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Tongariro browns up.
Its tough ... but they're getting louder.
First report of 2018
Its a biggie!

Its tough ... but they're getting louder.
Fri 26th January, 2018

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The fishing has become a lot tougher over the last week.

At this time of year our late summer sport relies heavily on post spawning rainbows making the return journey to the lake.

But that flood we had a few weeks ago has probably seen to it that a lot of them are back there a lot sooner than they expected.

A couple of my boatie mates have commented that they've been getting a lot more kelts since the big fresh, which seems to bear this out.

One thing there are plenty of now, are Tongariro sardines and if you're fishing riffles with small nymphs you will catch them. You'd probably rather not, but the browns in the river will be licking their lips, especially the bigger fish.

Although there's still the occasional good fish showing up, some days I've struggled for half a dozen none to flash rainbows. And I'm not the only one. To make sure it wasn't just "me" I fished with Mike F yesterday and we both found it hard.

But he did get to try out the new stilts he had for his birthday.

When the fishing's patchy like this I like to move around a bit. It makes no sense to stay in one place if its not "happening". Despite this I haven't found anywhere yet this week thats consistently producing. Indeed a lot of the pools seem to be "empty" of fish at the moment.

We get this lean spell every year but because of that "fresh" its with us a week or two early this time. If you scroll up to the left of the page and click on 2017 then February you'll see what I mean.

The fish I have caught have all been on the dry and dropper. And as you'd expect now some of them are pretty tired. The fish above was way past his best and I was able to lead him to the bank without too much resistance. It just goes to show how much the stresses of spawning take out of a fish. Particularly the jacks who cover hen after hen until they've exhausted themselves. Typical male behaviour ...always doing his best to please ... ouch! "Hello my love ... I didn't see you there".

But a few casts later the dry went down again when this slightly smaller but better conditioned "resident" was tempted by the "little brown bug". Too be honest I initially thought it was a much bigger rainbow than it turned out to be.

Anyway although Mike had had a few solid thumps on the wet line, after a fish-less hour or so we decided to try Major Jones on the way back to the truck. Over the last week this pool has had its moments and Mike wanted to swing a wet through the bottom end.

Since the flood there are a lot of new snags around ... especially on the "inside line". They'd already claimed a couple of sets of his gear in Judges and it wasn't long before he developed "Tourette's" again in Major Jones. Its funny how this disorder has become synonymous with uncontrollable bouts of bad language, because only about ten percent of sufferers display this side of the syndrome. That's unless your name is Fransham and you've lost yet another set of expensive tackle.

After half an hour and only one small juvenile to show for it, we called it a day. Mike headed home and I drove upriver to see if it was any different further up.

The beginning of the track to Boulder Reach is still a mess after the flood. But there is a more obvious way through now that anglers are starting to use it again.

When you cross the dry bypass, what is concerning is how much soil has been washed away by the floodwater, exposing the massive root system of the two big pines that guard the rest of the track. It makes you wonder if they'll still be there after the next big fresh.

Looking further up as you pick your way cross, it looks as if the river has tried to "break through" and eventually may even change its course altogether when we get another big flood.

The pool itself was unoccupied and I was able to do my thing un-hindered. As I mentioned last time, the left-hand side is now almost devoid of rocks and stones and for most of its length you can wade right out to reach the fishier looking water away from the silt. The head has deepened and that nice riffley pocket water that used to be there has gone. In fact the top of the pool is very much like a shallower version of Big Bend but nowhere near as deep.

I spent forty five minutes fishing the pool with all three setups and never had a touch. But I'm sure during the winter runs it'll be as popular as ever. Probably more so with the much easier wading and casting.

Another pool thats changed quite a bit is Duchess. The head extends much further up than it used to and there is a huge dump of rocks at the very top of the pool. The tail and middle are also very different and you can now safely reach parts that weren't that easy to get at previously. Again once things settle down I bet this'll be a stretch high on the list for a lot of anglers.

Most fly fisher folk have got cicadas on their minds now. And over the last ten days numbers have increased a lot. This is more noticeable around town and right up to Red Hut. Above that particularly where the logging took place things are a lot quieter. When the sun comes out and the day heats up there's an almost continuous wall of sound as you walk the tracks lower down. The hot temperatures and scattered showers of late are perfect conditions for cicadas to emerge. And with the mercury in the thirties, it doesn't take long for these "cold blooded" bugs to warm up and become more active. The emergence is still nowhere near the size of this time last year. But there are enough around to get the trout interested and when you find a few fish they will take them. They're also one of the few insects that trout will move any distance for. I was standing above Admirals yesterday and directly below me a trout suddenly raced up from the depths and swam diagonally downstream to grab one as it drifted past. Like all terrestrials, cicadas and our other prolific summer species "lacewings" don't have an intentional aquatic stage in their life cycle. But both of them are hopeless aeronauts and on breezy summer days a lot of them are blown off course and end up as easy pickings for any waiting trout. The problem at present is a lot more of the fish than usual are back in the lake, which will obviously impact how anglers perceive the effectiveness of using cicadas and other terrestrial patterns on the Tongariro.
So not too much to write home about fish wise. But its a great time to explore the changes after the flood and with very few anglers around you can experiment a bit and try out new things.

As the holiday weekend approaches Its going to be another hot week ahead. This will probably spark off more afternoon showers and even the odd thunderstorm. With flows still in the thirties and the river carrying a little color wet liners have done better than most this week. I'd love to be proved wrong but I'm expecting more challenging fishing as far as rainbows are concerned so my focus will be on hooking up one of those big browns that are in the river.

Tight lines

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