Aotearoa Angling Etiquette (Or, how not to be a dick in New Zealand)

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By Chris Dore

Angling ethics and on-stream behaviour are a big deal here in NZ due to the unique qualities of our fishery.

Gin clear water hosting sometimes less than several fish per mile mean that if you walk past, there’s a good chance they will see you and spook to cover for the remainder of the day. This doesn’t bode well for anyone following you upstream… The following are long-held local practices and etiquette that have developed over time through preserving the NZ experience, dealing with increasing angling numbers, and plain, simple human decency.

1: Do NOT enter a river ahead of others on the river before you. With limited numbers of fish per mile in gin clear water the first angling party through for the day has the best, and often only, chance of the day to catch those fish, especially in the backcountry. If you’re the late-comer, suck it up and either go elsewhere, or take your chances and fish up behind, but under no circumstances drive up a K or two, or walk around and ‘jump in’ trying to get ahead. The first party there doesn’t own the river, but has every right to expect enough uninterrupted water for a full day’s fishing, the distance dictated by the nature of the fishery (ie, on high populated rivers such as the Mataura, this may only need to be 1km, however in the backcountry, where there is often a lot of empty water between fish, this may be several kilometres). Which leads into point 2…

2: Communicate. If you see an angler on the river, go over and chat. Find out his plans for the day and do not encroach. If they have ‘magically’ appeared on the river ahead of you ascertain whether you were here first, and if so remind them of the above etiquette (they may simply have been innocently unaware, or genuinely didn’t see you or your vehicle). Also remember to leave a visible note in your windscreen stating whether you are fishing upstream, or downstream of your vehicle. There’s nothing worse than arriving at a long stretch of water capable of entertaining multiple anglers, finding a vehicle parked up and not knowing which way the angler has gone. Many longer access points can accommodate an angling party upstream and another downstream (mindful of others who may be fishing through from the next access below) and so a simple note makes things easy for all.

3: Enter the river at established access points: Fish and Game NZ have done a great job at signposting access on the majority of our rivers, often negotiating public access across private land for your benefit. These accesses are usually pretty well thought out to allow for an ample day’s fishing between access points for the river concerned. If I enter a river at a signposted access, I know how much uninterrupted water I have until the next access and so plan my day accordingly. If you jump in midway between access points then you’ve just ruined my day, spooked my fish and created an awkward situation that I personally won’t hesitate to pull you up on. Think of others and stick to the signs…

4: Camping on, or leaving a vehicle overnight at an access point to ‘claim’ it for the following day is frowned upon and in many cases, illegal

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The Permit Story

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By Louis Cahill

Stop me if you’ve heard this one, and if you’ve spent any time fly fishing salt water, you have.

I was talking with my buddy Bruce Chard yesterday. Thank God for living vicariously through my friends! Since I’ve been dealing with multiple eye surgeries, I haven’t touched a fly rod in five months. I haven’t been five days without casting a rod in twenty years, so I’m losing my mind and talking fishing with my friends is the only thing that keeps me going.

My buddy Scott had just sent me a photo of a friend of his with a huge permit. He was holding the rod, holding the permit and grinning like a cheshire cat, was Bruce. Just by chance, Bruce called me with in the hour, so I had to get the story. The story was not only familiar but a little disheartening. 

This guy had never fly fished. He was in the keys visiting family and his brother-in-law had Bruce booked for the week and gave one of his days to this guy and his wife. Bruce poled them around a little and when they started losing interest, he took them to some nice spots to snorkel and picnic. I’m sure they had a blast but it makes me want to bang my head on the wall. You booked one of the best flats guides on the planet to take you snorkeling? OK.

“We’ve got about an hour left,” Bruce told them, “Why don’t we go check out this permit flat.”

Bruce was thinking he’d at least do a little scouting for the next day when he would be fishing his client who generously offered his day to these folks. A guy deserves a permit after such a gesture, right?

Bruce poles up on the flat and, as soon as they are ready to fish, he sees a permit swimming right to the boat from six O’clock. Not an ideal shot and no time to turn the boat.

