Wow November shot by! I hope a few of you got into the upper reaches of the Taupo rivers to have a look. I was asked the other day if the upper Tongariro was worth a go by raft, the answer to that is yes, but get in quick. It gets a flogging in these first few weeks and then it can be pretty hard going.
Do you have a tick list for rivers you would like to fish? I do and I am slowly knocking them off. The one I did last week had been on there for well over four years. I heard about it through John. He mentioned to me that in the upper section he had seen some huge trout, while hunting. From there it was a read up of the river and access points into it, Google earth played a huge part in the planning. However because of the long drive needed, it had always put me off. If I was going to fish it, I would have to camp out and if I was going to do that, I may as well make it for a few nights. The logistics of all this had kept me off it, that is until last week
The plan was to get there Thursday afternoon, seek permission or advise from any local farmers on access rights and other details they could give us, then tramp as far as we could that day before pitching tent. The next day we would tramp up further and make camp for the next two nights. The rest of Friday we would fish up a few Km’s. Then Saturday boost up to where we stopped and fish slowly from there. Sunday would be a crawl out day.
The farmers were all friendly and were rightfully concerned about us lighting fires. The surrounding Forrest and native was fairly dry and sparks are the enemy there. One thing we learnt was that for the past two weeks this river had been smashed by Helicopter guides and the general public. The main farmer we spoke to was horrified at the pressure it had received It wasn’t good news but it was news we needed to know. It meant we might have to do a few extra KM’s to get into untouched territory.
The weather was hot and the wind was non existent as we made our way up the river bed. The going was easy, probably the easiest walking I have encounter. The pools and runs we past were mind blowing and if it hadn’t of been for my rod not made up, I would have fished them all. It took about 2 km before we started seeing trout. I was delighted, (that’s an understatement) to see they were all of a good size and browns mixed in with rainbows. We walked for another 2 km before we decided to drop our bags, make camp and set up rods. For a tent we had a huge tarpaulin that I bought from the Warehouse. We put to use all our hours of watching Man V Wild and butchered a Bivouac together. Is it just me or does the ground feel harder now a days? We had a late fish in the evening after a great meal of Chilli and kumura mash, (dehydrated). Alex pulled a feisty little Jack out of a fast run. It was a good start to the trip. Sleep didn’t come to either of us that night. We knew it was going to rain and were not sure our home could withstand what was meant to be coming in. The weather forecast had Thursday night going into Friday as pretty wet!! We also heard some sort of feral possum that sounded like a cross between a grumpy pig and a Hyena, close by. I had visions of some massive rodent chewing on my throat. So the hour I got, did nothing for my disposition at 5.00am on Friday morning.
Dehydrated baked beans, Bacon and eggs for breakfast and the strongest cup of coffee ever poured got me almost smiling. We did well at breaking camp and being on our way by 7.00am, this time with rods made up. We started to see footsteps on a regular basis and although there were good numbers of trout in the river, they were super spooky. It was raining on and off but the wind had not played a part yet and so we moved up with a little more speed trying to find more settled trout.
After about three Km’s the trout numbers were higher still and although they were still spooky, my shoulders were killing me from my pack and casting. So we found a great little spot under some Willows and freed ourselves up a little. More Chili and Kumera, (hmmm was that was a bad idea) another cup of coffee and we were like new men, well apart from buggered knees and bones with steel rods through them . I found a great stick for wading and we were off.
All Alex wanted from this trip, (apart from surviving it) was a Brown and at least one trout on the dry. The Sun when out was hot and we were sure it would induce some sort of insect activity. In the mean time we would use summer Nymphing tactics. 3.7 mm Tungsten beads were enough to get down in most pools and runs. Both Alex and I have been using the same Nymphs for months now. We have taken good numbers of trout both Rainbows and Browns on the flies we are tying. We have full confidence in their ability to take fish, everywhere! I used for the first time this season, my sliding indicator system, it definitely helps in the back country scene.
At one stage on Friday I hooked a monster of a fish. I think it was a Brown as it played deep and I didn’t see any colour. The water was very deep that it was holding in and for the entire fight, right up until my line broke , I never got a glimpse of it. What I do know is that I put some fairly big pressure on it and it didn’t give me an inch. I normally have a chuckle if a good fish wins, but with this one I was disappointed, it felt big. Alex has got me using barbless hooks now and knowing the trout would easily dislodge them after breaking the line, was a good feeling.
We had given Google Earth a very good look and knew what part of the river we were in and what part we wanted to be in if the fishing was hard. Generally the further away from other anglers will see the fishing better. We decided to get back to camp, make it up, have a good dinner and hopefully a good nights sleep, then hit it damn hard on Saturday. We were asleep by 8 pm and although Alex woke me late in the night as our possum friend seemed to have followed us up, I couldn’t have cared less about being chewed on by anything and went back to dreaming about soft pillows and fluffy mattress. It happened to pour down on us Friday night but the Warehouse job is mighty waterproof and we were dry as a Martini Saturday morning. More Chilli and Kumera for breakfast, (epic mistake) and once we umm well got ready, we were off by 7.00.
We walked straight up to the point we stopped the day before and started to fish hard. I had found my little “Black Beauty” with a Reaper, hair and copper as a dropper seemed to attract attention. this combination has been really successful all over the North island. I think it represents quite a lot of aquatic life. In the process of fishing to a heap of trout and getting refusals, we had gone to a longer leader and at times a wee bit more weight. It didn’t seem to matter what size Nymph you used, it was more of, if you got them in front of a trout that had not been bothered for a while by anglers . We were a bloody long way up a very remote fishery and the trout were super spooky. The Heli tracks in the soft sand and the fresh footprints was not a good omen. We decided to really put some distance between us and them and so walked past some water before we started fishing again. This time we got onto settled trout and the fun began. I was blown away by the quality of the trout in this section. They were on average bigger than anything I have ever seen and a good mix too of Bows and Browns. Alex got smashed by a huge Brown trout that would almost have tipped the 10 pound mark. He kicked himself about that for ages, when he stopped, I helped him remember it.
We needed to get back to camp and it was getting late. I was pushing myself to my limit and the thought of carrying me downstream made Alex agree on turning back, although I saw him weigh it up briefly. Once back at camp we had Roast chicken Veg and mash potato for tea, we watched the Sun set then crawled into our sleeping backs and past out. I didn’t dream of anything and was surprised to see the daylight when my eyes opened at 6.00am. The possum had either given up following us or had cured the throat cancer but we didn’t hear him either. We broke camp at 7.30 and walked straight back to the car setting out bags down at 11.00am. It was a brilliant few day and although the fishing could have been so much better, it was great to see a river system in such fantastic condition. We saw SCHOOLS of young trout swimming around in groups of up to thirty. Nothing was under four pounds except these little juveniles, it was a very healthy fishery. We have planned another trip in here much later in the season. We will pick our time based on the weather, go in lighter, so we can get further and maybe, just maybe, not take so much chili.