I have two children a boy and a girl; some might say a pigeon pair, although to call them children is not strictly correct, however my wife may well see it differently.
Matthew (25) commenced his two year world voyage in February 2007 and Rebecca (23) her 6 month stint in September.
Both being sorely missed at home, the ultimate pressure was applied when they met at Christmas in Australia.
My wife was beside herself, an empty house at Christmas and the coup de gras delivered when the telephone rang at breakfast time Christmas morning. Both Matthew and Rebecca extolled the thrills of their xmas day, and that it was coming to a close for them!!!
The rest of our day was pleasant but!!! Shortly thereafter following the Boxing day holiday advertising blitz, it was off to Trailfinders to book our trip down under.
Loads of decisions to make which way do we go? How many stops? Anyway to cut to the chase, it was Heathrow (thank god terminal 5 wasn’t open) to Singapore to Sydney to Auckland to Bangkok and home, phew!! 7 weeks!!
As the holiday drew closer the biggest issue, packing, 20 kilos each, how could I take sneak in sufficient fishing equipment without the other arf complaining?
Could I cater for all needs plainly NO, after all this was not a fishing trip!
Having spoken to my son, who is a fanatical fisherman, the decision was two travel fly rods, a Reddingtons 7 weight and a Sierra T1+ 4 weight, both being 9ft. Try as I might it was impossible to take one fly reel that would satisfy both rods, so two reels, two floating lines and one sink tip.A waistcoat but no waders or boots, hell it was their summer surely a pair of trainers and shorts was enough.
The first stop was Singapore, Sue had planned for three days as we had to have a mandatory drink at Raffles. The only thing I was really pleased about was that her focus was on Australia which took her eye off the available shopping in that City!
Arrival at Sidney was at 7am the plane had a slight delay and we were met by Matthew after the initial greetings it was off for breakfast and driving South for an hour to Bulli beach where we had rented a beach house.
Some early morning fishing with light tackle in the surf was fun taking a variety of small fish including flathead, dart and whiting.
After a week of sun, sea and surf we returned to Sidney and stayed with our son, our daughter had departed on her onward voyage to New Zealand.
In preparation for our weekend in the blue mountains we visited a local tackle shop for advice. A discussion of flies and tactics did not reveal anything untoward except when he enquired whether we had fished there before.
Quite clearly No was the answer. He then gave us advice.!!!!!!!!!!!
In the mountains and streams you will be fishing in their environment.
Move slowly and noisily toward the water giving the snakes time to move out of your way.
If you are confronted by a snake the best advice is to stand still. I began to think it may have been better to have brought waders and strong wading boots!!!!!!!
On arrival in the mountains, they were in drought conditions and the streams and many brooks were unfishable.
I smiled and thought Thank god I wouldn’t be needing the snake advice.
We made a feeble attempt at fishing a reservoir at Oberon but it must have been at least 25 feet below level and the weather was changeable.
The fish that were moving looked lethargic and after an hour it was abandoned.
The following week it was off to New Zealand and after a week around the Coromandel peninsular we arrived at Lake Taupo, and although the height of summer you could still see the snow capped summits of local volcanoes.
This visit was merely driving through on our journey to Wellington, but I thought it worth reconnoitring the area.
We stopped at the Tongariro River Motel, Turangi, located on the southern most tip of the lake.
The motel was approximately 250 yards from the river. We were welcomed by Pip and Ross and shown our lodge.
The lodge was well equipped, two double beds, a kitchen and lounge. (www.tongarirorivermotel.co.nz/)
The conversation quickly moved onto fishing and Ross showed he had an excellent local knowledge and freely gave advice, based on 20 years local fishing experience.
I discussed with him the tackle I had brought and he said forget the four weight it will not hold the fish in this river. Teasing me a little, he invited me to take a walk down to the bridge and to look over at the river.
He said “ you will see some logs on the bottom, if you concentrate you will see the logs move, then you will realise what you are up against. The seven weight is ideal.
He produced a chart which gave a minimum length of fish to be killed at 46 cms. (About 31/2 lbs in old money). I said I rarely kill browns in the UK.
He said well we have too many fish in the system some 70,000 fish run the river to spawn and this is one of 35 tributaries of the lake.
We would urge you to kill your fish limit.
Ross was the most welcoming of a host, he provided waders and boots and could have fully equipped me fully for the fishing.
He explained at this time of year the most productive method was dead drifting small nymphs under a sight bob and gave me an overview of the river. He provided me with patterns which should do well. I explained that this was just an overnight stop and we would be returning for a full three days.
He said that when I returned the fish would be preoccupied feeding on Cicada. (A large winged beetle type fly to 1 1/4″ tied with spun deer hair).
Anyway down to the river for an hour or so. The river as it flowed towards the lake broke into numerous channels feathering wider as it went, but still presenting with numerous holding spots.
One other great benefit of New Zealand there are no snakes to worry about!
The picture below is actually me into one of three natural rainbows taken that evening.
