(Note at time of posting this report – 16 October 2009 – the Tongariro was flooded so older photos have been used for illustrations)
Hi guys, Slightly better conditions this week were enjoyed by most anglers that managed to get out on the river and explore different pools which have pretty much been un fished for days. Bad weather last week has pushed good numbers of fish into all Taupo rivers and those who have been out have found fish in most pools in most rivers using conventional nymphing methods. The upper river really is starting to hold fish numbers now and we are finding that getting away from the crowds down river is one way of enjoying fishing in solitude.
This weeks pool report is once again up river and is one of the more famous pools which has been about for a long while and will remain one of the Tongariro’s famous and great pools. It has changed over the years and when I took my old man there not so long ago he did not even know where he was and it used to be one of his favourites. Floods rip through this pool and move a lot of sand about so fishing will not be as you knew it if there had been a flood prior to you going but still it seems to hold good numbers of spawning fish on every visit. This is the Duchess Pool.
The Duchess in the past has been one of my favourite pools as it is good for anglers of all types with many options from nymphing, wet lining and in the tail some great dry fly opportunities. Obviously this varies from conditions and time of year but there is always fish in here that can be caught nymphing or wetlining. I always say it but my favourite option is nymphing and this is simply due to using this method I can cover far more water more effectively if fished with the right gear.
The Duchess has very deep pieces or pockets in the head of the pool but also has high shallow sandy strips in the middle of the pool which fish love to hang out on and begin spawning action which most anglers will spot with polaroids. These fish can be very hard to catch and at times dam annoying but don’t forget the trick with the glo bug and the jacks, eventually they will lash out and take it. Most of my fish I manage to hook in the head of the pool where it tumbles in using a long leader and heavy bomb with a glo bug or natural trailing in behind. At times it can be a swirly piece of water which can be awkward to fish but in general when flows are at normal level it will be very productive providing your leader is long and drift is drag free.
Wet lining is great standing deep at the head of the pool and wet lining down the true left bank as it cuts into the bank very deep here and fish will naturally move into this water after entering the pool from Kohwai flats. Swinging a sink tip line with a short leader and a Woolly Bugger should do the job here in most cases. There’s plenty of casting room which everyone will enjoy with no trees or nasty rocks preventing the perfect cast cross current with your shooting head. There is enough room here for two anglers even if one is wet lining below the nympher, they should both be able to get on just fine. Another benefit for everyone is that there are no snags that that I know of in here so everyone’s gear should be safe – apart from Mike Hughes of course. While fishing in here with him the other day he managed to defy odds and find one – but he’s good at that!
The most productive side to fish this pool to fish is the true left as this has a nice little beach on it and provides hassle free casting for most but there is a little piece of water which is fishable from the true right. This water is nymphing only and looks absolutely fantastic but in saying that on the last four times I have fished it I have not touched a fish!!!? The only way to get to this water is to walk up from the Silly pool which you can get to by crossing the tail of the Silly pool after walking up from the trout hatchery or Birch’s pool. Access can also be achieved by walking over the Red Hutt bridge and following the track down river on the true right up the 60 or so stairs until you come to a nasty little track which drops down to the left and into the Silly pool, there are easier ways to go about things.
The best access is to park in the Red Hutt car park and follow the track down the true left of the river until the track runs out and spits you out onto the river bank at the tail of the Shag pool, below here is the Duchess. When taking this track be careful of overhung banks and stick to the track (or the road which goes down to the Navy bach) as eventually one day these will give way and you might be in the Shag pool against your will.
Sometimes working out if the walk is worth it is a hard one as there are quite often 10 cars in the car park and it’s impossible to work out which way they might have all gone. These cars or people who own them could be under the bridge, Shag Hut pool, Shag pool, Silly pool, Boulder Reach or many other places, so just get the boots on and take the chance that it will be empty, walks only 10 minutes. (Editor adds many of these are usually recreational walkers and mountain bikers using the tracks)
I hope this gives you all another pool to try and fish on your next adventure to the Tongariro river and pulls you away from going down to the Bridge pool or the Braids. Fishing looks like it could be ok this weekend so I hope to bump into you on the river and talk some more.
Andrew Christmas www.taupotroutguide.com
Rating (out of 20) = 11
will have affected many of the pools and river crossings. So take care!
(From Red Hut car park take the track leading to the swing bridge, then take the track on LHS past Red Hut & Shag Pools, follow the stony river bed to Gentlemen’s Pool then to Duchess Pool down river) The river course above Duchess, below Shag, changes with each flood and is becoming more braided.
Zane Grey and his son fished this pool on a return visit in 1932. A letter from C. A. Whitney in NZ Fishing & Shooting Gazette, June 1932, recounts the following: ‘Practically all Zane Grey’s fishing was done on the Kowhai Pool some four miles above the bridge over the Upper Waikato (Tongariro) … He had a long plank stuck out into the river from the end of which he and his son cast their fly into the best part of the pool, and in this way they were able to reach the fish lying in midstream. Visitors were deluded into imagining very long casts being made with short rods. I watched both fishing on an afternoon with a light wind from behind and was not greatly impressed with their casting and especially the way in which the fly lit on the water.’
The Duchess – May 2005
After the 2004 flood the most visual change immediately apparent from Red Hut bridge was the disappearance of the island above the bridge and changes to the course of the main channel – from the RHS to the LHS – these are indicative of significant alterations to the pools and river bed all the way down past The Duchess. Changes further upriver – to what was The Breakaway – were even more dramatic.