A weekend back on the Tongariro after 4 months away in London, there was plenty of anticipation and excitement amongst the lads before hitting the river. So much so, that I’d planned on a quick Friday night flick in one of the town pools, after arriving at the Koura St carpark I got out, kitted up, rod in hand and was walking off to the river when I remembered I was meant to pick up my license before hitting the water…luckily Celina was able to head into SportingLife and grab the license for me.
So with an hour left, Jono and I headed down to Major Jones where there was only one other angler waiting for us there, luckily he was wetlining so we were straight in above him ready to deal to the trout! After 5 mins of getting back into the swing of casting, mending and generally trying not to put a hook in my ear, I hooked into a tiny trout which I quickly pulled through the water and let go. It was a start, but not quite as big as I had expected. Changing over to a 3 fly rig, Hare and Copper tungsten, flashback pheasant tail and glo bug I moved further up through the pool. Just as we were starting to lose light, I managed to hook into something a bit more substantial, it gave a good fight with a few aerial acrobatic – leading me to squirm at the thought of it landing on the line and breaking me off. The Tongariro was kind to me and I bought the 2.5lb rainbow to the bank. Being the first decent fish in a while I decided to knock it on the head and cut it up for the smoker – a great start to the weekend.
Tongariro Big Day Out
The next morning came around, after a late finish on the beer and whiskey catching up with the lads, we were feeling relatively tired but knew the river was calling. The decision was made, given there were 4 of us, to find a spot on the river that gave us easy access to a few pools. We decided on Barlows, Birches and Silly pools, all being within 10 minutes from each other. Podge and I started in Barlows while Jono and Maggot moved into Upper Birches. We worked Barlows pretty thoroughly and eventually had a bit of success with a juvenile rainbow taking my hare and copper bomb, not much of a fight but a good feeling to get off the mark. After 30 mins we decided to make a move further up river, so Podge jumped into Upper Birches with the other lads and I headed up to Silly pool. After making the crossing in the tail of Silly (pretty easy at this stage) I found a piece of water that broke away from the main flow, a small pool with good feeder riffles and a nice rocky bottom. Guaranteed fish, I thought to myself…I was almost wrong, had it not been for a good sized 3lb’er taking my fly from it’s lie right in the eye of the pool. It found pretty hard and pulled me downstream, eventually netting it about 30 metres below where I’d hooked it. Silly pool itself didn’t deliver anything. Turns out Podge has also pulled a 3lb’er out of Upper Birches which had given him the itch to push on further upstream.
After pies and coffee from the Turangi Bakery, we pulled into the Red Hut carpark, ready for a wander up river. Crossing over the swing bridge, we made our way up the true right for about 20 minutes, before the path ejected us out into the bottom of boulder reach. It was blowing a gale and the lads were in various stages of being ready, so I took the lead and made my way into Boulder Reach. Loading my line of the water behind me, I was having a tough time getting the flies in the exact position I wanted. It wasn’t until the shrubs behind gave me a bit of breathing space that I could get a decent cast out. It must have been about the 5th decent cast that the indicator went under quickly and I pulled up to feel the tell tale knocking of a Tongariro Rainbow. A decent battle ensued as the fish used the current to give itself a few extra pounds force. Jono, being the good bugger that he is, offered to net it for me – I think he’s realised I was a little out of practice at landing fish in strong flow! Once he got the net under the fish we found that it was another 3lb hen, that had also taken the hare and copper weighted fly. This one also got a rock to the head to Jono could take one back for the family. In this time, Podge had landed one and dropped another couple of fish in the water directly below boulder reach, a good spot it seemed.
The rest of the day was spent up above Boulder Reach, in the water above and below Cliff Pool and Big Bend. While we didn’t manage to pick up anything in these pools it was a cracker of a day so we had no problems being up there. Great pieces of water, plenty of different pockets to fish and you feel miles away from city life up there.
Sunday Service…and Maggot’s first true fish…almost
We’d opted for a late start on Sunday as the girls had offered to cook up bacon and eggs which we found too hard to turn down. When we finally made it onto the river it was about 11:30am. Again, with 3 of us fishing, we decided to find some water with plenty of room, so opted for the Breakfast and Major Jones pools area. After Friday nights success, I dropped down into Major Jones and was into fish quickly in the tail of the pool. There were plenty sitting there and they could be seen through polaroids, all it needed was a good length cast and an early mend to get a natural drift. The first I hooked managed to break off after a good strong run. The second was not so lucky, but it did put up a bit of a fight which made things interesting.
Next up was Maggot, who was yet to get off the mark with his new rod, with a decent fish. He hooked a nice rainbow mid pool and was in the process of working out what the hell you do when you’ve got lots of line at your feet and the fish wants to run. He was just getting the last of the line onto his reel so the battle could ensue, when I noticed the line had wrapped around the seat of his reel – just as I started to, calmly (read squeal), articulate that he was wrapped up, the fish decided to make a run for it…line locked up, fish pulled hard and PING, it was game over for Maggot! Next time mate.
Podge took the instruction to fish the tail and hooked into a couple of fish, one that beasted him down river eventually breaking off. The other I managed to net in thigh deep water as it just didn’t want to play the game and come to the surface. Admittedly I did make a couple of lunges to net it, with the first coming up empty and the fish nearly swimming through my legs.
A great weekend to get back into it and possible the last time all the lads will be together on the river for a while, with Jono back to London and Podge off to China. No doubt the Tongariro will change again, but there is a good chance that our stories and lame ass jokes won’t.