So it was off on our travels to the South Island to meet our daughter. However, I was thinking about the return dry fly fishing utilising cicada.
We drove along the west coast of the South Island stopping at various beauty spots and I was hoping to throw an occasional line. However, a storm had blown up with heavy overnight rain causing the rivers to swell.
That side of the South Island has a flat coastal plain which can vary from 1 to 7 mile at the end of the plain is a wall of a high mountain all capped with snow.
The river beds are flat and wide making it plainly obvious that these rivers carry huge spate flood water.
Anyway, for the week I travelled down the west coast the rivers were not fishable with a fly.
Whilst returning to the north we stopped at Nelson Lakes, the source of The Buller River.
The river Buller outlet from Lake Rotoiti.
The top of the Buller River was full of boulders and fairly fast flowing. I was wearing trainers and shorts.
On attempting to enter the river it was dangerously slippery, oh I was missing those felt soles. The river was heavily infected with Didymo which did not help.
I parked the car at an approved parking bay and yomped up the river, I was carrying my four weight set up New Zealand method, what else.
An adams dry size 14 and a small size sixteen gold head nymph on 5lb leader.
There were only a few spots to enter the river and one came up but it meant negotiating a four-foot bank.
I stood in the river approximately two feet from the bank I soon realised it was treacherous and rather gingerly I let out some line and assessed the tree lined banks.
I began casting upstream lengthening the cast as I went the third cast hit the water, bang my line took off across the stream my first thought a small brownie but it began holding steady in the current and I thought this seems a nice fish!!!!!
Suddenly it turned and ran downstream and I could now see it was a brownie to dream of.
All the thoughts went through my head, I wish I had my seven weight, will the hook hold, it had taken the small weighted(Size 16) nymph, when will it stop, how much strain can I put on the setup?
After about 25 yards the fish turned back upstream with me exerting as much pressure as I could.
The rod bent double and I was afraid to move as the footing was uncomfortable. After an exhilarating five minutes, a brownie of about 3 ½ lbs was in the net.
Fully finned and a huge spade of a tail, The photo does not show the girth a superb fish which the local hotel cooked that evening.
However, the next hour did not produce anything and I made returned to the car. On arrival, there was an official notice regarding the Didymo infection, accompanied by all relevant advice and a spray bottle containing the relevant treatment for my tackle and clothing!
Very efficient I thought. No more fishing in the South Island and I was looking forward to the mouth watering prospect of the Tongariro trout exclusively feeding on the cicada.
That night I went to bed in about 26C after a rather pleasant day. I awoke the morning went outside and the temperature had plunged to zero.
A southerly had come in and the freezing arctic wind had been sucked up the west coast by deep depression in the Tasman sea. Going about my business I didn’t give it another thought.
We packed that morning and made our way for the return crossing to the North Island a quick telephone call to Ross to reserve our accommodation and we were off.
A day or two visiting some relatives in Wellington and we would arrive on the Tongariro within 48 hours.
At this stage it is fair to remind people that I was on a family holiday and this was not a fishing trip!!! I had other things on my mind as well!! (It must be my age, but try as I might I can’t quite remember what they were).
Wednesday morning we set off from Wellington for Turangi a pleasant four hour drive through the middle of the North Island, in parts you could be forgiven for thinking that you were in Mid Wales.
Arrival at Tongariro River Motel, greeted by Ross and as we were shown our cabin I enquired about the cicada frenzy only to be told that the cold snap had put them back a week or to! Slightly depressed I began to unpack when our daughter arrived and she said she had planned the following day to to take Sue shopping to Taupo town.
You beauty, a full days fishing without feeling guilty.
The shopping may cost a penny or two but think of the benefits.
Over to reception and spoke with Ross he quickly updated me and offered me full equipment.
I stuck with my rod and reel and again took advantage of his generosity by accepting waders and boots.
The next morning 5.30am It was up and at them down to the river before the other fishing lodges had finished their breakfast serving.
On arrival a few other anglers had obviously had the same idea. I accepted Ross’s advice fish the pool and move on taking into account the small rivulets.
The first hour did not produce a thing and I was watching a local youngster following me down a pool and he was taking and hitting a number of fish. Time to reassess the gear and to fine down the tippet. I was fishing 7lb owing to the talk of the big fish. I fined down to 4 ½ lbs tippet and within half a dozen casts a rainbow of about 1 ¼ lbs was in the net.
That day I landed a total of 9 fish, all rainbows the heaviest being a little over three pounds.
The ones that got away, well they were huge!!!
Well perhaps the one that broke me may have been 5lbs or more but was certainly not one of the double figure fish that this river is so famous for.
A most enjoyable day that satisfied my fishing urge and the rest of the holiday was spent satisfying those that count.
Should anyone with a passion for angling find themselves near Lake Taupo, I would urge them to pay Ross a visit at the Tongariro River Motel. www.tongarirorivermotel.co.nz/)