Last week’s image above of TRM inmate, Paddy Walsh from Taranaki, is more than just to get your attention to enjoy the last of the autumn colours. One of the best barometers to indicate when the early spawning runs start is when the last leaves fall. Some West Island fishos have been asking when do the main runs start? This difficult-to-answer request is expected every season. SWMBO always suggests the best time is as soon as they can get here. OK?
The truth is that it is impossible to accurately pick a time of the year when the main spawning runs really start, other than to say Autumn is a good time as the early runners are usually in excellent fat fighting condition. There are always trout making their way up the river and always small runs throughout the entire year but the request was referring to the bulk of the spawning runs. Another reason Autumn is popular is the anglers hope to get first pick at fresh run fish as they ambush them in the lower river. These are most likely the first anglers and flies the fish have encountered so they imagine they should be easier to catch(?). TRM have regular teams from West Island who prefer this time before the angler pressure becomes more intense.
After maturing in Lake Taupo for about three years cruising around feeding on smelt they enter the river, an entirely different experience with currents and snags etc. so they are in a foreign environment completely out of their comfort zone and do not know what they are supposed to eat. Often, with all the excitement of spawning, they stop feeding but attack the woolly bugger or pheasant tail nymph as aggressive spawning activity. If one Jack looks at the fly the other will attack it – male BS superiority stuff!
Some years the first runs are early, some years much later than others. It is more to do with the weather patterns when rain arrives than the time of the year. This summer has been very dry on the Tongariro River. The last decent flood was in January 2018. So any light rain – like we are enjoying now – should be enough to trigger another run.
How big are the spawning runs? 60,000? 70,000? Who knows? To quote a more
“The Tongariro River is one of the most famous in the world and its reputation is well deserved. Fishery staff estimate that up to a third of all the trout in Lake Taupo run the Tongariro; regardless of the actual percentage the annual runs of migrating trout number in the tens of thousands.”
Back to the Autumn signs – We did not have to walk far to find the last of the colourful rusty bronze colours. All images were from directly across the main road from TRM. The steady rain should wash all the colours away. Perhaps that is the signal for the trout waiting to charge up the river to their spawning grounds – the leaves floating down confirm it has to be spawning time… who
TRM inmate below is Phil Turner from New Plymouth, delighted with his first trout – an eight and a half pound Brown Jack – one of many landed in the famous Bridge Pool last week. SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed manages and knows everything at TRM) is convinced the secret advantage these novice inmates have is their lucky hats, which shows how much She knows about fishing? But their results prove they definitely improve the confidence factor. She warns them that if they are changing their fly on the river while wearing a TRM hat they should stand behind a tree to protect themselves from wild attacking trout.