I have just returned from a week long fishing trip in the central North Island of New Zealand. The fishing was not easy, the river I was concentrated on, the Tauranga-Taupo, was very low and clear. The weather was sunny and mid-Summer hot.
Despite that I managed to keep myself busy catching fish in and around the old and current size limit, 45 & 40cm (18” & 16”).
But last Thursday night, preceded by a torrential rain warning from the met office, the rain duly came down, every bit as heavy as forecast. It rained all night stopping at dawn. The river rose by 4 to 5 feet, and spread itself out as it saw fit.
But by late morning the river dropped 3 feet as fast as it rose, and even though the water was still muddy I decided to try a technique I had used years ago in the same type of situation. I wandered down the bank swinging a Black Woolly Bugger into any little backwater, or under banks, big enough to shelter a fish from the torrent. And I hooked an awful lot of fish. I lost most, if the trout got out into the flood it was all over. Thing was, many of the fish landed were considerably bigger than those I had caught or seen in the preceding days.
Towards the end of the day I ended up at the Cliff Pool armed at last with a camera. Here the river pours straight down, hits the cliff and does a right turn. It is a big pool, in the flood, very big. The force of the flood hitting the cliff produced a big eddy.
I was not expecting much, but dropped a couple of little Caddis nymphs into the eddy, which when they reached the bottom were snaffled. That fish made it into the main current and left me behind.
It seemed that every time I dropped the flies into the correct drift a trout grabbed it. Some I landed – some taught me me who was boss. There must have been many fish stacked up in that backwater. Finally it had to end, darkness and mosquitoes sent me back to my cabin.
The photos show two fish, one around 58cm(23”) & 52cm(21”).
I have just one question to ask myself about this episode – where in hell do all these bigger fish hide when the river is low and clear?
For a new article on fishing after the flood go here.