NZFFA November 2021 Newsletter
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We Need Fair Dinkum National Water Conservation Orders in Canterbury 

  • The effect of a WCO is either to protect a water body in its natural state or to restrict or prohibit abstraction or uses that affect water flow, or quality, or the habitat qualities of a water body in order to protect/preserve its outstanding amenity or intrinsic values. A WCO can prohibit or restrict a regional council from issuing new water and discharge permits but cannot annul existing permits. 
  • Under the ECan Act, assessments of WCOs in Canterbury (c.f. other parts of New Zealand) give less weight to preserving and protecting nationally outstanding water bodies and greater weight to potential abstractive uses of water. However, the ability to impose moratoria on resource consents for water and discharge permits created by the Act provides a useful mechanism to allow the planning regime to ‘catch up’ with demand.

Thanks to the Environment Canterbury Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management Act 2010 (Ecan Act), the National Water Conservation Order Rakaia River (1988) no longer provides fair dinkum protection to the iconic Rakaia River;

Rakaia River water conservation order

Rakaia River water conservation order [New Zealand Legislation website]

Rakaia River amendment order [New Zealand Gazette website]

Key milestones

  • On 10 June 1983, four organisations applied for a water conservation order in respect of the Rakaia River and tributaries.
    They were the:

    • Ashburton Acclimatisation Society
    • North Canterbury Acclimatisation Society
    • Council of South Island Acclimatisation Societies
    • National Executive of Acclimatisation Societies.
  • The application was made under the Water and Soil Conservation Act 1967.
  • The application was referred to the National Water and Soil Conservation Authority which publicly notified the application and received submissions.
  • A public hearing was held from 6 to 14 December 1983.
  • The authority approved its report and recommendations in March 1984.
  • The draft Order was publicly notified in April 1984.
  • Submissions were made to the Planning Tribunal which held its hearing between 1 October and 6 December 1984.
  • The tribunal released its report and recommendations on 3 May 1985.
  • An appeal on questions of law was lodged with the High Court.
  • The hearing was held from 15 to 16 September 1986. The judgement is dated 17 November 1986.
  • Leave was granted for an appeal to the Court of Appeal. This was heard on 27 and 28 August 1987.
  • Judgement was delivered on 30 September 1987. This allowed the appeal and restored the report of the Planning Tribunal.
  • On 10 October 1988 the National Water Conservation (Rakaia River) Order 1988 was made.

Making the 2011 amendment order

  • On 23 March 2011, the Ashburton District Council applied for a variation to the National Water Conservation (Rakaia River) Order 1988. The application was made to the Minister for the Environment under section 58 of the Environment Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management) Act 2010.
  • The Minister decided that because of the minor effect of the amendment it was unnecessary for Canterbury Regional Council to consider the application and the applicant had the agreement of the successors to the original applicant for the Order (Fish and Game Councils) and the regional council.
  • The National Water Conservation (Rakaia River) Amendment Order 2011 was approved and gazetted in August 2011.

Making the 2013 amendment order

  • On 16 July 2011, TrustPower applied to the Minister for the Environment to vary the National Water Conservation (Rakaia River) Order 1988 to enable consents to be sought for the Lake Coleridge Project.
  • The application was submitted to ECan under the Environment Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management) Act 2010 and publicly notified by ECan on 15 October 2011.
  • The hearing was held during parts of February, March and April, and completed in July 2012.
  • The ECan report and recommendations was sent to the Minister on 4 October 2012.
  • The National Water Conservation (Rakaia River) Amendment Order 2013 was made on 4 February 2013.

The canal supplying 33 cubic meters of water per second to the Central Plains Water irrigation enhancement scheme. Water not available under the original 1988 NWCO.

A further 17 cubic meters per second was allocated to the Barrhill Chertsey Irrigation scheme on the south bank of the Rakaia.


Three examples of the many small run of river irrigations races consented prior to the 2012 Ecan managed Lake Coleridge Project Hearing that already abstracted the maximum permitted take during times of low natural river flows.