“Throw that thing out as far as you can behind the boat,” 

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Flynn’s Stonefly Nymph: Video

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My good friend Dan Flynn shares my obsession with the noblest of insects. Dan is a great tyer with an impressive repertoire of classic patterns. I have always admired his meticulous stonefly nymphs. I’ve also spent many days watching him crush trout on them.

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Tandem Streamer Rigs Catch More Trout

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There’s no doubt that Louis and I are both hardcore streamer junkies.

We never leave home without our streamer boxes packed full. One thing we do a little different from some streamer fishermen on the water is fish a streamer dropper rig. Quite often we’ll tie on a nymph dropper off the back of our big gaudy streamer to increase hookups. Big fish are smart, especially during the busy season when their getting pressured, and they can sometimes get a little gun shy eating big streamers. If you’re on the water and you’re getting a bunch of chases or short strikes on your streamer, try tying on a dropper nymph. It will serve two purposes. First, it will be less intimiating to spooky trout. Secondly, it will often tempt a trout to eat that has turned off your streamer at the last second.

Case in point, last year Louis and I were on the Madison River streamer fishing with very little luck. Instead of giving up on the streamer bite, Louis tied on a size 10 golden stonefly nymph dropper and began putting on a clinic. Every fish ate the golden stone like it was candy and he brought numerous twenty plus inch fish to the boat that day. Experiment with

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Don’t Let Yourself Get Numb to the Reward

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Two decades have passed since I caught my first trout on a fly rod, and even with all those years that have gone by, I can still picture that beautiful 12″ trout in my hands clear as day. I remember that little bugger coming up and crushing my parachute adams, like it was the first piece of food it had seen in days. The feeling of accomplishment and reward I received from catching that trout was so strong, it gave me a perma-grin ear to ear, and a natural high that lasted the rest of the day.

Nowadays I often find I’m becoming numb to the reward I get from most of my catches. Landing a big trophy fish or fooling a lone sipper on the far bank still gets my adrenaline pumping, don’t get me wrong, but they all seem to fall short of the feeling I got from landing my first 12″ trout. Why is that? Am I turning into a snob? I’m sad and ashamed to admit it, but I think I am. That’s why lately I’ve made a point to try to take the time to always reflect back to those early days before I step foot in the water. If I’m guiding, I’ll show up extra early before my trip begins, and picture my anxious client driving over the mountains to meet me. I clear my mind and focus on how excited he or she is about the fishing trip that’s about to start, and how they probably lost sleep the night before picturing trout rising to their dry fly. Doing this, it gets me pumped up, keeps me grounded, and puts me in a zone so I can be the best guide I can be. When I’m fishing on my own, I’ll sit on the bank and watch the water flow over the rocks, through the riffles, and into the pools for a few minutes before I wet my flies. It seems to put everything into perspective for me and it enhances my overall experience for the day. Fly fishing can only be fully appreciated if we keep an eye

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Orvis H3 Artist Series: Video

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These limited edition Helios 3 fly rods are literally works of art. This is one of the coolest things I’ve seen from a fly rod manufacturer. Each of these limited edition H3 fly rods sports a grip that artist and Orvis endorsed guide Tim Johnson has turned into a one of a kind work of art.  Each H3 905F has a brown trout burned into the grip while back H3 908D bares a hand burned bonefish. Since they are all hand illustrated, each is unique and stunning. Orvis is releasing 300 5 weights and only 200 8 weights. They are available immediately and will surely go fast. Watch the video and see Tim Johnson hand burning an H3 for you!  Louis Cahill Gink & Gasoline   Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!  

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Wiggle Bug For Silver Salmon

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Who doesn’t love watching a big silver salmon rushing towards a fly and crushing it?

I’ll tell you who, an Alaskan guide who’s already unhooked three dozen of them for the day.

I used to really enjoy guiding first time silver clients in Alaska. You wouldn’t believe the praises you’d get as a guide after they landed twenty or so. It was sometimes hard keeping a straight face, smiling and saying, thanks man! But in my head I’m thinking, it’s not brain surgery, this is about as easy as Alaska fishing gets. Seriously though, I really did enjoy the high fives and genuine remarks I received during those trips. Silver fishing did get a little monotonous at times but it was always an easy day of guiding, something guides cherish after months in the bush. Silver salmon are super territorial and aggressive during the spawn, making them eager to chase and attack flies that enter their field of vision. It’s not technical fly fishing by any means but a lot of fun for fly anglers wanting action all day long. The only thing I truly hated about silver salmon fishing was the beating my hands took from trying to handle them death rolling in the net. If you ever get a chance take a good hard look at an alaskan guides hands. It’s not a pretty sight. I never thought my hands would look the same after that season in Alaska. Thank God for utter cream.

