Lake Taupo, New Zealand
Our earlier security manager and public prosecutor, Jostein Erstad, opened once a lecture in criminal law at the police college by saying: “The one who has not caught a trout or a salmon using fly has experienced nothing.” He was right ...
The summer of 1995 I “landed” my first salmon, using fly in fantastic surroundings by Fiva farm in the municipality of Rauma. I was then attending a class angling with fly directed by “Aak Fjellsportsenter” here in Rauma. Since then I have been hooked on fly-fishing.
Inspired by the program “fish-fever” together with a good part of desire for travelling, I decided to spend some weeks “Down Under”, of course combined with a fishing trip to New Zealand. I saved money each month, and 20 November 2003 my journey was a reality.
Tuesday, 2 December I booked a room at a rather dubious place in Sidney called “The Gladstone Hotel” The place offered a small room at 20$ a night. The hotel had a bar on the basement where they served beer and plain food. I plodded up to my room, had a cold shower and was now looking forward to a cold Toohey New in the bar. I shuffled down and was impulsively met by the owner of the place, and old marihuana smoking man with a mouth resembling a burnt down village. He was called” Popes”. The bloke came up to me, patted me friendly on my shoulder and said: “What’s up Mate?” I answered “A Toohey New and trout angling in New Zealand.” That sealed it all! Popes claimed he was a passionate fly-angler and his stories came as pearls on a string! Of course we had a couple of beers that night and his stories continued in fibs.
An inviting chap, this Popes!
The day after I flew by Quantas from Sidney to Auckland in New Zealand. A big city on the northern part of the island with approximately 1,2 million inhabitants. The city having Sky Tower as their “main attraction”. Popes had recommended the lake Taupo, and that it was easy to go by bus to this city. I had of course bought a travel-guide for New Zealand, and it gave me the following information:
“Proclaimed as the worlds trout fishing capital , if you thought those trout in the rotorua springs looked large and tasty they are nothing compared to the monsters found in lake Taupo”.
This had to be the place for me! Finally I would get away coming home with cover stories about losing fish, fish I hadn’t got, which was really bought at the supermarket in Åndalsnes to cover up the disappointment of having no fish from my trip.
Well, after a night in Auckland I took the bus down to Lake Taupo the next day. A wonderful trip, which took about 5 hours, and it gave me the impression of just as well being in Norway. Most of the trip we followed the river Waikato which is New Zealand’s longest river (about 500 km) and which flows into lake Taupo.
I must admit that I drowsed a bit during the trip. I had shared the night in Auckland with four other backpackers, two Danish, one Englishman and a bloke I knew nothing about. He didn’t say much, I was a bit sceptical and slept as the legend Geronimo this night, the one eye open and the other one closed!
To my surprise, the bus stopped practically in the reception by “Visitor information, Lake Taupo”, the place where I had to enquire for information and booking.
I trudged in with a sunburnt nose and a sweaty forehead and was received by a pleasant girl behind the counter who said: “Can I help you”? Definitely, I thought and stuttered in bad English: “I like to go flyfishing for trout, and a cheap place to stay.”
She took a phone call while asking if it was suitable for me the next morning? Perfect, I thought! At 07.00 o’clock the next morning I was fetched by Adam, the fishing guide. The man worked all year through as a guide and earned obviously well! The car, the equipment and everything else seemed to tell me that. I had paid almost 300 NZ dollars equivalent to N kr.1500, then being able to fish for 4 hours. I needed only to think about fishing and enjoying it all as equipment, fishing fee and transportation were included in the price. Naturally a stiff price compared to the 24hours’ licence of 50 kr. we pay for fishing in Isa, Rauma.
After an hour’s drive a beautiful river appeared, it looked a bit like Isa in Isfjorden. Adam told me that almost everyone, in this area, fished using a nymph, and that he himself had tied his own favourites. Contrary to what I’m used to he tied just as well two of them. In the joint between the flow line and the pre-inch they used a small woollen flock, which was sprayed with silicone and it functioned as a float.
Two trows and one of the nymphs whistled into my ear lobe as a projectill, imagine…, swear words out of my mouth not suited in prints! Adam spent some minutes getting the fly out with surgical precision, while having a smile on his face explaining to me that the chance of getting fish was better if I had the nymph out in the river!
My throws gradually improved, and I was all ears getting the nymph further and further out in the river, and being able to follow it down by the current. I hadn’t been by the river more than 15 minutes when I jumped hearing Adam scream “Now Sindrey, NOW”. I tug the rod and felt impulsively that there was fish on the hook. I raised the rod, which was already strained, feeling the blood murmuring while the fly reel made the fantastic noise of line and fish whistling down the river. Fantastic, this was exactly why I had travelled to this place.
After a wonderful struggle of 10 minutes I landed the rainbow trout a bit further down the river. It weighed 2,5 kg and it was the greatest experience I’d ever had in a river.
After having fished for 4 hours I had 5 rainbow trouts, all between 1 - 2,5 kg.
I was allowed to eat the first one, the other ones had to be thrown out into the river again. Of course I had to accept that, but I didn’t at all like it!
Later that evening I served roasted trout at the motel. Two poor Irish backpackers, who had been eating only nudles for 3 months, were invited. The trout was served with baked potatoes, sour cream, cucumber salad and a bottle of red wine together with a couple of cold brown Steinlager.
A beautiful day, a wonderful trip in a fantastic country!
Tight lines - Sindre Mittet