Repeat of older TRM Pool Reports – Compared to all the changes down river, some of these classic Tongariro pools have hardly changed at all, so the comments posted over 12 years ago are still relevant.
July 2005 Report
Another pool dramatically altered by the 2004 flood. Admirals hardly merits AA sign posts on SH 1 any longer, or even on the DoC river map – unless it was for prime rafting water.
The previous riffles are now a fast run from below the lofty pumice cliffs above the Stag Pool before funneling into the Kamahi Pool. Access to fish the pool below the yellow cliffs is easiest from the Stag Pool carpark.
Access to this side road is about 3 km south of Tongariro River Motel, then a further 1 km down to the river bank.
Old steps on the north side before the original car-park lead to some shallow pocket water. So better to take the right fork towards the Stag Pool where a foot track up river leads to some more interesting pockets along LHS. DoC advise this track will be extended eventually – promises, promises? – to link Red Hut and Birches swing bridges.
Alternatively the walking track up RHS from Birches swing bridge (past the Hydro) takes about 25 minutes and has the advantage of also accessing the top of Kamahi below Admirals, or continuing further south towards Cattle Rustlers for more athletic anglers.
We try to encourage tourists on this track to enjoy some of the last remnants of native bush – mainly ferns and Manuka rapidly being smothered by blackberry – and to hear what is left of the morning chorus from Tuis and Bellbirds on the Anglers Access side track heading down to Kamahi.
Bird life here extends on to the river where ducks antics help to fill in the attention gaps between casts. Another option, not for the faint hearted, is to tackle one of the faint tracks through the bush and blackberry over the bank for polaroid spotting and nymphing the runs below Kamahi and Neverfail Pools. You will need a net.
Do not be dismayed by the apparent loss of the Admirals. It could just as easily return again? The Tongariro River should be an intriguing challenge. How often do we all risk spoiling the occasion, by returning again and again to the same pool(s), which we thought we knew intimately, where we have fished successfully before? Inevitably we risk frustration and/or disappointment if it changes at all, (or if some other species of angler is there first) instead of testing our abilities and instincts, by searching for new more challenging fly fishing experiences.
On the Big T there is so much potential for increased pleasure and satisfaction on new water, stalking and hooking and landing and releasing (?) fresh run trout from new untested pools. That is the challenge. Continually seek and test new pocket water, which are constantly altering their form and character. It is almost impossible to find pools in the upper river region which still fish the same as two years ago. The ever interchanging distinctive element of riffles and reaches and pools are a feature of the Tongariro. These offer the great annual leveller for all fly fishing aficionados – everyone will regularly be challenged to learn new skills. The moment your favourite noname pool is sussed, you can bet that the lie, or the course, or the flow, or the depth, will change after the next fresh and spoil your expectations. Every fly fishing trip should be and can be a new adventure. So we implore you to recapture the childhood excitement of discovery in a new pool.
What a wonderful river – a forever changing challenging recreational resource!
Named after Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Jellicoe, second Governor General of New Zealand, 1920 – 1924. It is recalled that when staying at Taylor’s lodge, Lord Jellicoe used to leave quietly without saying where he was going and would return with plenty of fish. It was found that he caught most of them below the old Ministry of Works quarry. Joe Frost (well known local resident angler) recalls him as a very good angler and very friendly. One day when Lord Jellicoe forgot his lunch, he shared Joe’s a cup of tea from his billy.
Where Admirals Pool is now located – below the washed out car park via unsealed track from State Highway 1 – was previously named on the 1928 Map as Gun Club Reach.
The booklet relates that it was named from the traps set up by the Tongariro Gun Club for trap shooting from the car park high ground above the reach. Above that pool was known as Mill Race up to the higher cliffs on the LHS.
On a Tourist & Publicity map of 1929 the Cicada Pool is also shown here at the top of the pool under the cliffs although by 1932, Whitney’s map named it the Fly Pool.
NOTE: Pool Reports for the Tongariro River are prepared from guest/anglers experiences. As such, Tongariro River Motel do not accept any responsibility for the opinions of other anglers who are traditionally acknowledged liars about their best fishing pools.
(2006 Update by TRM inmate – Ol’ardy.)