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Unhook Thyself! Safe, Painless Hook Removal

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There are two kinds of fishermen. The ones who have hooked themselves and the ones who are about to. It’s a bad feeling the first time you put a big streamer hook in yourself past the barb. You feel pretty helpless if you don’t know how to handle it. I’ve done it many times and I’m here to tell you that there is an easy, and even painless, way to get that hook out. As a veteran guide Kent has had to do it plenty and he’s a master. He’s taken hooks out of clients without them even knowing it was done.

We’ve been wanting to do this video for some time. We kept waiting for one of us to get hooked but it hasn’t happened so on a recent float on the South Holston with the guys from Southern Culture on the Fly and Bent Rod Media I decided to take things in hand and hook myself so we could show you how to deal with it. I have to say, it was harder to get that hook in past the barb than I thought. If you listen closely you can hear Dave Grossman of SCOF almost lose his lunch.

So watch and learn and please,

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Johnny’s Shark

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A perfect cast right on the big shark’s nose gets nothing but a sniff and a refusal.

In a low and stoic voice the guide says, “the fish ain’t gonna eat if he don’t smell blood”. Johnny Spilane gives him a hard look, takes his fly from the water and jams the hook into his hand, then squeezes the blood onto his fly. The shark follows the fly almost to the boat, then charges and cuts left. We all thought it ate the fly. Maybe it did, and didn’t stick. Our guide was glad because he didn’t want to spend all day landing it. There were plenty of bonefish to catch but some people just aren’t happy doing what everyone else wants to do. That’s Johnny, and that’s why he brought three silver medals back from the Vancouver Olympics. It’s also why he’s a great fisherman.


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Eye Surgery Update: So Far So Good

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It’s way too early to call my last surgery a win, but for now, all the news is good.

It’s been five weeks since my last surgery and as of my last checkup we are all encouraged. I don’t want to oversell. I could get bad news any time but it will be the end of the year, at the earliest, before we can call it a success. To help readers understand, I’m going to get into some details about my condition. Please pardon me but I do have friends looking for updates. 

I will talk a little about what’s coming up at G&G, so feel free to scroll down to that.

After my first retinal detachment surgery I developed a condition called PVR, short for proliferative vitreoretinopathy. In cases of PVR, excessive scar tissue forms between the retina and the eye. As that scar tissue matures, it pulls the retina like a scab might pull the skin nearby, until it detaches the retina again. In my case, the retina tore in four places and completely detached. 

This second detachment was far worse than the first. The combination of permanent scar tissue, holes in the retina, and a detached macula mean that, even if the surgery is successful, the vision in that eye will never be good. Legally blind is about the best I can hope for. That sounds worse than it is. I have one good eye and enough vision in the other to have some depth perception, and that’s huge.

The problem with PVR is that it’s persistent. Most PVR patients have from three to eight surgeries before things are resolved and with each additional surgery the quality of the outcome gets poorer. The best case is poor vision, the worst is removal of the eye. I understand that second option is extremely painful and I think I’m a long way from that.


There are two stages to the recovery. The first six weeks we are just looking for the reattachment to hold. That looks really good right now. The second stage is a ninety day timeline where we are waiting to see if the PVR comes back and detaches the retina again. Because the scar tissue from the first round of PVR is permanent, that part of the retina is more prone to detaching again. If it looks like that is going to happen, the option is to go back in and cut away the affected part of the retina. Of course, that leaves black spots in my vision. That’s not great, and let’s hope it doesn’t happen, but the priority is keeping the macula attached. If the macula does not stay attached, the brain sees the eye as dead and will start trying to get rid of it. The only tool it has to do that is pain.

As of now there is some new PVR in my retina, but it’s not bad. My doctor

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