Fly Fishing with the Whanau (family)
Last week I was sitting down for dinner at The Works restaurant in Gisborne when out of the blue my parents casually walked through the doors! I couldn't believe they were here in New Zealand, having traveled over 10,000km to surprise me. I was totally taken back and overwhelmed with happiness due to the fact that I hadn't seen them in a little over a year since I moved countries.
During my parents stay we had a full schedule. In between driving up the coast to the Tolaga Bay wharf and deep-sea fishing with our mate Nick Greek, we managed to squeeze in a fly fishing trip. The weather was perfect, but the rivers were still a bit coloured up from the rain that had come through only a few days before so the four of us headed into the Te Urewera National Park. We scouted out a particular stretch of water that was fast flowing but to our delight, it held fish.
Now, my dad Vance was no spring chicken when it came to fly fishing but has always preferred spin fishing (can't hate him for it) while my mother Nancy on the other hand had never touched a fly rod in her life. I've never guided before, but it was quite a relief knowing that even if we didn't get my parents onto fish, they couldn't fire us or leave a bad review. We made a pathway through the bush to an opening on the river, scanning the edges for trout. As soon as Connor got to the water's edge, he spotted a brown sitting behind a submerged branch not far off the bank and handed the rod over to my old man. Without needing to strip any line off the reel, dad laid out the smelt imitation and with ease, the fish drifted over to inhale it. Before long, my dad was hooked up to the beast and Connor was quick to net the fish before it got too far downstream. A couple compliments and a few quick photos later, my dad safely released the stunning fish back into the water and his smile was priceless.
Now it was moms turn. There wasn't much room to make a full back cast, so we removed the indicator and rigged up two weighted nymphs at the end of the line. There were fish holding less than a meter our from where we were standing, and I instructed my mother to flick the flies out in front and let them naturally drift down while watching the tension on the line. Nancy was a natural and as soon as the line went tight, we told her to strike. My mother quickly lifted the rod, sending it into a bent position with a fish hooked at the other end. As I was instructing her to reel in the slack line, the unhappy 5-6lb brown went airborne a few feet in front of us and I'm ashamed to say both my mother and I screamed. Whether it was from fear or pure excitement, I'm still not sure. Unfortunately, that was the last we saw of that fish, but it was an unforgettable show! A little breather and Nancy was back into the game, more focused than ever. The line went tight once more and BOOM! Fish on.
It was such a thrill watching my mom fight the fish while I coached her from the sidelines. She was all business, never losing tension and keeping the rod tip up while guiding it into shallower water. Once again, Connor was quick with the net and a sigh of relief followed when the rainbow was landed. One of my favorite parts of the trip was when my mom turned to me at the end of the day and said, "I totally get it now, why you love it so much. That was incredible!"
It's one thing to share a river or a day's fishing with friends or even complete strangers, but getting to teach and give something back to the same people who raised me was a humbling experience. I'll always be grateful for the opportunity to show my folks around New Zealand, as well as my passion and it's days like this one that I'll cherish for a lifetime.