About Griz

Derek Grzelewski is a writer, photographer and adventurer from New Zealand. He is the author of The Trout Diaries, A year of Fly Fishing in New Zealand, and contributor to New Zealand Geographic, Australian Geographic, GEO, Reader’s Digest and the Smithsonian. A former fly fishing guide, he is a founder of Wanaka Fly Fishing Academy, and angling consultant for Castabroad.com.

Trout Diaries Radio – Episode 4

 The Punk-Rocker of Fly Fishing

In this episode we visit and chat with Stu Tripney who runs a delightful little doll-house of a tackle store on the Upper Mataura in Athol, New Zealand’s Southland.

Stu Tripney

Stu, who is one of the characters in The Trout Bohemia – which is now avaialble for pre-orders in our BOOKSHOP – is a guide, FFF Master Caster and an innovative fly tier. He’s also the punk-rocker of fly fishing. You can read about my re-learning to cast with Stu here.

Lot of movement in the tip, not a lot in the handle

But, as you will hear, there is a lot more to Stu than casting or punk rock.

Enjoy the show! Use the Comments feature below to let us know how you like it and what else you’d like to learn about fly fishing in New Zealand.


Trout Diaries Podcasts – Episode 3:


Johnny Groome fishing the Arnold

Johnny Groome fishing the Arnold

Johnny Groome and the Arnold. The saving of “One of the best trout rivers in the world you’ve probably never heard about.”

Episode 3 of the Trout Diaries podcasts features a happy-ending post script to the story of Johnny Groome and Arnold River (featured in the book and as ONE MAN’S RIVER ONE MAN’S WAR on Midcurrent.com.)

An inspirational tale of what happens when we follow our passion and stand up for what we love and believe in.

Let us know what you think (use Comments below.) This is our first fully audio-engineered  show.



The Trout Diaries Podcast – Episode 2:



Episode 2 of The Trout Diaries podcast is up on iTunes, an interview with Derek by Brian Bennet of Moldy Chum and Teeg Stouffer of Recycled Fish, recorded by by MauroMedia. Coming up in Episode 3 a chat with Johnny Groome and the saving of his beloved Arnold River. Stay tuned to the Trout Diaries podcast, brining you the best of fly fishing in New Zealand.



The Trout Diaries – February


Anaru (Henare) giving it his best shot


“YOUS FELLAS FISHIN?” a Maori guy asked on the shore of lake Otamangakau. I said we were having a look.

“Plenty a fish here, bro, big bastards too, but bloody hard to catch, ay.” He was lean and hard, dressed in a bush shirt and hunting shorts, and his legs and arms were scratched with bush lawyer and blackberries, the barbed wire of the backcountry. Behind him was a camp that looked like a mobile butcher’s workshop. Game carcasses wrapped in fine white muslin against blowflies were hung from meat hooks on all available trees. On a log his companion sat pulling an oily swab through the barrel of a large-calibre rifle.

The man’s summary of fishing at the lake – big, challenging trout and plenty of them – was precisely what had attracted us here. Sure enough, we saw the first fish, large shape shadowing against a patch of dark-gold sand, as soon as we descended to the waterline. I was with Marc Petitjean, the Swiss fly tier and angling innovator extraordinaire but even his masterly casts and best-money-can-buy flies made no impression on this or any other fish we saw. The trout were weary, not giving us even one honest opportunity.

Marc made a face of mock dejection. “This is not a place for casual drive-by fishing,” he said. “The trout here need to be studied and understood before anything of consequence happens.” I had to laugh. This was exactly what I had planned for the next few days. For now, we were just filling a couple of hours waiting for Marc’s afternoon flight to Christchurch where he was to give one last NZ fly tying demo. Before we left I went back to ask the fellas if there was anywhere nearby I could camp.

“You can camp with us bro,” one of them said. “Plenty a room.”

And so it began, my affair with the big O, its trout and the whanau that camps along its shores.

With just enough foresight, I had borrowed a three-metre inflatable tender for the Otamangakau because the lake is an old swamp filled by the hydro scheme, and the shoreline fishing is limited to a few small and unconnected beaches. The rest of its margins are boggy and full of holes oozing muck and oily blackwater, quickly discouraging any exploration on foot. By the time I returned, set up camp and pumped up the boat it was already dark. One of the bros materialised, beer in hand, and unceremoniously put another one for me on the bumper of my truck.

“Come and have a feed with us,” he said. When I joined them both by their great incinerator fire he picked up an enamel plate from a sheet of corrugated iron which served as a dish-drying rack and heaped it with venison steaks and token stalks of boiled broccoli. Then he took a dinged-up mug, half filled it with Jim Beam and handed them both to me. We ate in contented silence, the lake behind us so still, even the stars reflecting in it did not shimmer. These two, I thought to myself, were my kind of people. My tribe.  Continue reading

The Trout Diaries Podcast – Episode 1: Introduction



Welcome to the first of our TROUT DIARIES podcasts. New Zealand is a phenomenal place to fly fish for trout, many say the best in the world, but it’s also one of the most challenging. Many anglers have come here to live their dream of the Trout Eldorado only to come away beaten and humbled. This is because, as Charles Gaines wrote in his The Next Valley Over:

 “In some places and at odd times trout fishing can be easy in New Zealand but typically and essentially it is more technically challenging and butt-kicking difficult than anywhere else in the world.”

This is just one of the reasons for these podcasts: to help you improve your fishing and, if you are coming from elsewhere in the world, to come prepared.

In subsequent episodes I will be brining you the best of New Zealand fly fishing: interviews with top guides, trout scientists, river conservationists, tips and tricks for what to do and what NOT to do here. I will take you with me on the road – the research trips for my trout books – and show you our diverse regions and how they differ through geography and seasons.

Another reason for these podcasts is to spread the word about conservation of our trout rivers which are under an unprecedented threat from industrial interests. The more anglers know about this the sooner the change in environmental awareness will come about. So please join us, let our voice be heard. The hour is late.

In the course of our journeys you will meet some of the characters who inhabit my books – the trout bohemians – and learn what makes them so passionate about fly fishing in New Zealand. You will gleam some of their river wisdom and experience. We will finish each episode with an audio excerpt from my books THE TROUT DIARIES and THE TROUT BOHEMIA (which will be out in August) to give you a literary taste of what it’s like to live the trout dream here.

There is always a danger in a writer writing about himself and his work so to begin with and, to forestall any self-indulgences on my behalf, here’s an interview about The Trout Diaries which Colin Shepherd did with me for his HOOKED ON FLY FISHING radio show.

So, sit back, pour yourself a glass of your favourite, and join us in living the trout fishing dream.



Fly fishing in New Zealand with CDC guru Marc Petitjean


An excerpt from The Trout Diaries, A year of Fly Fishing in New Zealand

In the Taupo backcountry, in the illustrious company of the CDC guru Marc Petitjean and trout scientist Michel Dedual, Derek Grzelewski fights trophy rainbows and other demons.

Have you ever been on a fishing trip, a long-planned and much anticipated, where nothing goes right for you? You arse up just stepping out of the helicopter and give yourself a good one on the shin. You promptly trump this with another act, stepping on the loose end of a vine with one foot, with the other tripping over the noose you’ve thus created. You want to break the fall with your hands but they are full of camping gear and heavy supermarket bags, and your backpack, well, it’s just big and inert enough to prevent a recovery. Your companions help you up and give you puzzled looks. And you too wonder: what’s going on? Is it just me or some nasty local taniwha who clearly does not want me here?

Maybe it’s both because things get even worse. On the river, you tangle up, spook every trout you see, hook yourself with your own fly, the one you did not yet de-barb. By contrast, your companions are having time of their lives. That first night in the headwaters of the Rangitikei, after we set up a camp in the forest clearing, Michel trotted off for an evening hunt and only minutes up the creek bagged a decent-size sika deer. He brought it down, dressed and hung it from a tree, then, going down to the creek to wash his hands, he spotted a fish rising in the camp pool. He ran back for his rod and hooked the six-pound trout first cast. A pool below I was with Marc, watching him fight an equally magnificent rainbow. When the night fell all I had to show for was a limp, a grazed elbow, and an increasingly foul mood.

At the camp, Michel and Marc discussing tying CDC emergers

But then we were back in the camp, the fire, wine and good food working their wizardry. I stared into the flames, sipping another glass of red and thought: “hey, anyone can have a false start, a bad day, and mine was just about over.” Earlier, I even spilled some wine on the ground, a peace offering to the taniwha, if there was one. I certainly did not want to fight it for another day.

The upper Rangitikei, clear like spring water, snakes a contorted passage through the volcanic hills of the Kaimanawa Forest Park, east of the Tongariro. The fishing here is hard and honest, every fish a major victory, and that’s providing you are at your best, sharp and assertive. Tomorrow, I promised myself, was a tabula rasa I should fill with perfect casts and beautiful fish. No pratfalls and blunders. I fell asleep with the visions of rainbows racing each other for those beautiful CDC dries Marc was tying.

I have to tell you about Marc. This was, after all, his trip. He had travelled halfway around the world for these five days on the Rangitikei, and Michel especially did all he could to make those days into a memorable outing. Once on the river Marc needed no help at all. As Pasteur said “good fortune favours the prepared mind” and Marc Petitjean was more prepared than most. “If you define the problem, the solution is often obvious,” he told me that first night, apropos nothing. “People often get pissed off with themselves and they don’t know why. They never take time to precisely identify what bugs them. If they did, the remedy would be self-evident.”

Wise words but lost on me at the time.

