The usual team of anglers from West Island staying here over the summer have all asked – Where’s Stu? Stuart Nicol from Newcastle has been such a regular summer fixture here for so long everyone has missed him. He emailed last year to apologise in advance that he has a temporary health set back and was sorry to miss the 2018 summer season. As he is over 80 years young he was excused by SWMBO. To compensate for his usual fishy images about this time every year we repeat the short instructional video for Lake O and the “Daily Report” from 2016 which he prepared…
By Stuart Nicol
At that time, I was absorbed with the enjoyment of coarse fishing in in no less than London’s Lake Serpentine. Then, as chance would have it, I came across a book by one O.S.Hintz while perusing the fishing section in the local public library. This admirable book described trout fishing in the Taupo region.
My youthful imagination was enthralled by his descriptions of the the legendary Tongariro and Waitahanui rivers. The tales describing the enormous trout remained permanently anchored in my subconscious memory throughout my subsequent school and university years without any realistic thoughts of ever being able to fish the rivers described in Hinzes’ book.
However, as things turned out, fortune found me emigrating to Australia and taking up permanent residence in 1968. About one year later, woe is me, I “had” to speak at technical conference in Wellington and subsequently in Auckland.
To my surprise, I found that Turangi was was en route and I elected to break the car journey for the weekend.
Within an hour of arriving and in the spirit of “Gung ho,” I was on the river and partway to fulfilling a boyhood fantasy. Relatively fresh from Merry England, I sallied forth armed with a 5wt Hardy Split cane fly rod, thigh waders and a selection of traditional English trout flies, courtesy of Hardy’s in London’s Pall Mall. I also wore a fashionable deerstalker hat.
Thus, came my first mistake. I came across what I subsequently realised was a divert to the main river and decided to start operations there.
The water was gin clear and I gently lowered myself over the bank seeking terra firma with my feet. I completely misjudged the depth!
Next thing I found myself waist deep and soaked! Undeterred and soaking wet, I proceeded to fish the divert using my then favourite fly, a traditional Greenwell’s Glory.
I then returned elated to my accommodation and proudly paraded the unfortunate fish to the motel owner.
He gave my prize a cursory look and when I described where I caught it, he proclaimed consolingly that it was probably a “suck fush”.
While, in a state of deflation, he then took me round to his freezer and showed me its contents of trout caught by the motel’s guests. I was staggered by the size of the fish and and felt totally embarrassed.
Consequently, I had a restless night’s sleep while plotting my campaign for my remaining day.
Following advice and numerous wry grins from the locals, I found my way to the Blue pool. Again, I flogged the water with my trusty Greenwell’s Glory using an 8ft tapered leader and needless to say, to no event.
To add to my agony, I could clearly see numerous fish hugging the bottom of the pool and to further my misery two enormous browns (over 10lbs) turned up and proceeded to chase each other up and down the pool.
This was the final blow to my ego and ended my first visit to the Tongariro river but I vowed not to be beaten and to return another day.
The Blue Pool is still my sentimental favourite pool. I always think of fishing the Tongariro must be akin to using marijuana but I have now migrated to learning to fish Lake “O”.
This latter task is totally addictive and must be more like “hard drugs” addiction.
This latter endeavour will probably see me out until “toes up” time.
Below Stuart on left with some other rowdy fishos from West Island at Kiki’s farewell dinner.