A trout fishing mission to me usually means chucking the rods in the back of the ute and having my line in the water in less than 10 minutes. However, this recent trip looked a little different. With a little more gear (and a lot more planning) me and four mates set off on a 2000km round-trip from Ohakune to Twizel, hoping to catch the ‘big dog’ – a brown trout of epic proportions. Banter and yarns amongst the crew helped distract us from the two-metre swell on the Cook Strait crossing – and from the fact that we forgot to pack our dive gear as we passed through a sunny, calm Kaikoura. Eventually we reached our destination and, with a few rums to celebrate, we hatched a plan for the morning session. Not knowing what to expect, where to go, or what gear to use, we opted to set our alarms early and hope for the best.

Unfortunately, we had a few quiet fishing days initially, with none of the big fish we’d been hoping for. But, after a bit of local advice in the ear and a fair amount of YouTube research under our belts, we eventually saw our first bit o faction. The 5:00 am wakeups were made a little easier by the sound of the birds, and on this day the slight hint of orange peeking over the horizon meant another bluebird day was in store for us. So,  we smashed our coffees, rugged up in some thick layers and headed down to a new spot. “This one is going to be it!” and “Today is the day!” we told each other as we drove down the road with the heater cranking in the ute. Sure enough, about an hour into our morning Dave was the first on the board, reeling in a healthy 10lb brown trout, using a bit of ‘chunky cheese’ (as the locals call it). After a few minutes of admiring the beast, we raced to get our lines back in the water – the competition was now well and truly on! Not long afterwards, my rod bent over. Hard.

Thinking it was just another snag, I put a little pressure on and suddenly line started screaming out of my reel… “Fish on!” It felt like hours later when I finally got him into the net – 16.5lbs of Twizel brown trout. I was speechless. The girls were on! After a few too many pics for the ‘gram and a couple of smart-arse little chirps thrown at the boys, we called it a day and headed back to the Airbnb. While filleting the giant trout, we started thinking about how we were going to cook the big beauties. That night, Dave’s partner Nikita cooked a couple of fillets in butter and it was blimmin’ mouth-watering! The competitiveness kicked in again and, with some spare time on our hands, my partner Bodie and I decided to try something new. Every Christmas my grandmother makes delicious Salmon Gravlax, a real crowd pleaser. So, with that in mind (and a few glances at Pinterest for inspiration) we decided to cure our big Twizel brownie in beetroot and gin to make Trout Gravlax, which sounds fancy but is crazy-easy and super delish. There are tons of in-depth recipes out there if you want to go a little further, but this is what worked for us! All you’ve got to do is spend 10 minutes prepping, then walk away and let time work its magic. The trout slowly cures, and the flavours are infused. A little bonus of adding the beets is that
you get that vibrant purple colour!

Ingredients
• 1/2 Cup mayonnaise
• 1 pickle, finely diced
• 1 Tbsp capers, finely diced
• 1 Tbsp dill, finely chopped
• 1 Tbsp lemon Juice
• 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tsp dijon mustard
• Salt & pepper to taste

Method
1 Catch and fillet trout.

2 Mix together gin, beetroot,
sugar, and salt.

3 Place fillet in a zip lock bag &
evenly cover the trout in beetroot
cure, ensuring all the edges are
covered.

4 Seal and place bag in the
fridge for 2-3 days. Add a little
weight on top and turn every day
or so.

5 After being in the fridge for a
few days, rinse off the remaining
mixture with cold water, pat dry
with a paper towel, and cut into
thin slices.

6 Serve as is, on a bagel with
cream cheese or in a salad. The
rest is up to you!

7 Take pics of your dish and
tag us, enjoy it with whanau and
friends, and most importantly,
have fun with it!