e Book review: David Murray-Orr’s Mataura Diary

Over the last ten years or so, the lower Mataura and surrounding areas have been my favoured choice as a New Zealand fishing destination.

After finding success on the upper Mataura using terrestrial patterns and generic nymphs, when I ventured further south, I found things much tougher. A web search for local guides led me to David Murray-Orr and in no time, he was imparting his knowledge of the Southland rivers and streams. This has put me in good stead ever since.

Each season, I spend a week in that fishing heaven and I always have a day or two with David to catch up, tune in, and see what has changed with the inevitable annual flood which comes down the river.

Outside of that fishing week, I eagerly awaited the Monday morning blog update on David’s website to see what had happened, maybe recognizing the location in his numerous photos of clients with fish, and of course trying to emulate the numerous fly patterns he described.

Now, at the age of 81, David has decided he will retire from the guiding game and hang up his keyboard. Alas, the weekly blog will no longer be updated.

On the bright side, David has decided to publish his 11 seasons of weekly blog as an e book, available to purchase from his website for NZ$25. I’ve bought one, and downloaded it to the books app on my iPad. It’s a guide which I can take with me and I’ve airdropped it to my phone; as well as saving it on my laptop. For the price of five takeaway lattes, I think this is pretty good value.

The blog talks about the river conditions, weather, flies used and a few easily-tied patterns, what the fish were doing that week, and so on. It’s in diary form, so whenever you plan a trip, you can check out what was happening at a similar time in previous years. I should point out that specific locations are not given, and small streams are not named – and really don’t need to be. I don’t recall fishing anywhere over the years that wasn’t marked as a fishing access, or wasn’t easily accessible with a farmer’s permission. And almost any stream you see has fish, with small streams less productive in warmer months – as you’d expect.

I’ve included a few sample pages below to show what you’re buying: