Hi guys,

Well the first week of the new season has passed and I’m sure you have all ventured somewhere despite the conditions being testing and uncomfortable. Backcountry fishing for many of you may have been fairly hard as it was for me but the local stuff here in Taupo should have been perfect with hard westerly winds and a receding moon. I have seen many boats return to the Tongariro over the past week with their tails between their legs after being blown off Lake O!!.

I spent four fantastic days with Phil Norman last week covering all sorts of water in pursuit of some good early season fishing but battled the weather constantly!! The fishing was OK but the drizzle, rain, wind gusts , sunshine and even snow tested both patience and angling skills. In the first four days of the season we covered Lake O, Lake Kuratau, Tongariro river and the mighty Whakapapa. As expected their were a few brave boats on Lake O for the opening of the season but I can say we were the only ones their for the first two hours of day light!! The Whakapapa has already had plenty of pressure especially around the easy access spots and I can only hope everyone is doing the right thing out there and releasing all fish caught!! This river is so delicate and has gone down hill in the last 5 years it really should be a catch and release fishery with only fly fishing-get rid of spinning!!!

Fishing was generally patchy on Lake O over the first week but fish seemed to come on the bite every now and again resulting in many hook ups in short periods before going quiet again for a while. The weather played havoc in trying to get good steady drifts down desired weed beds but when I got it right we generally hooked into something while nymphing the quieter water or stripping in the lumpy stuff. The larger fish as expected still need a month or two to put on that condition they lost over the spawning months but the maiden fish are in wonderful condition and are a real handfull when hooked. I think we may have averaged 10 fish per day on here with the majority being younger trout in the 2-3 lb range caught nymphing under an indicator. The lake is very full at the moment making fishing from the shore challenging, the best fishing in here is still to come when the summer conditions spark insect life and weed beds take over.

Lake Kuratau can also be an exciting place to fish with a slow sinking line and Woolly Bugger but with the howling squalling wind it was hard to get control on here also but we still managed a few small fish in the two hours we spent on here. This lake is famous for producing plenty of small trout in the 500gram to 1 kilo range with the odd good brown nudging 4 or 5 pound so a great spot for kids to get some confidence in and put a few on the board. This lake reminds me a lot of the lakes that I have fished in Tasmania with acres of submerged logs and trees creating plenty of cover for trout and harbouring insect life.

The Whakapapa for us was a bit touch and go wither we went or not but after towing a raft across the valley and being on the water we decided to give it a shot and see what it was going to produce. Rafting trips are always full day events which really drain the tanks both physically and mentally as there seems to be so many things to take and remember , they can be logistical nightmares. As most of you will know I love my back country rivers to be low and clear and this was far from it so I had my doubts on what the day would bring. Like you, I have caught many trout in discoloured tea looking water but over the years have worked out it generally is far far less than if the rivers are low and clear. With extra water in the river and discoloured appearance your drifts will have changed, fish sitting in other areas, fly selection may vary and I’m sure the trout don’t feed quite the same. While the water is dropping and clearing this can be another story and some of my best fishing has been when the sun is out and water becoming lower and clearer but this was not the case.

The rain was with us all day and we rafted through sections of fog and mist reminding me of how many of my opening weeks have been just the same.  The fishing was OK and we picked up 6 or 8 good fish and lost a few which I thought was acceptable and after speaking with others which we passed, we had done fairly well. There are sections of the river especially in the gorge which you wont get at without the raft and this was where we hooked most of our trout. I actually filmed most of the day with the “go pro” and am in the middle of making a short video for you to see so with hours of editing and music selection in front of me we should have something to you by early next week or so. The scenery on this river is awesome and even tho it was a wet horrible day it was still a magical place to be and a trip well worth doing which I expect will be a favourite with punters this season.

Last but not least was the mighty Tongariro and I can not help but think if I spent the week on here we would have done best!!! Sad but true, this river loves the overcast rainy days with higher water and blustery conditions  as there would have been fish trickling through all week. We actually spent two afternoons on here and caught fish quite easily especially in the lower river using heavy weighted nymphs and glo bugs. It was warming to see trout pushing up out of one run and into the next as we fished this giving us a hook up every ten minutes or so after they had settled to the depth of the pool.   Most anglers have done very well over the last week on here  and have enjoyed fewer fisherman hiding from the cold blast we received. The Tongariro will be the best in Taupo for the next few months and we should see some very good runs of fish coming through over the next few weeks. The weather has been perfect for angling here and with more rain expected in the next 24 hours I can only think that there will be fish moving in most nights topping up those town pools each morning.

Summer cant be too far and away and the first of the big Browns will soon move into the lower river  giving anglers some great sport and rewarding fishing. These trout are no push over but are can be caught by smart anglers taking their time with the correct methods, Rainbows are always a welcomed by-catch for most!!

Lets hope the weather gets slightly better and clears those backcountry waters.

Tight lines