Happy New Year to everyone.
He bases himself at TRM to explore all the rivers in the central plateau before driving around the South Island in his safari wagon to similarly check out all the remote hard-to-find spots there – depending on the weather…
His annual safari route is determined more by the weather patterns than anything else.
I relish going fishing with these special inmates so I can watch and hopefully learn from observing their skills. This was one such occasion when I preferred to take photos to illustrate the techniques needed in such remote back country spots.
So on Christmas Day we sneaked out into the upper Tongariro to one of those mysterious no-name pools fortunately located where other anglers – apart from a few mad TRM inmates – would never find it.
The accompanying photos have been carefully selected also, so they do not reveal ‘his’ spot. Otherwise we fear, if it was revealed, he might not return.
As indicated in the photo the access track (?) is perilous in places so only suitable for superbly fit and able younger anglers (like me?).
The last time we were there was about three years ago. The only footprints seen were from deer. The only other humans seen were two canoeists. Just perfect wilderness fishy remoteness within 15 minute drive from TRM.
The access alone would deter most fishos as there is so much fishing available, so many missed pools and opportunities along the main river, the in-between spots up to the Fence Pool where superb fishing is available without the access hassles.
So back to the fishing – we were resting, recovering, sitting on the bank when he spotted movement, a tail moving in about a metre deep bubble line off from the main current quite close to the river bank.
Most Tongariro River anglers get it so easy that we can easily disregard many of the basic stealth tactics. i.e. I would have walked up and spooked it for sure.
Fortunately some driftwood on the edge of the tail out was just adequate to disguise his stealthy approach. But unfortunately that added to the difficulty factor needed to mend over the obstruction with each drift.
A few casts later that had also been rejected so another #16 green flash-back shiny bead head version was tied on.
Eventually this third choice proved to be irresistible.
From start to hook-up probably took about 20 casts and drifts before the trout couldn’t stand it any longer and savaged the fly.
Many of these trout are resident fish or have stayed on after spawning to fully recover and convert from Lake Taupo trout to the more wily river fish.
The Tongariro River is so easy to fish comparatively. Blind fishing deep long pools with heavy nymphs and wet lines targeting spawning runs from the lake is usually the main attraction where everyone can catch a trout.
But once you get back country an entirely new set of rules and skills are necessary. Initially the most difficult task is sighting the trout – without them sighting the angler. Then deciding which are feeding and which are resting.
These are smart river fish that know their environment intimately, where they immediately notice and switch off with any strange movement. So the plan of attack needs to be considered carefully. You will not believe how many I can spook on my first cast. So much to learn and so little time…
It has taken me about ten years to learn a few of the basics. For a Tongariro addict it is like learning to fish all over again. In my humble opinion the satisfaction and joy of spotting and out-smarting one of these back country trout is worth about ten Tongariro silver bullets landed by ‘blind’ casting.