. After the wedding, we had a few days in Queenstown with nothing much planned. Big hikes and the other adventurous pursuits that are Queenstowns speciality aren’t exactly achievable with a baby in toe. This meant that more sedate pursuits were going to be the order of the day. Which is how we found ourselves in Arrowtown, spending a wonderful morning with the family eating breakfast, drinking coffee and revelling in the quaintness of the highly picturesque town. As the morning drew on, we found ourselves strolling along the Arrow river which runs behind the town. It soon became apparent that the river was full of fish, it was impossible not to notice them. Trout in every hole. Trout trout everywhere. Ceri suggested I go fishing. I didn’t need to be asked twice, it was decided. I headed back to the car and grabbed the rod, Ceri and the rest of the family headed off to have lunch and a glass or two of the regions finest pinots. We would meet back at the car in 2 hours. Win win.
The next two hours fishing were not the New Zealand you usually hear about. New Zealand is synonymous with the backcountry and big browns and rainbows in crystal clear rivers and streams (for that check out Scott Xanthoulakis’, Kiel Jones and Madcaddis on instagram who were over at the same time as myself). It did tick most of the boxes though. Crystal clear water, tick. Stunning scenery, tick. Sightfishing, tick. The major difference was the size and number of the fish. Compared to “normal”, New Zealand fish, these things were pretty damned small. Unlike many NZ rivers, where its often a case of quality over quantity (the lure of trophy fish is one of NZs attractions), this was all quantity, quantity, quantity. Up to twenty fish between 4 and 12 inches could be stationed in the bigger pools. Madness.
Given the sheer number of fish, it wasn’t long before my first little trout came to hand. Followed by another and another and another. And another. The biggest challenge turned out to be getting the fly to the bigger fish without the little fish ruining my best laid plans. On numerous occasions after a decent cast to the largest fish in the pool just as the fly was getting into the zone there would be a flash of silver and another little bow would need to be released at my feet. On many others as I stalked up the pool as carefully as possible I would spook unseen fish that would race up the pool causing pandaemonium, shutting down the intended target. It was challenging in its own way, the curse of plenty. I did eventually managed to land some of the bigger browns and bows the stream had to offer. Shining silver treasures, perfectly matched to the gin clear water and grey rock bottom. They glistened in the bright sun for a few moments before disappearing back into the waters from whence they came. It was good times. Very good times.
Thats the thing about fishing with a new born, its important to appreciate the little things. My two hours, wandering up the Arrow river might not have been “classic” New Zealand, the fish might have been small, the hours short, but I couldn’t have asked for anything more. It was bliss.