Advocate 20/12

A shaggy Fish story

President, Gary Brown and friend Paul Brennan, managed their last Taupo fishing experience for 2020. They had 3 days fishing the lake and river from the boat. In that time they caught limit each day but kept only 7 fish of very good quality.

One fish that took Gary’s hook, estimated at 3 lb and in excellent shape, looked to be an angling success. Unfortunately that success was not to be Gary’s. The trout showed strength and created the feeling that anglers enjoy. Enter the shag. It saw Gary’s fish and went in pursuit. There was a tug of war between the two anglers but the shag surfaced with the trout in its mouth. This was followed by the turning  and slow swallowing of the trout. It was only at this stage that the line broke and success for a great catch was with the shag. Gary was amused by the whole  incident and managed to take a short video of the action on his phone to prove the story,

Other anglers will have experienced an encounter with a shag. Some years ago I watched Will Kemp, fishing from the left bank below the seat looking out at the Major Jones Pool. Will hooked a trout about 12 inches long. As he brought it in a shag grabbed the fish. A real battle began. The reel screamed as the shag moved away with the prey. Will stuck to the task and on this occasion manage to land the fish. The fish was released but I don’t think that it had a great future.

On another ocasion I took my son and a colleague on the lake. We were fly fishing. The friend had little experience of fly fishing and his line regularly hit the water behind him. There was great excitement when he felt a very strong pull from behind him. He had hooked a swan in the wing with his  back cast. A swan is not a pleasant creature to have on your line. They don’t like it and they express it by hissing and resisting. Despite his lack of skill he played the swan for a couple  of minutes but inevitablyy the swan broke the line and escaped, but with a hook still in its wing.

A fourth occasion – a friend and I were harling in the Waihaha area. Lunchtime was sandwiches and bits of bread were tossed in the lake behind the boat. This attracted the ducks so we stopped throwing bread but the ducks swam behind the boat. One duck spotted the fly being harled and grabbed the fly. The hook caught in the fine membrane alongside the central part of the beak Like the swan, it was not pleased but being much smaller it was able to make a fight of it but on this occasion we brought the duck to the boat grabbedd the protesting duck, removed the hook easily from the beak and let it go. Surprisingly it came back to swim for a while behind the boat.

These are relatively rare occasions. The most commonly caught species are anglers – usually from their own casting. The Turangi Medical Centre has  a framed board adorned with many fishing flies extracted mainly from the ears and face of anglers who have fished with someone who didn’t know how to extract a fly from their mate’s flesh. It is a very handy skill for anglers to know : Strip off 3 meters of trace from your spool. Double and redouble the nylon, place one end of the nylon through the gape of the hook to increase the strength of the nylon, push with one finger on the eye of the hook, pull the nylon and the hook will slide out without the barb sticking into the flesh. There is no additional pain and you can continue to fish with your fly.

Lake fishing is good. Good fish are being caught by jigging. The Delta has a number of recovering fish which are not attractive to take.

The year has been a very good fishing year – interrupted by Covid problems, of course, and we look forward to a continuation of good fishing  in 2021.

We wish to thank our members for their support. The Advocates for the Tongariro River value the fishery but also value the catchment for its environment. Prior to writing this blog I observed three Kereru in the yard. Their environment is important and the Tongariro River natural environment is a treasure for us and the species for whom it is home. 

On behalf of our committee I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy Neew Year.

Eric Wilson