Ross at the Tongariro River Motel (TRM) is a mine of great information. He also has a fantastic website, which I recommend you visit as regularly as possible (I forget about it sometimes.) But when he says “the Tongariro is providing the best fishing right now”, you need to take that with a grain of salt. For sure, I have never seen so many fish in the Tongariro (but then I have only been fishing it for seven years) and the size and condition of the fish has improved. However, you still have to master the Mighty T.
We had one poor chap from Christchurch, an experienced angler of many years, who joined our party and after two days he still hadn’t landed a fish. I believe the he went away impressed by North Island anglers (no bad thing…)
Eventually this misguided Mainlander managed to get two on the bank out of the Hinemaia, on his last day, on his way back to the airport. The Hinemaia is a fun place to fish, but it isn’t the Tongariro. The Tongariro is a genuine test of your skill – requiring small droppers, light tippet, long leaders, long but not too long, and the fish are often providing very delicate takes, so you have to be alert and in tune with the river.
And so it was again with me. I am forever pulling the fly out of the fish’s mouth and I will often get my best touches on my second or third casts. So I know what to work on, but it doesn’t make it any easier. “God save the Queen” doesn’t seem to work. Thinking Nirvana (in their Nevermind era) doesn’t work. Sideways, drag strike, high, low, they don’t seem to work… I have a lot more training to do – I need to spend more on THE river (and I am already planning another raid) on all sorts of rivers for that matter.
However, things are looking up. I have discovered a whole bunch of water that hardly gets fished. A couple of specific pools, actually parts of pools that provide good lies. And I was able to sight cast to three different groups of fish (none of which took a sniff at my flies.) Sight fishing is fun (now I just have to land a fish from sighting…)
And this year, I actually got one full day and two half days out on the Tonga (with a one hour excursion to Waiotaka on the side, where we saw lots of fish.) And so, this year, I did manage to land a Tongariro rainbow. Not a flash specimen by any means, but it was on Day One and a day when the other lads had struck out.
But more on that later…