Many farms adjacent to the Rakaia River irrigate by pumping connected groundwater onto their farms. The zone through Mead and Te Pirita is “red zoned”, judged over allocated by Ecan. Unfortunately appeals to the Courts have shown Ecan to be impotent.


An example of the metered irrigation pipes supplying farms across central Canterbury

North Rakaia River May 2021 aerially defoliated with highly concentrated glyphosate herbicide due to lupin, willow, gorse, and other woody plants becoming established on a once shingle braid bed. The result of artificially low river flows.


The Oakden canal can divert 30 cubic meters per second of the Wilberforce River into Lake Coleridge. Since 2013 the NWCO amendment this diverted water can be “stored” and sold to contracted irrigation schemes.

Ecan issued consents for an adjacent landowner to carry out flood protection. The diversion of a major braid of the Rakaia River does not comply with the Rakaia WCO

On time, within specification, to budget. Major irrigation pipelines being laid across Central Canterbury completing Stage II of CPW.


Unconsented drain cut into the Rakaia River by an adjacent landowner. No prosecution by Ecan.

North Rakaia River cross-bladed and defoliated by Ecan in 2010. The soils took 10 years to recover.

Sustained low flows in the lower Rakaia River braids allows sediment and algal mats to choke benthic invertebrates and smother native fish eggs and fry.


Irrigation diversion at the northern end of SHWY 1

The last straw!

ECan exposed: regulator hides damning report (

The above leaked report is evidence that Trustpower may not be complying with the conditions of the amended Rakaia River NWCO and that Environment Canterbury is unable to monitor whether or not Trustpower is in compliance with the WCO.

The NZFFA, North Canterbury F&G, and National Council of F&G have participated in a recent zoom conference to discuss ways to respond to this disturbing Newsroom report

[Environment Canterbury has achieved few if any of its targets to protect the region’s freshwater resources - targets contained in the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS) which became operative in 2010. Since the Ecan Act 2010 and subsequence legislation gave legal weight to the CWMS, water pollution with cattle associated pathogens and nitrate has increased measurably.  No meaningful action has been taken to reverse over abstraction of water for irrigation within the region. ]

In the language of Australian country singer and environmentalist John Williamson it seems Ecan and Trustpower are not fair dinkum.

It appears we have “pigs on the river” in Canterbury just like the Murray-Darling river system in Australia.

Aussie icon John Williamson has always been passionate about social and environmental issues within Australia, from his anti-logging anthem “Rip Rip Woodchip“, to singing about marriage equality with Beccy Cole on “It’s All About Love“, these songs have always populated Williamson’s musical landscape.

Responsible for creating some of Australia’s most iconic unofficial anthems of the country, such as “True Blue“, “Mallee Boy” and “Raining On The Rock“, John is ingrained in the Australian psyche, continually giving a voice to the Aussie battler, while shining a light on issues affecting the Australian community. On October 20, Williamson will take up the call to arms again, releasing two brand new singles that tackle two very timely social and environmental issues within Australia.

Pigs On The River” is a track that Williamson was inspired to write after watching a story on Four Corners about irrigators in the Murray-Darling River System. “Love Is The Word” finds John railing against the lack of love in the world, expressing his feelings towards marriage equality and the ongoing debate about it.

John had this to say about his two latest singles: “Any irrigators along the Murray-Darling River System who are using water that they are not entitled to should be brought to justice. They are thieves and should be ashamed of themselves. I have recorded a song called Pigs On The River in protest. I hope it encourages true blue Australians to stand up to these bullies. The perpetrators give other irrigators a bad name, and cause people down the river to suffer.

Dr Peter Trolove


The Ministry for Primary Industries has released its Water Availability and Security in New Zealand Report this week.

There are no surprises in its fifty one pages when it concludes that, due to climate change (always a handy excuse for most things these days), we need to store more water for irrigation and town use.

Stored water is a euphemism for dams or take-off canals which destroy our rivers, such as the Rakaia, Rangitata and Opuha.  Such schemes invariably lead to maximum intensification of agriculture.

There are but few examples of land owners installing their own ponds and filling them when rivers are high and rains heavy.  And why would you given successive governments enthusiasm to subsidise so many of these schemes?

