Anglers : Matt Quérée & Michael Quérée
Location : Tongariro & Tauranga-Taupo Rivers, Turangi, New Zealand
Species : Rainbow Trout & Brown Trout
Technique : Fly Fishing - Floating Line, Nymphing
Author : Matt Quérée
I was lucky enough to grow up with fly-fishing running deep in my blood.
My great grandfather used to travel, by the only means, to his favourite river the Tauranga-Taupo, flowing into the South Eastern side of Lake Taupo. This was in the days where he would have to spend 3 days riding on horse back from Waimiha, 40 kms north of Taumarunui, on a trail through to the river that he loved so much. There were no Hotels or Air BNB’s back in those days, so Great Grandad would camp with different tribes at the Pa sites dotted along the trail. Fishing from boats was classed as cheating and not sportsman like so being able to skillfully read the rivers flows, lies and runs was what would classify you a real fly-fisherman. This is what Great Grandad was so great at. A few decades on he took my Dad along with him fishing the TT, and at that time 30 years plus ago was what got Dad hooked. Dad got me into fly-fishing at a very young age, and I would tie flies for my pocket money in my pre-teen days. I was also lucky enough to grow up with a bach on the banks of one of the Taupo fisheries other famous rivers, the Tongariro. This is a world-class fly-fishing only river, which produces some gorgeous Rainbow and Brown Trout.
To the present day, all grown up, the passion for fly-fishing that has ran in my family for generations still prevails And just like my Great Grandad, and Dad, I love walking up rivers, exploring new pools, reading water, armed with a box of self-tied flies in search of that fish.
As I have recently moved back from a stint living in British Columbia, I was itching to get to the bach for a fishing trip with Dad. We chatted over the phone and mapped out our mission. We were planning on hitting a few backcountry streams and rivers that flow out of Tongariro National Park. A few pieces of water that Dad and I have fished in the past and have had good success at. There were also a few other points on the topos that we wanted to explore.
The week before dad and I were planning to head to the bach, the lower north island was hit by a front that brought torrential rain that saw Wellington be cut off to the rest of the North. The Tongariro was officially flooded at over 300 Cumex (Cubic Metres of Water Per Second) where its normal winter flow is around 25-27 Cumex. We knew this was going to force a lot of fresh trout to run out of Lake Taupo up the Tongariro, and when it cleared the fishing would be epic! On arrival on Saturday, the rivers were really high, still about 50 Cumex and really dirty. The Tongariro is the fastest clearing river in the area as its flow is controlled through the Hydro Scheme. That night we fished the run that’s out the back of the bach, and we were surprised not to get a single take. Dad knows the river like the back of his hand; this pool especially, and rarely doesn’t have a hook up in this pool.
That night over a few beers and whiskeys we planned our attack, all of the backcountry rivers we had planned to fish were all still in flood. So the Tongariro would be our only option. The next morning after a quick flick out the back with yet again no takes, and a quick breakfast, we regrouped. We then drove and checked Great Grandads favourite, the Tauranga-Taupo, as it also clears quickly, but was still way too high and also running really dirty. The Waimarino was next on the list; the same as the TT, high and dirty.
After lunch we headed up river on the Tongariro where the flow would be lower, and hopefully a lot clearer. We drove down the dirt road, to a carpark that we were suspecting would have a few cars at least. YES!! No cars, our luck might just be changing. That afternoon proved to be one of the best afternoons I’ve ever had for Browns on the Tong. First run through the long riffled pool, Bang, a gorgeous 7-Pound Brown, a hen that put up a great fight. This would be the fish that the trip was going to be remembered for. The next run through the pool, on a similar section, Bang, Another beauty of a Brown. This one even bigger!! An 8-Pound brown. This time a Jack, with big dark spots. This day couldn’t get any better. I was ready to call it a day, but decided to have another quick flick through the head of the pool. When my indicator once again dipped below the surface, with a 5-Pound Rainbow on the other end. Once it was landed, I was ready to call it. Very rarely do I out fish the old man, but this day was an exception.
The next day we spent again at this pool, with another great day for myself, with three nice Rainbows brought to bank. Dad had also broken his drought, and landed a nice little fresh 3 Pounder.
We knew the Tong was fishing as good as it ever does, but this just made us want to check some other favourite spots. The Tauranga-Taupo was at the top of the list too. That next morning we got up at sparrows to walk the hour hike up to some nice water that we knew wouldn’t have been fished since the recent flood. We fished hard from first light till 10am through some gorgeous water without touching a single fish.
We were starting to think we had made the wrong call by coming to the TT, and decided maybe we should head back to the Tongariro and get a few more freshies. After a few hairy crossings on the way back, Dad made the call to fish the first pool we had fished at first light. I humored him and let him have a few casts. Second cast and he was in, a beauty fresh little 3-Pound rainbow that put up a great aerobatic fight. We took turns in the pool, one with the camera, one with a rod and landed 6 fish between us in 30 minutes. The fishing had turned on, yet Dad had to head back to Wanganui to work, and was inching back towards the car.
We headed down stream, when I saw a nice lie behind a big fallen dead Manuka. I convinced Dad to let me have a quick run through the lie. First cast, I was into a whopper. A massive Rainbow, that was screaming line off my reel. He was taking to the Air and the fight lasted 10 minutes with me trying to keep him out of every snag in the river. I got him into the shallows, and then pop, he spat the hook. ARRR I couldn’t leave our trip to this spat hook. So a few more casts in the same spot, and bang another nice Jack was on the end of the line. This time he didn’t get off. Dad couldn’t resist having a few casts in this magic spot. It didn’t disappoint, and once again we took turns, and got 6 more fish between us to the bank in the space of an hour.
It was such a memorable trip, as all trips with Dad usually are. We didn’t get to those backcountry spots we had been talking about for so long, but hey they’re not going anywhere; till next time.
I’m just stoked I truly understand now, why Great Grandad spent all that time on horseback