River ban completes bad week for NZ fishing

It was always a daft generalisation, of course, but just for a while there I could almost believe that, what with their stunning scenery, gentle pace of life and that soft, ‘Aussie Lite’ dialect, New Zealanders really did live in Shangri-La.

Cue reality.

It still looks a fine place to live, of course, but in addition to a tale of “appalling behaviour” by Kiwi fishermen, the sad news of fishing restrictions on the country’s Rangitaiki River serves as a reminder that wherever there’s folk, there’s rancour…

“The Rangitaiki River, southeast of Rotorua, is world renowned for its long stretches of good fishing, with some of the biggest wild trout in the North Island.

But visitors to the river, deep in the Kaingaroa Forest, have all but dried up after the Timberlands forestry management company put severe restrictions on access, citing safety concerns.”

English anglers who have seen restrictions imposed for similar reasons at Draycote Reservoir and Foremark, will fully empathise with the despair being felt Down Under.

“It’s broken a lot of hearts,” Mr Hill said.

He could not understand the decision, he said, especially because fishermen with permits were least likely to cause damage to the forest.

“No dogs, no firearms. Nobody minded getting permits, but suddenly they pulled the pin.”

The issue wasn’t just local, Mr Hill said – it was taking away resources from New Zealanders. “The more we let these things happen, the more it will get taken away.”

I’m a long way away from it, so I wouldn’t dream of venting against the company concerned but I would mention just two points derived from my own experience, for any Kiwi angler who might read this.

For all that Severn Trent Water waxed lyrical about health and safety issues being the main factor behind the changes at Foremark, when Trout Fisherman pressed them for a copy of the official record of the accidents that presumably prompted their fears, the company told us it didn’t actually have one.

Then there’s the case of Scottish Coal, now threatening to drain a former landmark fishery at Loch Fitty in order to mine its reserves for the next six years, with the loch then being “restored to its full extent” thereafter.

This despite  local newspapers reporting that Scottish Coal previously assured anglers that no mining would take place at the site.

I merely say this. Every word that Timberlands utters with regard to  the Rangitaiki River should be recorded and every bone they throw you to keep you quiet, they should never be allowed to forget.

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