Eugenie Sage

Damming the Makaroro?

by Eugenie Sage

There are many ways to get close to rivers : sitting on a the bank listening to the sound and music of the water, boulder hopping while tramping,  drifting gently down river in a kayak, or picking the best line through some noisy rapids on a bouncing raft but I had never tried fishing.

As part of our Dirty Rivers and Lakes Tour I was in Hawke’s Bay to visit the site of the proposed Ruataniwha dam and irrigation reservoir (more about that in the next post). With no rain for several days and the Waipawa River running clear, Fish and Game’s invitation to try fly fishing was too good to miss.
The Waipawa River has its headwaters in the Ruahine Range, inland of Napier and Hastings. Downstream of where we were fishing, the Waipawa joins and contributes much of the flow to the Tukituki River – one of New Zealand’s most popular trout fishing rivers.

Eugenie Fishing

Learning to cast with Dave Hern of Fishing and Shooting Outfitters on the Waipawa River

Waipawa’s trout were safe from with this novice learning how to cast. Skilled fishers like local fishing and hunting guide Dave Hern make it look elegant and effortless– a sinuous arm movement and the line arcs forward so that the fly lands on the water directly upstream of the trout to tempt it out from behind the boulder or the cover where it has been lurking. My efforts were far from elegant, despite Dave’s excellent tuition and encouragement.

On Dave’s third or fourth cast, a flash of silver in the water and a bent rod showed a trout had mouthed his fly before thinking better of it.

The Ruataniwha Dam is proposed for a steep gorge on a nearby river the Makaroro River.  Like the Waipawa it used by fishers.

A dam would reduce the gravel and sediment which nourish the riverbed, it would replace the freshes (small excess flows) and floods and the variable flows which a healthy river needs to turn over the gravels, flush out the sediment and create habitat for aquatic insects on which the trout feed.

If we are serious about a clean green economy agriculture intensification is not the way forward. Instead of investing in reducing nutrient leaching and runoff including through riverbank planting and wetland creation – protecting our waterways not destroying them.

Published in Environment & Resource Management by Eugenie Sage on Thu, April 19th, 2012   

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