Adventure fishing, is that what you’d call it? I certainly would !

I know that a lot of the readers here, like myself, are interested in learning; new skills, better spots, how to add a whole range of colours to their pallet.
I was on an adventure trip in Taupo, New Zealand, and I was painting a rainbow – rainbow trout, what else!

‘The bottom of the lake is Maori…’, ‘…one of the largest manmade forests in the world’ – Ian, our first class guide for the day, is filling us in as we journey to our 'off the beaten track' location through some of the most beautiful countryside in New Zealand.

New Zealand seems to hold at least five of the top ten most beautiful spots in the world; perhaps more. Louise, a fellow novice, and I are in excited anticipation. Fishing the huge lake Taupo would have been too easy, just trolling lures from a boat - we wanted to go remote and here we could do just that. Among the beauties of the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ is the opportunity for a truly isolated wilderness experience. I think Ian’s excitement was greater than my own – he had done this before you see and knew what to expect.

Once we had parked the 4 x 4 at the end of a long dirt track the three of us packed up our bags and started the hour or so trek to the crystal clear Tauranga – Taupo River. A quick cuppa and it’s time to don our waders and get started. It’s December and the first day of the new season on this stretch of water. With it being such a great location I would have expected the area to be packed – not so.

As Louise and myself are both novices at this, Ian is our instructor as well as guide and he is determined to lead by example. While I’m still finishing my well-earned refreshment, he’s in the water up to his knees casting. Before I’ve time to finish my tea he has a take. Playing an astounding fighter for what seems like ten minutes, he lands it and tells us that we could do much better, as this one is only three and a half pounds. ONLY? On my last fly-fishing trip, which was in Yorkshire for stillwater rainbow trout, I was jubilant to have caught the only two pounder of the day. I wanted a piece of this action so was now very quick to get in the water myself.

Now my casting is a bit shaky to say the least and being over a year since I’d last cast a fly you can probably picture me now. Ian at my side, showing and explaining the fundamentals, and me, thrashing the water like it had done me wrong. Lucky Ian is a patient man. I soon got the idea though and so did the fish. They’d got the idea that they are supposed to be biting when I thrash and bite they did.

I’d been in the water for around twenty minutes (and I was told that this was a surprisingly slow day) when I hooked my first New Zealand rainbow. Not a particularly fierce fighter but the river was strewn with rocks and boulders and was running quite fast too. This made landing it a real challenge. This was sport! This was me versus the fish! Safe to say it felt rather more exciting than my experiences on British still water lakes. This rainbow came in at just under four pounds and for his efforts, I put the beauty back.

After my dual we headed a little further up the river and now it was Louise’s turn for some one-on-one tuition. I’m trying hard at this stage, after my thirty minutes of tuition, not to offer advice. Maybe I’d need just a little more practice before I could instruct. Even though in the excitement of the moment and with one in the bag I felt like I’d mastered at least the basics. Hindsight has helped with that!

The first fish to grab the fly from Louise was a real fat one. A spectacular fighter, it leapt from the water as if to show us its size and form. It fought hard, too hard, as it darted upstream it slipped away from us, shedding the hook. Such a shame as, without question, that fish would have been the biggest of the day. It wasn’t by any means Louise’s last fish though. All three of us spent the next four hours or so picking fish from the river with a regularity that could have had you thinking that they had been put there for us, and were even in on the game with the promise of juicy bribes the second we left.

All in all, it was a fantastic day out and so much more than we had a right to expect.

The winter season here runs from April to September when there are large runs of big rainbow trout running up the local rivers and streams to spawn. They average four to six pounds with the occasional ten pounder thrown in for good measure. Summer is from October to March. This Ian tells us, is his favourite time for sight fishing, for both large wary rainbows and colourful brownies in the crystal clear rivers and streams.

Ian’s company, Wilderness Adventures, has it’s own web site – www.wilderness.co.nz where you can get all the details on this and many other types of trip that they offer. I’m coming back through this way again in several months and I shall be dropping Ian a line for another fantastic experience. Maybe I’ll try a one-day heli-raft trip next time!

Contact Ian on (0064) 07 378 4514 or visit his web site at www.wilderness.co.nz and give yourself the holiday of a lifetime. You’ll not regret it and you’ll never forget it.

Rob Harradine