David Haynes Column for Reel Life December 2018

  • 19/12/2018


A few thoughts prior to the Christmas madness….Cawthron Institute, Kiwi Anglers First, many guides and some Fish & Game regions have all acknowledged the increasing pressure on sensitive backcountry fisheries from overseas anglers.

Yet there has been little offered in the way of solutions other than imposition of Controlled Fishery regulations where individual sections of rivers must be pre-booked – something of an anathema to many Kiwi anglers.

Having just returned from two backcountry trips, I met two Australians on the tramp into the first one (fortunately I was walking out) and enjoyed a very detailed account of a fishing trip by Australians in the hut log book on the other trip. These are only two examples but there was a common thread.  In the first one, the anglers had seven days worth of food and so intended to fish for that length of time. The entry in the hut book I read on my second trip recounted some fishing that made me shudder – Day 1, fished 10km up to the hut; Day 2, walked downstream 3km and fished back up to 3km above the hut; Day 3 walked 7km downstream and fished back up to the hut, Day 4, walked 10km downstream and fished back to the hut!

No rules are being broken here and such fishing is well within the sports fishing regulations, yet many of us grumble about such fishing behaviour as we believe it is counter to the Kiwi way – and so here is where the problem might lie:

  1. The current F&G Code of Conduct is overdue for a complete rewrite.
  2. The Code of Conduct should be more visible and more highly advertised.
  3. Overseas anglers are not very good at mind-reading what is the “Kiwi way”.

My long-time fishing mate Silvio has written to Fish & Game HQ many times over 15 years begging them to update the Code of Conduct in the regs, stating that many were appropriate only to rivers like the Tongariro, with gems like “Always enter a pool behind the direction being fished by any angler already there,” and “Move upstream or downstream with every few casts (unless you are alone)” being completely meaningless for South Island backcountry rivers.

Surely the way we will all get along on the river is to have a Common Protocol – a way of doing things the benefits of which is readily understandable. 

Here goes:

  1. Treat rivers sensitively, there is no need for or chance of catching every single fish.
  2. Remember that others will want to enjoy the river, so don’t over stay your welcome and don’t thrash it to death.
  3. Don’t fish over the same water during a trip, it puts the fish down for you and others.
  4. If you’re practising catch and release, consider limiting your catch by targeting a few fish only.
  5. You don’t have to have to hold and photo every fish you catch, those 'grip-and-grin' pics do all look the same.
  6. If you walk downstream onto another angler, expect some abuse.
  7. If you encounter another angler, have a friendly chat and go several km above or below the angler, or somewhere else, as appropriate.
  8. If you have to cross a river above an angler (after the friendly chat of course) make it at least 300 metres above – human scent puts down brownies.
  9. If you carry it in, carry it out.
  10. Study to be quiet.

Tight lines, happy Christmas and please keep emailing me – all suggestions to the new Common Protocol welcomed.

David Haynes

Email: david@outdoorsparty.co.nz

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