TRM recently made an application to the Turangi Community Board to assist with a grant towards funding tourist information signs to explain some of the rich history surrounding the naming of the Tongariro pools. The application failed again but raised many feedback questions from anglers who inevitably asked: Who was the Judge of Judges Pool? Again we refer to old 2005 & 2006 TRM blogs that were posted before Facebook took over, with more recent photos from May 2019, as follows:
Judges Pool TRB is more popular with access by walking/wading up from the road bridge or from the Tongariro River Trail with acess from either the road bridge – up and over the hill – or from the swingbridge at the end of Koura Street proceeding past Major Jones Pool. Take no notice of the old 2005 & 2006 reports that suggested wading across to the TRB – it is now too fast and too deep. The descriptions may be out of date but indicate how much the contours of these pools change over the years.
Judges Pool – August 2006
Update: From what we are told (?) the most successful holding water is still just below the Silver Birch tree, which leans out towards the lower pool – fishable from both sides. Otherwise towards the head of the pool on the TRB, where there is a regular procession along the beach after every new fresh. Flooded conditions in July 2006 mainly affected the run above Judges Pool. This pool is now wadeable and looks particularly promising. At the time of writing, it does not appear to hold fish and is still settling. But lookout for this pool next season. We take notice of experienced veteran anglers, who have written to warn how other pools often took a full season to settle down and recover after flood damage before they become productive again. i.e. Recently the (new) Admirals Pool went through this transition, from being barren in 2005 to producing well in 2006.
So back to the Judges Pool area. This interesting new pool/run/reach above Judges deserves its own identity. So we refer again to the 1928 river map prepared by Barbara Cooper, where this run on the RHS below the old Island Pool was originally known as Doctor’s Pool. (Judges Pool was then located further down towards the old Lonely Pool) So in anticipation of this pool settling and developing into good holding water for the future, we have replaced the original pool name as Doctor’s. Watch this space…
Access this area by wading directly across from where the Judges track emerges, (about 300 metres from Tongariro River Motel!) off the end of Te Aho Road, at the head of Judges Pool, where the main flow switches from the RHS to the LHS. These rapid riffles are well worth a flick, particularly in bright sunny conditions when the trout hold in the rapids re-oxygenating (?), if there is such a thing (?) cooling off, hiding from anglers (?), who knows why.
Judges Pool – 2005 Report Tongariro River Motel (TRM) has chosen this first as it is the closest pool and one of the most regularly visited Town pools available. Judges Pool was one of the most reliable classics for many years but has changed character considerably after the 2004 flood. Guides like to introduce their clients to fly fishing the Judges as it had good close vehicle access, an easy level walking approach, plenty of room for back-casting, and can be wet-lined or nymphed with equal success. 4WD vehicles were often parked on the stoney beach beside the river but in April 2005 this access track to the lower pool area has been blocked off. During April 2005 heavy machinery removed mature pine trees from the tail of the old Island Pool to alter the access and the lies. Many large fallen trees were dragged across the top of the pool with the tops now mainly buried out of sight at the end of Te Aho Road. Next to this leveled dump area (what a good future parking area?) the original vehicle access – i.e. pre-2004 flood – has been re-formed to end in a tight loop on the higher bank overlooking the pool.
Judges appears to have been more popular since the February 2004 flood probably due to easy vehicle access. Immediately after the flood, the true LHS was favoured… Access to the RHS was by wading across above Judges at the tail of the island (no longer possible in 2021!). After the 2004 flood, the suitable fly casting zones were divided into two main lies but following the tree removal works, these have now merged more together. There are now numerous new snags throughout the full length. When inspected on 30 April 2005 afternoon the pool comfortably accommodated 5 rods, however, during the winter, up to 15 rods were seen at one time. Summary – Judges is a well-regarded pool and has a strong following. The main advantages are easy access (particularly from TRM!), plenty of back-cast space, and equally suitable for either nymphing or wet-lining.
Naming History – August 2006 Updated Pool names and information sourced from the booklet by Barbara Cooper – “Pools of the Tongariro”.
Note that on the 1928 river map Judges extended further downstream to the Groin Pool immediately above the road bridge.
Named after Judge Ostler, appointed King’s Counsel in 1924, knighted Sir Hubert in 1939. His sporting interests not only covered fishing but also deerstalking and big game hunting in Africa. He owned one of the first houses built in Turangi in the river area that was then called Taupahi.
Ostler’s judicial career was blighted by a slow, progressive illness which he attributed to an accident in his farming days but whose symptoms became apparent only three years after his appointment to the Bench. Because of the loss of grip in his right arm and fingers, he was forced to learn to write with his left hand. Nevertheless, he was a lover of the outdoors, a keen fisherman, and an ardent hunter and traveller. A typical photograph shows him as a hunter, pipe in mouth, a brace or more of game slung over his shoulder, a man of disciplined physical vigor, who believed in living dangerously. He was a life member of the Wellington Acclimatisation Society and wrote articles for Blackwoods Magazine on whale chasing in Cook Strait and on game-hunting in Africa. He had a lifelong fascination with Africa and an interest in a property in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). In 1935 he embarked upon a strenuous vacation, driving a car for 16,000 miles from Cape Town through central and east Africa and back again.
NOTE: Pool Reports for the Tongariro River are prepared from guest/anglers experiences. As such, Tongariro River Motel does not accept any responsibility for the opinions of other anglers who are traditionally acknowledged liars about their best fishing pools.