I had invited Chris (Gringo on FAOL) from Victoria Australia to
come over to New Zealand's North Island to fish the Tongariro
River and some of the other spots in the general area of Turangi
and I finally got to meet him after work on the Wednesday, when
I picked him up and took him to the tackle shop for some last minute
shopping and of course to get him a fishing licence.
We hit it off straight away and went for a coffee to plan our escape
from Auckland the next day. My good friend Quentin (Q) was coming
with us in his 4WD wagon which would open up more water to us than
my small car, so he picked us up after work on Thursday and we headed
south, chatting most of the way about fishing and related subjects for most
of the 4.5 hour drive.
By the time we arrived we were all fairly tired so we decided to
prepare the rods for the morning and then hit the sack. This is where
Chris got his first intro to Tongariro style rigs. 14 to 16 foot leaders
and a big heavy bomb nymph on the end with a smaller nymph tied
of the bend of the bomb hook to actually do most of the catching.
Just a bit different from the size 14 to 16 light nymphs that Chris is
more used to fishing!
We hit the Big Bend Pool in the morning and it is a lovely pool
with a good run of "heavy" white water at the head spreading
into a lovely glide for about 60 metres before shallowing at the tail.
We spent an hour fishing the pool and managed a couple of fish
before deciding that it was time to cross over and move up to the
next pool. Chris decided to stay at the pool and follow us up in a
I was just landing my fourth Rainbow from the next pool when Q
arrived and told me Chris had gone for a swim while crossing the
tail of the pool (this is not when we changed the name of the pool
from "Big Bend" to "the Swimming Pool"). After he said Chris was
O.K. I moved up to the Blue Pool and Q followed but Chris stayed
were he was, not wanting to risk the difficult crossing to reach the
Blue Pool maybe?
After a fish in the Blue we re-crossed and dropped down to meet up
with Chris who still had not landed a fish, though he did get one right
to the bank before it got off.
We decided it was time to head in to town for lunch and walked back
down to the tail of the Big Bend Pool for the crossing back to the car.
I went first and the first few yards were deep, about two inches deeper
than the top of my waders, but it was only for a few yards before it got
easier and I waded out in good nick. I turned to see Q and Chris begin
to cross about 10 yards further down from where I crossed as it was not
quite so deep, they had both got past the difficult first few yards and
were in water about belly button deep when Chris tripped on an unseen
boulder and went right in for his second swim of the day. This is when
we changed the name of the pool to the Swimming Pool and it will from
now on always be known as that to Q and I.
Chris was wearing a vest with a waterproof pocket were he stored
his mobile phone, well let me just say, "never trust a waterproof pocket!"
It was full of water and the phone was terminal.
The next day we headed over the hill to the Wanganui River, actually
to the very stretch that will be used for the World Fly Fishing
Championship next year. This is more like the sort of fishing that
Chris is used to, deep pools, fairly slow drifts and small indicators
and flies without too much lead.
We put Chris in to the first good pool, a lovely bit of water that has
almost always been a no fail pool for me and then I moved up to fish
the shallow rocky riffle water further up and around the first corner.
This is not great water but normally produces a few smaller trout.
After spooking a good Brown close to the bank in water no more
than shin deep I changed to an Elk hair caddis dry with a small
Pheasant tail on a tippet tied from the bend of the dry. I cast to
all the likely water around the boulders close to the bank and ended
up hooking at least a dozen good fish, mostly browns and about half
on the dry and half on the nymph, some from casting blind and some
from spotting the fish and then covering it. I should have dropped back
down stream to fetch Chris up for a go but I thought, "he is in the
best pool, he will be doing O.K."
When I finally dropped down and found Chris he was fishless, I
could have kicked myself.
We called in at a small hydro lake on the way back to Turangi for a
fish and saw a few fish rising but we just could not get them to take
so gave up and headed back to the lodge for some supper.
Sunday was our last full day on the Tongariro and we made a fairly
late start after an evening of talking and yarn spinning led to a late night.
I decided to take Chris to the Boulder Reach area of the Tongariro
as it is a bit less demanding than some of the other pools, being of
an evenish depth and flow with a boulder studded bottom perfect
for holding fish anywhere from 20 feet out all the way to the far side.
After I landed my fourth trout and Q had landed a couple Chris was
still fishless so we moved to the Stag pool area and split up, with
Chris fishing the Stag, Q dropping down to the next pool and myself
walking up to the Mill race.
After a frustrating 45 minutes in the Mill Race where I hooked fish after
fish and lost all but two of them when they shot downstream through the
rapids I returned to find Chris and Q lying on the bank having a rest and
soaking up the ambiance of the river.
Chris had hooked a good fish and again lost it right at the bank but
he was certainly keeping a good humour about it, not that we gave
him any choice!
By this time it was getting to be late in the afternoon so we decided
to head back to the lodge for a cup of tea and a regroup. Chris and
I decided to walk down to the Major Jones pool to see if there was
an evening rise while Q decided to study the inside of his eyelids.
We got down to the pool as the light turned golden and watched a
couple of guys nymphing the head of the pool before moving in as
the fish started to rise. There were lots of duns about and by the time
I had had my Caddis dry ignored for ten minutes Chris had had about
five fish try to take his fly but they just would not stick.
As I changed to a Royal Wolf Chris finally hooked up and played
the fish to the bank for a quick picture before releasing his first
Tongariro rainbow. A good fish that had spawned and stayed in
the river to feed up on the abundant nymph life and recover some
condition before heading back to the lake. I am not sure who was
more pleased, Chris or me.
We dropped Chris off in Rotorua the next day as I had to get
back to work and he tells me he had a good time and is looking
forward to his next trip, he has even started to tie some Bombs,
"Just like Q's!"
I hope it is not too long before you manage to get back Chris,
I had a blast fishing with you and it was a pleasure to meet up
with you in person after "meeting" on FAOL. I have a few smaller
streams and creeks in mind for your next visit if it is during summer
that I am sure you will love.
Anyone else from FAOL fancy a few days in N.Z.?
~ Mike Thomas
About Mike Thomas
Mike is a 41 year old Englishman who has lived in N.Z. for
18 years. He loves all kinds of fishing, but his main love is
fly fishing New Zealand's beautiful streams and rivers.