Marc Petitjean hooked up to a NZ rainbow trout

The next morning I scooped out a large mayfly nymph out of the river with my stainless steel mug. The aquatic insect life in the Rangitikei is so prolific, every time you dip a pot, a plate or even cupped hands in the water you capture one of the little beasts. No wonder the trout grow so large here. Continue reading

The Trout Diaries, A Year of Fishing in New Zealand


My book The Trout Diaries continues to receive rave reviews around the world. If you haven’t seen or read the book, here’s the first chapter. Happy reading. D


A year of fly fishing in New Zealand

By Derek Grzelewski

“I fish because . . . in a world where most men seem to spend their lives doing things they hate, my fishing is at once an endless source of delight and an act of small rebellion; because trout do not lie or cheat and cannot be bought or bribed or impressed by power, but respond only to quietude and humility and endless patience; because I suspect that men are going along this way for the last time, and I for one don’t want to waste the trip . . . .”  Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman

“All good things—trout as well as eternal salvation—come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

“I only cast when I have to.”
Marc Hertault

Chapter 1

The creek was a perfect trout stream, a staircase of pools and riffles, defined and stable, remote and little known, brimming with potential and promise. It cut deep into the Otago farmland, and the banks that framed it were like miniature escarpments. Sheep had worn tracks along both edges, affording easy walking and excellent vantage points from which to search the water. It was the kind of place where you’d expect trophy brown trout to be sitting high in the water in their prime lies, undisturbed and feeding eagerly.

My angling compadre, David Lloyd, and I had never fished this creek before, but we were eager to explore new waters. The past three days of our annual early-season pilgrimage had been the best we’d ever had on our favourite River X. The fish were active and plentiful, and almost embarrassingly easy in what is usually tough water. Each day had been better than the one before, and we knew we could not sustain this level of success. Our exceptionally good fortune would inevitably come to an end, so we decided to pocket our winnings and change venues, start afresh on new water, with a clean scoreboard and innocent hopes.

The weather, too, was deteriorating. After nearly a week of sunshine, a slab of bruise-coloured clouds, heralding heavy rain and rivers in spate. This was the calm before the storm, surely our last day of fishing on this trip. Still, despite the heavy skies, this gem of a creek had us buzzing with anticipation. There had to be trout here, surely not as plentiful as in our River X, but that would be fine by us. We were after quality, not numbers. The creek was a dream and we were living it. It was only a matter of time, short time, before we found a feeding fish.

We walked slowly, our eyes X-raying the water, following feedlines and the seams of colour change along the bottom, dissecting the fast broken riffles, looking for what David called the “soft shadowy shapes.” Our rods were rigged up for all possibilities, David’s with double nymphs and a white yarn indicator, mine with a light taper line and a dry fly, the first-choice Parachute Adams. The creek unfolded before us like a good tale, one turn at a time, and we had it to ourselves, all of it, all the way to the forest, a long day’s fishing away. Our imaginations worked overtime, conjuring double-figure fish and screaming reels. Surely, if such things were to happen, this was the place and time.

But strangely, we were not seeing fish. Not a single one. We were not spooking any, either, which was the more disturbing of the two. Hunters who are flushing out their quarry are at least getting close to it. They can hone their skills, walk more stealthily, look further ahead. But not seeing the quarry at all dilutes the concentration and makes the attention wonder. It also brings about a peculiar kind of heavy-hearted despair and doubt. Lots of doubt.

Was it us or the fish? Were they simply not here, or were we not seeing them? Had someone fished the creek today already? Had the water been polluted by some upstream dairy farm, so that it only looked perfect but was in fact lifeless?

In creeks like this it is unreasonable to expect fish in every pool. This kind of water falls into a category which the guidebooks describe with “long walks required between fish.” So we walked, and looked, hour after hour. We ate lunch in silence, sitting on a high bank overlooking yet another perfect pool, never taking our eyes off the water and never seeing a thing that even remotely looked like a trout.

At times like these, you begin to think that, completely without reason and despite all past experiences, you are never going to catch another fish. Botched presentations, refusals and missed takes are all fine, part of the game. But not getting even a single opportunity for all the miles we’d already put in was just too disheartening. Especially on the water that promised so much.

I was beginning to lose interest, walking faster and more carelessly, paying less and less attention to the water, which in sight-fishing is the beginning of the end. Then David grabbed my sleeve, his rod tip pointing up and across the creek to a feedline beneath the opposite bank.

“There,” he said almost reverently. “A rise, if I ever saw one.”
Then to himself he added: “And why am I whispering?”  Continue reading

The Trout Bohemia


Hi everyone and welcome to my trout blog.

The Trout Bohemia, a follow-up book to The Trout Diaries is currently with the publishers and will be out in mid-2013. Here are a few illustration from the new book you may find of interest.




You can get prints of these at Eve’s Art.

The first four flies are tied with Reel Wings, revolutionary wing material made by Joseph Ludkin in the UK.

The last two are by the inimitable Stu Tripney from Athol, NZ

Have a good and happy new season!

THe Trout Bohemia