Harvey Clark, the Trout Man based at Ngongotaha, has been returning to the Tongariro this spring after an absence of three years, and he has been impressed with the fishing.
“I couldn’t fish the river after a couple of serious operations three years ago and I expected to be well out of touch with what’s been happening,” he said. “Also, I’d heard the usual complaints about river deterioration, poor fishing and poor-quality fish. But I found it just the opposite.”
In five two-day trips, fishing about five hours each day, he landed more than 100 trout, including 34 on one trip and 30 a week later. “Of the catch of 34, all but two were fresh-run and all between 3lb and 5lb. Of the catch of 30 a week later, only about six were fresh, the rest all spawners.”
Clark said he didn’t have to move around a lot to find action. He caught all his fish between the No 1 Bridge Pool and the top of the Island Pool, mainly using a hare-and-copper beadhead bomb with a No 14 or 16 unweighted pheasant-tail underneath. “And I used a big silicone lumo paddle-tail smelt on a shooting head in the Bridge Pool with excellent results.”
At one stage he met a Turangi resident on the Bridge Pool who declared it was the worst season he’d ever known on the river. Half an hour later on the Island Pool Clark met another resident who had landed 11 fish in three hours and who said: “It just doesn’t get better than this.”
Clark said he also met an American on the Blue Pool who was on a three-week fishing holiday, and in one three-day burst he had hooked 80 fish. “That bloke will be returning to the US to tell some incredible stories about the Tongariro, and he’ll definitely be back.”
Clark said he learned 30 years ago not to pay too much attention to the complainers. “Negative anglers don’t have much fun. Stay out of their way and enjoy yourself.”
He’s looking forward to the upcoming dry-fly season, in particular returning to a rig he has found deadly over the years: a large Royal Wulff or caddis with a No 16 or 18 Pheasant-tail and a wee-wet Red-tip Governor tied a couple of feet below.
(Above right is Harvey swopping war stories at TRM with retired journalist angler – Tony Bishop)