|New Zealand 1994|
"I like many thousands of Trout Fishermen throughout the world have dreamt of the magnificent scenery, the crystal clear waters and the huge trout that reside in the lakes and rivers of New Zealand. In 1994 and 1997 I had the opportunity to live mine."
Following is an account of my trips to this magnificent country.
At the time I had been the Co-ordinator of the Tasmanian Trout Fishing Championships for three years, which was offering as 1st Prize an all expenses 7 day trip to Lake Taupo. Our Championships was offering a reciprocal prize, and the latest New Zealand prize winners to arrive were John Wall (affectionately known as "Chief") and his wife Brenda. He enjoyed his stay in the Highlands of Tasmania so much he gave us an open invitation to stay at his home any time we wished to fly over. Having talked and listened to the fabulous stories our prize-winners came back with over the years wetted my appetite, so I went about talking a couple of my mates (Dale Herbert, Brian Osborne and his father Ebb) into coming to New Zealand with me. Much to my delight the plan came together (don't you love that!!) We flew across the Tasman to Auckland in April 1996. Lake Taupo holds the Lake Taupo International Trout Fishing Tournament every Anzac weekend, which of course we entered. Boy was this an eye opener, well organised and huge prizes. Our little Tasmanian contingent were treated like royalty, especially by John Jones (the organiser of their tournament) and John MacDonald (Captain of the "Laloma"). One quick tip, if you do not like drinking do not go to this event, the Kiwis sure know how to party.
Our first opportunity to fish came at 6 am on Friday 22nd April. Chief took us to one of his favourite stretches of water, the Watahanui River. You can imagine what it was like for us Tasmanians, (who are used to fishing in barren wind swept waters and having to watch out for the occasional snake) to be confronted with beautiful clear water and manicured paths with every fishing hole sign posted. We found the fishing hard, especially mastering the quick flowing waters and having to use two weighted flies, usually a nymph and a muppet. I spotted a few nice trout but could not entice any takers, so I ventured up the path to find Brian and Dale. I found them at a spot called the Cliff Pool (for obvious reason), and they were fishing to the biggest trout I had ever seen in the wild, easily double figures and too cunning for us mere mortals. The monster won out on the day so we hiked back to the car to be confronted with Ebb grinning from ear to ear, in his bag he had a beautiful 8lb Rainbow caught at the Colonels Bend.
The next day we were invited out on the 'Laloma', a 40ft Luxury Steel Launch. This beautiful old boat was, as I said earlier, Captained by John MacDonald. We were sharing the boat with the other Tasmanians in Taupo, the winners from the Highlands competition, Mark and his Dad Bruce. Macca decided to show us the Western Bays area and especially one of his favourite spots, the mouth of the Waihaha River, which took us about a hours cruise across the lake. Unfortunately we could not fly fish from the boat so we resorted to the traditional New Zealand way of fishing. Trolling lures on the end of 300 meters of Stainless Steel Wire. This method works exceptionally well in the deep waters of Lake Taupo and it wasn't long before we all had a fish on the end of our lines. The Rainbows all averaging around the 4lbs mark. Bruce had the most success managing to hook into a 8lb Rainbow using a flatfish bouncing on the bottom.
Sunday 24th April was our last chance to catch another trout to weigh into the tournament. It was hard early rising with a hang over (yeah they were still spoiling us) We attacked the Watahanui River again, the morning was just like home, heaps of frost on the ground. Dale and I teamed up to spot for one another. We came across a pool called the Tahau's Pool, without a word of a lie we saw at least a dozen large trout just lazing about in there, but try as we may we had no luck. A little further down we spotted a rising trout so I cast a little 'redtag' to him, which he took, but unfortunately it was only a small one pound fish and undersize so back it went. None of us had any further luck, but Bruce did end up winning a Radar Detector for the heaviest trout caught by an International Angler at the prize giving.
Wednesday 27th April was our next outing on the Laloma. John Macdonald had arranged for us to spend the night out in the Western Bays on the boat. He invited John Jones and another friend along. This guy turned out to be an ex-aussie called "Digger". Digger pulled along side of us, and casual as you like he just tied his $250,000 boat called 'Midknight" behind ours and starting chatting away as if he had known us all his life. His boat was 32 ft in length with a massive Volvo Penta diesel down below. What I night we had out there, firstly I managed to catch the heaviest fish of my life, a Rainbow just over 7lb at the mouth of the Waihaha River. It was dark and I was using a luminous leech pattern. After my return and a few photos the party started, I can tell you we had one hell of a night, we sang and played games into the early hours of Thursday morning crawling into bed around 5 am ( I think) and arising at 8am to eggs and bacon. On our way back to Taupo we decided to do a little more trolling with the steel wire. About half way back to town I had another fish take my Orange Lofty's Cobra. (In fact nearly all our trout were taken on Lofty's Lures). That was the last trout we caught from Laloma's decks this trip.
The morning of Friday 29th April was a very Frosty one, but that was the least of our worries. We were about to experience another one of our dreams, to fish the mighty Tongariro River. The Chief had organised his nephew Danny to act as our guide to this legendary river. We arrived at the Swing Bridge car park, just up from the Breakfast Pool around 7am. We were all awe struck as we ventured out onto the very wobbly swing bridge to get our first glance of the river. What a sight greeted us, fast flowing water and beautiful clear pools. We immediately started to spot fish from the bridge so it was a race to get our gear on and try to land one of them. Like I said previously the weighted flies were very hard to master, and false casting was restricted to one cast back up into the current. I managed to hook into a huge trout that Dale had been fishing too, but could not get it to take his offerings. Unfortunately for me the fish was half locomotive and headed straight down river towards the Major Jones pool with me in tow, and I never experienced the pleasure of landing my first Tongariro Trout as it's strength was to much for my 7 weight Loomis and eventually lost it, but boy it was fun while it lasted.
Sadly the day came when we had to head back to Tasmania. We all left with heavy hearts, a few fish and wonderful memories and vowed to return to the 'Land of the long white cloud'.