During ‘drinkies’ (strong tea) the other night another inmate asked us who or what was our most memorable fishing experience at TRM in the last ten years? What a tricky question… There are soooo many wonderful memories but – after checking with SWMBO – one couple in particular stands out as they were so remarkable and unexpected. (At the time I told them I would not reveal their technique to anyone but now nine years later we should get away with it.)
Jerry & Helena arrived in July 2007 after traveling on the cheap by tourist bus and – as you can see – resembled a couple of struggling back-packing tourists. They convinced me – by Helena’s winning smile and the trout rod poking out of Jerry’s pack – that they knew exactly what they were after. They wanted to negotiate a ‘deal’.
Firstly they wanted two or three nights cheap accommodation to do their reconnaissance and explore up and down the Tongariro. If they found the sort of fishing spot they were looking for then they would stay another two days to test it. If it was anywhere near as good as TRM claimed, and if we could lend him some waders – not for wading but to keep warm – then they would stay another week. (Back then the fishing was tough and we had to rave a bit more…)
So they easily screwed a 12 day generous discounted (aka No servicing!) room rate ‘deal’ out of TRM. Their confidence was quite remarkable for a young couple. They did not want any guidance as they knew what they were looking for. They knew I wanted to learn their ‘secret’ recipe too.
On the first day they went down river and checked out the lower river and town pools as well but nowhere was deemed suitable.
On the second day they investigated the middle river and beyond – up above Hydro Pool – and reported one likely looking spot which showed promise. So they stayed on…
About then I noticed Jerry’s rod had the tip broken off. I offered him a replacement loan but he was not concerned (perhaps in case he broke another) and advised he did not need a rod to cast. That only increased the mystery about their selected spot and methods.
So they confirmed they would stay for another week. Each day they left TRM at a very civilised time (when most other anglers were returning to thaw out) – about 10-11am – and casually returned a few hours later from their stroll up river and repeatedly landed double figures. How inconsiderate. How frustrating!
At that stage all I could squeeze out of them was that Helena acted as his ace ‘spotter’ and that was why he was so successful? They loved eating our Taupo trout but eventually grew tired of cooking and smoking trout ten different ways.
So, acting responsibly on your behalf, I was determined to find out where? And how? Eventually SWMBO reluctantly granted me leave from laundry duties to attempt to follow them. Fortunately we sneaked our in-house spy into their camp. Each day Boof went with them so I knew he would eventually crack and show me where…
I had worked out roughly where they might be but could not see them even from the opposite side. After walking and wading to my limit I could not spot them. Then I discovered their give-away – definite paw print evidence up the sandy bank heading down river so hoped I was on the right track. Soon after I ended crawling on my hands and knees where it was impossible to stand up or peer ahead through the tight undergrowth. I was just about to give up when – surprise – a dog licked me on the nose. Boof had heard and found me. They were so well disguised in their ‘possie’ that I could have passed them.
Helena had chosen a delightful elevated sunny spot on the bank where she could relax and read and occasionally peer down into the riffles – tail of a run – where the bubble line ran directly under her, tight against the bank.
Jerry was kneeling precariously on a narrow ledge, perched just above the river about 3-4 metres up river from Helena. His outline so close to the flow was even disguised by bushes he had planted. His patience was rewarded. I have never seen anyone fishing that spot before or after.
Helena sat and watched trout on their spawning run ever so slowly working their way up the current and issue progress reports. She was reading for most of the time. From her elevated position she could spot the trout. He couldn’t. On her instruction, as soon as the trout were ahead of him and within ‘casting’ distance, he simply flicked his fly onto their nose and hooked up. It looked so easy, it was ridiculous. I was amazed at how slowly and carefully the trout eased up the current.
On their last night we invited them in for dinner, hoping to learn more. SWMBO is sneaky like that so you have been warned. It took more than a few beers for them to loosen up. It was a good investment as we were astonished at more surprising revelations.
Both their families owned tourist fishing lodges in Swedish fjords so they were experienced. They had been touring for over a year via several top trout fishing resort locations. Helena was completing her University tourist degree by researching different strategies in each country for attracting tourist anglers. Her parents would have loved her for that. They had been around the South Island. After experiencing the excellent quality of our Tongariro trout fishing she was astonished that NZ Government, the fishery managers (DOC) and Taupo Council had not featured any trout fishing promotion in the prior ten years!
Hence she was enjoying studying each day in completely private idyllic surroundings while waiting for the next trout to swim past. Perhaps even more remarkable, Jerry had funded all their touring for the previous year by playing poker over the net. No wonder they didn’t want us to reveal their secrets.
So at TRM we never make any assumptions when a couple of immature disorganised struggling student tourists arrive off the bus looking so helplessly loaded down with bags (see photo above). Jerry & Helena proved they might out-fish most traditional Tongariro anglers by applying their own cunning unorthodox methods with enormous success. And most importantly of all at their age, they have more fun doing it too.
What a wonderful life style-work-study strategy combination for touring the world together, completing their courses, having such a great fun time, touring and fishing and getting paid for it. Don’t you envy them? Mind you, if you look closely, you will have noticed both Helena and Jerry were wearing lucky TRM hats to double their chances. So they really couldn’t miss…