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TROUT FISHING WITH MAURICE RODWAY - Weekly Column: December 13, 2002
Southland, New Zealand

The Land Robbers

River fishing in spring provides the best and at times the most frustrating trout fishing. Trout are hungry and feed well most of the time, making them easy to catch. But river conditions can be changeable. Spring thunderstorms result in dirty water. Under these conditions fishing is not possible so golf or other less inspiring activities, perhaps even gardening, have to be substituted.

Usually slugs of dirty water subside and conditions return to normal after a few days. This year however, this problem seems to be worse than before and its effects may be longer lasting. The dairy boom is encouraging landowners to renew pastures and plant out winter feed crops on an unprecedented scale.  Rolling hills have been ploughed, and tilled till the soil is a fine seedbed in which new grass cultivars are planted. Ready to be turned into profits from the land next autumn and winter. When the grass has grown it protects the soil and we all eventually bank the harvest .

But in the spring there are bank robbers about whose plans are prepared in the warm winds from the north. The come in the form of towering thunderheads, borne from warm moist air that rises to stratospheric heights, gathering vast quantities of water until the upwards forces give way to gravity. Then the grey shrouded villains descend and the raid begins. Tonnes of water falls. Where the bank vaults are defended by barriers of healthy grass and trees, the water runs downhill and is unable to take with it any of the earth's gold.  But on bare soil, its defences are weak. It is whisked up and it runs with the rain, leaping recklessly into the closest stream; rushing seawards. 

The rain robbers have no love for their loot. They are wantonly careless, leaving it strewn over the stream bed in a fine yellow mat. The rich earth that would have fattened the pockets of a farmer now lies on the homes of mayflies and trout. Such gold does not bring riches to the river, only suffering. The loss of good earth to a river weakens both the trout and the cow.

It is hoped that more gentle summer showers will make the rivers run clean again, and that trout will still be there. But for that to happen there will need to be a lot more security on the land.

Maurice Rodway
Southland, New Zealand                           E-mail:

Article © 2002 Maurice Rodway, All Rights Reserved.


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