Saturday, January 7, 2012

Roadie for trout

Day 1: Ak – Rotorua

I got on the road about midday, really needed to get away and fish and the salt water options were limited by the north easterly. Decided to head first for Rotorua, a sort of on-the-fly decision. When Lake Rotorua warms up, the fish swarm to the river mouths to chase smelt and stay cool. When I arrived the mouth was full of anglers and the boat ramp was blocked with spin anglers.

Hamurana Ramp

I readied the boat and backed her in. The wind was almost directly offshore and reasonably stiff, so making out the current line wasn’t easy, but I thought I had it figured so drifted for a while casting a smelt fly and fast retrieving it. As darkness approached I moved into a nice possie and anchored up.

Hamurana Mouth
Round about that time there were 2 other anglers wading, when a rather loud popping noise ensued. Took a while to figure out it was the local dickheads, shooting at swans with an air rifle. A quick call to F&G to report it, and one of the other guys waded ashore and gave them an earful.

....... not sleeping .....

Fish started moving and I began to hit them, but was having trouble with my line – it had cracked badly since the mid December trip and bits of the coating were falling off. Hassle. I fished 'til about 10.30 pm boating 7 fish up to about 3 pounds before pulling the pin and driving around to Hinehopu where I set up for the morning fish.

Fat little smelt gobbler

Day 2: Rotoiti - Taupo

I slept reasonably well in the back of the car and woke at about 5.45.

Camping spot - Hinehopu
Had a quick brekkie and put the boat in before heading off over to the point for a morning of spinning.

Tied off to tree at Hinehopu
Well, it certainly wasn’t going off…. I had 3 hits and no hook-ups for 4 hours fishing. Then I decided to go and jig for a while. I moved around until I found good sign on the sounder (the lake was packed out with smelt at about 5m down) and then jigged. Finally, I nailed a solid fish and then another.

At last the cloud burned off and sun came out.
With time on my side I drove around the lake for a bit of an explore. By now plenty of other boats were out, fishing, skiing etc so I looked for somewhere quiet to kick back and read my book. Found a sweet little bay and tied off to a fallen tree. Set up the fly rod with Di7 line and idly cast and between casts read a page or 2. Got one hit which I duly missed. From time to time trout hit smelt on the surface but the action was sporadic so I couldn’t really target any particular fish.

Pulled the pin at about 2 and headed into town for gas, then headed for Taupo.

When I arrived the lake was calm enough, so I drove to Waitahanui, purchased a license and then headed to the reserve. Had a refreshing swim and then set the boat up for a harling mission.

Took camera for a swim... up periscope

And mission it was too…. The beach launch was fine but the truck bogged slightly so I knew I’d be doing a trailer on a rope retrieve. Used the Di7 setup for a harl and set out. With all the recent rain the Waitahanui was blowing off coloured water into the lake so that was best avoided. Then the wind came up. And fast too. One minute I was playing a fish, next minute the boat was being blown around. Packed up and headed for shore, just as another boat did. They backed straight down to the lake edge and amid breakers began to winch their boat on – waves dumped into their boat, filling it in seconds and the weight was too much for their truck. I anchored 5 m off shore and helped them bail then towed them out. Then it was my turn…. But the friendly locals had buggered off! So I took of the trailer and roped it to the truck, pushed it into the lake and pulled the boat around, but the wind and waves just wrenched her onto the shore where she began to be hammered on the rocks. I quickly turned the trailer side on to the lake and began to winch the boat on, got there eventually and hauled her out. She was full of water and the 4mm hull plate sported some new dents and gouges. I was soaked.

Calm boat launch ramp... became evil nasty boat retrieve wave inferno

So I drove to a more sheltered spot and dried everything out on a pine.

The evening was stunning, so I decided to spend the night there.

Nature's clothes line

Not a bad view

I pulled in under some pines and was glad that I'd packed insect repellent. I fell asleep to the sounds of mossies buzzing around - not biting me!
Day 3: Taupo – Lake O

Again I woke pretty early, and headed off to Lake O after a bit of brekkie and a coffee. I arrived at about 7.30 and was first in the car park. The wind was now a stiff Westerly. Bummer. Today was going to be an experiment, I wanted to try ‘plonking ‘. I set up the floating line with a team of nymphs with a big heavy bead head on the point.

Cloud cloaking Tongariro

Because of the wind and cloud cover, it was a day for waders, fleece and rain coat... so to escape the wind I drove around to Wairehu Canal for a drift. The first fish was a classic 'sail away'of the indicator, I hit it hard and fought a fat little 2 pounder aboard. Nice start...

Ruapehu snows
A perfect specimen

The next take was about 90 minutes later - and when I struck it ran so hard that I got for only the 3rd time in my fly fishing career a line burn - yeoww. And the fight didn't last long, it was just a headlong hurtle into some weeds from where I got nothing back except a strand of hornwort.

Blurry finger shot - line burn is the red mark
 By mid morning my tally was 2 landed, one lost and a couple of takes missed. I really wasn't doing something quite right, but not sure what. Certainly there weren't many insects moving with the cold and wind but still.....
By midday the cloud burned off and plenty of boats were on the lake. I moved around a bit and re-rigged with fast sinker and stripped flies for a bit, landing one small fish. Where were the big ones? The sounder showed enough fish, but I couldn't tempt them.
At 3 I pulled ashore for a bite. 3 guys on float tubes were tied to the weed barge and as I made lunch they caught 4 fish... one came ashore and wanting to know their secret I asked, and was told "glo bugs and split shot". Not really my cup of tea. I watched another couple of guys who seemed to hook up regularly and noticed they fished the same drift over and over. They cast only short lines, minimal retrieve then re-cast. They packed up at about 5 so I sounded their drift and noticed 1) a lot of fish and 20 the depth was a fairly uniform 10 - 15 feet. So I drifted it and caught a fish... not exactly screaming success but another piece of the puzzle put together... I spent the next hour or so driving around sounding the lake. There were plenty of fish on the sounder and I marked the main channels and weed beds and also found places where the lake was really shallow and sandy. I pulled out at 7pm having fished 11 hours for 5 landed and 4 lost or missed. Time flies when you're fishing hard out.

Tokaanu Tailrace & Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo from Mission Bay
I stopped at Mission Bay for dinner and coffee and then decided to head to Whakamaru. I arrived there at about 8.30 to find the camp ground full, and the boat ramp cluttered with boats, surf boards and general crap that careless people camping by the ramp had left.

Day 4: Whakamaru

Up at 6.30 and I shifted the stuff off the boat ramp and launched. The weather was still windy but the fish were chewing; this is not the world's hardest fishery and by midday I had boated 17. I moved around a bit but it was the normal spots giving up fish. Fishing was a bit of an anti-climax because of the regularity witrh which fish bit.

Feeling pretty relaxed I retreived the boat and headed home. 3 and a half days out, just what the doctor ordered.

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