Hi guys,

Finally I am able to make it back to the computer and catch up on a report bringing you all the latest news in the fishing world. I have had a busy 5 days fishing with Phil Norman and his mate Greg which have had great time while visiting our special rivers in the North Island. Phil is a very experienced fisherman and manges to get over here 3 or 4 times per year escaping the hussle and bustle of busy work life in Brisbane. Phil is in total love with New Zealand trout fishing and it was a pleasure to spend the last week with him showing him some of the best to be had.

Phil’s friends in Aussie are  all partial to a bit of our smoked trout so we made sure that we sorted that out by fishing the Tongariro on the first day and killing a few freshies for Horty to smoke and get back to Aus. The forecast was not the best for the week ahead and it was always in the back of my mind that the backcountry might colour up and we would miss the best fishing.

I usually find the backcountry to fish very well when the rivers are low and clear and the taupo rivers fish best with high water and colour in the system. Our luck was in on the first day and we manged to hook into some good fish from the Stag pool, Big Bend and the Fence pool all taken on small natural patterns like the Quasimodo. The best fish from the Tongariro came from Big bend and it was this very good conditioned 4lb Brown which was sat hard in on the big rock in the middle of the pool. As you can see this fish is sporting very dark colours but was still in top condition and gave Phil a great scrap before surrendering to the net. With enough fish under the belt after a successful day on the Tongariro we headed for the backcountry to try and score some strong fat wilderness trout which should all be in great condition now due to spawning being very close.

To be honest I was nervous guiding Phil and Greg as Phil has been over here so much that his knowledge and experience on the rivers are very good and I thought it might be hard to impress him after so many other great experiences so deep inside I was hoping the fishing gods were looking upon us. There are still  a few backcountry rivers open and the ones we fished I have had some fantastic days on and thank god this day was not any different with some amazing fish coming to the net.

We reached the river quite early after a fairly long tramp down a very steep hill through native punga forests and discovered the river to be slightly discolored due to the rain but still fishable if fished the right way. Our first pool was a lovely long  pool with a bubbly head and gave the anglers long undisturbed drifts which always produce fish so I held a lot of hope for this piece of water to get us of the mark. As the water was slightly high and was carrying just a touch of colour I opted for a nymph with a bit of purple in it just to wind the Rainbows up and trigger them into a take. We did not have to wait long and Phil’s rod was doubled over with a very angry jack which was proceeding to pull string down river in a attempt to escape without it’s picture taken. Phil must have landed thousands of fish over the years and this one was added to his tally pretty quickly after some fairly impressive rod work and rock hopping. A good start and a slight smile was bought to my face when things started to look like it was going to be a good day as Phil once again had yet another fish screaming down river trying to get away which was landed and like the previous fish weighed in at 5lb.

My attention swung to Greg as he had not had a touch and needed the most help with casting and mending but again we were interrupted with yet another fish attached to Phil which needed landing. Phil had managed to land three good fish in half hour from the one pool and had not lost a fish which is a fantastic landing rate for this water as we usually bet on landing about 50% in here. Handshakes, smiles and stories were quickly interrupted when Greg screamed and from the frantic arm movements and body slipping all over the rocks things indicated that he too was hooked up. Full credit to Greg must be given as this was only his second ever fish on a fly rod and he managed to remember all the main rules in landing a trout and stayed connected after the initial bursting run from the head of the pool. My heart was pumping and both me and Phil screamed advice to tame the beast as we both tried to catch up to Greg who was now being pulled down the river with something attached. After some fine guiding from Phil and handy net work by myself Greg was able to admire why guys get hooked on New Zealand trout fishing as he had just manged to land his first trout ever which just happened to be a 6 lb brown. Phil could not believe his luck and explained to Greg that some Aussies fish for a lifetime and don’t catch fish like that, which is very true!

 A  few quick photos and a kiss on the nose and Greg released the tired fish to the river which swam of confidently in the current to fight another day. Phil hurried back into the pool as we had barely fished it while I looked over Greg’s gear to get him going again and back in there as quickly as possible but Greg  joked that he was not sure he wanted to do all that again!! All experienced fly fisherman know that you take every fish that comes your way  and treasure the moment as there will be times when you will go hours without even seeing or feeling a fish.

After landing 4 and loosing one in the first pool spirits were high and we hurried down to the next piece of water which usually produces just as well as the first and I could not wait for Phil to run that first drift through  the bubble line. Things were not to be as we did not manage to even entice a single hook up so maybe we just got lucky on the first pool and the day would be one of mixed success depending on the pool. Things got worse when Greg point loaded my rod and snapped it which resulted in me having to make the hour walk back to the truck and fetch him a spare. I left them to wonder up to the next pool and explained how to fish it but when I returned I found out they were unsuccessful but managed to eat all the muffins which I left in the day pack-big mistake!

