Postcards from the edge - Brian O'Keefe Fly Fishing in New Zealand 70's style


"I do not have any new glass rods, but I have two old Fenwicks, both over 40 years old, that I still like to fish with. My trout rod went to NZ with me in 1973. I walked from the Bay of Islands to the south side of Stewart Island. 11 months of tramping around, river to river. Too many adventures to mention. Best experience of my life.
Most dedicated fly anglers would (or should) know who Brian O’Keefe is, if not for his earlier photographic and fly fishing exploits then through the stunning imagery presented to us in Catch Magazine.

I’ve never met Brian personally, but would love to, you see, Brian has spent a huge amount of time adventuring in New Zealand - And a fair amount almost right in my back yard, Wanaka and around Te Anau.
Not only has Brian seen more of New Zealand than most New Zealanders ever will, he did it at a time when the country really was the fly anglers Eldorado. The early 70’s. A time long before adventure tourism, any sort of angling pressure,  before Didymo, intensified farming and yes, even before fly fishing became ‘cool’ 
New Zealand MapThe kicker in all this is that Brian walked from the Bay of Islands in the far north down to the south side of Stewart Island - literally from one end of the country to the other. Only a handful of people in the world would have accomplished that feat - and even fewer 45 years ago. As the crow flies New Zealand is about 1600kms long, however the actual distance traveled from the Bay of Islands right down to the south side of Stewart Island is probably more like 3,000km.
Respect.

 

Recently we were corresponding and Brian shared the beginnings of a couple of yarns (stories) and slipped in a couple of photographs that are too good not to share.
So with Brian’s permission here they are. I’d like to see and hear more - how about you?

 

"I do not have any new glass rods, but I have two old Fenwicks, both over 40 years old, that I still like to fish with. My trout rod went to NZ with me in 1973. I walked from the Bay of Islands to the south side of Stewart Island. 11 months of tramping around, river to river. Too many adventures to mention. Best experience of my life.
 I lived on trout, back then to keep a trout every three days was not a big deal and there was so little angling pressure that I only saw one other angler and that was at Lake Taupo, the rest was just me and my Fenwick. I'll drop in a couple photos from that trip. 
"NZ dinner for 3 days" Trout and trusty glass Fenwick
The brown trout hanging from a stick is the Hawea. Back then, I do not recall any 'town' at Albert Town? 
The Hawea River. Circa 1973
The Clutha was very good to me. One day a spark from my campfire landed on my sleeping bag and started a smokey fire and I kept that sleeping bag for another year, all patched up with duct tape and missing a lot of feathers. While staying at the Wanaka Youth Hostel, the warden was busted for pot and since I was staying there a long time, they asked me to be the warden. No pay, but a free place to sleep after fishing all day. One day, I hiked to a spot on Lake Matukituki and caught a rainbow of about 24 inches. As it fought a bunch of eels started following it. Then they caught it and more eels latched on. Soon, it was a ball of eels and they got my trout. Nasty.
Brian O'Keefe in front of the Routeburn Valley Bus, 1973. Now a world famous sightseeing location, hiking, helicopters, Orcs and Hobbits.

I hope your summer is going well. My Canadian friends who are in NZ now (not sure where) are having a lot of rain. That leads me to another story about Sir Edmund Hillary and I surviving 22 inches of rain in 24 hours on the Hollyford track. I'll tell the rest of the story after I buy a few beers for you and your crew in Albert Town.
Brian O
CUSTOMER FAVOURITES

