Granted a welcome respite from the rigours of a family holiday in Taupo last week by my lovely wife who understands my “wants and needs”… and scratching my head where to take my fair, ‘dinkum aussie mate who was over for a fleeting xmas visit. We decided on the Mighty Tongariro! The crowds absent, those who only think this river gives up her treasures through the winter months need to take another look!
I can tell you the river is currently stacked with fish, walking across the Red Hutt bridge, a quick glance revealed a couple of wavering shapes directly below… the wind lulled, allowing a brief window into the tail of the pool… yielding around 20+ fish, very actively feeding, a raft comes through the middle of them… they scatter… then resume feeding not a minute afterwards, “dumb Rainbows” many would say! I knew we would have “one of those days” right then.
We trudged upstream. Every pool literally stacked with fish averaging between 2 and 4lbs, not pristine condition, which mending fish are so often not, but some great scraps were had on the 6wt Meridian. We were fishing dry nymph combos and picking off mostly sighted fish. The few (mostly overseas) anglers we did encounter later in the day were blanking, despite large numbers of visible fish in front of them. Using traditional Taupo setups with large fluffy indicators… their downfall. A quick chat and suggestion of downscaling their gear to dry/dropper combos, resulting in near-instant hook-ups on the fish they had been fishing over all morning. A clear example of how you should treat this river just like any other back country river through summer water conditions. It is hard for many to break from the tradition of using heavy gear as this river necessitated in the past, but it is a much shallower, shingle-filled beast these days and gone is the need for anything over a 6wt rod to tackle it’s generally, smaller sized inhabitants.
We were using large #10 Manic Wullf Blacks and #16 Simon’s Ugly’s, married to 5lb tippet, these fly’s, a sensational big-water combo for reaching spooky fish at depth. With it’s double tungsten bead configuration the Simon’s Ugly simply excels in these conditions and the dark, Wullf Black really is amazingly buoyant in the boiliest (is that a word?) of whitewater heads. The beauty of this setup is you will occasionally raise fish to the dry in honey-water… and we did, including the biggest fish of the day for Darry.
At a time of the year when many head for the hills, this river, and it’s gentler sibling, the sweet wee Tauranga Taupo, they are more often than not, simply sensational… however I have a sneaky suspicion the lack of serious Cicada activity thus far will mean a pretty lack-lustre season on these tasty wee morsels, or at least a late season on them. I hope I am wrong.
So go forth and fish, look carefully, fish with stealth, use the right gear and enjoy every minute, remember these 2-4lb fish are considered a true trophy anywhere else in the world and we have them on tap, they are about as abundant as catching sprats at your local wharf!”… Oh how many did we land? We lost count at around 15each!