19 February 2005
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This year, I have had the questionable pleasure of two winters. No sooner had I emerged from the under the grim skies of a Scottish spring when I was plunged into the nearly identical grip of a New Zealand winter. Needless to say, it has been a long time between casts Ė the trout season was closed and weather kept me off the estuaries, where I had hoped to team up with my pal Bruce Masson for some sea-runners. No fishing meant we had plenty of time to compare fishing experiences and wrestle with some trout hunting problems.
Bruce is a hard-core, backcountry angler who gets in more river time than is actually decent. In the off-season he prowls around the Otago tussock grass country in his 4X4, shooting possums, rabbits and hares, at night. I went along on a couple of these sorties, ostensibly to collect fly-tying material. I had to expand my concept of fair chase to some extent, but I should point out that for Bruce culling possums and hares is a job - that it is also a hell of a lot fun is incidental. Bruce informs me that five hares will eat as much grass as one sheep, and there are millions of the critters, so, you know, do the math.
Anyway, on one of our nocturnal scalp hunts we got into yet another discussion on the importance of presentation. As you may know from my articles in FF&FT, Iím pretty much a presentation guy, and while I try to show tolerance toward the high church of fly pattern and selective trout theory, in practice I have little truck with it. Bruce isnít wholly convinced that pattern doesnít play a significant role, but I say to him that he puts so much effort into stalking and presentation that just about anything he throws out there is likely to be taken. So thatís how we keep the conversation bubbling along while Bruce sweeps the wind-blasted landscape with his million-six candlepower searchlight and avoids somersaulting the truck into a ravine, setting me up for another impossible shot to pay me back for disagreeing with him.