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Lake Taupo New Zealand

Tantalizing Taupo Region Trout

By Larry Larsen

Our 4-wheel drive vehicle bounced along the single-lane dirt road through the beautiful hills west of Lake Taupo. Our guide, Jim Gosman, pulled into a clearing and parked in front of a nice country homestead, saying "I need to check in with the land owners." He ambled up toward the house calling out toward the nearby barn on his way.

Stream fishing for troutThe woman owner walked out and pointed out her husband who was walking out of the barn at the time. Our guide turned to visit with the rancher while his wife walked over to meet my wife, Lilliam, and I. While we visited for about 20 minutes, 3 deer suddenly appeared and curiously looked at us from the top of the pasture ridgeline just above us. Shortly after that, Jim and I were heading toward the meadow and trout stream as Lilliam and the friendly woman owner jumped on an ATV and headed out to a different pasture area to check out her beautiful Appaloosa show horses.

Three fence line gates and a 400 foot drop down a steep, 4-wheel drive vehicle path later, Jim and I were donning waders and boots in the grassy meadow bordering the small river. We gazed at the large cliff running along the Larry's troutfar side of the crystal clear river as we readied our gear.Numerous riffles, pools, and short stretches of rapids lay in front of us. The beautiful long pools varied from 6 feet deep to over 15 in some areas.

"We won't be fishing a lot of territory today," Jim pointed out," but maybe we will check out 4 pools. We just aren't going to have time for more if we need to get you back by 4 pm."

Within 15 minutes, I had a fat 4 pound rainbow suck in the nymph and put on an aerial display in the pool in front of me. As Jim had promised, the fish were aggressive and active. The slight green-tint in the water had slowed the activity some according to my guide, but I managed landing two more fine trout in the following two hours. All were carefully released to fight another day.

We were on one of 16 wilderness rivers that Jim guides on in the Lake Taupo area of New Zealand's North Island. The various rivers lie to the west in the Hauhungaroa mountain range (means "the place of the long wind"), south and east Michael on the riverof the big lake. They include some that flow directly into a big harbor at the ocean, like the Wanganui near Hikurangi "table in the sky" Mountain, and others that flow into the giant lake, like the Tokaanu ("cold rocks"), the Ngaruroro, and the larger Tongariro River, which runs beside the world famous Tongariro Lodge.

"Others are the Mohaka and the Rangitikei and most all of them offer rainbows and browns in equal numbers ,"the guide explained. "Some rivers are better at different times of the year. Some offer good fishing year round, and some have a closed season to allow fish to spawn. Some seasons close June 30 and re-open Oct 1. Some have minimum length limits of 40 cm (about 14 inches) and others do not."

Fly choicesOn a typical day, an average fisherman can catch 5 trout up to 4 pounds or so in many waters. Jim's clients have caught as many as 35 fish on his very best day ever down to zero. His client's largest rainbow trout weighed 14 pounds and his biggest brown trout was a 22-pounder!At times, such as I found out, the rainbows are active while the browns while often larger are more sluggish or "dour" as my guide notes.

While some of Jim's anglers use spinning gear, the vast majority use fly fishing gear and nymphs. Fly hatches on nearly all the North Island rivers are infrequent, according to the guide.

"The South Island however is a completely different fishery and you can almost set your watch to the hatches there," Jim points out. "Once,though, I was fishing with a Welch guy on this same river,and wehad gotten 5 or 6 fish. He fished two-thirds of the way througha pool and caught nothing. Then a very rare hatch happened, and he got over 30."

"I was busy unhooking flies from fish for an hour, and at 5 o'clock, it was like someone blew a whistle and the action stopped," laughs the guide. "He got very lucky! He then asked me, 'What do we do now?' and I told him,'Well, I think we go to the pub now'!"

Larry's troutI used a 6-weight fly rod with 7 pound test weight-forward floating line, strike indicators and nymphs on the trout that day. On my two-fly rig, I employed a tungsten bait stone fly nymph at the terminal point and a Cadillac pheasant tail fly on the dropper leader. My fish seemed to enjoy the Cadillac P.T. fly best. Another productive fly on those waters is the Claret fly.

As we left the pretty stream, we waved goodbye to our new rancher friends and drove through miles of beautiful Maori country west of Lake Taupo. We had a brief encounter with the bounty of one stream in the beautiful wilderness and we hope to return to New Zealand for more exploration and sheer enjoyment.

Editor's Note:For more information on fly fishing, contact Jim Gosman at 07-386 -0943 or email james.gosman@xtra.co.nz. For info on the Lake Taupo area, contact Destination Great Lake Taupo at 64-7-376-0400 or email info@GreatLakeTaupo.com.


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