301 Days on the Road
As we have seen over the last few days, Lake Taupo is one impressive lake. Not only is it the largest lake in New Zealand, so large that it is said it is the size of Singapore, it is also the world’s second-largest volcano, and it caused the most violent eruption in the last 5,000 years. Today, the lake is a whole lot more peaceful. So peaceful, in fact, that it is a world-class trout fishing lake – something we are going to experience for ourselves!
Like a classic fisherman (and fisherlady), we arrive at the Taupo Boat Harbour nice and early to meet Richard from Pinnacle Charters. The sign on the 6.3m Ramco boat boldly states: “Not trout, the next trip is free”. Something tells us that we are going to catch a trout today…
Heading out to the Great Lake Taupo
Richard quickly gets the fishing boat prepared, where the back of the boat is set up with all sorts of fancy fishing mechanisms we have never seen before, but all will become clear soon.
With that, we are pulling out of the harbour which is right at the beginning of the Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest river, and drive onto the lake. