Thai national Nantiya, and Roland from Switzerland, enjoyed an extended fishing tour of New Zealand in their camper van from late 2016. For Nantiya, a keen angler, touring New Zealand meant seeing the wonderful country firsthand, and, of course, experiencing the unrivalled angling opportunities.
Being open-minded and always in good humour, it is easy for Nantiya to make friends with other anglers she meets on the rivers and lakes. Often the couple are invited to park the camper overnight on private land. Better still, the motorhome allows them to enjoy sharing trout or perch meals with their new friends, with the fish deliciously prepared Thai-style.
The fishing started for them on November, 2016, at the East Cape, with some wonderful browns and rainbows caught in the Waioeka Gorge between Opotiki and Gisborne. The meat of the fish there is almost as red as salmon and tastes wonderful.
But a real highlight for this diminutive lady of only 154cm tall was the catch of a 3kg brown trout in Lake Rotorua’s cold waters, just in front of Hamurana Spring in February. This fish really lit the fuse on her fishing bug, but it wasn’t to be her last nice fish.
In March, a lovely 1.8kg perch followed, caught near the mouth of the Oreti River, Invercargill, along with a beautifully marked brown that couldn’t resist her perfectly presented #14 Adams dry fly in the Aparima River outside Riverton.
Travelling in the Tekapo area, Nantiya studied with interest the pictures of successful fishermen posted on tackle-shop brag boards, and marvelled at the pictures of the big trout caught in the canals around Twizel. Trout or salmon up to 40-pounds – almost unbelievable!
One evening, while having dinner with friends, she joked that should she catch a trout over 10 pounds, she would put on her bikini and have a nice picture taken for the local tackle shop’swall of fame. This would be in complete contrast to the images of “fierce-looking older men in fishing outfits, proudly holding their catches”. This caused plenty of laughter, along with several toasts to her success. Bearing in mind the often frigid temperatures and adverse weather conditions around Twizel, it would take a brave girl to pose for a bikini picture!
As the temperatures are never below 20°C when fishing the rivers and ocean in Thailand (even the air-conditioning in the hospital where she works as a nurse is normally set to 25 degrees), she jokes that getting out of the well-heated camper van on a chilly morning makes her feel as if she’s stepping into her refrigerator back home. Consequently, upon arriving in the Mackenzie Country on a chilly March afternoon, determined to catch a big trout and keep her promise, Nantiya was dressed rather like an Eskimo!
The biggest brown she caught in Lake Belmore was just over two kilos, so no bikini danger there; she wanted a bigger one. So, right before dark at 6.30pm, she was at the Oahu Canal at the confluence just outside Twizel. A lot of people were already fishing, but there were far more beer bottles on the bank than landed fish as far she could see.
She was told to try shrimp as a bait. Believe it or not, on her first cast of only a few metres, using a small split-shot and a shrimp, she appeared to become snagged. But when she gently pulled onthe line, the ‘snag’ took off like a rocket, heading upstream and taking 50 metres of line with it. A short pause and then it was off again.
Holding the rod with both hands and the too-small 1500 Shimano reel continuing to scream saw Nantiya become the centre of attention, with all the fishermen on the bank watching her. Roland ran to assist; seeing her running out of line and thinking the drag was not set properly, he tightened it up – but too hard, with the 15-pound line breaking. What a disaster! That was the bikini fish, for sure!
But after a few moments of disappointment, Nantiya comforted Roland, who felt terrible, blaming himself for the loss of the fish, the drag already well set. Besides, the rain and wind would not have been good for a bikini picture. (Having said that, the lost fish did cost Roland a pair of nice shoes as compensation – as all fishermen know: happy wife, happy life!)
The following two days passed by with hard fishing and no more interest in the couple’s lures. So that was it then: no bikini!
Four weeks later saw Nantiya and Roland back from the deep south on their way north again and Nantiya wanting to try her luck once more. It was April now and the weather was cooler, with some frosty nights, but no rain. This time she was trying a huhu grub bait given to her by a friendly Maori fisherman the night before.
At 8.30am, at the very same spot of her previous hook-up, the grub was taken by something big – and this time there was no Roland to tighten the drag. She let the fish run and, finally, after 14 long minutes, three long runs and a lot of excitement, the trout was landed. At 6.4kg (14.2 pounds) on the scale, it was a lovely specimen. No excuses now – the bikini had to be donned.
The photo session took half an hour and Nantiya was almost freezing to death, but for such a momentous catch there should be some suffering! And, of course, she was the main attraction at the river, with everybody laughing, cheering and sharing her happiness at achieving such a catch.
Later on, she caused another big stir after posting the catch on her Facebook page. Never before had she received so many comments for a pic she’d posted. The men naturally appreciated her bikini efforts, while her Thai lady friends posted comments about her muscles holding up the heavy fish. Rather disappointingly, almost no comments were made about the size of the trout!
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