Veteran angler approaches milestone

by Kent Caddick

Veteran Canterbury angler Walter Keenan has been fishing Selwyn’s lakes and rivers for the past 68 seasons, and has all his licences from all those past years to prove it. 

The new fishing season kicked off on Sunday with thousands of anglers heading out onto lakes, rivers and streams to try their luck.

Christchurch resident Walter Keenan bought his first licence in the 1950s and it cost him one pound ten shillings.

Mr Keenan said his first fishing trip was to Lake Ellesmere with a mate, although they didn’t catch anything.

“We didn’t know much about fishing but we enjoyed our afternoon out.”

He said the 1950s were great learning years and went on to fishing spots like the Selwyn River, Lake Coleridge and other back-country lakes, and began tying his own flies. “I watched a fly tying demonstration at a store and thought I’ll have a go at that.” The first fly he tried to tie, a red setter, wasn’t very successful, but a black fly he tied caught him a sixand-a-half pound brown trout at Lake Heron in the Ashburton Lakes district.

There was great satisfaction in catching fish with flies you tied yourself, and ever since then I tied my own.” He caught enough fish to justify buying a canning machine and said his slogan was “we eat what we can and what we can’t eat, we can.”

Mr Keenan said he can still fish but because of a heart condition he has got to slow down and take it easy. 

“I get short of breath, but as long as I take it easy I’m okay.”