Eventually our luck once again turned in our favour and Phil was once again hooked up to several fish over 5lb which most made it to the net. The fight in these fish at the moment is amazing with most ready for spawning and full of anger. Playing these big backcountry fish is very important and when they look like they are going to head down the nearest rapid you are always best to just keep a high arm and go with the flow making sure to keep that fly line and indicator out of the water as to not get hooked up on any boulders.

Fish quite often tire easily when trying this escape root and more often they are ready to come into the nearest slack water after battling through a rapid with a nymph attatched to it’s lip. I see alot of trout lost when anglers stroll down the river whilst still trying to pull a fish back up the rapid , this simply does not work unless you are using a size 6 hook and 20 lb leader.

The afternoon panned out really well apart from the last pool where Phil encountered a bit of bad luck  when hooking into a fish which resulted in his also shattering and breaking in half. Fish still attatched Phil played the trout perfectly and was atleast able to get a photo of the culprit which had just claimed his rod . I hardly ever get clients breaking rods but to loose two in the same day is extraordinary and a costly exercise which we don’t need repeated too often. A great day was had on this special water and we could not wait to get out at first light in the morning to do it all again.

Rain poured all through the night and continued strongly into the next morning so we were only going to get a half day in on the river we had fished the day before so we high tailed it to a different location and got straight into it. A deep crossing woke us all up and had me already wondering how we  were going to get back as the river was only going to be coming up but with fish on the mind we pushed on and nymphed the water the same as the previous day. The purple nymph stayed on the rig and it was not long before once again Phil was chasing a fat hen down the rapids with me one step ahead of him trying to get any opportunity to get the fish in the net. As you can see from the pic below we were very happy to get this fatty in the net and take a quick pic-check out the condition of that 5lb rainbow.

The area holds some big trout and this was no exception this was a cracking fish by anyone’s standards and one worthy of  a great battle. Phil wondered up the pocket water picking of smaller fish with exceptional nymphing techniques from ares which you just wouldn’t think would hold fish very well. Greg broke the silence of the river with high pitched shrieks as line peeled of down river with another fiesty little 3lb silver bullet. Greg and I gave chase winding around many boulders and slippery sections before finally slipping the little fella into the net for a quick photo. These guys are not the biggest fish but man do they have the same will to escape as their mothers and fathers with plenty of short bursts of energy and leaping trying to throw that hook.

Phil had found a perfect little possie and got dealt to by a large fish after he made the mistake of looping the slack of the fly line around the bottom of his reel which resulted in  an ugly break off. The next fish he hooked was just as big but this time the coloured up Jack made it to the bank after some quick thinking by Phil-check out the colour of that trout!

After a very wet morning and with the river rising we pulled the pin on this river and made it safely back to the truck and decided to try and fish a smaller river with  a different catchment in hope that we could squeeze another afternoon of fishing  in before the rain blew it all out.

We started the afternoon of well with Greg the first of the mark quickly followed by two or three more smaller trout but as we expected the river was rising around us. We fished the afternoon out in the rain with not much luck until we came across a little pool with a lovely right hand cast which suited the boys perfectly. By this stage it was not far of dark nad the water colour had also become brown so it was our last attempt to get  a good fish from this place. We hooked Phil up with a bright orange glo bug just so if there was something lurking in there  it would atleast see it and might take it out of aggression.

Three casts later and we were hooked into  a beauty and by far the largest of the trip which was amazing considering the size of the river we were fishing. After a great fight we landed the fat jack which weighed in at 7lb-this fish really made Phil’s trip perfect. Exhausted after a perfect day we headed for the cabin and knew that we had just fished our last bit of backcountry for this trip.

Again it poured all night and was raining we got up in the morning which had blown all the rivers around us out so we headed for Taupo to see what was still available over there. The tongariro and TT was bank to bank and there was no way that we would be able to fish anywhere except for the Hine. As it was a public holiday every man and his dog was parked in every turning of the river so my hopes of getting Phil a fish or two to take back to Aussie were dropping quickly. Dave Cade was as usual doing a fantastic job spraying anglers and there gear down to stop the spread of aquatic weeds and pests and he told us that the river had a few fish in it.

Phil spent no time in snaffling up the pool under the bridge as a angler had just walked away and he was lucky enough to hook and land a beautiful silver hen from here using a glo bug. We fished the morning for 5 hook up’s which I thought was really good considering the pressure that the river was receiving from locals and tourists. With smoked and fresh trout to take back to Aus for friends and family we called it a day and the boys drove back to Auckland for their flight home.

It really was great to spend the week with guys with great scence of humour and fishing skills to go to some amazing pieces of water which we sometimes cant get at. I expect Phil has uploaded photo’s to facebook so everyone can see what an awesome trip he had and I bet Greg is still re living the fight the big 6lb brown gave him. Hopefully we will see you both back in the near future and I can show you some new water to wet a line in.

The Taupo rivers should be coming down as we speak and in the next few days you should be able to gain access to those fish which would have almost definitely entered the rivers with all that rain. Anglers should expect all rivers to fish fairly well using glo bugs or wet lining large wet flys in the deeper runs.

Tight lines

andrew