Upstream on the Mataura

Janet Holmes à Court connects with Douglas Rillstone's delightful Mataura River adventures

This is an outstanding book and I highly recommend it to all fly anglers. When I
reflect on some of the books I’ve read in my lifetime that have truly resonated, this is one of them.
Dougal Rillstone describes his journey on foot beside the Mataura River in New Zealand, from Fortrose to the Eyre Mountains – 240 kilometres. He meets up with his fishing buddies along the way.
Rillstone does not take his fishing rod on this journey and instead relates his many wonderful memories of fishing the Mataura. His writing is superb, so much so, that one finds oneself rereading chapters.
Rillstone evoked many of my own fishing memories. The joy of standing on a river bank, searching for rising trout. Studying the insect life in order to choose a lookalike fly from my fly box. Or, in the absence of a hatch, resorting to a nymph or wet fly. The beauty of the surroundings can be breathtaking. Nature, in all its splendour.
My late husband Peter and I first met Dougal in 1998, at the Oceania Championships, held regularly between Australia and New Zealand. This time the competition was held at Adaminaby, on Lake Eucumbene and the Murrumbidgee River. Dougal won the competition and was awarded the gold medal.
This event was only our 2nd introduction to competition fly fishing. Our first had been in 1997 in Jackson Wyoming, USA, where we subsequently visited each year for many years after. Peter died in 2006 and since then, when fishing rivers, I feel his presence just around the bend in the river.
The last few chapters of the book describe visits to other rivers in New Zealand, and the prose in these chapters is some of the most beautiful in the book. I particularly love the chapter when he takes his grandson fishing.
Reading the book has inspired me to get back to New Zealand as we thoroughly enjoyed the fishing and the delightful people.
I believe the book is on its third print run which gives one some idea of its enormous popularity.
Well done Dougal Rillstone for sharing your adventures and imparting such joy.
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