Disregard the 2005 negative comments. Admirals is back! After the 2004 flood this pool has taken over a year to settle and is now holding very well – arguably our second best (after the Plank Pool above Bains?) most improved pool for 2006, according to TRM inmates… But never believe everything they tell us…
Successful recent converts to Admirals tell us the best lie is generally in the centre gut of the pool just towards the tail, or up in the head, or in the tail – get the picture? Cover all the water.
And even more important – also do not forget to continue the tramp over the stones upriver to above the rapids, under the cliff where the bank is easily accessible, to cast directly into the main current opposite the popular corner spot.
Also below where the side channel is blocked off. This is one of our worst kept secret spots. I’m not sure what this is called now but guides seem to like it far too much. So what about giving it your own special name so no-one will know where you caught them….
TRM’s fishy inmates have often asked “How do anglers get to the TRB (True Right Bank looking down river) of Admirals Pool”?
Admirals Pool is often regarded as a barometer of the number of trout in the river. The trout are easily spotted from the high bank at the end of the anglers vehicle access – gravel road – down to Admirals (most turn off to Stag Pool car park). It is an ideal viewing spot to impress visitors – to indicate how many trout are in the river. Fat lazy trout can usually be seen resting and/or feeding in the tail of the pool along the TRB.
From the car park the TLB can be fished but needs a tandem team strategy. Local kids are the experts at casting a heavily weighted nymph from the high car park bank – where the trout are easily seen and can be individually targeted. After they eagerly take the nymph and the hook is firmly set, when the initial mad scramble settles down to a contest of strength and the trout starts sulking in the depth of the pool, then quickly rip-off plenty of spare line and the rod is carefully thrown down to their mate waiting in the shallows at the tail below for him to play and guide the tiring trout into the tail of the pool. Brilliant strategy.
The track down to the river bed leads from the other carpark about 20m on the left back from the cliff edge.
The elevated car park is also a perfect place to study nature at work – in terms of a visual example of nature’s ‘pecking order’ in the wild. You will need your polaroid glasses to observe how the biggest trout are usually at the front of the shoal and the smaller trout get chased out to the back of the feed line queue. The biggest are often more difficult to spot in the depths below the strong current but the size of the trout steadily reduces towards the tail.
(An older image looking up river from Admirals car park – the current has now spread across the run – see image below. This used to be known as Gun Club Reach named from the traps set up by the old Tongariro Gun Club for trap shooting.)
Recent changes to the flow force the main current across to the TRB almost out of reach even from the elevated bank. The sight of 10-15 trout waiting and even more bigger dark menacing shadows in the depths get anglers juices flowing and they feel compelled to investigate how to get to the TRB corner position. It is not too difficult.
Think about this if you want to keep the catch as it is a long way to carry three x 4 pound trout. It will get worse later in 2017 when DOC increase the daily maximum catch to six… The obvious answer and easiest most convenient method that makes it much more accessible is to cruise up there on a TRM bike in 15 minutes. Remember to take some fish bags to place in the bike-rack-packs available at reception. Waders are not needed.
After about 25 minutes turn off down the side access track to Kamahi Pool. Follow this about half way to Kamahi and count off the side tracks on the left. The third track provides the easiest unmarked access down a couple of steps into the usually dry overflow stony creek bed. Turn right and follow this to the river bank and turn left up-river towards Admirals Pool.
Rather than bush-bash along the river edge turn left up another larger stony overflow creek bed which leads away from the river towards Cicada Pool. (This wider dry over-flow river bed is clearly seen in the aerial image below on right.) Take this and walk (? take care – more of a stumble – wading poles recommended) over boulders for about 200 m looking out for a red ribbon tied to a Manuka bush.
That marks the turning point to locate a hardly discernible trail through the high secondary growth (beware of blackberry attacking waders) which emerges just below the corner of Admirals Pool. Simple.
It does take some effort but is well worth it. The only worry is walking all that way only to find some other angler got there first. In that situation nothing is lost – back track to Kamahi Pool which is arguably just as good and probably the prettiest track and pool on the river. The sweet chorus and chiming melody from bird life around Kamahi is often reward enough. The fan tails are so cheeky.
Best approached on a cloudy day or when there is enough gentle breeze to blur the surface and mask the vision so the trout are not so easily spooked or after a fresh when there is more colour in the water.
Admiral’s Pool is named after Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Jellicoe, second Governor General of NZ 1920-1924. In the 1920’s he used to stay at Taylors Camp on Taupahi Road (as Tongariro River Motel was not built until 1959)…