Big Trout, Small Water, NZ

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by Aaron O'Leary, Jun 8, 2007.

  1. This past weekend I headed over to Rotorua to search for some big trout. On the way, the rain started to pour. When I arrived there were many anglers and guides parked below the trout hatchery, but I headed to the upper reaches of this small river. I clambered down the muddy hill to the stream, 4 wt. in hand and immediately spooked three rainbows. I made a few casts at them but they saw me on the bank. I snuck below and casted directly over the top of them. As my indicator drifted over their heads it darted upstream. I hooked a good 17” trout, but lost him in the fight. I had 8” of tippet between my #14 hare’s ear and my indicator on a 10’ leader. I trailed the heavy nymph with a #18 green caddis, which is the fly the trout took. I fished over that group a few more times, but it was useless.

    I hiked further up the stream and spooked another rainbow away from the bank. I slowed my pace and saw three more fish upstream of me. I slowly crept up the bank and casted over them. My third role cast I scared a big brown that I did not see from under a log. He was so big that he came ½ the way out of the water as he swam over a gravel bar on his way downstream into a logjam. As I kicking myself, I spotted a net poking out of the sand and attached it to my wading belt. This blue net was bigger than the small trout net I had. The rain stopped for the time being. I kept casting over the three remaining trout, changing flies half a dozen times. On one fly change I looked at the water two feet in front of me, and a pair of rainbows about 20” swam under my rod. I tossed multiple patterns at them unsuccessfully. On my last cast I saw a flash directly across from me, the brown headed back up to his log. I just let my line drift downstream of me and watched him. I had never seen a trout that large. I am still trying to figure the browns out. He swam upstream and onto my side of the river and sat in 5” of water for a few seconds before turning down towards me. My heart started to race and he turned upstream again and held a foot and a half from my left wading boot with his dorsal fin sticking out of the water. It looked like he had a weird white growth on his head when he was swimming, but it was his open mouth. As he sat next to me I knew that was the 10+ lb brown I had been searching for. I contemplated trying to net him or trying to strip my line in and drop a nymph into his open mouth, but I just looked at him and tried to figure out what was going on. It was a humbling experience.

    The fish turned downstream once again and vanished into the current. My legs started to shake uncontrollably and I just had to sit for a while and calm down. After gathering myself I continued upstream. 200 feet later, I spotted another pod of fish. I had a size 20 caddis trailing my hare’s ear and casted over them. Somehow I pulled a 11” bow out of the group of over 10 large trout. After releasing it I continued working the water around the trout before hooking the largest fish on the other side of the stream. He ran upstream then at me. I Stripped like crazy to keep pressure on the small fly. He ran below me and I had no choice but to follow, keeping my 4 wt. rod, 4x 6lb tippet, and size 20 nymph in mind. I pulled his head away from a logjam then somehow we danced through a downed tree without being tangled. 150 feet downstream I used the new net (there was no way he would fit in my other net) and landed him. The pheasant tail just slipped out of his mouth after getting him in the net. I set up my little tripod and got a few photos before sending him back to hopefully reproduce.

    I went back to that hole and the fish were stacked up in there again. I caught the same 11” fish again and hooked another good-sized fish that broke me off. I found another size 20 dark nymph and got back at it. I landed one more 16” bow. Another angler came down to the river above me, but did not stay long. Just after he arrived I hooked about a 6lb fish that headed up towards him and fast. I ran upstream and was taken into my backing. The trout flew out of the water about 5 times and the last time was about 20 feet from the other guy where it broke me off. It was tough to beat the look on his face.

    I went back to the car and told Ravae that the fishing was good and showed her some pictures. I talked her into coming with me even though she had no waders. She just stayed on the bank. “I won’t be able to catch one anyway.” Well, we went down and could not spot any more fish up river. On our way back down we found a good spot to work on casting. We worked on her roll casting, mending, lengthening the drift, and untangling leader from blackberry bushes. She was doing very well when the indicator prematurely went under. She set the hook and a dark head came out of the water and gave three shakes before darting across the stream. “Keep your tip up…, Don’t touch the line…, let him run…., Don’t force him….,” are some of the things I was shouting. She played him like a pro. It came back towards us and out of the water. A nice rainbow about 22” and 4.5 lbs. She was bringing him in and he went for the blackberries. The line was getting tangled. I waded up, net in hand, and gently lifted the line out of the vines and the fish came off. I felt horrible. She did not seem to care. I told her that it was a catch because her guide touched the leader, but she wasn’t convinced. I was very proud. We put in a few more casts then called it a day and headed north the beach to meet our roommates at their holiday house for the weekend.
     
  2. Aaron: I may be headed to NZ in the fall. Any info you could share would be awesome!
     
  3. For sure. I'll send a PM.
     
  4. Nice Aaron! I am jealous as I have wanted to go to NZ for a long time. Prior to my fishing days, I had wanted to go for climbing and snowboarding. Now I would just be happy to have a chance at some of those nice fish.
     
  5. Damn! Big guys from a small creek there, nice pics.
     

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