Sorry to rub it in your faces, but I spent the last two weeks in the beautiful summer sun of my childhood home, New Zealand. Sadly I only got one day of fishing in, but it was a pretty brilliant day. A friend took me out on one of his local rivers, the Maraewhenua, which drains the north side of Dansy's Pass into the Waitaki, in North Otago. We fished one of the forks; small, wadeable, crystal clear water. We ended up fishing about eight nice pools, and all of them but one had at least one BIG rainbow in it. My first pool was probably the trickiest, with willows dangling down, and the upstream approach forcing me to cast backhand under a low willow branch. My target was a rising rainbow, feeding just at the downstream end of the pool, right where the water started to break into a ripple. After what seemed like an endless succession of dud casts, I finally put the dry fly just where I wanted it, and BAM!, the fish took it. I tried to set the hook, but I think I had too much slack, and it spat the dummy. In all the commotion, my buddy stepped on his girlfriends rod and snapped a section. D'oh! With that kind of initial luck, we knew we'd better land a fish to make the trip worthwhile. We ended up trading hole for hole with the one surviving rod. Let me tell you, I finally understand what it means to stalk a fish. I guess they dont get to be 4 pounds or more by being stupid. The clear water made it pretty easy for them to see us, I guess, as we managed to spook the next few fish we came across. One large, shallowish pool had a particularly wiley old trout in it. He saw us alright, and just kept cruising around, feeding mainly off the bottom, but rising a couple of times. After some brilliant casting, delicately placing the fly just above its nose, but to no avail, my friend decided to switch flies. The new fly (don't ask, I have no idea what any of them were called) did the trick, though, and with a quick slurp it was taken. Sadly, with an even quicker spit, the old fish was free again. More holes, more spooking, until finally, I spotted a fish feeding quite happily at the surface right where the current made a little riffle on the top of a deep pool by a cliff face. It was my buddy's hole and he was closer to the water and couldn't see the fish from his angle. I guided his casting, and after three attempts he got it right in sweet spot, and BAM, it was taken and set. I grabbed the net and waded, nearly swam, across to his bank. This fish was strong and played hard to get, but luckily didn't rush out of the pool. It headed deep, and was played hard for a good couple of minutes at least, before tiring a little. My friend managed to inch it over to the shallows and I crept up with the net and secured our prize; a gorgeous rainbow, at least five pounds. The next part of the story might piss some of you off, but what the hell, I'll tell it anyway. We got the fish up on dry land and bonked it good and hard with a nice wee purpose-turned knocker - a quick and hopefully painless death. I would never kill a fish like that up here in Washington, but in New Zealand, they're introduced and are in competition with the native freshwater fish. Given the health of the population we saw, and the apparent lack of fishing pressure on this fork, I don't have any regrets. The final notable event of the trip was in the last hole on the way back out where I was fishing a nymph to another nice big rainbow. All of a sudden a long black shape darted across the pool towards my fly - a three foot eel! There I was, in my bare legs with a huge eel swimming around the pool, half petrified and half wanting it to take my fly, just for the fun of briefly playing such a huge fish. No such luck, though. Anyway, we got the fish back to his house in time for a late lunch, and with a delicious offering like that, even his girlfriend could begrudge him breaking her rod.