Each Sunday in 2016 TRM Daily Reports have been prepared by anglers reminiscing on the Tongariro experiences. These anglers’ stories have been most entertaining and instructive. Many thanks to all contributors.
TRM invites any other anglers to provide their memories of the Tongariro.
The next angler’s tale, an assessment of the relative attributes of the Tongariro, was initiated by the Daily Report which compared the costs of trout fishing in UK – Scotland – to the Tongariro. So were delighted with Sunbeam’s story of his UK experience as follows:
To reinforce your English inmate’s indications of prices for fishing in the UK, (refer Daily Report for 14 May) can I relate my Scottish experience of a few years ago?
I had arranged a gillie for two days at about NZ$800.00 per day for one person, everything supplied, permits, access, rods, lures, wellies, the lot.
Compare that to the cost of hiring one of the Taupo or Turangi guides, the other ones, not the TRM guides, for a day, and it doesn’t look too bad.
My gillie picked me up in a well-polished Series 2 Discovery. He was a wonderful Scotsman, medium stature, big bushy beard, large round glasses, knee length wellies, raincoat, flat cap, a world of fishing and sailing experiences, and he was a great raconteur.
Sundays are “no salmon days” and the Lochs were blowing gales so we went to the top of some hills where there were man-made lochans (read ponds) stocked with small rainbows. I think he was checking what I knew about flyfishing. It was windy and as cold as, so after about ten small rainbows, which I suspect had been caught so many times they smiled for the camera, I called it a day.
Next day we went to the river Oich, which runs into Loch Ness.
Now this was much more like it. The river runs parallel to the Caledonian Canal which was a bit disconcerting – I was wilderness fishing one minute and watching a big pleasure cruiser sail past 100 metres away the next.
Still cold and windy but some shelter from trees so I walked my beat-side casting with a fly rod and a small double hooked wet fly. In no time I had a fish. Gillie came racing to net, unhook and eventually release a “wee broon troot”.
After lunch I said I was keen to try a two-handed fly rod. Gillie said, ”I just happen to have one, it’s just a wee one mind, 13 foot. I usually use a 16 footer”.
I was then given a lesson on the “Spey River cast” and it’s damn efficient if you get it right.
Because of the wind, and the small size of the river, I gave up and returned to my side casting with a 9ft. No more fish but I walked one of the most picturesque places I have ever fished and I always felt the next cast would be the one.
Then he came down and told me he had just turned a salmon over and I should quickly come upstream.
After inspection we decided it was too deep to get a fly down, so a spinning rod with a devon was produced. I wandered into the edge and had a cast or two. There was a splashing to my side and Gillie said, “Do you catch many salmon laddie”?
As a gold-cardholder I loved the laddie bit.
“Not a lot, just the one this year.”
“Do ye mind if I tell ye why?”
“Please do, I replied”. In the vernacular.
I asked about the breaking strain and was told 10lb. When I said I was used to 25lb., I was scornfully told that was considered poaching in Scotland. Put in my place, I played out the fish and we looked at it in the shallows. He said 9 – 10 lb., I reckoned 10 -12 lb. Given the golden rule, 12 lb. was agreed.
Then, as it was catch and release, we watched it lazily swim off. He said it was a returning fish and had probably made the run twice before.
Using a guide was expensive, but for a once in a lifetime experience I thought well worth it. Everything was supplied, I caught the treble, I went to the right places for the weather and time of year, and met an interesting Highlander whose love of his homeland was heart-warming.
But after decades fishing from Turangi, just give me the clear rivers, the river mouths at night, the delta in November, (42 rainbows in 3 days), bigger trout, (remember double digit browns just up from the delta?), walking down the hill to the Waihaha (two over 7lb), the old crescent pool on the TT, casting in behind the rafting folk as they go by, friendly people, warm days, cold days when the rings froze, those long summer days wandering the riverside with a packed lunch, an evening chat with the locals at Courtney Place, the walk to the red hut bridge and back, best Chinese takeaways this side of Hong Kong, TRM drinkies, NZ Cup Day party at the pub with everyone dressed in their finery, and all for just the cost of a license.
And add in that I live 5 minutes from a Canterbury salmon river and N.Z. ain’t so bad eh?
TRM addition for anglers who may be unfamiliar with Sunbeam’s reference to “Courtney Place”. Above the TLB at the tail of a very popular Tongariro town pool, Major Jones Pool, is a seat for anglers to watch how the others deal to the pool. Local anglers and other river walkers usually gather there every day. The reason for the name – when tourists see anglers sitting there wearing waders armed with rods etc. their usual first comment is “Caught any”? Courtney Place is a busy shopping strip in Wellington CBD. Hence the name Courtney Place. Local humour… The seat can just be seen on the far bank in the image below.