Every Sunday Daily Report in 2016 has been delightful memories by anglers recounting their association with the Tongariro River. TRM have asked everyone the same questions below on their Tongariro experiences:
Damon Taylor, originally from Napier, spent some time as a kid in Taupo, currently live in Wellington after spending time in Waiouru, Palmerston North, Papakura and Christchurch – so I am in the Army….
2 When and where did you start fishing the Tongariro?
Probably threw my first cast in 2003 underneath the Red Hut bridge. I was on course in Waiouru and drove up one afternoon. I saw the sign on the highway, had a look off the bridge, and saw a couple of fish. Spent the rest of the afternoon not catching them. I had been fishing a lot longer than that – but spent most my time fishing stream and river mouths at night – like the Waitahanui. The Tongariro was the first river in which I actually caught a fish. All the rest were caught in the lake.
After finally moving to Waiouru in 2006 the Tongariro was my “local” river. I could tell my wife I was “shooting up to Turangi to do the supermarket shopping”, and squeeze in an hour or two on the river before heading home. Add the weekends and I was getting up there at least twice a week. And there is something about that river that makes me keep coming back. I live 5 minutes drive from the Hutt River, which has a good population of browns – but I would sooner drive 5 hours and fish the Tongariro than fish anything closer.
It has changed over the years. If I had to pick a favourite, it would be Boulder Reach. I fished this pool ALOT over 2006-2008 and caught a lot of fish in there. I also lost the biggest fish I had ever hooked. A hog of a brown caught in a dirty flooded river that I only laid eyes on as it came up next to the bank at the tail of the river. I was so taken back by its size (easily double figures) that I panicked and reached for my net. Line went slack, fish spat the hook and sunk back into the murk, and I spent the rest of the day (week, month, years) reliving what could have been.
A similar incident, almost in identical circumstances, a fortnight later on the Hydro. Or there was the time I hooked 11 fish under the bridge in the early morning, and didn’t land a single one. Changed flies several times, but nothing worked. Hence I will never fish that pool again!
(Damon below on right casting into the Big Bend Pool 2 May 2007 – note changes to the pool from the above image)
My first “real” brown. I arrived up in Turangi about 10pm. I decided to stroll down for a quick fish in the Breakfast Pool. (Photos of Breakfast Pool below)
Using a wet line I hooked up on the first cast. Didn’t feel like a big fish, but when I landed it it was a 7lb Brown in beautiful condition.
My fishing trip was therefore a success no matter what happened over the next 3 days.
The variety the river offers. From the braided open section beneath the bridge, the long slow pools of the lower river, or the beauty of the upper river which is surrounded by native bush and which makes you feel like you are somewhere hours away from all civilisation. If you have a lightweight rod you can find sections of river that suit it. And if you want to use a spey rod, there are areas that will work as well. And the winter spawning runs are fantastic.
I tend to spend most time nymphing, but I probably have a higher catch rate on a wetline – although I find this somewhat boring.
But nothing beats hooking up to a decent sized fish on dusk on a size 14 dry.
Probably the last one a few weeks back. We found a section on the lower river (Photo on left) that was holding literally hundreds of fish. The sun was out, the river was clear and low, and you could see them everywhere you looked the whole length of the pool. We kept on coming back and while there was nothing of significant size, the sport was phenomenal. Double digits each day. We were literally sick of fishing after two days and needed to go back to work for a rest!