It's not often team Manic gets to fish together and we were still two members short in the forms of Rene Vaz and Chris Dore. We did have a couple of ring ins to take their places with Jacob Freeman coming up from Christchurch for the third year in a row and Matt's mate Henry who was keen on getting his first fish to the bank. The newest addition to the Manic team, Ben Munro (more on that tomorrow) was along for his first lads trip which was a true baptism by fire. He turned up to work today so we haven't scared him off just yet.
We parked up at the Tokaanu Lodge Motel just out of Turangi which is a great location for large groups who might make a wee bit of noise but also like to make use of some natural hot pools on site after a hard days fishing. The fishing on Saturday, for us at least, was just that, hard. That's not to say others weren't getting into it, by most accounts people were getting into a few pods around the place throughout the Tongariro, we were just keeping it pretty casual swinging some two handers and rolling as an eight deep posse which limited options for us. It was still a beautifully still and clear day hanging out on the river and that's a hard place to beat on most days.
Saturday night saw a surprise visit from local legends Andrew Burden, Russell Anderson and Brent Hamilton. The boys were on fire fresh from the Turangi Tavern and it was great to finally meet Russell and Brent and get the low down on how their fishing went for the day. None of them are slugs behind a fly rod so it was no surprise to hear they did well that day and later on backing it up with another solid effort Sunday. Their ethos of keeping it fun and causal on the river punctuated with the odd frosty beverage certainly resonated well with the lads.
Sunday was a very chilled affair as we decided to flag the crowds of the Tongariro and go find some quieter water to ourselves on another central plateau catchment. It was another beauty of a day and not long after arriving Henry had not only banked his first fish but in quick succession number two was on the board, so as far as we were concerned that was mission accomplished for the weekend.
Most of us managed to get a couple of nice looking specimens to the net both on the nymph and switch rods but the highlight was watching Gus pull a rainbow out of a shin deep backwater with summertime techniques and a delicate presentation. It was a team effort with all sorts of advice ranging from good to questionable being offered from the peanut gallery but despite our best efforts to mess it up for Gus he pulled through with the goods and eventually returned the stranded bow back to the main flow.
This is probably the last lads trip for a while but it will go down as one of the more chilled out and enjoyable trips regardless of fish numbers caught, which is the whole point we reckon.