Ben Hall Retires
Sixteen years ago at the age of 21 Ben joined the guiding team at Poronui. Ben brought with him a love of the outdoors particularly the rivers, a sense of adventure, a relaxed easy going personality and above all a real passion for fishing. His love of fishing began at an early age and he became very skilful at catching both trout and eels in his local river. Ben tells a great story of catching a large eel which he carried to school. The measuring took place behind the bike shed and his was indeed the longest which meant instant acceptance into the group of boys.
During this initial season there were many firsts for the GIT (Guide in Training), the most notable being the beats which were new to Ben. Always keen to gather information for his next days fishing Ben drew this knowledge from a variety of sources, not least the experienced team of guides.
With guide accommodation (known as the Boar’s Nest) particularly limited in those days Ben spent many nights at the Red Hut. Knowing Ben as we do now this was certainly no deterrent. Camping out under the stars, in a tent or making home in a back country hut became synonymous with Ben’s guiding. Always in his element making camp, cooking over an open fire and entertaining guests around the camp fire. His fist camp out however was somewhat of a challenge with a German guest who spoke practically no English. The weather was the other factor with a combination of howling gales and snow with the occasional spot of sunshine. Suffice to say fish were landed and the trip was a success despite the weather and the language barrier. He added many more camp outs to his repertoire and the tails on their return were most entertaining.
As the seasons progressed Ben’s collection of Ordinance Survey maps increased. He was often seen pouring over the maps looking for new rivers and new beats. In latter years he added Google Earth to his box of tricks. Exploring new rivers coupled with adventure are right up his alley andmany a guest will recall such days. Ben’s pack always held the extras (a second rope, freeze dried food, the little billy etc) just in case .....
A fish in a tricky place is for Ben simply a challenge for angler and guide. Picture the scene: angler anchored to tree by a rope in order to lean out to make that all important cast, guide high in the branches for the elevated vantage view. Numerous fly changes, from his extensive self tied fly selection. Finally the right fly, the right cast, the right drift and the fish is on followed by the excitement of playing and landing that fish. I know many will tell their own version of this story with Ben.
Ben’s adventuring was not without the occasional scare, the latest being two season’s ago. With the river rising an alternative route was chosen to return to the vehicle. Ben stepped into a well camouflaged tomo. Luckily he was caught by the elbows and while he was unable to touch the bottom he managed to wriggle his way out.
Ben’s interests were not confined to fishing. Always a good shot he enjoyed friendly rivalry on the Sporting Clays range and latterly the archery. His sporting clays, archery and air rifle courses were enjoyed by many a corporate group.
As the hunting programme developed Ben also joined the hunting guides and in the 2012 season was the guide on the SCI 500 + Red Stag.
Ben used the winter months to follow his second passion – flying helicopters and successfully completed his commercial licence.
A change of direction was inevitable and Ben announced his retirement from guiding at Poronui towards the end of the 2011/2012 season. When asked what he would miss he said: ‘The rivers, the guests many of whom have become close personal friends and the Poronui team.’ Happy to say Ben’s new job is flying for Helisika, literally a helicopter hop from Poronui. Instead of wading boots, pack and rod in hand he now lands on the lawn ready to whisk our guests to some of his favourite remote back country streams and rivers.
Following their marriage Ben and his bride Claire made their home at Poronui. They now have two children Olivia and Bonnar. Claire is Assistant Lodge Manager. Pets abound and the children embrace the outdoors with their parents.
Ben has been a tremendous asset to Poronui and will certainly be missed by us all guests
and staff alike. As a senior guide he has been generous in sharing his knowledge and leaves a strong team to carry the mantel. We wish Ben every success in his new career and perhaps one day he will be able to combine fishing and flying.
Eve Reilly, 2012