Jason, my middle son and I sneaked away one evening for the three and a half hour drive to Taupo, and on to Te Rangiata. Bright and early next day we headed for the Hinemaiaia River.
The Hinemaiaia is a pretty little river, but it is very difficult to fish. First the bush grows right to the river’s edge in most places and the bottom is a veritable minefield of snags. But there can be some good fish in amongst the jungle especially this time of the year, and some very big browns are regularly pulled out around this time.
The upper Hinemaiaia is closed from end June to December 1 to allow for spawning, so by going just a day or two since the river opened we were likely to be fishing to trout who had not seen too many anglers. Well, few anglers or not it was hard and hot work. The early summer sun was pretty fierce.
Jason got 4 or 5 fish, I managed two or three, nothing big, but all over 45cm (18”).
But the highlight of my session was seeing two fighting Jacks, swirling and turning as they drifted, fighting, downstream. They passed just inches from my legs, totally oblivious to my presence. Twice they chased each other to the top of the pool and then drifted down again, once I thought they were going to touch my legs. Magic moment.
By early afternoon Jason and I had had enough of re-rigging from flies lost to snags and we headed off to the Tongariro.
I fished the bottom of a shallow run, below a guy at the head. I watched as he pulled out three fish without me getting a touch. But when he left I slipped in, and fished without a touch. The guy who I had watched, moved down the run, I little below where I had been fishing and pulled out another fish.
Then he moved to another braid of the river and I watched him pull out another fish. That was it, frustrated and still fishless I wandered over to see what brand of dynamite he was using.
His rig was basically the same as mine. A gold ribbed Hare’s Ear with a bright orange tungsten bead on a #12 hook, then tied off the bend of that hook, a Gold bead Prince Nymph #12. We had roughly the same length leader.
So why was he catching fish, and I watching? Who knows. But I have seen this happen so many times before, sometimes I have been on the successful side, often not. I guess it must be that quite subtle differences in the weight, shape, colour and bulk of the flies, and the way they drift that determines which will get bit and which will not.
Still it might be my turn next time, and that is part of what keeps me coming back.