The MPI report was assisted and abetted by a Water Availability and Security Advisory Group and here they are:

This independent group of experts includes…

Kevin Steel – a forestry and agriculture adviser

Lionel Hume – Federated Farmers advisor and board member of IrrigationNZ

Stephen McNally – another IrrigationNZ alumni.

Christina Robb – Consultant working for ECan on the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.  Yes, the one that delivered just two of thirty of the targeted outcomes in ten years (, apart from depleting rivers and polluting them.

Peter Lilley – CEO of Riley Consultants who build dams, irrigation and hydro schemes.

Mike Jebson who has helped ‘negotiating with businesses over the commercial use of conservation land (mining, telecommunication sites, grazing, roading, water harvesting etc.)’, as well as working for forestry and irrigation funds.

George Strachan, an MPI investment manager.

Michelle Sands – employee of Horticulture NZ.

Jane Davidson – adviser on water security and availability (i.e. dams and abstraction)

Mathirimangalam Srinivasan Who bid and won $79,000 from the Royal Society to process ‘sustainable allocation of groundwater for agricultural use based on land surface recharge’ (i.e. continued irrigation). He also undertook a study, published in 2017, suggesting removing trees alongside rivers would help with low flow conditions, presumably to further bolster irrigation demand.

Nigel Paragreen – employee of Fish & Game Otago.  The single voice whose interests in freshwater is not driven by extraction.

Once again, advisers are consulted on their own interests without any consideration to the wider and longer-term impacts of water storage, harvesting and irrigation.  MPI should refund the taxpayer all the money they spent on this exercise.

Is 1080 Harmful to Trout and Stream Ecology?

