Wednesday 2 October 2013

The new season


Sitting on the river bank, quietly watching a trout just below me, a stoat popped up on a rock beside me. I heard him before I saw him. He was so fast I only caught a brief glimpse of his brown coat, white chest and startled expression before he scurried back up the bank.

After a few casts, I decided to continue upstream stoat-like, hopping along the edge of the river. Soon after that thought surfaced, I slipped in some mud, dirtying my corduroys.

The birds were filling the air with their noise - a quail calling from the hillside; a mix of tuis and maybe bellbirds; magpies in the distance somewhere; and birds I wasn't sure of the name of. The bumble bees were humming around the nearby flowers.

Then another noise - a subtle slurp! I noticed the rings of a trout rising nearby. My second cast in that direction with my Black Fury lure had a trout following. Nothing more, though. I sat and watch for a while, leaving a dirty damp cheek-print on the rock when I stood.

I heard a train's horn in the distance, probably passing through Springs Junction, or maybe Tuamarina, which is closer.

There was no wind - a perfectly still late afternoon. Swallows swooped and darted about the water. The Wairau River chattered on its way, higher and greener than normal, but nothing like it was about a week ago when it was brown. I was fishing just off the main river, where it changes with each flood - sometimes flowing in above the main access area, sometimes meeting the creek-fed water further downstream.

It was the first day of the new trout fishing season, and I was happy I'd at least seen a couple of trout. The new season must mean different things to each fisher. For many, it must mean their favourite water is open again for fishing, as many rivers and streams are closed outside of the official 1st October - 30 April season. For me, it mainly signifies the time when it's warming up enough for me to start taking the motorbike out of the shed after being neglected over winter, to explore the river again. I'm still slightly obsessed with the lower Wairau, which is open year-round, so the actual season doesn't mean so much to me. In saying that, I do plan on exploring more waters that aren't open year-round this season, so next season that comment may not apply.

A shag startled me as it scrambled and flew over the river from nearby as I slowly moved back downstream.

Riding the bike back towards home, a rabbit ran across the dirt road. The setting sun shone in the bike's rear view mirror as I left the river, content with my first day of the new season.