Raft packing is rapidly increasing in popularity amongst many anglers seeking “virgin” waters. The dream of so many is to be able to access and fish in water on remote backcountry wilderness rivers and streams where other anglers cannot gain access overland. The new “breed” of back-pack rafts are so light and packable that they are ideal for exploring previously inaccessible rivers.
The star in the photos today is Rodney Carr – a local rafter who floated down from the Blue Pool to emerge at Judges Pool. TRM delivered him up to the Blue Pool where he “self inflated” the raft in beautiful sunny summer conditions. The float took him just under an hour. Little did he know you had a job for him…
When we drove his shuttle ute to the Blue Pool, we were horrified to find the little car park which leads down to the Big Bend and Fan Pools was choked with four cars. I have never seen that spot so busy. This was on a Monday when everyone is supposed to be back at work?
So, on your behalf, I asked Rodney to report on the number of anglers fishing on the river in the other 28 pools down to the Judges Pool. He counted four down to the Fan Pool to Cliff Pool reach, obviously the four owners from the vehicles in the car park, and only one other located below The Rip – almost under the Koura Street swing-bridge. The previous occasion a week ago, when we did the same shuttle service at peak time in the New Year holiday period, he counted a total of four anglers.
I have to tell you I also warned Rodney of one tricky pressure wave just below Waddells Pool as that is where I capsized and almost drowned about three years ago. I was piloting one of TRM’s sturdy “water-strider” inflatable rafts – see photos below – their more bulky raft shape limits the ability to accurately steer (it could never have been “pilot error”?) and the strong current carried the raft into the wave which gently rolled me over. I eventually surfaced again about 30-40 m down from the rapid. Several tourists standing on the Red Hut Bridge were almost panicking when I failed to bob to the surface immediately but the current was too strong for me to swim through.
So guess who “canned out” and went swimming today in exactly the same spot! Fortunately we had warned him so we can now tell everyone…
The other photos below are of another regular fishy TRM inmate, Jason Klivington from Oregon, who paddled his backpack raft down the Tongariro to check out some of those more successfully on the same trip three years ago.