I was up at 3.00am on Friday, picked Alex up by 4.00 and was on the water at 7am wet wading in three degrees of heat
We wanted a big day and so did all our homework on access points and roads to drive down to get there. The day was going to be hot with little wind. We were pretty pumped about this river and so the early start really wasn’t that bad.
As we were dropping into the valley we were going to gain access through, we noticed the outside ambient temperature. 3 Deg stared back at us, mocking us for our keenness to wet wade. We both hoped that most of the early crossings would be below waist height. Most of the crossing were on small shingle and so walking on tippy toes was safe. Even then there was the occasional deep sharp breath taken from both of us. The water was crystal clear and we couldn’t wait for the sun to come up so we could peer into the depths, well that and to warm our bones. We could see bush line in the distance and that’s where we headed.
After four nice easy, shallow crossings and into our 5th I made the comment that we had been lucky with depth. The next three steps got deeper and deeper until I was on the nipple line. The water quality was so clear that 4 feet of water looked like 6 inches. So after making the fatal mistake of “trying the Gods” I shut up.
The pools were really deep all the way up and although we saw trout in them hooking them was a different story. We ended up targeting the faster water at the head of the pools or in faster moving runs. These fish fought like hell. I mean I have taken trout from a few rivers now and these were some of the hardest dirtiest fighters around. They were solid and fit. Two of the netting attempts would have been great bloopers, as these trout never gave up and really made netting a difficult task. I could have stayed and fished each pool for ages, they were magnificent. However the plan was to get up as far as we could, so although we pulled trout all the way, we could have pulled more in the water we went through quickly.
This river was a delight to fish. Lengthening leader, adding weight, changing Nymphs on a regular basis and then changing back again were all part of the success we had. My Winged Reapers did a great job for me, I have two new colours and I will add both to my shop this week. both have taken trout in all the water I have fished. We ended up fishing with the 4.5ml Tungsten Reaper, as the conditions required this type of weight. It worked though and getting down to these trout was really important. They will start looking up for their food soon as the weather has been good for hatches, however we needed weight on this day.
We got to a point that we were going to have to go over a bluff, that was me for the day. By the time we fished a “few extra nice looking pieces of water” on the way down, it was 5.30 by the time we arrived back at the car and we had a big drive home. The two cups of over strong coffee I sculled perked me up until I got home. A bath was required to warm up, food was engulfed whilst trying to explain an amazing day and then it was lights out!
We will be back!!
The spring fed streams around Taupo have some amazing, hard little fighters in them. I was out on Monday for a look around and managed to hook quite a few of these 2.5 pounders. The cold well oxygenated water and consent movement these trout have to maintain, make them very hard fighting trout. They made some blistering runs on my 5#. There is an article I am going to post after this report on Steele Heads and releasing them. Have a read and maybe think about it when you are catching and releasing. Alex found this article and bought it to mu attention. Trying to land one of these spring fed beauties made me think about it even more.
I went for a walk up the Waitahanui this morning. There are plenty of trout in the river, probably more Browns than Rainbows to be honest. Most of the trout I saw today were quite dark and had obviously been in there some time. The trout were super spooky as well. Awesome river the Nui, it felt great walking the tracks.
Please read the article belowe
You May Be Killing Steelhead And Not Even Know It
20 comments / Posted on November 18, 2013 / by Louis Cahill
Photo by Louis Cahill
Photo by Louis Cahill
Steelheaders are generally pretty serious about catch-and-release, but it’s likely that many are mortally wounding fish without ever knowing it.
There are few species of fish as vulnerable as wild steelhead. These fish are beset on all sides by threats both natural and man-made. With their numbers dwindling, it’s safe to say, every steelhead counts. It’s vital that those of us who fish for them practice the best catch-and-release practices.
However, common landing practices can kill fish without the angler ever knowing. A team of biologists studying steelhead in British Columbia discovered this problem, quite by accident. These scientists were tagging steelhead with GPS trackers. They determined that the least intrusive way to capture the fish was, well, the same way we do it. With a fly rod. They landed the fish, tagged them with the GPS device and released them. When they went to their computer to track the fish’s progress they discovered something alarming.
Within two hours many of the fish they had tagged, and released in good health, were dead. They collected the fish and performed autopsies to determine what had gone wrong. In every case the cause of death was head trauma. It turns out that ‘steelhead’ is a misnomer. The fish’s head is, in fact, its most vulnerable spot.
When landing the fish the researchers had played them into shallow water where they would be easy to tail. As the fish came into the shallows they were on longer, fully submerged. Without the resistance of the water surrounding them, their powerful thrashing was able to generate momentum that is not possible underwater. The flopping fish simply hit their heads on a rock.
The fish appeared fine when released, but their injured brains began to swell and soon they were dead. It makes perfect sense if you think about it. Fish have evolved in an environment where hitting their head on anything with enough force to cause damage is almost impossible. Their brains lack the natural protection enjoyed by terrestrial species.
Luckily, this unfortunate outcome is easily avoided. The angler has a couple of good options. Landing fish by hand in knee deep water is a little tougher but much safer for the fish. You can grab the leader to control the fish long enough to tail it. After a fish or two it will feel very natural. When possible, it’s best to use a good catch-and-release net. This is safest for the fish and easiest for the angler. A net helps you seal the deal while the fish is still fresh and requires little reviving.
Always control your fish once he’s landed. Keep his gills wet and support his head in case he makes a sudden attempt to escape. Keeping him, dorsal fin up, will keep his range of motion side-to-side, making it harder for him to injure himself. When possible keep him in deeper water. Never beach a fish when landing him and never lay him on the bank for a photo. It’s just not worth it.
Wild steelhead are a precious resource. Those of us who come to the river looking for them must lead by example and do our best to to be good stewards of these remarkable fish. Their future is, literally in our hands.