This is one of the bravest TRM inmates and All Black supporters we have ever met so he deserves a report all about his trip. It is one of those warm fuzzy fishy stories.
He is Trent Kinghorn visiting from England. Originally from NZ now living near Guildford. Last week he resigned from his job and flew to NZ accompanied by over 300 raving Red Army Lions Tour supporters.
He was the only one at Heathrow and in the aircraft wearing an All Black shirt. How courageous is that?
Trent is another keen UK fan of TRM Daily fishing reports. So after the first Auckland test he drove to Taupo and hired a Taupo guide who took him down to the Tongariro for a day’s fishing but they did not hook into anything. Unfortunately that can happen to anyone. He returned – naturally somewhat disappointed – to his parent’s house north of Auckland after the second test, and then read TRM’s report updating about the huge success of so many TRM inmates.
Then he realised his terrible mistake. He had not worn a TRM hat. (I know you would have picked that)
So, before the 3rd test, he just had time to drive back down again from Mangawhai Heads, but this time bypassed Taupo directly to Turangi, where he booked into TRM about 5 pm. and bought his lucky hat. There was just enough daylight left to sneak down to the Bridge Pool – even though that pool had been hammered all day the huge spawning runs were still heading up river. It only took a few casts and in no time he was back with his catch – in a delirious state. Wonderful stuff.
Following is his special fishy supplement – this was prepared by Trent four years ago for his fishing club newsletter:
Wild Rainbows of Middle Earth
As a bit of background, I am originally from New Zealand, but have now settled in the UK after living here for the past 12 years. Growing up in New Zealand, fishing was in my blood. This was predominately sea fishing in the superbly abundant and rich waters off New Zealand’s North Island coast. I was aware of the phenomenal trout fishing that was available there, however as I was content with fishing in the sea, I never really made much effort to travel to the trout lakes and streams.
It also wasn’t until November last year where I was seriously bitten by the fly fishing bug, when I realised, after 12 years, that there was really great still water fishing to be had from right here at my base in London. I picked up a fly rod, and started fishing the still water venues that were within driving distance of London. On my second trip (the first trip I blanked of course) I fished Syon Park in Isleworth London, and landed a 10lbs 8 oz Rainbow Trout, which qualified me for the Troutmasters fish off for the venue in March of this year. I subsequently went on to win the fish off, and I wait in trepidation for the final, being held in Grafham Water later this year.
As well as my fledging UK fly fishing career has gone, one thing has plagued me for years. From the seldom attempts to fish for trout in New Zealand from years ago, I had never managed to catch one. Be it spin fishing (shock!) or fly fishing (which I was hopeless at) to deep trolling from boats, the legendary wild rainbow trout of New Zealand eluded me.
My fly fishing learning curve was a steep one, but I received invaluable advice and pointers from Peter Cockwill, which improved my casting, technique and understanding of the sport to no end. It was earlier this year, when I thought I would be proficient enough to have another go at my wild New Zealand adversary…
So, in June this year I headed back to New Zealand with the goal of catching one of these wild fish at the top of my agenda. I arrived into Auckland airport, and greeted my parents. I stayed with them for one night and then the next morning I picked up my hire car and headed south, with Turangi being the destination.
Turangi is a small town in the centre of the North Island, and lies at the bottom of Lake Taupo and is renowned for its trout fishing worldwide. I couldn’t have picked better accommodation, as I booked into the Tongariro River Motel – (http://www.tongarirorivermotel.co.nz/). Ross and Pip who run the lodge were so hospitable, and there was no shortage of fishing tips and info about the local pools. Ross gave me an update on the best areas to try and who had caught what.
That afternoon, the next stop for me was the local tackle shop, as I wanted to pick up some local flies. The shop assistant gave me the low down on what to use, and how to fish them. “No Worries!” I thought, this can’t be that much different to still water fishing in the UK. How wrong was I!
The recommended set up for the river was a floating line, to an 8lbs, 6lbs tapered fluorocarbon leader of about 9 – 10 feet. Tied onto the leader is a fly the locals refer to as a “bomb” – which is basically a super heavy nymph imitation, used to get the whole setup to the bottom of the runs as fast as possible. Tied directly off the shank of the hook on a 10 inch leader was an imitation egg fly called a Glo-Bug – and that was it.
So, armed with this information, I dashed back to the river to have my first crack at these fish. Being early June, the expected runs of fish heading upriver to spawn had not showed up in any numbers yet, but there were still reasonable numbers of fish in the river.
