Recently we were reminded of just how good Taupo trout are. I was returning across a farm on another river carrying a rainbow trout and stopped to thank the farmer for access. We had saved one good specimen of Rainbow trout for him as a reward. He surprised us when he declined the offer saying he only ever ate “Taupo” trout! He suggested the river trout were rubbish…
So to see if we could detect any difference from a fresh run Tongariro trout in similar condition and smoked exactly the same, we held a blind tasting with friends. You guessed it – the farmer was correct! Comparatively, his trout from this ‘other’ river was tasteless.
Why is that? The ‘other’ river trout feed on aquatic bugs and insects. Taupo trout feed on smelt (whitebait) and koura (small fresh-water crayfish). They are what they eat. So given the choice, which would you prefer?.
Which is a sneaky way to introduce today’s tricky subject…
Photo above of TRM smokehouse at full capacity with 15 trout – 30 fillets. If you lean forward you can almost smell them…
Despite their ‘maturity’ (what a nice way of describing argumentative elderly dinosaur anglers?) they really are a very perceptive bunch so we have to take notice.
It gets worse when they ask SWMBO as well so then I have to comment on their observations.
Their question, year after year, is how can tourists acquire smoked trout (?) leads us to the Tongariro Trout Centre.
What a wonderful treasure the Trout Centre is!
It is the perfect environment to introduce young people to trout fishing and to enthuse them and educate them about fresh water issues. But again and again we get asked the same difficult-to-answer question…
Where can they buy smoked trout?.
Anglers cannot help themselves showing off their catch to curious tourists as they cluster around the fish cleaning station and compare their catch.
So naturally the tourists ask questions as the anglers smoke them and take the fillets away to celebrate with their friends.
TRM are also guilty as we often give away smoked trout to encourage goodwill, etc…
Occasionally an angler might pick the wrong time to visit when the river gets flooded or when it just refuses to yield them a few trout to take home. Other anglers realise this and often leave their surplus trout in the freezer for distribution to other inmates.
At the trout centre on kids days during school holidays they have found a way to get around the law charging the kids one (ten dollars?) fee to pay for their one day licence and hire the gear to catch a trout and then smoke it for kids to take home. So why not do it for tourists?
So tourists ask, over and over, why can’t they buy smoked trout? This continual questioning for many years confirm how antiquated and out-of-date our laws and regulations are. Regretfully we are missing a golden opportunity for promoting local tourism.
Then when other inmates admit to them that the Trout Centre managed to identify a loop-hole to get around the law to farm trout for local Maori, they question and ridicule NZ’s legal ethics.
This ‘Trout Farming’ precedent should be celebrated as it proved the legislation interpretation provides for some flexibility when it suits and can be exploited much further in the wider interests of Turangi tourism…
Tourists ask – again and again – if the Trout Centre can farm trout and give them away, why can’t they charge an admission fee to include a delicate juicy fillet of smoked trout in the overall experience.
As the iwi Trout Farming arrangement proved the antiquated fresh water fishery laws are capable of radical re-interpretation, it would be a complete win-win for everyone without opening up the wider demand which DOC are terrified might encourage poaching? Any competent person should be able to navigate their way through the obsolete ‘legalese’.
It is only a matter of someone in authority being positive and to have the initiative to realise it would be a no-brainer commercial success. The Taupo Council and Tourist Department and DOC (Department of Conservation) should demand it.
Just do it.
(Photo above of Austrian angler, Herbert, needing TRM’s wheel barrow to deliver some tasty samples for a guest’s summer birthday bbq…)
i.e. See Creel Cafe advert today & last weekend...
Baby Pear and Almond Tart
Smoked Fish Pie >>>>>>>>
Pea and Ham or Leek and Potatoe soup