Hell this year is flying by!
Once a year on average , I lose a trout that makes me go Grrrrrr. Most of the trout that smoke me or use dirty tricks to try and dislodge, make me smile. I loved being smashed by a trout that is uncontrollable. However every so often, disappointment is left instead. yesterday on the Tongariro was one of those times.
I was after trout to smoke. I have a few families that I know love it and I enjoy giving my finished smoked product away. I had tried at the Waitahanui rip on Tuesday night but that turned up a blank and I really needed a trout or two. All the rivers are low and clear. The Waitahanui has been beaten with an ugly stick by anglers, for weeks now. The runs into the Nui had dropped right off to dribs and drabs and they were spooky! I almost did the Hine, but it is low and I want to get in there when the water comes up a little more. With that in mind and knowing the other three rivers are very low, I shot down to the Tongariro.
I did a section I have not fished for a while and was really surprised at the change. It is here that my fight happened.
The Run I found and was happily casting into had a series of deeper holes throughout. It reaked of trout and when I first saw it I think I may have drooled a little There is a heap of water to fish. I had on a Weighted Reaper and a Red Bead Reaper. For thirty odd drifts I didn’t touch a thing. Over the next thirty minutes I changed Nymphs twice more to all my killers, without a touch. My leader was about 11 feet to the dropper. I added weight enough at intervals, to make sure I was down. Nothing, Nada. “Hmmm” I thought maybe a Glo Bug and remove some of the weight, to get a more natural drift.
First cast! Half way down the drift and the indicator just stopped. I lifted and instantly felt that heart pounding, head shake of a good solid fish. Its first run was nothing short of vicious and almost had me holding the line too tight, My Kilwell 8# got a right royal bending! Once under control, (and I don’t say that lightly) I moved him down out of the run into the water below. It just happened to be, that I did not have too much water to play with, as it became snaggy and deep. Even as I thought this my opponent speed off in that direction and Ping off he came. This was a good Jack of about 5 pounds, ( I got a good look at him). I sat down, Re Tied, with a Glo Bug and had a coffee.
For the next thirty minutes, (No anglers anywhere to be seen) I put through drift after drift. I added weight and even short lined it. Not a touch. This water just looked too dam good for one fish! “Ok just a few more” I thought. The indicator went under in the exact spot as before, I lifted and a very frantic, splashy Hen came to the surface. Once it turned its head and had its trajectory correct, it took off! I was ready for it and let it have line through my fingers without much resistance. It was heading upstream and not into snags. I decided to apply some pressure and turned it. Yup straight back down to me. It had me stripping like a maniac but I kept up with her and as she came past me I really gave her the stick, applying maximum pressure. This is where an 8# will decimate a lighter rod, with a big fish. I walked downstream bringing in line not just walking it down, this glides the trout over to your bank. Before the trout knew what had happened I had her in shallow water and then up onto the shingle. It was a great Hen of 4.5 pounds. It was not ready for spawning either so got the “Last Rites” with my Priest. This fish had really good flesh and is about to be smoked.
So another cup of coffee to rest the pool, a quick look around to see if any other anglers might like a go, (still no one within sight) and I thought “Oh well, may as well”.
I had changed over onto a Red Bead Reaper for my point fly, a Black Bodied Tungsten Reaper as my dropper. 7inches above the Dropper I had a small piece of split shot. Leader was 11 feet from indicator to point fly. On my second drift through, the indicator got smashed, I mean it went under and sideways and down all at the same time. This time when I lifted the rod, the thump on the other end was heavy. It too went up stream but I decided not to give it anything without a fight. I needed to stay in the fight and make it tire. The last three feet of my leader was 6 pound Vanish Fluro, as was my tippet. Although I have strong believe that “Vanish” has excellent knot strength, I was now applying pretty much snap off stage resistance and thought “Na here we go”, when I turned its head and it glided back down stream to sit in the deep water opposite me. Round one to me! Over the next ten minutes we muscled eachother back and forth across the river and up a few more times to boot. Each time I had to stop this leviathan of a fish I thought, “na this is a bust off” It was an epic battle. “Right I thought” time was a wasting, something had to give, including my arm. I used the same tactic as on the Hen, by walking it downstream while having my rod angled towards the bank and bringing in line as I walk. It moves them into the shallows. The difference was, on this fish it didn’t want to play that game and we had another epic battle just to get it to shore, full stop.
So there lying in the shallowest water I could glide it onto, (fat belly syndrome ) was the biggest Brown I have ever hooked. At a quick glance 8.5 easily but because it was a VERY pregnant Hen that resembled a huge rugby ball with a tail and tiny head, it could quite easily have been 11. The problem is I will never know how heavy it actually felt, or how deep and wide it really was because that quick glance I got, was all I got. I had stepped over the line and was parallel to the Brownie while still in ankle deep water. As I went to give her a final nudge with my boot, it turned and with a speed that defied nature, went between my legs, back into the main current. I’m sure I made some masculine noise at this stage! While fumbling around with line everywhere, I managed to snag the indicator on one of my guides to the rod. This fish ,(that I had on the bank a second ago) was going hell for leather straight for a snag with me in tow, literally. The bend in my rod, as the indicator was three from the top and now wrapped as well, was ugly to look at and I knew it would snap the moment I stopped wading out into fast, deep, snaggy water. Well that’s IF I stopped wading out. The thought of snapping my rod won out and I changed the rod direction to point at the “still going nuts trout” and Ping, off she came.
A Photo and a cuddle would have been nice, sigh. It’s not that I lost it, its how I lost it.
I fished hard in this section for a few hours longer, moving up and down the river, I never had another strike. I came home with fish so it was a good day and I will remember that fight until my last breath.
So we have rain in the forecast for the next week. The wind will be blowing in the correct direction as well. Lets hope the rivers get some water volume going and fish move in. Until this happens the Tongariro is the river to be on.