A Federated Farmers and Forest and Bird Fact Sheet on 1080 poison said  “Trials in four West Coast streams using 10 times the number of 1080 baits that would be expected to enter streams during aerial treatment showed no detectable effect on aquatic life in streams —-In separate studies in the United States and New Zealand 100% of fish fed 1080 baits survived and showed no ill effects.”
The Fact Sheet continued “A study in which meat from a possum that had died from 1080 poison was fed to eels found that all of the eels survived and none became ill.  A NIWA study found that koura (native fresh water crayfish) that ate 1080 baits did not die and showed no ill effects.”
However the strangeness of the bedfellow relationship of Forest And Bird and Federated Farmers suggests further investigation.
So I turned to google and found a u-tube by Clyde and Steve Graf <>.
The tube examined the science focusing on a NIWA study contracted by OSPRI (originally the Animal Health Board) the biggest user of aerial 1080 poison but significantly approved by the Department of Conservation.
Paid Science
It should be noted that “contracted science” is paid, commissioned science. It arguably lacks independence since a favourable report for the client is far more likely to result in future contracts.
A case in point was eminent entomologist the late Mike Meads who after a mid-1990s study after an aerial 1080 in a drop at Whitecliffs, Taranaki, expressed deep concern about the long term ecological effects that destroyed invertebrate organisms vital to the functioning of the forest ecosystem.
Meads was brave. But the “system” was about to vilify him and his research. Similarly with another brave scientist Peter Notman.
Mike Meads’ study was exhaustively peer reviewed by people far less qualified and in the end was made redundant.
The NIWA study highlighted by the “Graf Boys” was interesting viewing. NIWA examined a small stream at Greymouth following a 1080 drop. There were odd inconsistencies. It said 1080 had not killed invertebrates or fish but 100 metres downstream there was a “decrease in macro-invertebrates”. The study then in contradictory style said there were “significant effects in the decline of invertebrates’ but then added they “were not ecologically significant” - instead of investigating further.
Related is that the government RMA review of 1080 in 2007, as biassed as it was in favour of 1080, admitted “there is significant uncertainty regarding the aquatic classification of 1080” due to the lack of data available. It cited “data gaps’ and quoted that mosquito larvae were killed in 0.025 mg 1080 per litre of water. Koura (crayfish) tested over eight days had 1080 in the flesh of tails.
The research in more detail showed discrepancies with the actual poison drops. In the study 6 gm baits were used but in most 1080 drops 12 gm baits are used.
Fish Decline
A friend who once owned a property near Greymouth bounded by public lands upon which DOC aerially top-dressed with 1080, told me of a stream that once abounded with native fish (inangas) and eels.
Some months after the poison drop, there was a strong, marked decline in the fish life.
Notice koura were tested just eight days after the drop.
ERMA noted 1080 does not harmlessly pass through animal bodies and effects such as creation of amino acid and changes to testicles and sperm can occur. It said “1080 can cause developmental effects in laboratory rodents - “testes showed severe damage (with) absence of sperm and damage to cells.”
The disruption to male fertility is known as “endocrine disruptor.”
Yet despite this Fish and Game was satisfied that 1080 was harmless. Instead Fish and Game narrowly focused on the effects of anglers consuming trout which had consumed mice dying from 1080. In its support of 1080, Fish and Game NZ quoted a USA scientific paper . But on reading the USA paper, the abstract said “data on 1080 in aquatic ecosystems are incomplete” and “primary and secondary poisoning of non-target vertebrates” due to 1080.
Absence of Sperm
In 2010 a NZ Ecology paper referred to “exposures to sub-lethal doses have been shown to have harmful effects on the heart and testes in animal studies.”
So the question is do “sub-lethal” doses of 1080 result in “severe damage (with) absence of sperm and damage to cells” to male trout, thereby adversely affecting natural spawning?
Since Fish and Game virtually abandoned hatchery releases in the 1970s on the advice of the late scientist Robert McDowall and depended totally on natural spawning for almost 50 years, the reproductive ability of trout is of paramount importance to replenishment of stocks.
In 2005 Landcare Research did a study on  “Sodium fluoroacetate (1080) residues in longfin eels “ - scientists P O’B Lyver, J Ataria, K Trought and P Fisher.
“New Zealand Ministry of Health guidelines state that domestic food products must be equal to or less than the provisional maximum acceptable value (PMA V)  — we detected 1080 residues in eel tissue that were on average 12 times (twelve) higher than the PMAV, one day after eels consumed (1080) contaminated tissue”.
Was there any “endocrine disruptor” effect on eels?
Eels are regarded as a threatened species. The Department of Conservation is responsible for the conservation welfare of native fish such as eels. The conflict is obvious.
How reliable is the science?
After all, Federated Farmers, Forest and Bird and Department of Conservation have quoted science. Remember the contradictions of the commissioned NIWA paper?
The muzzling and rejection of Mike Meads and the character of “paid, commissioned” science?
How good is the science which DoC uses to support its use of 1080?
Two USA scientists retired to New Zealand, Pat and Quinn Whiting- O’Keefe audited Department of Conservation scientific research and produced an 88-page monograph reviewing more than 100 scientific papers dealing with 1080. Originally from Stanford Research Institute and University of California, San Francisco in the USA with a considerable knowledge in chemistry and an expertise in statistical inference in complex systems, Pat and Quinn Whiting-O'Keefe focused on the aerial poison drops of 1080 to kill possums and rats.
No Benefit
In their words:- “The results are startling and belie most of the department's claims. First, there is no credible scientific evidence showing that any species of native bird benefits from the dropping of tonnes of 1080 into our forest ecosystems, as claimed by the department and Kevin Hackwell (Forest and Bird).
There is certainly no evidence of net ecosystem benefit.”
The pair continued “considerable evidence exists that DoC's aerial 1080 operations are doing serious harm, as one would expect, given that 1080 is toxic to all animals. It kills large numbers of native species of birds, invertebrates and bats.”
Then in reference to “paid, commissioned science “ earlier referred to, the Whiting-O’Keefe’s commented “perhaps most disturbing, is that what the department-sponsored research shows has been habitually misrepresented - entirely unjustifiable assertions regarding 1080's benefits and lack of harm.”
And with reference to “endocrine disruptors” - “Moreover, most native species are completely unstudied. In addition considerable evidence shows there are chronic and sublethal effects to vertebrate endocrine and reproductive systems, possibly including those of humans.”
The point is there are scientists and scientists. Blame should not be attached solely to scientists, whose research perhaps lacks credibility. The “system”, if they want more contracted work, is that they fall into line with the policy of the client, i.e. OSPRI and DoC.
Greek poet Sappho, who lived around 600 B.C., is attributed to have supposedly, said, “Never bite the hand that feeds you.”
Quinn and Pat Whiting-O’Keefe concluded about the Department of Conservation’s 1080 science that “there is no credible scientific evidence showing that any species of native bird benefits from the dropping of tonnes of 1080 (and that “there is certainly no evidence of net ecosystem benefit.”
The last word should go to Orillion - a subsidiary of Animal Control Products, the state owned enterprise (SOE) which stores and distributes 1080 poison.
Orillion’s Fact Sheet on 1080 states “harmful to aquatic organisms.”
That’s from the major aerial spreader of 1080 poison.