GUIDES CHOICE

Epic Gift Card - Gifts For Fly Anglers
Epic Gift Card - Gifts For Fly Anglers from $100.00
Give the Gift of Choice No Delays, No Shipping. The Perfect Fly Fishing Gift On Time Every Time - Instant Delivery! Looking for the perfect gift for the Fly Angler in your life? Give them the gift of choice with a gift card. Gift cards are delivered by email from you directly from our website and contain instructions to redeem them at checkout. Gift cards are charged and redeemed on our stores base currency - $US For customers outside of the USA you can still shop and check-out in your native currency, our store does the conversion for you. Shopping for someone else (or yourself) but not sure exactly what to choose?Not sure what to get? Length, color or size?  It's very easy with an Epic Gift Card. You give - they choose! Schedule a Time to Send!You can even prescheduled  time / day / date that you would like your Gift Card delivered What is this?Gift Cards are delivered to you the purchaser by email and contain simple instructions to redeem them at checkout for products in our store. Each gift card features a unique code. Your gift card can also be printed out and gifted to the recipient, or it can be emailed to them immediately. Need Help? - drop us a line and we'll help you or your gift card recipient choose. How does it Work? Simple, you purchase the gift card you would like to give and check out just like you would for any online purchase. Our system will send you an email the recipient your gift card with your custom message. (That gift card has a unique voucher code on it) The recipient uses the voucher code to redeem against the purchase of their choice. Questions: Gift Cards work just like cash Any unspent balance can be used later Purchases can be topped up with cash, credit card or Paypal for larger purchases Customers can check their balance by visiting the unique gift card link sent via email Gift Cards have no additional processing fees. Purchase in your native currency to be redeemed at any time.Any questions or problems, just email us
Fly Tying Tool Kit by Epic Fly Tying Tool Kit by Epic
Backcountry Fly Tying Kit $199.00
Backcountry Fly Tying Kit Equally at home on a trip or on your fly tying bench, our Backcountry Fly Tying kit features the very best Italian made tools by Stonfo and a pair of remarkable hand crafted fly tying scissors by Renomed of Poland. There are no finer fly tying tools made. We've taken the best of the best and presented them in a thoughtful waxed cotton canvas tool roll featuring genuine leather trim and straps fastened with classic brass catches. The hand stitched waterproof tool roll houses & protects these high quality tools and features two additional pouches to tuck away fly tying materials and hooks. The Renomed "Fly Tier" scissors feature a 'super cut' finely serrated blade that makes cutting deer hair and fur a breeze, and the larger scissor handles afford comfort and extraordinary durability and functionality. Tool Collection  Renomed Fly Tier Super Cut scissors (retail US$45) Stonfo Dubbing Twister Stonfo Hackle pliers Stonfo Elite Bodkin (Stainless Steel) Stonfo Dubbing Brush Stonfo Bobtec1  Adjustable Bobbin With Ceramic Insert (Stainless Steel) Stonfo Elite Bodkin (Stainless steel) Stonfo Elite Whip Finisher (Stainless Steel)
Streamer wallet fly wallet Streamer wallet fly wallet
Backcountry Streamer Wallet $69.95
Back Country Streamer Wallet Carry and show off your streamers in style in our cotton canvas fly wallet Handcrafted and waterproof in waxed cotton Canvas, genuine sheepskin and hand tooled leather. Each wallet is hand cut and stitched from waxed cotton canvas and lined with lambswool. Measuring  12cm wide by 17 cm closed (4.5" x 7") Big enough to house and protect even the biggest lures and streamers. Streamer wallets have a few advantages over dropping your expensive streamers in a fly box. The open ended design and fine lambswool liner drys flies and lets them breath Flies are kept separated - No more tangled flies and hooks Easy to see and easy to grab - particularly if you have stinger hooks on your streamers They look sensational and big fish love them! Measuring 11cm wide by 17 cm long closed (4.5" x 7") Waterproof, small enough to fit in a wader pocket but capable of holding a large collection of flies
Fly Tying Vice Travel Fly Tying Vice
Backcountry Travel Vise $69.95
Backcountry Travel Vice Equally at home on a trip or on your fly tying bench, our Backcountry vice is a robust, beautifully built, no-nonsense fly tying vice. Featuring hard steel jaws, quick lock cam and all packed away in a stylin' protective felt case made from recycled plastic bottles! Holds hooks from size 2 to 22 Hard steel jaws Quick-lock cam' operation Rotary head Fully adjustable Allen key Recycled PET felt carry pouch
Stainless steel Hip Flask Hip Flask
Good Libations Stainless Hip Flask $34.95
The Good Libations Stainless Steel Hip Flask  Carry your favourite adult beverage in style with our Good Libations Stainless Steel Hip flask. About the size of a small fly box it's the perfect addition to your fly vest or bag. Smooth rounded corners make for quick extraction in times of celebration. Stainless steel and about as tough as they come, at a hearty 9oz ( 28 ml) there's plenty to share! Stainless Steel Silicon cap retainer Easy sippin' ergo design Bigger than most Cheers! Capacity: 9oz ( 266 ml) Dimensions: 127mm x 83mm x 29ml Material: Stainless Steel Positive Mood Adjustment
Stroft Tippet carry system Stroft Cutter and Carry System - 3 spool Set
Stroft Cutter and Carry System - 3 spool Set $27.95
3 Spool Stroft tippet system Three high quality German made Stroft Cutter & retaining rings - made to fit over standard Stroft tippet Spools. Spool Holder Stroft short strap - Vest strap & Carabiner The ideal system to hold, dispense and trim Stroft tippet A retainer rings and high quality cutter ring. Cutter is razor sharp, and coated in some magical stuff that is corrosion resistant. (We couldn't even spell the alloy) Fits all Stroft spools from 25m to 50m (ABR, GTM, FC!, FC2, Fluer) Includes colour coded easy peel labels  This is an incredibly well made tippet system! *does not include spools of tippet material - Stroft Tippet Spools available for purchase separately  Got questions? - Drop us a line, we'd love to hear from you.

The Epic Fly Rod Chooser

Find your perfect fly rod with our 10 second quiz

TAKE THE TEST

Love It or Return It

100% total satisfaction guarantee

5 Star Support

Industry leading support and service

Easy Returns

Hassle free returns

World Wide Shipping

Shipping worldwide daily
Experience the Epic® difference.