I met Mike and Lance from Wellington early on Saturday morning at the BP station in Turangi, from there we traveled onto the 42 Traverse by 4WD to meet up with John Sutton of Taupo Quad bikes and his helpers for the weekend Peter and Odette. We had received a fair amount of rain over the past 48 hours and I was a little concerned about the volume of the river especially when I saw the huge puddles of water where we left the car. The Tongariro Forrest had been dumped on!!
John and I had decided on the beats we were going to do for the two days but due to the expected higher river flow I changed these around at the last minute. We went in above the Waione, giving us less water in the Whanganui to deal with. This turned out to be a good choice as the Waione was putting out a fair amount of water.
IÂ was pleased to see that the Whanganui had not risen that much, (or so I thought) and was looking very fishable. Both the guys were throwing 6 weight rods and I had them rigged up with Prince Nymphs and a little black beauty of mine that slays them back country all year round. A tapered mono leader with half the section cut off and replaced with Fluro, (a little trick I have going on) and one of my indicators and we were away. The first pool we came to was given to lance. Being a little rusty, (cough cough) he managed to place his whole rig in the only tree visible and busted off. This gave mike who had been lurking behind us to take over. On his first drift through the pool his indicator dipped and we were into our first Whanganui trout of the season. Some of these trout have had a hard winter, this was a beaten up Jack that looked like he had been through it all. I hope he recovers as in his prime he would easily push the scales to 5.5 pounds. We released him back quickly without taking a photo. Since I had still not re tied Lance’s gear I told Mike to “put a few more through”. Within two or three drifts he was back into another hard fighting Jack of about the same weight, 3.5 pounds. Again we released this without a photo. I manged to get Lance back fishing and we made our way up stream.
Apart from a small section of River that seemed not to have fish present, we managed to hook, (maybe not land) trout in most of the pools. The water is crystal clear and had a deep emerald green colour to it. I love watching the indicator being yanked under and sideways at the same time, having my client lift the rod and seeing a flash of silver red before a good fish broaches the surface and screams off. I never take my eyes off that indicator, not for a second!
Mike was slaying them in most of the pools and at one stage landed a beautiful Jack well on the mend, it pushed the net scales to 5.5 pounds. Just as I was about to push the button for the picture it twitched in his grip and landed back in the water. Without any hesitation at all it sped away into the depths of the pool, giving us the “fin”as it went. I hate that!! A few pools up from that Lance landed a brilliant brown trout that had obviously had a good winter and was a little chunker, I missed the camera opportunity on this as well due to slippery fingers! By this stage it was 5.00pm and the quad bikes had been placed at the check out point, we found our way out and were met with a hot cup of coffee and plenty of advice about bush craft!! It should be noted, I have only seen John do one river crossing on foot and then the bugger fell in. The ride back to our lodgings in Owhango was nice and quick.
We stayed at the forestÂ Lodge in Owhango and I can fully recommend this place. It is spacious, clean and the beds are O so soft, especially when you have been dragging your arse up a river all day. There was plenty of hot water and the pub was just down the road, they do great meals there as well. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow and never heard a thing until the morning. After a very good breakfast of Bacon, Eggs, Tomatoes, Sausages, Toast and Coffee we got back on the Quads and headed off to the second beat. The trip in was fun with a little bit of technical stuff and a few puddles to plash through. We arrived at our start point within the hour.
In the very first pool that we came to both Mike and lance hooked up at the same time, both showing off their skills at “mid stream release”. This section was always going to be a physical one but the added volume of water coming down made it that little bit more so. This is the section that I videoed and so I knew what we were in for. The fishing was beyond fantastic though with trout taken in almost every pool we came to. We managed to sight fish and hook up, (great fun) and the scenery in this section is breath taking. We did encounter a small problem when one of the crossings had become too deep and we had to skirt another small bluff to get around. We were all a bit knackered by this stage but both Mike and Lance took it in their stride, understanding that these are the sort of problems that can be encountered, it is how you deal with them that makes the difference. At one stage Lance was hooked up into a good fish that took off downstream towards a very long stretch of fast bouldery water. The instructions from the guide were to hold the bloody thing, if it busted off so be it, we didn’t want to be running down there again!! Look at the bend in his rod. We manged to land this one as well. That 6 pound Umpqua Deceiver Tippet is strong stuff, I fully recommend it.
The day was getting on and so we moved through some of the water a little faster, still pulling fish out here and there. At one stage Lance had fished a pool without success but it looked very fishy!Â I had just tied on new Nymphs for Mike and they were a little heavier. I noted the water was deep and faster flowing and so got Mike to put a few drifts through before we moved on. His second drift had the indicator yanked under and this is the outcome. The Axiom, (thanks Steve for the spelling lesson) did a great job all day at landing these fish, it is a brilliant rod and I will be purchasing one as soon as Lesley allows me!!
The radio crackled into life, the quad bikes were in place and the billy was boiling. We were on time to exit and so we said our goodbyes to the river with Lance hooking two more in the final pool of the day. It was a hard section and the going was tough at times, we took it slowly and made sure we linked up on the crossings. Both lance and Mike did a fine job of hooking up on well over 40 fish for the two days and they have memories that will last them a very long time. Thanks guys tights lines for the future.