Footnote: Poisoning Paradise <>
Unfortunately 1080 is a subject that polarises.
But it’s wise to be open minded. The fact is the scene around 1080 is lacking and a large slice of it that’s used lacks integrity and credibility since it’s “commissioned” “paid” “bought” science that lacks independence. Note Quinn and Pat Whiting-O’Keefe’ assessment of the ‘science.”
The bottom line is no one knows the long term effects of 1080 on freshwater ecology.

Leave Something for the River
By: Cameron Scott
from Mid-current Fly Fishing (USA)

 Note: being Northern Hemisphere seasons are reversed, e.g. October USA is their autumn.

There are rivers in my life, so many rivers. Systems and cycles fed by snowmelt and bug hatches, leaf fall and deep freeze. So many rivers.
  I guide these rivers and fish these rivers and wander along these rivers and sleep beside these rivers. Rivers that run gold or red or nearly black at dusk. Rivers that run clear or jade green or pea green or soil brown. I fish all these rivers like my life depends on what can be caught there; sometimes my life has depended on what could be caught in these rivers.
  In October I need most the fall light lingering buttery and heavy and in March the midday sun blazing like fire from banks of snow. I need most to forget cities, to forget drudgery, to forget self.
  To have purpose, to have repetition, to have a container to hold onto and pour into and become lost in. Canyons to descend darkly. High plains to meander. Mountains to climb.   To riffle. To pool. To collect behind deadfall. To undercut. To see the repetition of moving water over and over as the repetition of life. To be captured by gravity and collect and descend. To evaporate and ascend. To fall and accumulate and nurture and flood.
  To catch over and over and over and over. To embody completely the focus of a predator.   To disembody completely into tired footfalls, heat radiating into more heat, clear blue sky to fall forever outward into the dark matter of space.
  It was simply because I held a fly-rod in my hand and the line floated and the fly floated and what had been hidden suddenly rose, breaking the surface and taking the fly. What had been hidden suddenly came alive turning in the current, against the current, with the current, and pulled me with it. What had been hidden I saw and cast to and stripped and stripped and set.
  The river carried me away, and I went away. Fighting against the current I came back. All my life has become currents of water and tides; slicing through wind. Unfurling. Laying out. Presenting. All of life has become presentation in current. Presentation in the currentless. The driftless. The drift. Leading. Thinking ahead. Casting ahead. Repeating, repeating, repeating.
  It is time to leave something for the river. More than laying the rod against the tall grass or sagebrush or willows and sitting for an afternoon tossing grasshoppers into a riffle watching trout feed. More than choosing not to fish during drought when fish have nowhere else to go. More than choosing not to fish during spawn when fish are reproducing. More than barbless hooks or banning lead weights and anchors. More than just keeping fish wet, or a minimal amount of water moving between parched boulders.
  More than the grind of boots through gravel or scrape of boat against boulder. Dusty parking lots. De-vegetated camp sites and riverbanks. It is time to leave something else.
  It is time to leave something for the river. For our lives composed by rivers, because their music is our music, their seasons are our seasons. Because a river is everything in this life.
What will you leave?