I pulled on my waders, and setup my rod, which I had bought with me from the UK. I was advised against using my 5 weight setup, so I opted for my Greys 9’ 6” #7 with a floating line. I tied the flies on how I had been told, and then took to the river.
At this point, the whole river looked the same to me, with riffles, runs and a few swirls, I realised I had no idea how to read the water and where the fish might be. I waded up to a likely looking spot (in my mind!) and stripped some line, ready for my first cast. Using the technique that had become so familiar to me in the past few months, I started my casting action. At this point, I realised something was seriously wrong – I had no experience at casting with so much weight. I just couldn’t get any rhythm and I was getting frustrated, when WHACK! The flies came careering into the back of my head. I let out a few expletives, and cursing my bad luck, I waded back to the river bank. This was a lot harder than I had imagined.
After rubbing the pain from the back of my head away, I was not to be defeated, so in the fading light, I cut my nymphs off, and tied on my tried and trusted UK, olive Blue Flash Damsel. I had done a lot of reading about how to fish a river, and I knew this time I should cast parallel and let the current take the fly down. I didn’t know it at the time, but had I used a sinking line here, I was actually pretty close to fishing a technique called “wetlining”. Needless to say that my poor location selection meant I had little to no chance of catching anything in this spot. So, after about 30 more fruitless minutes, I admitted defeat and headed back to the lodge to consol myself with a beer…
For the next day’s fishing I had an ace card up my sleeve, in that some time ago I subscribed to an online fishing report for the Taupo / Tongiriro region. On planning this trip to New Zealand, I had been in contact with the author of this report, Shane, from Dragonfly River Guides http://taupofishing.co.nz/ In order not to search around the area in a wild goose chase, I had booked Shane for a ¾ day guiding and fishing. That night, I called Shane to make sure everything was all good for the following day and agreed a pickup time of 7.00am.
That night I had a fairly restless sleep, as I was so excited about the prospects of the next day’s fishing. Probably due to a combination of the recent jet lag, and my anticipation of the day ahead, I was up at around 5.00am in the pitch black ready to go. I had breakfast and a few cups of tea while I waited for Shane to arrive at my motel, and sure enough at 6.55am, he pulled into the car park.
It is always difficult to acquaint yourself to someone you have only every dealt with over emails and the internet, but this was not the case with Shane. He is a very likeable and cheerful character with a very dry sense of humour, and it wasn’t long before we were on our way to one of Shane’s secret spots.
As we drove there, we crossed the State Highway road bridge out of Turangi, with the world famous Bridge Pool underneath, where literally thousands up thousands of trout have been caught over the years. Shane explained that fishing the Tongiriro River is so much more than that pool, and we headed off further into the lower reaches of the river.
When we got to a place suitable to park the car, we both kitted up in our waders and set up our rods. On Shane’s advice I stuck with my 7 weight rod, and tied on two of Shane’s own flies – a heavy nymph bomb, then the every trusty Glo bug off the shank of the hook, with an indicator attached to the loop of the fly line and leader.
We set off for the river just as the sun was rising, and it really struck home just how beautiful this part of New Zealand is. After only a couple of minutes of walking, we came to Shane’s first spot. He told me how to read the water, and where the trout would be lying in wait. Having only ever fished the English still waters, this was all new to me, and it really was surprising where Shane was pointing out to where the fish would be.
I told Shane of the difficulties I had experienced the previous day with trying to cast the heavy nymphs. This was an easy fix in his mind, and he introduced me to the art of the water loaded cast. This is quite different to the traditional style of casting, and it wasn’t long before I was able to flick the heavy nymphs out to where they should have been. I was sure my thrashing around would have scared off any fish in the area, but I persisted with the casting.
After one particularly good cast for me, the nymphs landed about 30 yards ahead of me just to the side of the main current, which was coming around a bend in the river. The heavy nymphs sunk to the bottom, pulling the fluffy yellow indicator upright in the current. As the flies moved downstream, I mended my floating line to achieve a dead drift. The flies moved with the current down past me, and I was just about to pull in for another cast when the indicator was yanked under the surface. STRIKE! Yelled Shane and I complied. My line was met with a strong resistance.
At this point I could not believe that I had hooked into a good fish. The fish erupted from the surface of the river, one, two, three, four times, then headed for the bottom, ripping line off my reel. I was really struggling with the power of this fish, and the drag of the current. The fish fought doggedly, and I really thought that I was onto a monster. Finally after about 5 or 6 minutes, I managed to get the fish close to the bank, where Shane netted it for me. It was a beautiful wild hen Rainbow Trout of around 3 lbs. To me, I thought that due to the fight that it put up it must have been a double figure fish, but no, apparently they all can fight this hard when they are wild river fish. Shane asked me if I wanted to keep the fish, and I said yes, as it was my first wild Rainbow.
