Dispatch from New Zealand: Who’s Laughing Now?

Written by: Dave Jensen

Surely there are no fish in that shallow trickle running through the farmer’s field, right?
I mean, that would be ridiculous.

all photos by Dave and Amelia Jensen

[Editor’s Note: Each winter, Dave and Amelia Jensen, owners of Fly Fish Alberta, escape the harsh Canadian climate by traveling to New Zealand for a few months of chasing big brown trout. Here’s a recent update from Dave.]

Amelia and I want to put out a dvd on some of our favorite aspects of fly fishing in New Zealand. One of those things has to do with tiny waters that are of no consequence to most anglers. We love them, and they are seldom fished because they are typically barren, save one or two fish over a 1-3 km stretch of water.

We spent a lot of time this trip exploring and talked to a lot of land owners to gain access to some small streams. Usually, we were told not to bother or were pointed directly to where the owner, manager, or farm hands had seen fish. Helpful is very helpful. But every now and then, when we ask a landowner if we can fish his water, we get laughed at.

Such was the case in late December, as we drove up to a farmhouse to ask permission. The property owner simply looked at us and laughed heartily.

“In that stream?! Are you out of your minds? HA HA HA!”

“Seriously?” he continued. “You want to fish in that?”

He almost told us to stuff ourselves, since the request was seemingly so outlandish. On and on went the laughter. We simply kept replying, “We know that you know your land, but would you mind if we had a go anyway? We’re here, we love the landscape, and we simply love photography….”

After literally 10 minutes of being laughed at and having others on the property come over to see what was so funny—thus multiplying the ridicule launched in our direction—we were told we could have all the go we wanted.

So we did.
We tiptoed along the tiny spring creek.

Through the grassy pasture. Along the fenceline.

The spring creek looked stunning, but it was not quite ankle deep. If only we could find a bit that was more like knee deep. . . .We found it. And we found this: 7.5 pounds of it to be exact. And we found a couple others quite similar.

And then we found where the spring met the river a ways down. And that was full of fish, too.

A few hours later, when we drove back out from the property, we didn’t see anyone around. Nor have we been back. We’d hate to be laughed at again, but, more to the point, we’d hate to telegraph that there are, in fact, fish on the property. So, next year, we’ll drive up and knock on the door again. And get laughed at again. And we won’t mind. Go ahead. Laugh. And 20 minutes later, when we’re on the water, we’ll be laughing too.

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