Since revised signage proclaims TRM to be the “Home of the Woolly Bugger” (?) this has generated the annual argument over which actually is the best fly on the Tongariro?. It is certainly not always the olive woolly bugger as TRM sign suggests.
When asked several times a day, SWMBO’s stock reply is that all flies and method can be successful. She should be selling flies? (She Who Must Be Obeyed is the geriatric very senior manager at TRM who always has an answer for everything)
The Tongariro River is quite unlike any other NZ river as the trout are not river fish. They are lake trout that have entered the various tributaries to spawn. They have spent about three years maturing and cruising around in Lake Taupo gaining their healthy robust condition from a high protein diet of smelt (whitebait). Some have succumbed to Koura (fresh water crayfish) to supplement their standard smelt menu to make them turbo charged.
But once they enter the river they are out of their natural lake environment and have to adapt to the current and snags etc. They don’t even know what they are supposed to eat and will attack anything that appears to drift naturally in the current. Heaps of trial and error is all part of the spawning process. Often they will attack a fly just to piss off another jack that may have looked at it. It can be more about competitive mating behaviour than feeding.
The real test is when you might see five or six anglers in a pool. One deep wading at the tail of the pool might be wet lining with a heavy sinking line, another could be using a dry fly, another a dry and dropper rig, another conventional nymphing, another spey casting, another czech nymphing, some weighted nymphs, some with indicators, some without, a complete mixture of styles and gear. OK?
For the first hour or two nobody has any luck. Then in a space of say 10 minutes all hook up using different flies and methods. So who had the “right” fly? Did the shoal of trout suddenly just arrive? Or were they there all the time waiting for a hatch or for the rise in water temperature to set them off feeding?
Apart from SWMBO, nobody else has interviewed the trout – yet? So every fisho has his (or her) theory and best fly. What’s more, they are all correct!.
Bill Hawkins is one of our more “mature” anglers at 85 years young. He last featured in a TRM Daily report about 2010 so it is time for an update.
…….. Then we have the Bill Hawkins’ unique style. It doesn’t matter to Bill which pool or month or where the moon is or isn’t, as he has his own special trout rig which he has used successfully for the last 70+ years. Nobody could argue with that track record. So why change? Similarly you will notice Bill’s pack – the traditional pikau sugar sack to carry the trout back. He has to be a nightmare for fishing tackle shops.
Simplicity is the key – All he ever uses is a long shank snapper sized hook with a piece of wool about one inch long (Bill hasn’t had time to convert to metrics yet) dangling off it. He calls this “fly” Billy’s Dream.
Due to the physical limitations of old age he does not do any fancy high stick roll casting or mending or delicate presentation or any of that modern stuff. He wades into the nearest pool and flicks enough line out and then just wriggles his whitebait imitation until it drives the trout insane and they have to attack it. He usually goes to the nearest pool to TRM and fishes in riffles where others don’t bother. He makes it all so simple he is dangerous.
So the images on right are Bill showing his style with his grand daughter Ingrid to do the heavy netting and lifting work on the net. On a busy weekend when others were struggling Bill casually returned with his limit. Congratulations Bill – the other inmates were amazed.
Great images thanks to Tony Hawkins. Tony wrote about his Dad:
“… An avid wet line angler who prefers to let the rapids do the work with his trusty Blue Dolphin reel, hand made landing net and his hunting pikau – it’s all about fishing and having a good time. Thanks Ross for your help and hospitality, a great weekend Dad won’t forget.”