Waipunga Stream, New Zealand

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by Kiwi Phil, May 8, 2008.

  1. Kiwi Phil

    Kiwi Phil Antipodean Piscator

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    Well, some time ago I promised to post some trip reports of some of the fishing we get up to down here in NZ. I have to admit I don't take enough pix when fishing - so I often don't have a lot to back up the stories! But I took the camera on a recent trip to an area in the North Island between Taupo and Napier where my buddy Ross and I fished a small back country stream called the Waipunga for a morning only (unfortunately it was the last day of the trip and we had to head back to domesticity). The Waipunga is a tributary of the much larger Mohaka River. It here meanders through a tussock and scrub covered valley before dropping over a waterfall into a gorge. So the fishing is in two parts - the gorge where both browns and rainbows reside and access is very difficult - even though a road follows it for a good distance - and above the falls where there are only (sometimes very large) resident browns. We fished the upper part. You can see from some of the pictures that the banks are completely over-grown and in the most part bank fishing is nigh-on impossible. So the best method is to work your way very quietly up the stream bed - that is in most places either bedrock or clean gravel. The water is crystal-clear and the insect life very abundant. We left our waders behind and fished in boots and shorts (something we do quite a bit of here in summer - no snakes!) - but being April which is our Autumn, the water temperature was really cold so by the time we got out of the water our feet were practically numb. Have to re-think that strategy next time.

    Anyway, we found that each pool usually held one resident fish. We spooked one "trophy" size fish - easily 10 pound or more - before we even got a cast in, by crossing too close to him. Unbelievable, a fish that size in 12" of water about 10 feet wide! He's still there. We took turns fishing my 7' 6" Composite Developments 4 weight - using size 14-16 very lightly weighted nymphs - fishing to sighted fish. I love this style of fishing - it demands real accuracy and stealth and in my book if you can fool one of these fish into taking, then you've already won - landing one is an absolute bonus.

    I managed to land (and release) one beautifully coloured jack (picture attached). He was a mending fish - still with a bit of condition to put on, but would have weighed around the 3/12 to 4 pound mark if we had weighed him. I came upon him as I stalked quietly up-stream. He was only about 2 feet off the left bank in a very over-grown stretch, directly under low hanging braches coming from both sides, lying on the side of a gentle run in only 18" of water. I took my time and spent a few minutes very slowly moving to within about 20 feet of him , down stream and on the opposite side. Didn't dare move closer. I let out a few metres of line downstream, and put in a back-hand side cast under the branches and slightly up stream and into the middle of the run. Too far out, but he hadn't moved. Tried again - a little closer, but no interest. Really hard to avoid the foliage, and by now my hands were shaking from the adrenaline. I adjusted the line length, turned my body a little less square to the current, and put in another cast. This time the nymph dropped in about 6 feet above him and drifted slowly to within 6" of him - his body stiffened, he slowly turned opened his big jaws and took the fly! A few stong runs and some photos later and he was released. A beauty. He was the only fish landed that morning, but it didn't matter. It's a beautiful, unspoilled spot. And it was an absolute pleasure to fish in a place where there are no paths, and no signs of other fishermen at all. We'll be back in spring.

    On another note, I have just received my first pontoon boat - a Bucks Bags Bronco Extreme 11 - purchsed from Herndon Rods and shipped all the way to NZ from Boise Idaho! What a mission, but fantastic service from Tara at Herndon Rods (thanks!) and I am real tempted to look seriously at one of their handcrafted split bamboo rods - would be nice on the Waipunga! Anyway, I have adventures planned for that boat - so I'll try to remember the camera and will post a few stories.

    Cheers!
     
  2. Dick Warnke

    Dick Warnke was Pram-Man

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    WOW!!! :thumb: Nice report. Enjoy that Toon and post a report on some of your NZ stillwaters. Would love to see some.
     
  3. dryflylarry

    dryflylarry "Chasing Riseforms"

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    Thanks for the report. Very nice place. Someday I will get there before I die! (I think they sell that tall New Zealand flax grass here in the garden nurseries. It's always interesting to see what sort of vegetation is growing in various streams while fishing.)
     
  4. Kiwi Phil

    Kiwi Phil Antipodean Piscator

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    That particular grass (with the tall white fluffy seed heads) is called Toi Toi by the local Maori people. It has another name - Cutty Grass - because it can cut you viciously - so is not particularly nice to barge your way through to get to a fishing spot.
     
  5. Drag-Free Drift

    Drag-Free Drift Member

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    Exciting! I've wanted to go there ever since an exchange teacher from NZ told me (several times) it's God's country. Someday! Thanks for the informative and interesting report.
     
  6. Rob Zelk

    Rob Zelk I swing, therefore i am.

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    Great report indeed! Someday I will make it there to NZ, someday...
     
  7. Greg Yen

    Greg Yen Member

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    I fished the Tongararo (sp?) River feeding into lake Taupo at the beginning of a trout migration and you couldn't step across the pool without stepping on a trout. It was amazing and they took the BH PT and glo bug like goldfish eating fish food. What great memories and a beautiful country...
     
  8. Kiwi Phil

    Kiwi Phil Antipodean Piscator

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    Hi Greg
    The Tongariro (corrrect spelling) is an amazing river in terms of the quality and quantity of great trout fishing it dishes up consistently year round, despite a lot of angling pressure.

    I have made a winter pilgrimage every year (usually several times a year) for at least 20 years with some old friends to catch the spawning runs, and will be doing the same again soon. I love that river and know it pretty well. I'll post up some pix from the next trip. It was from the Sand Pool on the Tongariro that I caught my personal record brown trout of exactly 11 pounds about three years ago. Thats a story in itself!

    Glad to hear you enjoyed the country. Cheers, Phil
     
  9. Richard Olmstead

    Richard Olmstead BigDog

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    I visited the South Island last year in mid-June. Not exactly the best time of year for trout fishing, but I was there for a conference and I didn't get to specify the date. I got out for a couple days of fishing and caught one amazing 5-lb brown. I hooked a couple others that took my fly and were gone before I knew what hit me. It was rather different experience than the one you show here. We were on the Hurunui just a few kilometers upstream from the sea and the water was high, cloudy, and fast. We fished each day in a steady cold rain with a stiff wind. Fish were holding in the shallow, slower edges and would immediately head for the fast current where they had every advantage. I can't wait to get back at a better time of year!
    D
     
  10. Kiwi Phil

    Kiwi Phil Antipodean Piscator

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    Hi Richard
    The Hurunui is not a River I have fished. I did live in the South Island for about 10 years. Was based in Dunedin, so tended to fish waters further south around the Otago area, many of which are off the beaten track as far as International Visitors are concerned. My favourite Otago streams included the small Waikouaiti River that enters the sea about 30 minutes north of Dunedin. At about this time of year, sea-run brown trout run out of the coastal waters up the streams, and sometimes these fish are spectacular. Can be hard to catch though. There is huge variety in the fishing available in both islands. As you found out, wind can be a factor though - especially with the heavily weighted "nymphs" we use to get down to the feeding lies on th ebigger waters like the Tongariro. Those things can be deadly, as many of us have found out! Personally, I like fishing in winter here - the fish are usually running and in top condition - and it gives me an excuse to dress up in all the gear!