In Jest
Thoughts About Trout and Fishing

Fishy Sayings

• You can’t buy happiness, but you can go fishing, and that’s pretty much the same thing
• A fisherman lives here with the catch of his life
• If I’m not fishing, I’m thinking about it
• Of course, I talk to myself when I’m fishing. Sometimes I need expert advice
• There is no losing in fishing. You either catch or you learn. Either way, it’s better than work
• Work is for people who can’t fish
• When nothing is going right, go fishing
• Sometimes, when the water is quiet, you can almost hear the fish laughing at you

About Trout and Hokum
by Sidney L Harris
This article is an abridged version from a 1934 “NZ Fishing and Shooting Gazette”. It was originally published earlier in 1934 in the USA “Outdoor Life”

  Back in the “God rest ye merrie gentlemen” days, a very delightful narrator named Izaak Walton, felt the urge to air his views concerning the method of bridging the gap between the brook and frying pan.
  His treatise on the gentle art of trout fishing leaped into the foremost rank of best sellers and he became the Hoyle of angling. The thing that really matters is that he established precedent in matters pertaining to fishing.
  Precedent is a fine thing but it must not be followed too closely or taken too seriously, else one’s imagination and initiative are apt to become cramped.
  Since the publication Walton’s famous piscatorial dissertation,  “The Compleat Angler in the 17th century), some two million major and minor Waltons have been bitten by the desire to rush into print about fishing.
  Most writers on fishing would have us believe that they use nothing but flies and those of the approved size and pattern, according to the day, month and the fish’s blood pressure.
  I am convinced they secretly resort to worms, spinners or almost anything that will save them the embarrassment of returning with an empty creel. We are too prone to follow in the other man’s tracks. The art of angling is in need of anglers with radical ideas, for they would serve to muddy the water a bit, and when it cleared, the fishing would be better.
 A Grain of Salt
 Fishing like everything, has its share of hokum. This works no hardship on the seasoned angler for he knows the part “that is to be taken with a grain of salt.” The novice in search of some real, honest-to-goddess information is apt to give up in despair. and take up something easier like shooting tin cans.
  He should be honestly told what is essential to successful fishing and let him absorb the hokum gradually. He should be made to understand that all the folderol and heigh-de-ho is like parsley on the platter - not necessary but merely makes things look better.
  For example we read that the use of the spinner is “a coarse practice and barred by ethics.”
As they express it in Hollywood movies, that’s simple a lot of “hooey.”
Common sense
 Fishing cannot be reduced to an exact science and so there must ever remain about it that is controversial. Still there is no law to prevent one from using common sense.
  There are certain rules that will stand up under test, in all places and under all conditions. For instance we know that fish have eyes and that it is therefore wisdom to keep out of sight as much as possible. It has been fairly well established that they are sensitive to vibrations and that it therefore is not good practice to slosh about in the stream like a herd of elephants.
  On the other hand it has not been proven that a fish will spurn a fly because the hackle happens to be a certain shade and go into ecstasies over another of slightly different hue.
Last Word?
 The greatest amount of hokum in fishing, centres about the dry fly mainly I suppose, because it is considered the last word in angling.
  In order to be an A A-1 dry fly angler it is said, it is necessary to be well grounded in entomology. One is then prepared to identify hatches, to duplicate them and to know  what kind to expect at a given time.
  I’d wager that a man with a good assortment of Royal Coachmen (various sizes) dry fly pattern and properly handled will take more fish, day after day than the man who has “a brown female” fly today and “a green male” fly the next.
  No one ever saw a swarm of Royal Coachmen flying about the banks of the stream yet probably as many fish are taken on this fly as on any other six combined.
  Because more of them are used.
  First because the Royal Coachman fly pleases the eye of the angler. Second it is a fly of strongly contrasting colours and is easier for the angler to see—as it is doubtless for the fish.
  It seem to me that the most important thing is in the manner of handling the fly, with size and form coming next in the order named.
  If the trout is hungry he is interested in everything that might possibly be good to eat. If not, he will merely yawn at the sight of the most beautiful fly ever tied.
  If fish were as intelligent and as discerning as some would have us believe, they would never take a wet fly fished downstream. No fish ever saw a fly, a foot below the surface of the water, making remarkable progress against a heavy current.
  More hokum.
  And wind direction. Many of the poor trout are totally without education and it is possible many have never heard of North, South, East or West. The old nursery rhyme about “When the wind is in the west, the fish bite best” is pure unadulterated hokum.
  Even if it blew steadily from one direction, could you, in all your intelligence, tell that direction if you were under water?
  A cold and or a warm one that prevailed for sufficient time to change the temperature of the water would doubtless have an effect on fishing.
  We are forever hearing hokum that such and such a method is more sportsmanlike than another. It seems drawing a thing a bit fine to brand the use of anything but a fly as being unethical.
  To me, a sportsman is not necessarily a man who uses a number 16 dry fly and a 3 ounce rod.
  Above all, I prefer to judge him by the interest and/or time devoted to the health of the stream and river and fighting those who would pollute them.

