We have been asked if TRM were “hiding” other similar “Pool Reports”? So we now follow it up with another “Golden Oldie” on Birch Pool. About 12 years ago we gave away the idea of posting and updating detailed pool reports due to the difficulty of keeping up with the constant changes. The lower river in particular kept changing under the blade of bulldozers and diggers. But the Birch Pool and other classic Tongariro Pools have only changed slightly since then, so they deserve a repeat performance…
Birch Pool update August 2006
From the National Trout Centre Anglers car park the anglers access track leads across the Waihukahuka (Hatchery) Stream to paths along side the river.
Below the Silly Pool the river splits in two with the main channel flowing down the TRB (True Right Bank looking down river). These channels join again to form the Upper Birch Pool providing a splendid attractive natural deep pool.
Then the tail out spreads over a wide shallow boulder bank to an enticing deep blue pool under the TRB forming the Lower Birch Pool – located above Barlow’s Reach. To fish the lower pool anglers need to wade over the shallow riffles. Wading poles may be needed.
The Upper Birch Pool is a big spectacularly beautiful picture book pool – also ideal for nymphing from the TLB bank beside the River Walk or by wading across the bypass to the point of the island which is favoured for wet lining.
The 2005 report explains why you may have an admiring audience for fishing the Lower Birch, which may be why I do not go there often. But look out for the new secret (?) pool across on the TRB which cannot be reached casting from the Hatchery bank – opposite the notice board..
I hope we will not lose custom giving away this secret of the Sly Grog pool. Possibly you may never have heard of it – maybe that is why it is a secret. This name was allocated on the 1928 river pools map.
From the Upper Birches have a squint across river at the delightfully positioned small beach below the Upper Birch Pool.
This is how you get there. Back track to the Anglers car park. Locate the new walking track off to the left.
This is a wonderful holding pool being a compulsory rest for spawning trout to savour all the arousing aromas spewing from the hatchery stream. If you quietly move along the shelf to the right keep polaroiding – you will usually find in the depths stressed out spooked trout pushed over this side by pressure from anglers casting from the beach opposite. From where you emerged on the river bank, turn left and wade down river. Cast ahead as you cross.
On our guest’s report (by Ol’ardy last Sunday) on Cattle Rustlers he claims you could be wading through the best lie. This waist deep crossing is one of the slower safer main river crossings being the widening tail out of Cattle Rustlers Pool on sandy river bed. Once across the TRB continue up the steps to the walking track – between Koura Street swing bridge and Red Hut, and head back up river for about 400 metres. If you get to the pine trees you have gone too far – back up about 50 metres. Then – this is the tricky part – locate the faint track towards the river. This leads down to the little beach above the infamous Sly Grog pool.
Here you can safely wade out to cast directly into the feed line below the Upper Birch Pool. A truly delightful spot – particularly on cold afternoons when the sun will help thaw the spirit. But don’t tell anyone else about it…
The intriguing pool name has its genesis in Barbara Coopers’ 1975 booklet – Pools of the Tongariro – where the Sly Grog Pool is shown on Morilleau’s survey, located immediately below the Birch Pool on the TRB.
Its proximity to the anglers camp is perhaps significant… The hatchery was established in 1928 and an anglers camp was built there.
DoC have advised the foot track from the Hatchery car park will be extended to link with the Hydro Pool (The Tongariro River Trail has since been developed). At present it extends up past Hydro Pool to disappear into the river at the Never Fail pool. A new track has been marked out and the latest completion date is by the end of September 2006. This will provide biking & walking access from the town pools to the Birch Pools.
Birch Pool – August 2005
Access to the Birch Pool is via the National Trout Centre car park. This pool is particularly popular for anglers accompanied by family. Birch Pool trout will wait almost anywhere that looks remotely fishy below the public walking track . We promise hatchery visitors will be entranced by knowledgeable friendly staff, fine exhibits, fly fishing methods, trout life cycles, film & video casting lessons, feeding trout, underwater viewing chamber, – we could go on and on – all without realising they are being quietly seduced by the enchantment of fly fishing.
The strategy for visiting Birches Pool should be planned with military precision as what you are really after – let’s be honest here – is to induct all the family to fly fishing as a cleverly disguised eco tourism propaganda exercise.
The basic aim is to convince family of the need to send you fly fishing more often. We meet so many relieved Dads who discovered the magic route to a happy contented lifestyle by introducing family to a new world of fly fishing, as their most soul satisfying pastime, by starting at Birches.
Then suddenly Dad is free of the shackles of guilty conscience and encouraged to feed his addiction every weekend – well, Pip suggests perhaps every second weekend – as his passion is encouraged in the interests of a family bonding exercise.
Fly fishing will become the ultimate outdoors interest for the whole family. The problem of how and where to start is solved – the Birch Pool environment provides the perfect non intimidating learning and entertaining facility. Never ending costs of new rods and gear are no longer an issue.
So the cunning strategy is to plan Birches visit as the ideal family fly fishing introduction course. Hence the following helpful hints are provided as a preliminary guide to succeed in the Birch Pool.
As you can be assured of an uneducated public audience admiring your brilliant casting skills, wear chest waders with every possible attachment – i.e. landing nets, wading poles, priests, etc. that were previously discarded.
A fishing vest is compulsory with at least 20 pockets for a liquid lunch.
Preferably, do not let casting look too easy. Try to wade deeper to provide more back cast room to avoid hooking up the passing parade of pedestrian traffic admiring your display. A full red blooded copy book looping cast is preferred – no fancy roll casting please – with double the usual false casting to dry the indicator. Try the dropped shoulder style with vigorous bodily effects. Wet line techniques may be too boring – nymphing with oversized brightly coloured indicators is better. It looks more spectacular and the drift is easier to follow. Do not worry about spooking fish by splashing a few times – excessive mending is obligatory.
When your loved ones discover you entertaining admiring trout centre visitors they will beg to learn your skills. Show your generous spirit – immediately donate to them all your old rods, leaky waders, cracked lines and race to Sporting Life/Greigs Sports/Creel Tackle shops to re-equip, all in the interests of family bonding for Christmas holidays. A family that plays together stays together. You will be seen to give that most precious gift – increased opportunity for you to enjoy the finest fly fishing available in the world. Eco tourist anglers travel to the Tongariro from overseas at great expense, their trip of a life time, to experience what you are giving to family for free. What a Dad. What a guy.
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.