There is a lot of conservation carried out in this area of New Zealand, but if you want to keep a fish or two for the pot, then this is entirely acceptable as well, and it is one of the ways that they can control the quality of the trout in the lakes and rivers there.
So, armed with my new found knowledge of water craft and casting technique I felt a lot more confident about fishing this river and method. Shane and I moved up along the river and fished a number of pools, and throughout the course of the day, I landed another 5 or 6 fish, all of which were released unharmed.
By the time the day had come to an end, I was exhausted, and very happy. It had been one of the best trout fishing experiences in my fledgling fly fishing career. Without the help of Shane, and his very patient style of guiding, I would not have discovered half of what I did that day, and I can thoroughly recommend his guiding services.
That night, I went back to my motel with a big smile on my face having achieved what was one of my key fishing goals for the year – to catch a wild river trout. That night was to be my last in Turangi, and I was to drive back to Auckland the following day. But before I did that, I wanted to achieve another of my fishing goals for the year, and that was to catch a wild river trout, on my own.
As I reflected on the day with a cold beer, I went through my plan of attack for the next morning. So with this fresh in my mind, I packed up my gear and hit the sack in anticipation of an early start.
Once again I was away at about 7am, just as the sun was rising. This time, as I was about to cross the Bridge pool, I couldn’t resist a look. I pulled into the lay-by by the river and peered into the semi darkness there only to see about 3 or 4 other anglers there already. “Stuff that” I thought, and headed back to the lower reaches of the river.
I parked the car and walked off to one of the spots that Shane had shown me the day before. I went through in my mind how he had rigged up the flies and replicated this again. When I got to the pool, the sun had not yet risen fully and there was an eerie light over the river. I waded out into the pool, and began to cast.
After three or four casts, my indicated was suddenly pulled under, I struck the fish and instantly realised I was into a much better fish. With no one to shout advice at me, I was on my own, and had to rely on the experience in fighting fish that I had gained over the last year or so back on the still waters. I cradled my reel as the fish ran, not wanting to put too much pressure on it, but also not wanting it to get around any of the snags in the river.
This fish stayed deep, and slugged it out at the bottom of the pool. I started to think that I may have hooked a Brown Trout by the way it was fighting. The fish tore off on some screaming runs to the other side of the river, but each time I managed to get it back. Finally the fish ran down the river and then the line suddenly stopped… I was aghast – the fish had wrapped me around a snag in the middle of the river! After flying halfway round the world to catch one of these fish on my own, I wasn’t having that, so I waded out into the river to get a better angle on the fish. To my relief, the line came tight again, and it was back on.
My next challenge was trying to net the fish. I had a river scoop net with me, but I had never used one before, so this part of the fight was all new to me. After about 10 minutes of scrapping, I finally managed to get the fish close enough to me where I could have a go at netting it. It was here that I saw that I had hooked a big rainbow trout, not a brown after all. Seeing the big fish made my heart race even more, and I fumbled for the net. This is where I learnt another valuable lesson – I had tied my leader too long, and therefore even at full stretch I could not guide the trout into the net. In frustration, I ditched the net, and tried to beach the fish. Finally, I guided the fish onto the shore and at last, she was all mine! I was so elated to catch such a beautiful fish. What I had in front of me was a magnificent wild hen Rainbow Trout of about 4.5lbs. I made the decision then to take the fish, so I dispatched it and took it to the bank. I had finally achieved my goal of a solo catch of a wild river rainbow.
The time had now come for me to leave the fantastic fishing behind and undertake the long drive back to Auckland. About 4 hours later, I pulled into my parents place full of pride and showing off my catch. My Dad is an expert smoker of fish, so we prepared both trout for the smoking process. A couple of hours after that and we had smoked trout perfection, and not a morsel of it went to waste.
All in all, I had a fantastic time fishing in the Tongiriro region, and I learnt some valuable lessons about river fishing for trout which I hope I will be able to use back in the UK. I would strongly recommend that if you have had thoughts about going to New Zealand for these fish, then do it. One final piece of advice – leave the 5 weight at home! I didn’t even get mine out of its case!
Apologies to Trent as the photo images would not transfer – they are on the attachment below: