What a fantastic week guiding I have had with the four Aussie boys, Craig Keith, Mark and Phil. As I said in my last report we moved around the Taupo Rivers and even popped over to Rotorua for a look at that water, however it was all leading up to the Ruakituri, and this is what went down.
The Ruakituri lies between Napier and Gisborne. You pass through Wairoa and then up into the Ruakituri valley for about 40 minutes. Although the road is fully tar-sealed for most of the trip into the valley, it is still a good three hours drive from Taupo and as the boys found out on the drive back to the airport, nine hours to Auckland. Sorry guys got that wrong didn’t I, was Mark driving?
There is plenty of accommodation in the Ruakituri valley and the best way is to Google it. The Hut is a rustic little spot that has good fishing up stream and down stream from where it is situated, you can contact the owner from the details given in his report from the NZ trout Fisher magazine, due out shortly. This time because there were five of us we stayed in Eco lodge. This is an awesome place and is a short three minute walk to the river. It has more utilities in the house than most normal houses and the kitchen is VERY well equipped.
We arrived at the Lodge around 2.30 pm on Wednesday after increasing the finacial situation of Wairoa considerably. Aussies love to shop and so the local sports shop was hit to bribe facts from the owner. Keith bought a very orange hunting hat as apparently he looks like a Wombat in the wild and was sick of hunters mistaking him. Mark added to his collection of maps, Craig bought something that no one knows what the hell it is, (but it looks cool) and Phil giggled lots in the back ground.
The cars were unloaded, the house was explored and I quickly put on a Chicken casserole that we had with rice and roasted Veg. Yes the cooking skills have finally come in handy. We then hit the water.
The plan was to acclimatise the boys to Papa rock crossings and to only fish a KM upstream and down stream then come home eat, sleep and put in a full day on Thursday. I was still preparing their meal when they left to explore without me!! I quickly finished being “”Sharleene””, (cheeky bastards), in the kitchen, kitted up and shot down onto the river. The Valley had obviously had a heap of rain the day before and the water was slightly more coloured than normal but as we found out, it cleared and dropped over the next few days.
Papa rock is quite a scary thing to walk on at first, as it looks slippery and it can be!! On previous trips wearing felt soled boots I have come some amazing croppers that could have ended the trip. Thankfully none of us experienced this although we did come to name the heart pounding near miss slip ups as the “”Ruakituri Waltz””. Slip on a slab of Papa, feet go everywhere trying to regain footing and the arms whirl in the air to counter balance. I watched in horror, (and a little amusement) as Craig spent about five seconds spinning and twirling, his feet a frantic blur and arms doing all sort of contortions as he fought for balance on the first day. If he hadn’t been wearing sun glasses I am sure his eyes would have popped out of his head.
I found Phil trying to cross the river at the tail of a deep pool, (it had to be twenty feet) and so a little lesson of Papa rock spotting was given to him. Phil is a policeman who managed to drop his 4WD truck on him last year while crawling under it to retrieve a spanner. Shoulders were crushed, Ribs were put through his lungs and in general he was pretty messed up. The only thing that saved this dude was his dog, who dragged the mailman to where he was pinned under the vehicle. It is an amazing story, especially after a few whiskies.
Mark who was the beginner of the group, was well out of his comfort zone but gritted his teeth as I dragged him across the first crossing and set him up in a beautiful run that just screamed trout. Mark is in charge of huge water projects in Aussie and obviously deals with some fairly hard characters. He has a degree in communications and Jedi mind tricks of which he occasionally tried on me!! At one stage he refused to relinquish his rod to me so I could show him a trick at casting and only did it when I threatened to beat him with it! I had funny thoughts of suicide popping into my head for the remainder of the trip!!!!
I put Keith into another beautiful piece of water further downstream and he immediately hooked up onto a good three pounder. Keith is one of the best fly casters I have come across, his loops are the tightest I have seen while guiding, and NO loops is not another word for buttocks!! The size of the Ruakituri fazed him a little to start with but once he realized that trout were trout and would hide in the usual spots he started to pick them up on a regular basis. He ended up hooking the biggest trout of the trip. Apparently this Brown that he had on for over five minutes was near a meter long!!
Craig got smashed on this day as well and was still buzzing about his experience with “” Moby Dick”” hours later. Poor old Craig hurt his back a few weeks before the trip and then hours before hopping on the plane over here ,his front tooth decided to get infected. He had an emergency “”root canal”” performed the day after he arrived in Taupo and was a sad sack for a few days after. It was only once we got to the Ruakituri that things settled down for him. Craig listened to my instructions and was the stand out trout taker of this band of brothers.
Yes the banter around the table that night was great. The food went down well with a nice bottle of red and plans were made for the next few days. We hooked into four fish in that first session and the boys got their Ruakituri legs. Well almost anyway!
Eggs, Bacon, tomatoes and bake beans, (not that they needed them, good grief) were on the menu the next morning, then we packed our gear into the truck and headed downstream to fish a good beat I had done before. I split the team up this day and popped Phil, Mark and Keith at the end of the beat to fish all the water available there, while I took Craig who had missed a few days guiding due to being under the weather, under my wing. The boys under the influence of red wine and whisky the night before, had decided that although I was still to guide them, I was one of them and that I should carry my own rod and fish at times as well. The Ruakituri is accentuated with long slow moving pieces of water that look fantastic and beg to have a dry drifted down on the change of light, but in my opinion the best water is at the head of these slow moving waters were it spills down into fast runs and deep water. The landscape is the most breathtaking I have seen on ANY river system I have fished and many times I just stood there and took it all in. This is sooooooooo good for the soul!! Craig and I fished our way upstream taking trout in all the fast water. Every pool had at least one good fish up to 4 pounds in it and then all of a sudden you would be beaten by some huge angry trout that had no respect for the SEVEN weight rods we were biffing!
It seemed these brutes were taking green Cadis in this section and so the Mighty Mite from Feather Merchants came into its own. I have used this Nymph to good effect on other rivers but it slayed them here. We took Rainbows and Brown Trout in this section and all the trout were fat, healthy and fought like demons!
Dinner that night was Pizza, roasted sweet corn and salad.
Friday dawned bright and sunny again with light winds. The boys had a little sleep in and so it was 9.45 before we hit the water. The plan this day was to venture up stream as far as we could then hop onto the road and walk back to the Lodge. Keith took a nice little brown on the first cast of the day, and we made our way up from there. This was to be a defining day for the boys as by now they had all the skills to take these trout and take they did!! Unfortunately for me I had been reduced to guide again as I hooked into 17 fish the day before, (part time too) and had been given death threats by all. Keith who is a Private in the Aussie air force, (smile) threatened me with long range missiles, Mark was constantly trying to apply his Jedi tricks to me, Phil was going to give me a personal in-site into the prison system and Craig threatened to fish with me again. The last one was by far the worst!! We slayed them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dinner that night was Curry and rice with a medley of roast veg. Mark who obviously has worms was beaten by this, finally, its always the skinny ones.
We took four trout on Friday near the end of the day for breakfast on Saturday, (our final morning). I took out the bones of these fat little three pounders then sauteed them in heaps of butter, salt and pepper finishing them under the grill with lemon slices. It was a perfect way to end our meals for the trip, very rewarding.
Craig and I slipped out for a quick one hour trip upstream where he landed two good trout and dropped another three. We eneded the trip with him landing a fat Rainbow that fought like its life depended on it!
I have made many good friends in my guiding business and I now have four more. I have always enjoyed guiding Australians and I look forward to this crew coming back next year. In the three days on the Ruakituri we hooked into 61 trout and were busted off by 5 trout that we estimated to be well over the six pound mark, going into double figures. The Ruakituri ROCKS!!!!!!!!!