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View from our campsite -morning
Same view -evening
Fate of clock set for 4 am !

Kingston Flyer

A great time was had by all.

Tarn is the New Zealand term for a small body of water that we would call a lagoon, the sun was yet to rise above the snow capped mountain range to the east of the Ben Avon tarn. The morning was crisp without being cold, the cloudless blue sky promised another of the glorious sunny days that we had experienced during the first three of our eight-day visit to the land of the long white cloud.

My two colleagues on this occasion had chosen to explore the right hand side of the overhanging willow on the waters edge. Possibly because it appeared to be deeper and therefore home to larger trout which were the objects of our quest. The bank of the tarn on my side of the willow is a blanket of lush green grass while the other side has tussocks of longer grass but there were no other obstacles to interfere with the fly line when we cast it out behind us as we attempted to land an imitation of the trouts’ natural food chain on the mirrored surface of the crystal clear water gently, so as not to disturb any of them.

The other four members of the Geelong Fly Fishing Club who had accompanied us on our trip had chosen to make one of the many famous rivers in the near vicinity their hunting ground this morning. We would meet up again at lunchtime to compare catches and plan the afternoon session.

The tarn was no more than 50 metres wide where I approached as stealthily as my not so agile frame would allow, stopping 3 metres from the edge I could clearly see the bottom sloping away from me to a depth of no more than a metre on the the far side. The bottom was mainly a mix alight coloured sand, pebbles and patches of green weed.

There was a very small inlet across my path, the fish that took fright, as I stumbled across this patch of water no more than 200 millimeters deep must have weighed in at least 2 pounds. I was sure the bow wave it created as it charged across to the deeper water would have scared off every other trout in that pristine lagoon.

Luckily that was not the case, in the next 2 hours I saw at least 15 of the species feeding on the surface and on the bottom. Even taking into account a fisherman’s right to exaggerate, some of those fish were up to six pounds. At one time there were four circling the imitation mayfly that I had allowed to drift into their vision envelope, they came up to inspect it from close range but were not inclined to taste it. Many other fly patterns were carefully presented with the aid of my excellent Pro Angler Stalker rod but the fish treated them all with similar silent contempt.

Even though it had been my intention to return them to the water had I caught any of these magnificent creatures, it would have been almost sacrilegious to do so in these surroundings.

The 2 hours that I spent there stalking and watching my adversaries get the better of me every time was 2 hours I have spent off the highway smelling the roses. The fragrance was indescribable and shall remain with me forever.

My fellow fly fishers did not see as many fish but the most experienced of them landed one of four pounds. Together with 2 others of similar size that had been captured from the river by other members of our group, they provided us all with a delicious evening meal that was cooked in the smoker that our tour leader had brought with us.

That I caught only one fish over the eight days matters not, the two other members of our group who did not catch any either agree with me. We have been there, learnt much, shared the comradeship of like minded souls and experienced the joy and serenity of fly fishing in New Zealand in autumn – and are much richer for it.

Rod Jenkins 2001