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New Year Report

New Year Report
Mon 7th January, 2019

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With the silly season over for another year "the river" is slowly returning to normal during the week as anglers go back to work.

Just before Christmas we had some pretty active thunderstorms and the resulting downpours must have affected some of the streams way up in the headwaters because up until yesterday morning the Tongariro was still running a little murky. The same thing happened around April last year and the fine sediment brought down then, took ages to "drop out."

You can see it again along the margins and no matter how carefully you wade you'll kick up clouds of the stuff when you're fishing.

A little color in the water usually helps but the fish don't seem to like this stuff and at one time even wet-liners were finding it hard going.

Now that things have finally settled back the fishing has gradually improved again, particularly the last seven days.

That improvement in the fishing came just in time because my best Christmas present this year was a visit from one of my brothers.

Dave manages a window manufacturing company in Johannesburg and has been with them ever since he emigrated over twenty five years ago. I hadn't seen him for around 14 years so the few days we had together was a very special time for us both. Bro had never fly-fished in his life but he likes dressing up and at least looked the part in his Simms gear. We started off in Judges which has been a pretty safe bet lately if you can get in there first. And on the way down overtook a guide with his client who was also heading for the pool. We were just about to start fishing when they arrived and after a quick chat to sort out who was going where they jumped in at the head and we fished a little further down. Dave hooked up within ten minutes but lost the first couple and it wasn't until we returned there later that morning that we got the pic of him holding one in the net.

The river is chokka with parr, and juvenile trout making their way to the lake. And at times it's almost as if they're lining up to grab your flies.

But they're not the only ones lining up.

Shags can be seen resting in between hunting forays all along the river, keen to feed up on these smaller trout. They usually swallow these underwater but you'll occasionally see them surface holding larger fish in their bills.
They'll either take these back to shore or swallow them head first as they continue down stream. Because of this most anglers have a built in dislike of shags.

Yet studies suggest they don't have a significant impact on the trout population in the Taupo fishery, preferring instead other small fish and koura when feeding around the lake. But I doubt those findings will alter how Tongariro anglers feel about them any day soon.

It's a long time since we had a really good fresh and the rocks and stones are covered in slippery brown algae and weed.

This makes wading tricky and you have to be careful if you don't want to take an unplanned dip. Although with the hot weather we've enjoyed lately it doesn't seem such a bad idea in summer. On the plus side, as I mentioned a couple of posts ago, because the river-bed hasn't been "turned over" there's an abundance of insect life at the moment.

Most days there's some sort of hatch going on and with insect activity right through the water column hanging a nymph or two under the dry can be really effective now. Especially if that dry also doubles as a cicada imitation.

Although we haven't had huge amounts of rain the combination of showers and warm temperatures we experienced for part of December encouraged the first of this years cicadas to emerge.

The hot sunny days this week have triggered even more of them to begin the final part of their life cycle. And along the tracks you'll see the papery husks left behind by the emerging adults. From an angling point of view we've had "the perfect storm" this week because the gusty winds sparked off by the heat of the day have caused many of these big insects to be knocked out of the trees or blown off course and a lot of them end up in the river.

So from now on its well worth trying a cicada pattern with or without a dropper below it.

But gusty winds not only affect cicadas. My other visitors this week were Derek and his wife Heather. I hadn't fished with him for a while and since then he'd introduced his poor wife to the sport as well. But his clever ploy backfired because not only did she out fish him but in his haste to catch more than her he got a bit sloppy with his backcast in the westerly wind and hooked himself in the head!

We started upriver because they hadn't fished there before. Although I have to admit I expected the fishing to be a lot tougher there than it actually was. But the TRB upriver hasn't had as much attention lately as the true left and we landed and lost some reasonable fish whenever the juveniles didn't spot our flies first.

Thinking about it some of the fish lower down have been pretty good for the time of year as well. Especially around town when fishing small nymphs on the lighter gear. But I'm still waiting for my first "proper" brown from here this year ... however we did spot a pig of a fish in "an impossible to get at lie" on the way upriver on Saturday.

Just about any small nymph you tie on will work. But it's a good idea to check them between casts because you may find they've acquired an extra tail when you're fishing near the bottom.

More hot weather forecast the with the odd shower here and there, which should keep the cicadas coming until their numbers peak. The noise levels have increased significantly the last few days. And most mornings there's an almost continuous wall of sound coming from the forest near our home. Once the wind picks up they tend to quieten down but it's shaping up to be a good year for them.

And check out these before and after pics I took of the Cliff Pool. Even more of the righthand side has crumbled away taking out three more trees. Surely that lone pine teetering on the edge can't cling on much longer.

Tight lines guys

And a belated Happy New Year

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