© No one ever saw a swarm of Royal Coachmen flies (pictured) flying about the banks of the stream yet many trout are taken on this fly

Jest a Minute

The other bank
  Two blondes were fishing on an opposite sides of the river and using the same tackle. How ever only one young blonde was catching fish, and she was catching a lot.
  Finally the other blonde couldn't stand it any longer and she asked "How do you get to the other side of the river?"
  The other blonde thought about it for a while and finally answered "You are already there.”

The Fishing Trip
"So, what's the matter?" asked one woman of her friend over coffee. "I thought you just got back from a nice relaxing fishing trip with your husband."
"Oh, everything went wrong," the second woman answered.
"First, he said I talked so loud I would scare the fish... Then he said I was using the wrong fly... and then that I was reeling in too soon."
"Pretty negative, wasn't he?" chimed in her friend.
"All that might have been all right; but to make matters worse, I ended up catching the most fish!"

Trout Don’t See Eye to Eye With Us
by Tony Orman

   I suspect, we trout anglers too often assume trout have the same perception and vision of flies as us.
   Perception is the key word. It is what the eye transmits to the brain and the brain’s ability that is so important. It’s nothing new.
  The English “father” of nymphing, G E M Skues, in “The Way of a Trout With the Fly” written in 1921, discussed trout vision and saw through it all.
   “The nature and needs of trout differ greatly from those of man,” he explained. “and it need not therefore surprise us if examination should lead us eventually to the conclusion that his (the trout’s) perception by eyesight differs materially from that of man.”
 Frog’s vision
 Research many years ago, in the US examined the eye sight of frogs and said frogs do not actually see whole insects but detect “insectedness”. In other words, they perceived the “insectedness,” a term coined by a trout fishing writer in the US, Ted Trueblood, who I admired tremendously.
  As a youngster, I feasted on his articles because they were so practical, never pompously lecturing, never pretentiously using too big a words, for a young or old simple fisherman and well in essence,he was just so down-to-earth.
  Scientists might recoil at the thought of matching a frog’s eyesight to that of a trout, but then, why can’t I? I’m no scientist but I’m a would-be fly fisher. Take a trout fly that we are trying to fool the trout with. There is a hook sticking out of the insect. Yet trout, that are being selective, take a fly, but do not see the hook. We do. It’s plain to see.
  Back to Skues, who wrote “The balance of probability, I think, leans to the theory that the trout is so obsessed by the pressure of appetite that he sees only what he wants to see - his supposed insect prey.” The reality may be that the trout only sees and perceives not so much what “he wants to see” but what he can see and perceive.
Brainless Trout?
  It’s not so much that he doesn’t see the hook but he doesn’t have the perception via brain as humans have - and does not see the hook. The reality is a trout has a low intelligence and consequently a low ability of perception. Back in 1974 in “Trout With Nymph”, I wrote “If we fail to catch rising or nymphing fish, it is not the trout’s intelligence and cunning which causes it to ignore the artificial, but simply our failure to match the particular trout food at the moment.”
  I then went on to relate the comments of a Nelson fly fisher Jim Ring, who introduced the “supernormal” theory based on findings by animal behaviourist scientists such as Konrad Lorenz and Tinbergen. Jim told me “Simple animals such as fish do not look at the whole object-they see some special feature on it which they recognise.” The supernormal releaser is a feature in the fly that is the trigger for the fish to recognise it as an insect or that “insectedness,” as Ted Trueblood termed it.
   Ted Trueblood identified translucence as a key factor in a nymph and he rated dubbing as having that effect due to the mix of fibres and perhaps tiny bubbles of air trapped in the fur. He developed some simple patterns and invariably they comprised dubbing particularly seals fur. And they were tending to be simple rather than complicated to tie.
  Ted Trueblood kept it simple and he incorporated dubbing based on his “insectedness” theory.

