She came up from the blue - green depths like a
shell and engulfed the Parachute Adams in the blink of an eye before
dashing off upstream into the turbulence and foam at the head of the
pool. I didn’t have time to ask God to save the Queen. The six-weight
Hardy reel was screaming away well above its design limits, and the
battle was on.
There was no doubt as to who was the boss at this point. She charged
about like Dan Carter with his pants on fire, whilst I held the rod high
to keep the leader away from the rocks lurking like an underwater
Michael Cullen waiting to separate me from my treasure. She behaved in a
typically ladylike fashion and did exactly what she wanted. I was
producing adrenaline by the bucket load, my skin was leaking profusely
and my pulse rate was operating on the rev-limiter. Gradually I began to
get more of my own way and she succumbed to some side pressure, and was
skillfully netted by Brent, the long-suffering guide. I made a mental
note to shop for a large arbor reel at the first opportunity.
I met Brent on the Tongariro,
fishing one of those deep pools where the fish hug the bottom looking
as big as nuclear submarines. I find them about as easy for to catch.
After landing four or five fish, Brent had worked his way upstream, to
where I was unsuccessfully 'practicing my casting”. I learned he is a
respected guide and he was fishing on a day off! Obviously a good keen
There are a vast number of guides in the region and I was interested in
how guides supported themselves in such a competitive environment. One
thing led to another and I was visited by the 'why not' fairy. I said
that if he could find another geriatric over seventy, with 'S.C.I.'
(Spending the Children’s Inheritance) intentions, and a desire to do
some serious fishing, I would be game to do what the rich and famous do,
and go 'Heli-fishing' with him. And so, when he found Max, who fitted the parameters, the 'Old Farts Tour' was born.
I am in awe of those with the stamina, fortitude, and ability to tramp
into remote wilderness to fish, I simply cannot do this. I reasoned that
this sort of experience might not be available in the future with land
ownership, regulations, and rights not set in concrete, and also we
cannot discount the dreaded Didymo.
Let’s face it there is always something that’s lurking around waiting to
bite you on the bum. Do it NOW was my attitude in this case.
Max and I spent the first night with Brent and Debbie in their luxurious
Acacia Bay house. On the way there, I stopped for a sandwich in Taupo
and went looking for an ice cream for dessert. I put the three $2 coins
that I found in my pocket into a passing poker machine and walked out
with sufficient to buy a fishing shirt that was 'On Sale' in the shop
next door. I have heard of a few people that have 'lost their shirt'
when betting, but I reckon I am unique in winning my shirt when betting.
They call them 'meat bombs' Toby, our pilot, explained as we all watched
parachutists doing impossible things as they jumped out of perfectly
serviceable aircraft. Brent, Max, I, and a great quantity of camping
gear, food, and some alcoholic consumables, left Taupo airport at 08.30
in an EC 120b skillfully flown by Toby, and headed for the Rangitikei
River, carefully avoiding the “meat bombs”.
I have always had the 'fixed wing' pilot’s traditional mistrust of
helicopters, regarding them as a collection of spare parts flying in
close formation. However the spectacular views soon had me concentrating
on photography rather than worrying about whether they had done up the
nut that holds the rotor on properly. We set up the camp, rigged rods,
and were fishing before 10.00.
The river, fishing, and weather were spectacular. Seven pounds was the
best rainbow, with bigger seen and missed. The clarity of the water
makes misjudging the depth easy, and a 'bad call' could result in an icy
swim. Nevertheless, the walking and wading were suitable for those of
my seniority. (Thanks Brent!) Brent carries a satellite phone and an
emergency locator beacon and he is very safety conscious. Help is
literally minutes away, despite the remoteness. Essential when you
consider the age and the affluence of many of his clients.
Max and I leapfrogged each other as we fished. Brent scouted ahead
spotting fish, plotting tactics and occasionally throwing his hat on the
ground with great force. This is obviously an important local rite
carried out to encourage the fish. It worked!
The most successful fly for me was a Parachute Adams with all the
fishing on the dry-fly, Max giving up his dry-fly virgin status very
This experience will stay with me forever and though expensive, worth
every cent. As the woman says in the advertisement - “It’s because I am
David Treseder. Wellington, New Zealand (Junior Old Fart) January 2008.