by Jon Novoselac

Picture of “Tread Quietly” cover

This delightful little book was published in 1983 and is filled with the author’s adventures about trout fishing throughout New Zealand. Rather than highlight the more famous rivers and lakes, he chose to emphasise waters that were overlooked by other anglers. Some of his favourite stretches of water included the Mangatainoka, the Manawatu and the Makuri. He showed a fondness for the South Island as well, and mentioned Timaru Creek, among other rivers.

I couldn’t find too much about the author, John McInnes, other than what appears on the dust cover. Born in 1938, he started fishing for trout when he was 14 years old. If his writing was a proxy for his fishing, he was a thoughtful angler. The descriptions of the places he visited, the fish he caught and the experiences he had are detailed and pleasing to read.

Although the book isn’t heavy with photos, there are a few pleasant pics. Here’s one of Southland.

Image of Southland

What struck me most about this book was how John wrote in a way that’s quite familiar to me. More than once I caught myself thinking “Been there, done that.”

Here’s what I mean. A passage of text on page 96 goes like this:

“And they looked large. I waited for a lull, then put the line with its nymph straight across the current. There was no hesitation. The nearer trout took at once. Big and powerful he shot down into the deep, with the reel screaming. For a while he sulked.”

I know what that’s like.

“Then the line went slack.”

Know what that’s like, too.

“Disappointment welled over me.”

There’s a pattern here.

“Too much rubbing on the stones with insufficient skill from me to stop it? Had my success in hooking him made me overconfident?”


“I don’t know.”

Yep. When I miss a fish, that’s the best I can usually come up with, too.

I’m aware of two other books written by John. “Look Closely: More Stories from a New Zealand Trout Fisherman” was published in 1992 and “Cast Lightly: Further Stories from a New Zealand Trout Fisherman” was published in 2008. If they’re as good as “Tread Quietly”, I reckon I’ll have to expand my trout fishing library by two.