© The late Ted Trueblood - great USA writer

Postings From the Website

Some of our more recent posts from the website (see

An Engaging Book About a Great Polar Explorer
Book Review “Shackleton” by Ranulph Fiennes, published by Michael Joseph (Penguin, Random House NZ) Price $38. Reviewed by Tony Orman Let me say at the outset,“Shackleton”- a biography on the…
TrustPower Corporate “Scandalous” Take of Rakaia River Water Questioned
Special Report TrustPower a NZX corporation, has allegedly been selling water to irrigators outside limits laid down by the 2013 amended Rakaia Water Conservation Order (WCO) says the New Zealand…
Making Money out of nothing at All
Trustpower’s unlawful budgeting of Lake Coleridge’s “stored water” Canterbury anglers have seen a collapse of both the recreational and native fisheries in the lower Rakaia River since the Rakaia River…
Book on the Delights of Dark, i.e. Nights
Book Review After Dark subtitled “Walking into the Nights of Aotearoa” by Annette Lees. Published by Potton and Burton. Price $39.99. Reviewed by Tony Orman Night is as certain as…
Fish and Game "Admin" Load Failing Publics' Rivers
Special Report A recently retired Central South Island Fish and Game councillor Matthew Hall has warned of the cunning and deepenng crisis with the public’s waterways. His retirement had an…
Eyes Opened About Propaganda and Spin
Book Review “The Predatory Delay Diaries” by Terrence Loomis, published by Prismaprint, Blenheim. Price $25 plus postage. Available from or by e mail to <> Reviewed by Tony Orman I’m not a…
The Freshwater Commission - a leap of leopards?
A leap of leopards is the term for a collection of leopards   Can a Leopard Change its Spots? The simple answer to this riddle is yes. A leopard change…
Politicians Conveniently Ignore Last Sunday’s World Rivers Day
Press Release The New Zealand government and political parties have been taken to task by a New Zealand outdoor recreation advocacy for seemingly ignoring the significance of Sunday (26 September)…
Yesterday’s World Rivers’ Day is NZ’s Rivers Shame Day.
Press releaseSeptember 27, 2021 World Rivers DaydesignatedforSunday26 September, should be renamed ‘Rivers’ Shame Day’ according to the New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers. Federation secretary David Haynes of Nelson, said…
Guide to Growing Vegetables to Complement your Fish and Game
Book Review. “The Edible Backyard” by Kath Irvine. Published by Godwit (soft cover) Price $50. Reviewed by Tony Orman I’ve never quiteworkedout why more outdoor chaps don’t getintovegetablegardeningat home. It’ssortof…

The Federation's  Executive:

President: Peter Trolove (Rakaia)

Treasurer: David Haynes (Nelson)

Secretary: David Haynes (Nelson)


Steve Gerard (Central South Island), Andi Cockroft (Wellington), Larry Burke (NZ Salmon Anglers), Zane Mirfin (Nelson), Brett Bensemann (Otago), Casey Cravens (Otago), Colin Taylor (Nelson), Grant Henderson (Auckland), Rex Gibson (Canterbury)

Life Members, Tony Orman, (Marlborough), Sandy Bull (Gisborne), Ian Rodger (Auckland) and Ken Sims (Manawatu) are automaticaly on the committee

Co-opted:  Alan Rennie (North Canterbury)


The opinion pieces and submitted articles are provided for your interest and information. They do not necessarily represent the views of all of the Executive members but are seen as vital to promote active debate around the issues that fit the aims and objectives of the Federation.

If you have not already done so feel free to comment on any of the articles on our website. The discussions always open up many valid points.

Please feel free to circulate this newsletter around club members and friends.

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