Veteran angler approaches 70 year milestone

  • 3/10/2017

Veteran angler approaches 70 year milestone

Veteran Canterbury angler Walter Keenan has been fishing the country’s lakes and rivers for the past 68 seasons – and has all his licences from all those past years to prove it.

The new fishing season kicks off on Sunday, October 1, with thousands of anglers heading out onto lakes, rivers and streams to try their luck.

Christchurch resident Walter Keenan bought his first licence in the 50’s and it cost him one pound ten shillings.

His first fishing trip was to Lake Ellesmere with a mate and as they “didn’t know much about fishing” they caught nothing – “but we enjoyed our afternoon out.”

The 50’s were “great learning years,” he recalls.

Walter went on to fish spots like the Selwyn River “when the brown beetle was on the job,” Lake Coleridge and other back country lakes, and began tying his own flies.

He watched a fly tying demonstration at a store and thought “I reckon I’ll have a go at that.”

The first fly he tried to tie, a red setter, wasn’t very successful, but a black fly he tied caught him a six and a half pound brown trout at Lake Heron.

There was “great satisfaction” in catching fish with flies you tied yourself, Walter reflects, “and ever since then I tied my own.”

He caught enough fish to justify buying a canning machine and his slogan was: ‘we eat what we can and what we can’t eat, we can,’ Walter chuckles. He sold the machine when the cost of a can became too expensive.    

Walter says he can still fish but because of a heart condition he has “got to slow down and take it easy.”

“I get short of breath, he adds, “as long as I take it easy I’m okay.”

In the North Island, 90 year-old Harold Boyes has been buying fishing licences for around 60 years and planned to head out on Lake Tarawera as he’s done for around 30 years, with other family members.

He started fishing in the 40’s at Lake Okareka where the family had a bach before a two room house was built in the early 50’s.

Harold typically goes out on opening with his son Paul, a grandson and a nephew.

“If we’re not having much success trolling we try a few spots round the lake jigging.

“Some are very successful spots and some are very lean,” he says.

One of Harold’s early fishing stories centres on Lake Okareka where he had rowed out in a dinghy.

The fish he hooked took off, pulling line running out fast. Before he had a chance to put down the oars and grab the rod the fish pulled it overboard.

“The tip of the rod was sticking out of water for a while – I was rowing to catch up and then it suddenly disappeared.”

Harold Boyes says proudly that the best fish they’ve caught was in fact, a seven and a half pounder hooked by his son Paul’s then six year-old granddaughter.

To hear more from Walter Keenan, click on our video:


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