Hi guys,

Today’s blog as promised is covering the last two days of back country fishing that I had with Matt and Bruce last week. As you would know if you had been reading the blog they had a fantastic week fishing in New Zealand last week and were treated to some of the best sport I had seen for quite sometime. Tongariro was amazing while fishing from the raft and the back country which we have accessed through different farms and quad bikes has not let us down in the slightest. The two days that I will fill you in on were fished in the Waipunga and the headwaters of the Wanganui.

I was really looking forward to heading up the Napier Taupo road and dropping into the Waipunga in various places as I have had  a great season so far in this small back country stream. This river screams personality and every pool looks like it will produce a trout with beautiful bubbly runs and long slow deep pools which some cracking fish live. Bruce decided he needed a day in rest and decided to let Matt have the day to himself and cover a heap of water in search of good fish numbers and good fish. Personally I think the river should hold more fish than it does but the further and deeper you go into this river the bigger and better the fish become. Wading and crossing is not easy and the rocks seem to have all been covered in oil as they are very slippery but the effort you put in is usually rewarded with some amazing fish and scenery second to none, currently my favourite river!

Technique is the same as any other backcountry river and I just stick to natural patterns that I know and love like the hare and copper or PT variants. A sliding indicator can be very handy in this water as some pools are really deep but others are quick sharp fast runs which fish love to suck oxygen out and you need to see strikes asap so you have the best chance of a solid hook up.

Like all our wilderness fish they are hard fighting and will not give up easily which makes our New Zealand fishery so special for overseas visitors. Most trout are thick across the back with solid wide flanks with sporting rainbow colours which you see in so many magazines these days, this is where these fish are coming from. There are good numbers of Brown trout in the river but they seem to be only about 2lb which is weird as they are usually the larger fish in most rivers being longer living and smarter and all.

We spent a good 9 hours on this river and meandering our way through high sided native scrub and would have got into 20+ fish which some made to the net others were involved in long line release methods. All were taken on nymphs but we did start to hear the odd Cicada over that way so hopefully a bit of that warmer weather will push up the road to Taupo and start the Tongariro of for the season. The water is also very warm in here and wading in shorts and decent boots will be a good way to get around but I would hold off on the shorts if fishing the Taupo area, still a bit cold.

After a long week we still had a really great trip to do and one that I would do every day with every client if I could and that as to fish the headwaters of the Wanganui with quad bikes. I push this trip really hard and want all clients and past clients to get on this trip and experience some of the best fishing around but it is not because of the quad bikes but because of the fishing. The quad bikes are a very necessary tool to geting really deep into the Tongariro forrest and getting to stretches of the river which are un touched and peaceful. Matt and Bruce had both caught some great fish during the week but agree that this is where the best fish of the trip came from and were by far in best condition. We did not hook a small fish nor did we see a fish that was not in good condition or under 3lb. Most trout at the moment are above 4lb with the odd one in the 6 to 7lb range and have all put on great condition since spawning through out the winter. Brown trout are not so common up here but if caught are all at least 5lb with pretty spots and gold flanks which make for some lovely photos. Nymphing is the preferred method at the moment but dry fly in here can be awesome but we may have a late season for that this year I think. Wet lining is something I don’t practice when wilderness fishing and don’t actually know anyone that has tried it but I’m sure there are places and pools which it could be very good in.

There are many different beats to choose from and on the day I generally weigh up the clients ability to wade and walk and decide on the best which will suit. Bruce and Matt are very willing and quite fit so I had no problems in choosing my favourite piece of water for them to start in and within 5 casts in the first pool Bruce was hooked up and a great 5lb jack came to the net, it was to be a good day. Matt I could see was itching to get his rod working and took over the pool from his Dad and quickly hooked up another 2 fish in as many casts. Waters that don’t get the angling pressure can fish like this in every pool and just because one fish has been hooked and pulled you all over the pool it is not un common for other trout to just sit deep and not move of their lies.

Again small indicators and long leaders should be used with the only difference being they love the big nymphs. This is one river which you will catch most fish on your heavier front fly or larger nymph instead of the small natural trailing behind? maybe this is why they are built so well.

The highlight of the trip for me was when we managed to hook and land a magical brown on a size 14 para adam’s from some quite tricky pocket water. There is one part of the beat which is really hard wading and it is just pocket water with plenty of slippery rocks which slow you up for the next 500metres or so and usually gets overlooked. I was ahead of my clients watching the water ahead of me when I spotted a rise in a slower part of the river followed by another and another. This was a good brown which was feeding on something very small on the surface with no real consistency as he was covering the entire pool so we quickly re rigged the leader and set Matt up with a small dry. I really should have videoed the next 30 seconds as it really is stuff you dream of and as a guide wish that you could do everyday with every client.

As Matt carefully nervously placed a short cast behind the fish I watched the fish turn and bee line for the high sitting dry which he gulped in slow motion just as expected. It was then the longest 2 seconds of my life as I decided to let Matt set the hook as the fish was on the way down and had created the right angle needed for the fish to feel the sting. Thank god the rod was bent and a furious splash echoed through the valley as I have stuffed up so many dry fly strikes in my life it’s not funny. Eventually a great conditioned brown came to the net and after a few quick pics was released to it’s surroundings for the next client to catch again.

I could talk about so many happy and lasting moments that I have had in the last week with these guys but we would be here forever and with many guiding jobs and chores to do before christmas I better get to it. I thank Matt and Bruce for a week which I will be thinking of for quite some time and I truly hope we can do it again next year on the same scale.

Till next time

Tight lines

Andrew Christmas