Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Gone Fishin'

On this week's agenda, some man activities, starring the one and only Kevin Spacey.

As Sam and I have been here for 6 months now, things have started to pick up in the hobby/activity front. After receiving a flash (flash: Kiwi's slang word for awesome/rad/boss) gift from Samantha on my birthday, I began equipping myself with the remaining necessities to go out and fly fish in New Zealand's vast majority of rivers, lakes, and tributaries.

On that list was a new fly fishing rod, a new fly fishing reel (a gift from Pat), a fine bottle of fisherman's anti-freeze, and a heap of New Zealand's best flies. After going to the local shop and chatting with Steve, he suggested joining the Wellington Fly Fishers Club to get the things started. So I did.

The Wellington Flyfishers Club is one of the largest in New Zealand and seems to provide a numerous amount of benefits for the mere $35 annual fee. Upon joining, I received this flash patch that Sam kindly sewed to my vest, a monthly newsletter outlining: trips, casting practice, on-stream days, and fly tying, and also pages of the humorous tales and experiences of fellow club members (from my experience the hunting and fishing stories of ours and friends/family have always been some of the funniest).
On top of these perks, the club has a bach up in Lake Taupo for any club member to stay at. Which in and of its self, is an awesome deal, since bachs up there cost $100/night.

The first event we attended was the fishing club fly tying night (aka, man-crafts). There were a couple of club members there who helped get us started tying flies.  

All of the materials for the flies were provided by a local shop and we were given tips and advice on how to tie New Zealand's greatest contribution to fly fishing, the Hare & Copper fly. Probably the easiest fly to tie when starting off for your first time, which is good. The next fly of choice was a the Woolly Bugger. The pictures below are my attempts of this fly.  Seeing some of the experienced anglers tie flies gives you a false sense of hope. Trying to manipulate tiny pieces of hackle and string without the years of practice and finger dexerity sure showed, as the time for me to complete one fly was 5 times that of the seniors.

In the end I tied a few different patterns of Hare & Copper flies, as well as the Woolly Bugger (which if purchased at a store would end up costing $21 for 6 flies, another reason why the fishing club is awesome).

So soon after joining the club, going on-stream with some of the experience anglers, and tying a whole heap of free flies, a few friends and I decided to make use of the accommodations up in Lake Taupo. The drive from Wellington is approximately 400km long and traverses along the West Coast of New Zealand. I'm told that there are a lot of scenic views and some nice landscape, but it was hard to see in the pitch black at 5am as we drove up from Wellington on a Saturday morning. We met some friends up there who trekked from Auckland and by 10am we were on the river fishing.

We spent the entire day on the river in the hot winter sun, with 17 degree weather beating down on us.  The wading in cold water provided the perfect balance of temperature, that and a bottle of port.

The sun started dropping around 4:30pm and we had not caught a single fish.  We had hiked up the river approximately 5km; therefore, our long journey back to the car began.

The sun had set and we found ourselves hiking out of the river through perfectly marked trails in the pitch black. Evidently, New Zealand provides its citizens with complete walking trails and an internet database marking all trails throughout the entire country. The sky may have been black but the hike was fairly simple, however long. 

As we walked along the river, we heard something in the bush, Jullion, one of the guys from Auckland,  immediately ran for the noise and jumped in the bush. We asked him what it was and he said he had no idea. I immediately realized that New Zealand has to be one of the safest places on earth. There isn't a single thing in the bush that can harm you. Not one. Unlike its bigger neighbour, Aussie, where everything can bite, sting, attack, and kill you or British Columbia were we would have to holler out AAIIIIYYYYYY BEAR!!! every second minute to ward off any unsuspecting grizz, New Zealand is the complete opposite. The only thing there would be to fear is your mind conjuring up a fake velociraptor stomping around in the exact same environment you see in Jurassic Park. 

Once we were back at the car, it was off to the bach for food and drinks. A plethora of board games were available and a heated battle of Jenga broke out between Ben and Jullion. The game should have ended quick but somehow took 40min in what was a game more intense than your Sunday night drama. No more moves were left for the two to make, first time I've ever seen that happen, stale-mate. So exciting I decided to bore you with these details in this fishing report.

The only thing left to do was to catch a fish. The next day we all went out and split up for most of the time. We tried fishing another river on the advice of the neighbour who was a crazy senior angler with a lot of great information and experience. Next time we go there he's taking us on his boat. Kiwis are the best.

With a few more hours left in the day and no one getting any bites, I made a solo effort and sought out a nice fishing pool.  I crouched low, snuck in, and flicked a cast into the fast moving water. Right away I got a bite and the fish was on. Then off. My knot came undone, no excuses, just a poor tying job. I quickly reeled everything in, grabbed another nymph, tied in on, and within 5min had my gear back in the water. BAM, fish on again. This time I made sure my knot was perfect and snapped up a fish. A nice 1kg rainbow trout, which is supposedly on the small side, compared to the monsters that roam the waters. This being my first fish here on fly gear, I took it home and cooked it up the next day. No donut for us this time. Great trip all around, next one planned in two weeks. Will report back then.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Meatless Mondays

A large portion of my time outside of the office, my bed,  and the yoga studio are spent in my kitchen. I have been blessed with a kitchen that is at least three times the size of the kitchen in our cardboard-box-of-an-apartment in Vancouver, with ten times the cupboard space. And as any good housewife should, I love to cook and bake. When Kevin and I nestled into our tidy little flat in Wellington, we incorporated the growing Meatless Monday trend into our weekly routine. 

Apart from the obvious and immense environmental and health benefits of this international movement, it has given me an unnecessary (and extremely enjoyable) excuse to scour my favourite food blogs to an even greater extent, trying to find a clever and delicious vegetarian meal that will satisfy my righteous carnivore of a male counterpart.

Below are a few of the best tasting Meatless Monday meals from the past few months. And there will be more to come, so long as Mondays still come around every so often.

This is a rendition of Peanut Soba Stir Fry from my absolute favourite food blog, Budget Bytes. Almost all of the recipes I have tried from this blog have been delicious, on top of the fact that she takes pictures at every step (I'm clearly a visual learner). I omitted the frozen vegetables for fresh, each time I put together a different concoction of what is left in my veggie crisper, and added tofu as a protein source.

No recipe link for this bad boy. But, on a fairly regular biweekly basis, Kevin and I indulge in some homemade pizza. The dough is a sporadic combination of yeast, sugar, water, flour, salt, and olive oil, and it tends to change each time. The base is a indescribably good double layer of a pesto-cashew cracker spread and a sweet chili cream cheese. And once again, a slew of random fresh vegetables, tofu (protein for my growing boy), and cheeses.

This is my new favourite recipe. Hands down. I am always up for the challenge of cooking Indian food, but so far it has never turned out quite perfectly. Until this. You won't even care that it's animal-less, for all you meat-at-every-meal kind of kids. This Lentil Chickpea Curry is worth the large number of ingredients and time it takes for the lentils to cook. And while it may not be the most aesthetic dish, the taste more than makes up for it.

Well, that's all for now, but I do hope to keep you all up to date with more Meatless Monday recipes. And hey, maybe you'll join the movement too! Hei konā!