Bird-lovers’ new passion for fishing just clicks

  • Otago
  • 29/09/2023

Bird-lovers’ new passion for fishing just clicks

Hours spent on rivers pursuing a love of bird watching and wildlife photography has inspired a Mosgiel couple to take up trout fishing.

First-time fishing licence holders Annie and Koshy Yohannan are eagerly awaiting the opening of the 2023-24 freshwater fishing season, which opens on Sunday. (October 1)

With neither having any fishing experience, Mrs Yohannan signed herself and her husband up to Otago Fish & Game’s adult beginner fishing course in Dunedin last week.

Evening theory classes with 30 other participants culminated in a fishing lesson at Southern Reservoir where Mr Yohannan can claim his first fishy tale of the one that got away.

“I pulled a fish in and it came up to the surface and I was fighting it, but I think I didn't put enough pressure on and it was wriggling and escaped,” he said.

“I was like, ‘There goes my first fish’’.”

The self-confessed bird-lovers moved to Dunedin from Rotorua two years ago to spend more time exploring the South Island. In his free time, Mr Yohannan is an accomplished wildlife photographer.

While in the North Island, they would often use anglers’ access points on the Tongariro River to watch whio (blue duck).

“We put in hours sitting on that river at angler accesses, because that’s the best way to watch the whio,” Mr Yohannan said.

“We watched a lot of fly-fishing anglers and were fascinated by the way they were fishing and catching trout.”

The couple have bought themselves fishing rods to put in their backpacks and now, when Mr Yohannan is taking photographs, Mrs Yohannan will not be sitting idle.

“It actually fits in very nicely with what we do, tramping, bird watching and things like that,” Mrs Yohannan, a physiotherapist, said. “I think fishing is very mindful.”

Mr Yohannan believes the patience he has mastered through wildlife photography will come in handy fishing.

“I can be out for six or seven hours and sometimes come back without a single photo, so it's no problem.”

Mr Yohannan said that before settling in New Zealand about 12 years ago, they had lived in Scotland for almost a decade, where they used to watch other people fish for salmon.

“It's only after we came to New Zealand, met friends who are anglers, I think we got the interest and now slowly we're getting the bug.”

Mrs Yohannan is also looking forward to catching fish for the table.

“I want to catch my own trout,” Mrs Yohannan said.

Mrs Yohannan was born in Brunei and Mr Yohannan in Singapore. The well-travelled pair said having roots in the coastal Kerala state in southern India, fish was an important part of their diet.

Otago Fish & Game officer Bruce Quirey said unsettled weather had discoloured many Otago rivers before opening day, and anglers would need to be flexible about where they chose to fish.

Lakes, reservoirs, and some small tributaries would be good options for clearer water.

“It’s been great fun passing on a few tips to Annie and Koshy, who will be among some 15,000 freshwater anglers getting out there in Otago this season.

“We’re anticipating more fishy tales and, of course, some amazing photos from their new adventures.”

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