Paul and I left the lodge at 7am, the plan was to arrive at the pick up point by 9am. Dion and three guests would fly to the remote South Island West Coast River, if they left around 8:20, they would arrive at the river around 9am. Dion and the chopper would then come get Paul and I and drop us with the guests for the day.
In September of 2013 a huge slip at Diana Falls on State HWY 6 ( the only road from Wanaka area to the West Coast) caused night time road closures. The lost rod day occurs in February so the road is only open from 7am to about 6pm. The plan is to finish our fishing day around 5pm, and drive/race back to the lodge just as the gate shuts on HWY 6. The anglers would fly back to the lodge after we were dropped at the car.
After a fine day of fishing, Paul and I are the first load first out. We landed near the car and Paul yells over the whop-whop of the chopper blades, “grab a rod in case we get stuck on this side”. I grab the first available rod and reel in the heli-pod and walk to our vehicle. We take off wet boots and socks and hop in the car for the race to beat the gate closure at 6pm. Once we are through the gate we have another 50 minutes or so to the lodge.
We make it through and return in time for dinner at the lodge. It’s not our normal day at Cedar but it works out at times that a long drive saves fishing and flying time when we travel further a field.
The next morning Dick Matteri asks me for the rod he’d been fishing during his stay, the same one I had grabbed from the chopper. I say sure I will grab it out of the car. I go to look. No rod! I search the guide shack, no rod, I search the car again, no rod. After more frantic searching it begins to dawn on me that I have left it near the car where we were dropped off. In a hurry to make the road I left the Sage Z-Axis and Bauer Rogue Reel next to the bloody car! The next morning we phone a friend/pilot in the area of the lost rod and ask him to have a look. No such luck.
A couple of weeks go by and by absolute chance I glance at the comments on OregonFlyFishingBlog.com. On one of my New Zealand/Cedar Lodge fishing blog reports I see an interesting comment.
“Wanted to let you know I found a new Sage fly rod outfit on a remote West Coast river and that it has gone to a good new home”.
What? I rack my brain for clues on how this guy finds OregonFlyFishingblog.com and leaves a comment. Turns out the small elastic straps (Fishing Butlers) securing the four sections of the rod were logo’d with the Caddis Fly info and the guy must have “Googled” the shop and found the blog.
Now when folks leave a comment on the blog they also leave their email address. So I quickly write the guy and let him know I am just over the hill from him and suggest that I would be happy to give him a reward for the rod, A day or two more passes and we get a difficult to decipher voice mail one evening. In not so kind alcohol induced garble the message “why don’t you just come get the rod with our helicopter”. OK, fine we are open to whatever is needed to collect the rod. I reach out to him several more times with no results and finally get him on the phone nearly a month after I left the rod on the side of the road/river.
During our phone call it’s clear he is stalling and has no concern for his own “fishing Karma”. I’d like to think that most anglers would happily return found gear especially in such a remote location. During our phone call he weaves an elaborate story about how because I had left the rod it was no longer mine and that he had traded some friends the rod for saltwater casting gear. I offer a $100 reward; he suggests he has $400 in the trade with his pals. I now offer to let the police handle it, he offers to “take it out fishing and lose it”. Nice guy right?
I file a police report. The police dispatch agrees with me that the rod is now stolen. I am able to give them the phone number, email, address of the person in question. Weeks go by, I return home to Eugene and then get an email from a police officer letting me know she had located the rod and I needed to provide proof of ownership.
I scan the warranty card, photo of the rod, purchase receipt, and email it to the officer. A few days later I get an email letting me know the rod is now in the possession of the police and that they are happy to deliver it to the closest police station to me. Paul is in Albert Town so the Wanaka Station is nearest. I just spoke to Paul and he has picked the rod up. Two months removed from leaving it, the rod and reel are recovered.
A special thanks to Georgina from the Westport Police for sticking with it and recovering the rod.