Upstream On The Mataura – A Fly Fisher’s Journey to Source by Dougal Rillstone
I’m not a trout fisher person, but being married to one I know how it can be a lifelong passion. Usually started at a young age, fishing the rivers and streams in search of the elusive trout can become an essential part of life for those who are truly devoted.
In this wonderful book Dougal Rillstone shares his connection with the Mataura River from his early introduction to fishing as a young boy growing up in Gore, to his recent adventure walking and fishing the entire length of the Mataura, a 240 kilometre trek.
At every section along his walk he shares memories of that particular leg of the journey. He celebrates his 68th birthday along the way. It is a river he knows well, and treasures as one of the best brown trout fisheries in the world.
There are some glorious descriptions and observations of nature, the birds, the sounds of the water, the behaviour of the trout. His memories of growing up in this part of New Zealand are part of the reflections he shares. Taking the time to slow down and appreciate what the modern fisher people often miss as they rush past in their cars looking for the world class fishing spots.
It’s not always a smooth journey. Dougal gets sick and has to spend time recuperating. He encounters electric fences that require clambering through, and the weather is not always nice. Its also a tale of change. His remembers his early days and the way the river played such a pivotal part in their lives. There are also fears for the future – intensive agriculture with excessive use of fertilisers, unfenced grazing stock, all having an effect on the quality of the river.
The book covers the Mataura trek, but also a collection of thoughts about fishing in general. The author has made some life long friendships through his fishing.
Hopefully the next generation of fly fishermen will also appreciate the slow pace of life and take the time to enjoy their surroundings. He has introduced his own grandson to fishing, passing on the passion.
With wonderful descriptive language and a very relatable style, this is a lovely book to sit and savour.
Reviewer: Rachel White
Mary Egan Publishing