Manic’s Gus and myself recently had the opportunity to go fishing with four winners of Hunting and Fishing’s staff knowledge competition. After a casual morning jet boat ride near Taupo’s stunning Huka Falls, the lads then met us for the real adrenaline event of the day – an afternoons fly fishing.
Conditions were stunning - bright, hot sunshine with very little wind to deal with. However the Lower Tongariro River can be a fickle mistress and she certainly made the crew work for it. Darrell, Phil, Brock and Doug had virtually no fly fishing experience between them, however after a day in these challenging conditions they were all competent fly casters and anglers. The Scot Flex 5 and 6 weight rods were excellent learning tools – forgiving enough when starting out but also providing plenty of reward once the team got their timing sorted. Simms waders and boots kept everyone dry and comfortable, as the Tongariro is still very cold even in the height of summer.
Darrell became embroiled in a particularly good tussle with a weary brown trout we spotted feeding off the surface in a deep pool. Darrell showed superhuman persistence in attempting to fool this fish and when he finally got the eat and the hook didn’t set properly, this only hardened his resolve. The fish came back on the feed and after working diligently on his drift presentation and mending, Darrell eventually had to watch his fish fade away into the depths. He was vowed to one day return to resume his battle with this very worthy adversary.
Brock became the master of the fingerling, catching several small fish in some likely looking riffle water. This showed the importance of seeking out more oxygenated water over the height of summer to find the actively feeding fish.
Phil and Doug learned about matching the hatch and how trout can be particularly tuned in on a certain food source. They also discovered that one can’t have every single fly in one fly box and how it always tends to be the one fly you don’t have that the fish will want to eat!
There are two types of experiences you can have on your first day’s fly fishing. The first is where everything comes easy, you bank some good fish and they will eat just about anything presented just about any way. The second is a tough day, with spooky fish and challenging conditions. I am of the opinion that while getting off to a good start in fly fishing is great, it is the tough days you will learn much more about the essence of what makes fly fishing so different to other forms of fishing.
We certainly experienced that second type of day, there are no two ways about it. Having said that, I think this group of guys are much better fly anglers for the experience. We had a great day of quality company and banter and we hopefully showed that there is much more to fly fishing than the fishing itself.
Well that’s the excuse we fly fishermen like to use...