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For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over several years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).
Tongariro! Not the sea!
We’re off to New Zealand for a few weeks so few more web pages until I get back in February I’m afraid. Before I go here’s a nice piece from my pal Alan in Auckland. Alan's a great all rounder when it comes to fishing and no doubt we’ll be casting a line in the sea together while I’m over there – I’m not sure that I’d be any good at the sort of thing he’s talking about here (unless I was allowed to use the spinning rod) but you never know. The best thing about Alan's accounts - 'He tells it like it is!' Good or bad you get a real feel for the fishing:-
Sorry for the delay in sending the summary through of my recent fishing break in Turangi. As you know we motored down on the Wednesday afternoon so that we avoided most of the traffic and did not have to travel in the dark.
Upon arrival at the fantastically appointed Creel Lodge (http://www.creel.co.nz/) the boys and I jettisoned our bags and made a bee line for the Major Jones pool on the Tongariro. Conditions were perfect, negligible breeze and the late afternoon sun highlighting all of the fishing holding in the crystal clear shallows and deeper runs. We counted between 24 – 36 fish from the tail to the head of the pool and somehow resisted the urge to rush back to the motel unit and tackle up for a dusk session. Our pal Tony, the winemaker from de la Terre winery, arrived at 8.30 pm and after a bite to eat we settled in to play cards, slurp wine from the latest vintage and plan our attack for the next day.
We’d planned an early start but the weather conditions were not ideal at 6.00 am. Tony and I braved the elements and checked out the Bridge pool. The wind was howling, gusting over 120 kilometres per hour regularly, and it was raining steadily when we reached the car park. The pool was exposed and devoid of life so we opted to keep our power dry and wait for a few hours to see if the weather improved. By mid morning the steady rain had passed and been replaced by the occasional squally shower but the wind had not abated. Over breakfast at a local cafe we decided to fish the Hydro pool as it potentially offered some respite from the elements.
When we reached the Hydro pool it was deserted. There was some colour in the river from the rain but very little protection from the wind which by now was whipping water from the surface of the confused rapids and redistributing it generously over anyone fishing in the vicinity. The boys opted to watch but Tony and I tackled up with heavy dual fly rigs and began to cast our way up from the end of the first glide to the eye of the pool. It was difficult going. The flies were not landing where intended and the wind was affecting the drift of the indicator. I went heavier in an attempt to keep the flies on the bottom and lost 10 flies in five successive drifts. (Feel free to insert a profanity here, I did). (I'd have given it best by this point! ML)We persevered for 45 minutes before giving up in disgust and heading back to the motel unit to recover from the buffeting. The afternoon was spent playing cards, drinking beer and telling fishing yarns. As it was my birthday we opted to go out to dinner which simplified proceedings immensely!
The following morning Tony and I again got up early to fish the Bridge pool. The wind was still howling but there was no sign of rain. We opted to fish the exposed bank of the pool as nobody else was game to cast into the teeth of the gale. Two anglers were on the far bank casting with the wind when we arrived and one hooked up into a feisty rainbow almost immediately. It looked a decent fish as he was struggling to get any sort of control. Eventually he landed it and yelled out in his broad Welsh accent that it was foul hooked before gently releasing it. I opted to start at the tail of the run and lob cast the heavy nymphs at 45 degrees across the face of the gale. It was hopeful stuff but imagine my surprise when the indicator dipped on the fifth drift, I struck and came up solid on a fish. It was not a large trout (~ 2 lb) but was in excellent condition and gave a spirited account of itself in the strong current. This set the pattern for the next few hours. Lots of casts, short drifts and the occasional hook up to keep things interesting. When we eventually decided to call it a day Tony had landed 3 fish and lost 3 and I’d landed 2 and lost 2. All bar one were hooked on the small size 14 fly attached to the heavy bombs.
As we walked out to the car I opined to Tony that I wouldn’t be surprised if there were fish holding in a side channel that we’d just crossed. A cursory scan through the tail of the run with our Polaroids showed nothing so we carried on. I took down my rod and Tony set off to walk back to his unit across the bridge. Within seconds he was running back yelling that there were six fish holding in the side channel and to take his rod and have a go. He’d spot from above on the bridge while I fished for them. Game on! I still couldn’t see the fish clearly when I go down to water level but with “guidance from above” I was able to position myself to cast to the trout. First cast got caught behind in the willows and the second saw the flies head off on a different trajectory as the nylon broke mid cast. (Insert more expletives at this point!) Undeterred I calmed down and tied on a single bead-headed caddis pattern tied from fawn micro chenille that had been tapered to a point with the flame from a cigarette lighter. I removed the indicator and cast long to the head of the run. The main flow went under a concrete bridge span support and the fly line and nymph promptly followed suit. I then noticed that the end of the fly line had hesitated so I struck and came up hard on a surprised trout. Again it was not large but gave a solid account of itself in the tight confines of the small run.
