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Great conditions this week.
A different vibe on the river ...
Seans' Saturday adventure.

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Great conditions this week.
Thu 29th October, 2015


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Just when my sun-loving wife thought summer had arrived, the clouds rolled in again and it was back to the wet and windy stuff.

I was far more interested in how this was going to influence any mayfly hatches on the river because once the breeze picks up they quickly fizzle out.

Life gets tricky for mayfly in the wind because as soon as they become airborne these delicate insects get blown all over the place. This can stop the duns reaching dry land to continue their final transformation into the sexually mature spinners.
It can also prevent the ones that do make it to the safety of the bank from forming mating groups along the river. But how do the nymphs making their way up to the surface know its windy outside ... because again this activity seems to cease when the wind blows. Its almost as if they know its a waste of time ... I've no idea.

On a positive note last weekends brief spell of heavy rain put a bit of color into the river and increased the flows. This provided perfect conditions for wet liners and nymphers and there's been some fantastic fishing again this week.

Once again despite it being a holiday weekend there were far less anglers around than I'd expected. Especially when you factor in how well the Tongariro is fishing. But there was the little matter of that rugby game on the telly. Jeees ... you wouldn't want to watch too many games like that ... you'd have no fingernails left.
The upper river seemed to be the place everybody was heading for, which is quite a turn around when you think back a few years. Ariel surveys at the time regularly showed the biggest concentrations of anglers were from the town pools down. But back then there had been a marked decline in the numbers of fish using the upper pools and as a result the fishing was a lot tougher up there.

The last couple of years the spread of fish is much better and this year in particular all the pools above Red Hut bridge have fished well.

One of the most consistent has been Big Bend.

Its been chucking good fish out all year. Something that hasn't gone unnoticed and its rare to have the place to yourself any more. Its a great piece of holding water with several "hotspots" throughout the stretch that respond well to the indicator.

Its not ideal for beginners because for most of its length any sort of back-casting room is fairly limited. But if you can overcome this with other casting styles its a great place to spend a few hours in one of the prettiest parts of the Tongariro.

Many anglers prefer to persevere with a conventional overhead cast and gain some height and back cast clearance by perching on one of the big boulders at the rivers edge. But I get vertigo if I wear thick socks and find it easier to roll cast.

Expect your fair share of mending fish here but there are still plenty of better fish moving through to compliment these and I guarantee you won't land every trout you hook in this pool.

One or two snags particularly at the top end but you can usually get long unhindered drifts here.

Both banks produce but with such easy acess the TLB is always the most popular.

Small goldheads and then later in the day caddis pupa have both been taking fish. The takes can be quite subtle so keep your eye on that indicator.

There's so many fish around at the moment its probably difficult to blank!

But you still come across the odd angler who is struggling.

Honestly guys if you're finding it tough at present you probably need to do something differently.

Fishing bombs and globugs all day long in deep pools is not necessarily the best choice now and its time to come up with something else. The river is full of post spawning fish hell bent on regaining condition as quickly as they can. These kelts are eager to seek out and feed on the millions of aquatic insects that inhabit the riverbed.

The immature stages of most species of caddis, mayfly and other bugs can be found in or near the well oxygenated runs and riffles dotted along the river. But these places tend to be shallow and a lot of anglers are put off by this and won't fish them.

Ok ... then look for the first available slightly deeper water below ... this is usually {but not always} the very start of a pool. But think about how you're going to tackle it.

The top end of one of my favorite town pools is a good example.

This piece of water is a classic illustration of the wisdom in the old angling advice to "fish your feet first".

I don't get upset about much when I'm fishing ... I've been at it a long time now and things happen. I really don't mind fishing through a stretch below other anglers. The reality is you're not going to be first through every pool and its part and parcel of a day on the Tongariro. But I have to admit I let out a groan when I've fished my way up to this particular stretch only to see the angler above me wade out into the water past his thighs ... because he is now standing where his flies should be.

What makes it worse, is there is absolutely no need to do it.

Even if you stay well back there isn't an inch of this very fishy water that can't be reached with even the most basic cast. The funny thing is, as far as most of the rest of the pool is concerned you are actually better off wading out a bit because nearly all of the true right side has silted up the last couple of years.

And yet many don't!

Back to the top of the pool if he'd only paused for a minute or two and "polaroided" the water in front of him he might have been pleasantly surprised. The only time I ever wade out here is if I've thoroughly fished the whole area and had no interest. This usually means the fish have been spooked and pushed out into the safety of the main current. It doesn't always pay off but providing there's no one else moving up below me I'll work my way out to the fast stuff because I enjoy "czech nymphing" it.

My early angling journey started on the small rivers of Glamorganshire in South Wales. In fact calling some of them rivers would be a bit of an exaggeration. One in particular, the Ewenny, where I used to spend most of my school holidays { and sometimes lessons} you had to fish with a six foot 4wt. Anything longer and you'd be touching the opposite bank in places.

This lovely little river was and still is home to a population of wild brown trout. No monsters here. The "sixties" is a long time ago now but as I remember, a two pound fish was something very special. But despite their size they were still pretty canny fish and by no means easy to catch.

I suppose this is why I have no qualms about casting close in or fishing shallowish water. I know ... no that's the wrong word ... I one hundred percent "believe" there could be a fish or two right in front of me.

This belief in the merits of fishing your feet first can be particularly relevant when targeting browns on the Tongariro.


Last time when talking about browns I mentioned that "so far I haven't come across any myself".

Well as luck would have it the very next time I went for a fish I nailed my first of this "season". I think a similar thing happened last year. It wasn't a huge fish by any stretch of the imagination but never the less I was quite pleased with this one because I caught it right under the 10ft five weight, czech nymphing the seam in a shallow run strewn with large rocks.

I wouldn't recommend a 5wt as your go to rod for all Tongariro browns. The bigger fish can be a handful even on a seven or eight weight. A long drawn out scrap isn't good for the fish if you intend returning it but every year there are a few impressive fish landed on light gear. One that springs immediately to mind is Roman's twelve and half pounder caught last year in the Fence Pool ... again on a 5 wt.

From now on the numbers and size of browns caught in the Tongariro will gradually increase. Last year the brown trout fishing was exceptional, peaking through March and early April and I'm really looking forward to the the New Year.
So... still plenty of fish in the river and I don't expect too much to change by the time I upload the next report. One very nice problem that I have when the Tongariro is producing like this is that you have so many great fishy shots of anglers and fish taken along the river its a job to choose between them.

A couple more showery days coming up and then a short spell of fine weather. The long range forecast for November is for a fairly warm but wet start and then much cooler temperatures for the rest of the month as the winds swing round to the south west again.

Have a great time out there.

Tight lines

Mike
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COMMENTS
hi Mike,

Just wanted to say - great website, love the reports, makes me want to get down there faster!

all the best
Andy
Thu 26th November, 2015 |
Great report Mike, as the season comes to a close here in the US, its great to feed off your building excitement 'down South'. I'm pretty sure that favorite town pool photo you included and close upstream cast is the one that rewarded us on Boxing Day last year with an early brown, much to my delight. That same technique, rewarded me all over NZ early this year and works just as well from California to Montana - I'm well practiced now at always fishing the near bank thoroughly before stepping in the water. Tight lines and plan to see you soon... From Geoff in California.
Geoff Wade | Sun 8th November, 2015 |
 
 
 
 
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