As winter settles in and the lodge rods are packed away for a few months, itís a good time to reflect on the remarkable 2009/2010 season.
In terms of bookings, itís been a great season for us.
One could be forgiven for thinking that with the Global Financial Crisis, our business would have suffered.
However thankfully I can report that we had our best season ever both in terms of guest numbers and repeat guests.
Meanwhile, the fishing was as good as itís been for quite a few seasons.
There were a few reasons the fishing was so memorable, especially in terms of numbers of very large trout caught.
First, we had a mild winter and good rainfall, but without any huge flood events.
This helped recruitment of young trout, which we should see the benefits of over coming years.
More immediately, it gave the adult fish a relatively easy run through what can be a tough time.
Additionally, winter 2009 saw the beginning of a field mouse plague: the fabled Ďmouse year.í
Mouse years are not an old wives' tale, but a real event that occurs every five or six years in New Zealand.
Once or twice a decade, the three main species of native beech tree all seed at the same time,
resulting in an abundance of available food for all forest dwelling creatures, including mice.
As mice breed in relation to food supply, there is soon a mouse population explosion.
Lemming-like migrations follow as the crowds of mice move across the countryside looking for food.
When the path is blocked by a river, they have no choice but to swim for it or starve.
What is a virtual suicide mission for the mice becomes a banquet for the trout.
I donít know how many mayflies a fish would have to eat to obtain the calorie equivalent of single mouse,
but the benefits of a regular mouse or three in the diet are obvious.
Five pounders rapidly become 7 pounders; 7 pounders soon become double-figure trophies.
While the mouse plague is over for the next few years,
the good news is that many of the trout that have put on weight will carry it over winter into the new 2010/2011 season.
Mouse plagues aside, there have been other developments at Owen River Lodge.
As winter progresses, thereís the usual maintenance and re-painting that goes on every winter.
Weíre also replacing the carpet in the main lodge and building a pathway and wooden deck down by the river.
I plan to try to catch a big one off the deck when the season opens, without getting my feet wet!
I would like to thank everyone who came and experienced Owen River Lodge this season and we look forward to seeing you again soon.
Remember Ė youíre only a stranger once at Owen River Lodge