I have just completed my first season as a New Zealand fly fishing guide. I have been guiding in the Nelson region of the South Island.
It has been the most exciting and fulfilling year of my life. I have learned more in the last 8 months than I have in any other 8 month period in my 33 years of life.
I have enjoyed sharing my passion for fly fishing and my special fishing spots with like minded people from all over the world. I can’t remember a single day where I didn’t learn something new.
Here is a little story about my first day guiding.
Before I began guiding I decided to ask some of the people in the local area if they would like to take up trout fishing and if they would like me to guide them as a trial run. I was worried I may not have the confidence or the patience to become a guide. An elderly couple from along the road expressed some interest in going out to catch a trout for tea. So I chose a day and a spot I knew they and my young daughter would be physically able to get to. As these were absolute beginners I though it would be easier to teach them to cast a spinning rod.
We got down to the river and the conditions were unsuitable, bright and sunny but the water had quite a lot of colour to it. I showed them the fundamentals of casting the spinner out and retrieving it in a lively manor. I gave the rod to the gentleman for him to have the first go. The lure hit the water hard 4 feet from his feet. I calmly explained that he had released his line from under his finger too late. I motioned for him to have another go.
This time the lure sailed out into the middle of the river. He began to reel the lure in towards the bank. When it was halfway in he told me he thought the reel was jammed, as he couldn’t wind any more line in. A quick look at the rod tip told me that there was a fish on his line. I yelled at him to lift the rod tip up. He did this but continued to wind in. My feeling was that it was a good-sized fish and would want to run at some point. I went over and loosened off the drag. I then told him to wind in only when the fish isn’t swimming away. This had all come as a shock to everyone involved. I had expected to spend the majority of the time instructing the couple to cast, not wind in trout. I couldn’t believe that the first decent cast had produced a hook-up.
Everything was going well and the fish was almost at the bank. I told him to be ready and that it would run one more time when it sees me trying to net it. The fish did exactly that and took off as soon it was close enough to net. The old man keep his cool and began the process of bringing the fish back in. This time there was no drama and the fish was netted safely. There was a lot of cheering from my daughter and the old lady. The old man was ecstatic with the catch of the 3lb brown. Never in his wildest dreams did he think he would catch his first trout at 77 years of age.
We carried on fishing and this time it was the old lady who came up trumps. She took a little longer to master the casting but it wasn’t long before she had hauled a nice brown trout of 2lb into the beach.
The rod was then given to my little girl. At 4 years old she already had a grasp of casting and showed us all how to do it by bringing in another brown of 2lbs.
It had been a very successful day and when we got back to the couples house they asked us in for a cup of tea and a lesson on cooking trout. I showed them how to stuff the fish and bake it whole in tin foil. As we were leaving the old man handed me a parcel of frozen home-killed pork chops as payment and a token of appreciation for the day.
I will always remember this day. Not only for the unique payment I received but also for confidence I gained from taking beginners out and coming home with fish.