We opted to adjourn, collect Hamish and Tim (Alan's sons)and have brunch in the local cafe. Full cooked breakfasts all round! After long Tony suggested we try and connect the boys with a fish or two in the lower Bridge pool (see attached photograph of Tony and I – I’m on the right). When we arrived there was a solitary local fishing the head of the pool and while we watched he foul hooked and landed a mending trout. He opted to then leave us to the pool and disappeared at haste on his bicycle. Tony and Tim paired up and started to fish the head of the pool whereas Hamish and I decided to fish the middle section where there was more protection from the incessant wind. For Hamish it was a disaster. We were protected from the wind but the willows behind reached out and grabbed every back cast he made. After a few minutes, I decided to stop fishing on my own account. The best course of action was for me to cast and then hand the rod to Hamish to mend the line and manage progress downstream. This worked a treat. First drift the indicator stopped Hamish struck and was into his first fly hooked trout on his own account. He played it like a champion despite the endless “words of encouragement” from Tony and I. Eventually the fish tired and he gently slid it into the margins where it was unhooked and held for the obligatory photograph . Was he stoked, you bet! Two casts later, the indicator dipped and he was in again. Whoops of delight all round. Tim and Tony could not believe it! This was a slightly bigger fish and took to the air a couple of times before throwing in the towel. Unfortunately this fish had run out of luck and was destined to join us for dinner (after Hamish had walked around the town centre showing it off for a couple of hours...only joking). This signalled the end of the action for the session but we persevered for another 45 minutes or so before Tony had to leave to return to Hastings.
The next day dawned the mirror image of the others. Strong winds and sunny conditions. We opted for a lie in as the Round Lake Taupo bicycle race was on and there were 10,000 cyclists to negotiate to get to the river. The boys wanted to walk from the Red Hut pool swing bridge down the side of the Tongariro to the Major Jones swing bridge in the afternoon so I had a short window to fish later. I eventually got down to the river about 3.45 pm and opted to fish at the tail of the Major Jones pool as I could see a lot of fish holding there. The water was less than thigh deep and flowing at walking pace so I could fish with a small pair of nymphs, minimally weighted. I chose a size 14 Copper John variant as the weighted fly and attached my favourite size 16 Ostrich herl nymph to the point. Carefully wading into the tail of the run I was able to slowly walk upstream and get in behind a trout sitting astern of a large rock in a depression. Out went the flies and within 15 seconds I was hooked up. Magic! It was a nice fish of about 2½ lb and charged about madly in the shallows before I could gain a modicum of control and bring it to the shore using lots of side strain. I was under instructions to bring home a couple of fish for smoking so it was despatched and placed in a shady, cool side streamlet. Four casts later and the Ostrich herl nymph had worked its magic again. This fish was not in particularly good condition and fought poorly so it was returned to recover. To cut a long story short, I fished until 5.15 pm and hooked a further 5 trout losing them all. The problem was that I ended up casting to them side on and had to reach mend upstream to get the flies to drift down naturally. Every trout that took followed the arch of the fly to the shore and took it from behind which made it difficult to get a good hook set. Fantastic sport nonetheless.
The boys were fizzing by now and were dead keen to fish the following morning, our last, especially when the weather forecast was confidently predicting the wind would die down. We were up at 6.00 am and fishing in the still, sun drenched head of the Major Jones pool before 7.00 am. I did not take a rod as I was determined to help them cast and try and get both of the boys hooked up before we left at 9.00 am. By 8.20 am things were looking dire with no touches so we opted to head back down to the tail of the run now that the sun was well up and the trout would be clearly visible.
Upon arriving at the tail Hamish and I carefully waded in and started to cover the numerous fish that we could see. Fifteen minutes later and we were still fishless. I then noticed that there was a better fish holding out mid river, took the rod off Hamish and cast out to it reach mending upstream as the flies headed to their target. The fish saw the flies, fired up in pursuit and took the tail fly aggressively. I struck, came up solid and handed the rod immediately to Hamish. It was a long way (50 metres) to a safe beaching point so he had a reasonable job on his hands to land the fish. Fortunately it followed him placidly until he got close to the shore and then the fun started. He played it very well and did not panic when the fish gained some momentum in the shallow margins. Eventually we were able to land the fish and despatch it (another 2½ lb specimen). Tim and I then “flogged our puddings out” for another 30 minutes trying to trick another fish but it was not to be.
All in all a special trip made all the more enjoyable by the company. The weather was difficult but we were able to hatch a plan to make the most of it. 21 fish hooked and 11 landed, given the conditions, was an excellent effort.
Tight lines and best wishes,
So, there you have it. A nice spot of trout fishing in what you might call 'difficult' conditions. It just goes to show that it's not always rosy on the other side of the World. It sounds as though the 'fly only' mentality (pleasant though fly fishing can be) often makes things more difficult than need be even down under. Alan's 'crew' are all pretty open minded and of course (like me) obey the rules. The truth is that I don't believe that there should be ANY distinction between the various 'branches' of angling - fly, spin, bait, saltwater, freshwater, coarse, game - it's all the same to me. There ARE certain things I prefer doing (as is no doubt the case with every other angler) but there should be no need to impose my preferences on anyone else. For example, my pals Geoff Hancock and Mike Oliver are both dead keen saltwater fly fishers (Geoff does nothing else) but I'm sure they wouldn't dream of making everyone else wield a fly rod. Nothing like a bit of variety I say.
If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you!' get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - firstname.lastname@example.org