It has been a strange winter season on the Tongariro River so far. So it is interesting to review the above “History of the Taupo Fishery” chart – prepared by the Trout Centre. The only constant are the continual cycles. What comments would you add to it for the last 16 years after 2000?
It is similar on the Tongariro this season. One moment anglers get excited claiming the main spawning runs have started and much bigger trout – four pound plus – see photos below – are seen waiting in the TRM smoker, then next moment they complain the trout are too spooky or too hard to find at all as they shrink to the minimum legal size (40cm).
At TRM we hear some interesting comments from anglers who know… although sometimes it is like Dad’s Army here. We just said farewell to Harvey Clark – who many older (i.e. older than me) anglers will remember as the trout fishing journalist for the NZ Herald for many years.
He spent yesterday swopping war stories with another well known trout fishing character, Tony Bishop (author of several trout fishing books such as “Fishing Smarter for BIG Trout” which can be read on line on his “Bish on Fish” website, has fished all over the world, developed the biggest fishing tackle shop in NZ, etc). They have forgotten more about trout fishing than I have ever learnt…
Harvey now lives at Rotorua and this was his first visit for three years. It says something about the Rotorua fishing when he has to travel down here to find some sport? He confirmed it is not one of their better years either… It also says more about the Tongariro season when he advises he will be back for a couple of days each week to keep his hand in…
Tony landed five yesterday but to these ancient anglers the number of trout hardly matters at all. Tony was more concerned about the Tongariro River’s closed or increasingly difficult poorly maintained angler access tracks (He waded into one pool but could not get out afterwards), trout size, trout condition, Taupo fishery management, Auckland house prices, weather, lack of sleep, deteriorating river water quality, difficulties renewing fishing licences, getting older, Maggie, catch & release, etc… Just the usual list from many other Tongariro fishos.
(It’s OK – we have known each other for over fifty years… He was so stressed out and so concerned or maybe because he was so excited to be here (?) he even left all his food behind. TRM staff are very grateful. Don’t forget to email him Happy 72nd Birthday next Monday… http://www.bishfish.co.nz/bishonfish/)
Several other TRM inmates have commented on their catch & release dilemma recently – the question of whether to release some of the smaller skinny trout in marginal condition is perplexing. Tony could not understand anglers keeping of some of the trout seen in marginal skinny post spawning condition..
Image on left – Scott Collins from Auckland with his limit bag last week.
TRM are often asked what is the ‘DOC policy’ on catch & release? SWMBO always encourages anglers to take everything home. They never know when they might catch their next one…
Some have queried how is it that Taupo fishing licences sales are now half of what they were so it follows that the fishing pressure should be much less and the trout fishing should be far better overall. The explanation from one inmate was that back then the limit was eight trout per day? Now it is three.
GS did not believe that the last revision of daily bag limit was 25 years ago – last century – back in 1991 – and was certain – in fact he bet us it was much more recent in this century. We promised we would reproduce the chart above specially for him and accept his apology in anticipation. (WG prefers Shiraz)
Several other fishos – concerned about trout size etc. – have suggested it is time DOC reviewed the minimum length and daily bag limit?
Others have referred to the BIG picture where the food chain in the great lake has been suffering for the last decade and the lack of trout food – smelt, so more trout released by anglers have to result in smaller trout. Government are spending $Zillions keeping the lake 100% pure and clean so there is little chance of improving the fishy food chain.
Also need to factor in those that too often are caught after a long struggle, carefully measured, weighed, photo’d several times, admired, handled many times, and then eventually gently released to inevitably die from all the loving attention.
Images are Bruce Hutchings from Taranaki above right and Geoff Mundy from Taupo on left with their better examples of Tongariro Rainbows. Well surely you didn’t expect us to show inmates with smaller trout…
Tongariro anglers at TRM also continue to complain about Taupo Fishery management and their lack of communication – i.e. “back in the good ol’ days”, etc… Others have suggested they should learn from Fish & Game management at Rotorua where they have had more success in maintaining the size of trout (They should talk to Harvey!). Coincidentally their fishing licence sales have held up…
Also recently TRM have had emails considering supplementing trout food with koura farming – see below. Previously TRM have suggested, mainly out of desperation, the development of whitebait farms (see 1934 result on the above chart) to supplement existing trout food sources.
So that should bring you all up to date (?). As mentioned before, we blame TV. The programmes are so awful that inmates start reading old copies of Target Taupo and then complain to us the next morning. But just remember, nature has blessed us with arguably the best river with all year wild trout fly fishing in NZ, possibly the world, so despite all the issues and anglers concerns, we should count our blessings. Last week TRM had some anglers enjoying their best fishing ever.
Following from latest quotes on Bish & Fish website: “Sportsmen who elect to assume responsibility for ‘Controlling’ predators seem to me enormously presumptuous. They are saying in effect that the natural world is theirs and all that is in it…fortunately the angler is only a minor offender in these respects. He is almost by definition a close observer and the birds and mammals that follow the creeks and lakes to prey on fish are an integral part of the pleasure. It is obvious that even if he could by killing them the increase the number of fish available to him he would be reducing the total of his sport” Roderick Haigh-Brown
I have gone through the most recent Target Taupo magazine (October 2015 issue) and noted a photo of a large trout in superb condition from Lake Taupo. What really interested me was its enlarged vent which indicated that this fish was eating either koura or large snails or quite possible both.
I also recall the comments of the Taupo Fishery scientist that koura eaters had a enlarged vents from expelling the remains of hard koura shells. The same would apply to fish eating large snails.
It puzzles me why only a small proportion of the lake’s rainbow trout eat koura, a nutritious food that seems to be in plentiful supply and readily available in all stages of its life cycle. The question that arises from that is how can a greater proportion of the lake’s rainbow population be “stimulated” to include koura in their daily diet?
I am sure that such training can be done in a hatchery situation by feeding shredded koura from an early age and gradually increasing particle size to eventually feeding some small whole koura.
However, how could such training be done in a wild population?
Koura are readily available either by catching wild ones or by breeding them in ponds.
Next setting up an experiment with wild trout to see how quickly they can be turned into koura munchers. Just looking at the large fish in the hatchery pond waiting for visitors feeding them pellets indicates that trout quickly learn to take advantage of a new food supply.
If successful this controlled experiment could than be done in the lake by establishing local feeding stations to train wild lake trout to accept koura into their daily diet.
As I see it before we investigate introducing a foreign food source into the lake we ought try to get the trout to make the most of the food that is already there. What is needed is the will to experiment with innovative ideas.
Perhaps you could start a thread on this topic. Something is clearly not right with the lake and its effect on smelt. It cant be just the lack of nutrients as more of these enter the lake now than ever before.
Was good catching up with you the other day.