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Trout Fishing While Hunting: by Bill McLeod

16/06/2023 3:44 PM | Bob McMillan (Administrator)

I was lucky when I first started hunting in that many of my early companions were trout fishermen. The two sports were in many ways complimentary. You could see a deer on the way to your fishing spot or you could waste your time fishing when you had either got a deer or couldn’t find one. 

I caught my first trout in the big pool immediately under the big falls on the TaurangaTaupo. Martyn and I had carried our camp gear from the te Rimu road for a number of hours and had established a nice camp on the river terrace above the falls. Next morning the plan was to fish the river from the falls downstream. The falls are seriously impressive. Spray drifts over a deep pool shadowed by cliffs. There was a narrow spine of sand going out toward the centre of the pool. I made my way along that up to my waist in water. Made the cast , hooked a trout. I stepped back to go back along the spine of sand and clean missed it. Straight over me head. Martyn said all he could see was the bubble floats from out of my pocket popping up from the depths. I swam back to the shore one handed still holding onto the rod with the fish still attached. Got ashore and landed the fish. After that sort of performance you would think I’d rethink trout fishing but no, I enjoyed it. For some years Martyn and I provided most of the trout for the Deerstalkers annual’s game dinner. 

Mainly fished the Tauranga Taupo in those years, tried the Tongariro but without success . 

Then came a spell of hunting for the Forest Service in the Urewera. I got used to putting a takedown rod and spinning reel in my pack. A feed of trout made a welcome change from venison all the time. In the southern Urewera I was introduced to the ancient art of trout tickling. Conditions have to be right before it is successful. I can also observe that the much vaunted technique of “nickel spinning” is just about useless as a reliable means of getting a feed, a rod and reel is far more effective. 

Keith , Kit and I were hunting the Mangaokura river in the Raukumara Range. We’d crossed in to the head of the river and were making our way down to our proposed campsite. In a pool at the foot of a waterfall we could see a good trout. Keith said I’ll shoot it. I said it is too deep, I’ll catch it with my spinning rod. Keith said you’ll never catch that fish. The only sensible response is sit back and watch me. I put the rod and reel together and carefully approached the pool. First cast, it latched onto my spinner. Keith thundered up yelling I’ll shoot it if you like. He was standing on the other side of the pool from me. I assured him it was all under control and I soon had the fish on the beach. We had it for tea. Just on that subject, I find that the only way to eat wild  trout is straight out of the river, filet it and quick fry it in butter. Then it is semi edible. Further down the same river I spotted a really big trout. All my ninja skills and I had it. It was so big I had to weigh it. Made a balance and it was heavier than Keith’s Browning BAR 270 with scope. And you need a forklift to get one of them off the ground. 

Fish on the West Coast , Fiordland, and South Westland. All great fun. My last fish was when my cousin, his two sons and I went into Central Waiau. We’d done well on the deer and had a bit of a relax. I took my takedown rod and reel setup and showed Warren how to cast for trout. He was rapt. Just loved casting for and catching trout. Then I had a sobering thought. I’ve just turned a perfectly good northland cockie into a trout fisherman. What if someone finds out. I’ll never be able to be seen in public again.

Funny how fishing can give you awesome memories. I can still see the trout rising in the evening in the Whirinaki right by Okui hut. Drifting a dry fly down onto the rising fish is something I will never forget


  • 20/06/2023 8:11 PM | Bob McMillan (Administrator)
    Bill, that was a great article, reminding me of all those gorse bushes I used to catch along the stream banks. I have noted that not many people comment on your articles, prompting me to both remind people they are there, but also to ask you to consider an anthology we might publish?
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