The following article was by the late Ted Bason, who was president and secretary of the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers in the 1970s-80s. It was published in “On the River” in 1974. Ted was a life member of the Nelson-Marlborough Fish and Game and was on the Wellington and Marlborough Acclimatisation Society councils prior to fish and game formation.
The Old Man was my grandfather. He taught me virtually as a boy everything he knew, all about fishing, hunting and shooting. And that was a good deal!
He broke me into life and the pleasures of the outdoors. He strongly preached ethics.
“You always leave enough for someone else to enjoy. You never take more than you immediately need.”
To this end he even regarded the true poacher as a conservationist because a true poacher never took more than he immediately needed. Make sense?
He would never think of slaughtering deer, pigs, ducks or trout. How different his outlook was to many of today.
He fished Taupo back in the 1920s. I remember a photo of his, in which he was holding two massive trout. We discovered the photo in his desk after his death. The vent to tail section of both those fish lay on the ground as he tried to hold them aloft.
I recall him telling me that in Taupo in those days, 8 to 10 lb fish went back. He fished selectively never pot hunting i.e. taking the maximum.
My first trout was taken legally, thanks to my grandfather. He had stressed to me the sporting, ethical angle of trout fishing, even to the extent of frowning on spin fishing for mature anglers. Spinning was okay for youngsters or the beginner but fly fishing was the ultimate. On this day (we lived in Taihape), I went down to the Rangitikei River. My casting was hopeless so I stood in the rapid, peeled line off and let the line carry the fly lure down. A fish hook. I dropped the rod and handlined a 3 lb rainbow ashore!
Following my initial success he set abut teaching me the finer points. He showed me the finer points of casting, the flies to use and where to find trout, i.. the more likely places in the river.
He was himself a very skilled fly caster. He made his own flies. He used to make my grandmother angry by plucking feathers from a prized kiwi cloak hanging in the hallway. The Kiwi lure was one his favourites. He must have reckoned the string of scoldings was worth the prized flies!
My grandfather loved the outdoors and loved the wildlife and fully appreciated of all about him. Being a Maori of that era, his English was not the best but when he was in the outdoors or speaking about his love of the fishing, the trout, the river and just being there, the sparkle in his eyes and the sincerity with which he spoke, told of his deep appreciation and attachment.
But to me, the tragedy was the way in which his philosophy and words were not echoed by many today. Visit Taupo and witness the selfish and competitive ways of many. My grandfather would have been saddened.
He loved the deer he hunted and never killed more than he needed or could carry. I would hate to think of his comments on the present day venison meat hunters, spotlighting and slaughtering deer from helicopters. He cherished his love of the outdoors. What a pity there were and are not, more sportsmen like him.
I now know what he was trying to instill in me.
Trout fishing is a sport. It’s not competition. It’s priceless. It’s an asset and therapy to any person.
It’s needed for today’s increasingly stressed society – and tomorrow too.
© He loved the outdoors and loved the wildlife and fully appreciated of all about him