February 2019

14th February 2019: Trout fishing Lake Otamangakau Turangi - Julian Cribb

Fishing Taupo
trout fishing lake Otamangakau Turangi Julian Cribb
fly fishing Lake Otamangakau

An artificial hatch

Normally one would walk a stream, spot a nice fish, make a few poor casts and say "Oh, well, I put that fish down. No point in hanging round – on to the next pool." In the following two cases both fish were at the end of a long day on the water, when conditions were tough – low, gin-clear waters, spooky fish, warm end-of-summer conditions with the trout looking distinctly uninterested in feeding.

Fish 1, in a lovely back-country stream overhung by trees and dangling creepers which made casting awkward. A big fish, he was on the move, patrolling a large, deep elbow bend of the river around two central boulders, then moving upstream to lie against the far bank on the feed lane in faster water before returning to circle the pool again. Didn't seem to be feeding, though – just sculling around. Started with the cicada dry, as that is our preferred summer fly – but this fish didn't think much of it. Dropped it all round him, but nary a look. Swapped it for parachute Adams and mayfly nymph. Again peppered him with casts in both parts of his run, some right in line with his nose. Not the least reaction. By now I'm saying 'This fish is down, or sick or something'. We then tried the stonefly nymph – a favoured 'last resort', and after a couple of casts he suddenly turned on it and grabbed it – the first time he'd reacted to anything. I struck late, felt the weight - and the hook came free. Nonchalantly, he did a couple more circuits, studiously ignoring my next few attempts. So finally we swapped to a caddis, which had worked on other fish earlier in the day. By now he was back in the deep part of the pool. I plonked the fly to the left, the right and the centre. No take. But each time he twitched, acknowledging the fly – but not moving to eat it. Finally I got it on his nose, saw the white as his jaw slowly opened and lifted the rod before the indicator moved. He was on – a surging, robust fight all over the pool, only just kept him out of the roots of a huge fallen tree downstream and coaxed him back to his domain, finally brought him to the net. A handsome, 52cm male rainbow, somewhat lean (as these large small-stream fish often are) and with a small v-shaped eel nip out of his left pectoral fin. Maybe why he was cautious and took time to awaken...

Fish 2, in a different stream the following day, was of a similar size and lay just a few metres upstream of me in a spot of fast, clear water surrounded by willows. I was under the trees, directly in his blindspot, which was the only factor in my favour. The only possible cast was a sideways backcast – very hard (for me) to lay out accurately. First we tried the cicada, as that usually gets them in the mood. He totally ignored it, even when I managed to get it on target. So over to the trusty combo, parachute adams plus a pheasant tail nymph. The nymph keeps pulling the cast too far to the right by 2-3 feet. The fish just looks bored. He's had a couple of dozen casts by now and has developed a distinct sneer. So on to the 'last resort', the stonefly nymph, a real plonker. Nope, he doesn't budge. Doesn't even blink. Finally we said "The caddis worked yesterday, why not today?", so I gave him that under a dry. We must be up to 30 or more casts by now and I am assuming this fish is well and truly 'down', though he hasn't shifted his lie by more than a foot or so, reacted to anything or shown any sign of having seen us. However, various artificial morsels have been whizzing by him every 30 seconds for some time. First cast with the caddis, the dry fly indicator shot down. I wasn't expecting it and struck too late. Bugger. Another cast: same result – he took, I missed. Third attempt went wide. Fourth shot, down went the dry again and up went my rod and he was on. He struck back hard, really hard. I was so shocked, I dropped the rod in the water. Scrambled to recover it and was amazed and delighted to find him still on. He raced all over the stream in a frenzy, hauling for the fallen timber on the far side and was just stopped, with the Temple Fork 'Lefty' Kreh bent double. Eventually, after a series of short, hard runs I coaxed him to Ken's waiting net. A long golden Loch Leven, with scarlet 'rose moles all in stipple' about 55cm, but lean – he would have made 4lbs if he'd been in peak condition.

Now, normally you'd give a fish three or four casts, then assume he was 'done', and move on. Because these were the last fish on the beat, and seemed not to react, we gave them half the fly box and several dozen casts... and to our absolute astonishment, it paid off. Twice. The working theory now is that in the warm, low, summer water the fish become rather sleepy and apathetic – but a steady fusillade of artificial nymphs and dries dropping in their general vicinity finally gets their gastric juices working and they decide to feed. In both cases fish which were totally disinterested eventually showed signs of interest after several dozen casts, came alive - and then took decisively. More than once!

Perhaps, just perhaps, we had created an artificial 'hatch'...

7th February 2019

Trout Fishing Tongariro River Turangi, Taupo

Fishing with Ken was an amazing experience! Ken is so astoundingly knowledgeable about the river, fishing ethics, techniques, and all things fly fishing. Ken is not only and incredible guide but a truly sweet and fun human being. Can not recommend fishing with Ken enough and we can't wait to come back to the Turangi area and go out with Ken again.


Alaskan ladies trout fishing tongariro river turangi Taupo
Alaskan ladies trout fishing tongariro river turangi Taupo
Alaskan ladies trout fishing tongariro river turangi Taupo

6th February 2019

Andrew fly fishing Lake Otamangakau Turangi .

Andrew fly fishing Lake Otamangakau Turangi