Let me start off by saying that I am only now coming down from the high that I experienced after a single days fishing with Stu. While on a honeymoon in New Zealand my wife was gracious enough to encourage me to take a days fly fishing in this world class country. I arrived with an understanding and expectation of the NZ trout being difficult and incredibly challenging and this was proven by my unguided attempts earlier in the trip. Stu was about to change all that.
Introductions aside, I set out with Stu to fish a section of the upper Mataura. I was hoping to at least have a fair chance at catching these tough trout as I had practiced casting accuracy a few nights prior and like to think I have a fair amount of experience fly fishing. The first take was quick and a slight delay in the hook set left me with nothing but slack line. The next opportunity I was a little quicker and with some careful instruction from Stu, I was able to put a fair number of fish in the net using Stu’s nymph patterns before lunch. The day could of ended here and I would have left a happy man. With Stu’s easy going demeanor, obvious passion and quick witted humour, I could have enjoyed the day without a single fish; however, this was not to be the case.
With my lunch devoured I couldn’t wait to get fishing again. It was shortly after that something magical happened. A sporadic mayfly hatch occurred right on cue to Stu’s prediction and the trout began feeding on the surface. Trout after trout were seen in ankle deep water plucking the naturals off the top with barely a ripple in the surface to give away their presence. It was to be an afternoon that dreams are made of. Casting to these fish resulted in plenty of misses, refusals, a break off or two and more than a few glorious trout made it to the net. I believe I evolved as a fly fisherman that day as what has really stuck with me are is not the measurements or total numbers landed but the entire experience of fishing amongst beautiful scenary, great comradarie and being challenged and outsmarted by those wild Mataura trout. The adrenaline of sight fishing over large browns and then finally watching it rise to your fly only to refuse in the last moment is not for the faint hearted but is about as romantic as this sport can get.
Now, what Stu doesn’t tell you on his website is that he is an amazing photographer who captured my wonderful day with my camera while I was fixated on rising trout. I cannot thank you enough Stu – the photos and memories will last a lifetime although I know I will be back in NZ before then.
If you would like to see photos of my day with Stu check out @nkuchmak on instagram
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