Last week the Tongariro River appeared to be crowded and the TRM inmates were all heading for the TT – Tauranga Taupo River – about 10 km north of Turangi at Oruatua, if only to try to find a ‘virgin’ pool to themselves.
Unit 2 (he prefers anonymity as he might have been on sick leave) started the rush after landing 11 on Wednesday – with 9 from one run. We could not mention it any earlier as he was still here.
It might be explained by him being the only angler there, but that would be unkind as he is also an exceptional angler. Over the last few years we get to know from the freezer evidence – who catches most and who only selects the best to take home. Unit 2 is one of those. He should take up guiding. Anyway, the word must have sneaked out to the other units.
By Saturday TRM alone had 10 anglers there. The car park was full. Trout were caught by most inmates but most pools were really done over and trout were too spooky. Kevin Neil plucked the odd one by casting across the flow to the far bank in the slow water where they were hiding undisturbed but most of us cannot even cast or mend that far… I also have to add the trout returned were all in splendid condition – not huge but excellent silver bullets – firm pink flesh and fighting fit.
That seems to be the pattern in recent years on the TT. Either a feast or a famine. They tell us you need to be there immediately after a flood or the spawning runs flash straight through in a day. So timing is crucial.
Even Pumpkin had to go to have a look so we went last Friday during heavy rain to see how many times we could get snagged and have to rejig our trace in the murky wet conditions. As there were already six cars in the car-park I almost turned around, but I was more interested to see where tracks were still available and how many wash-outs and banks had collapsed since my last visit.
The snags have not reduced at all. If you tie your own flies you will enjoy the day out but otherwise it could be an expensive exercise.
This river still has a special charm all of its own. We did our apprenticeship there for several seasons in the last century before we graduated to the Tongariro. So we had to make a point of returning at least once each year or so if only to reminisce. But previously we also had a special reason called ‘dog training’?
His targets were not fresh run but usually mending trout or those that may have already been caught and released so they were recovering, hiding under the banks and a bit dozy.
Then Boof would flush them out and chase them through the shallows to beat them up and catch them to drag them into the bush and bury them. Very conservation minded…
It always intrigued me that when I returned a year or so later he would locate the same spot and dig them up. By then they were perfectly ‘cured’…
The previous reason for our visits was to encourage Boof to train Pumpkin to spot trout (for me) but, being a bitch, she knows everything and could not get even slightly interested in poaching trout. She just wanted to play and chase imaginary butterflies and/or sleep and dream of giant trout. The only habit she picked up from Boof was to cock her leg to have a pee. Not very ladylike but she didn’t have a mother to teach her to squat.
The last time I was there was with Pumpkin as a pup led by Boof and they were so enthusiastic following bird scents they got lost. I had to return the next day and after walking for hours to eventually find them cringing up by the lodge at the Cliff Pool. As punishment, SWMBO did not allow us back in 2015.
It is much more relaxed walking and wading on the TT, not to have to strain to clamber over boulders – the access tracks are so easy generally. Except the one track to the particular spot we wanted to fish had been washed out so some bush bashing was necessary. Pumpkin whined until she was carried over the crushed blackberry. I hope nobody was watching. She is such a whimp.
Then she almost died of fright when a ‘covey’ of quail burst in front of us – not just a few but more like twenty to thirty. That sight alone made our fishing trip worthwhile. Often there is so much more to enjoy than just the numbers of trout landed. We always claim that when we get skunked and lose all our gear.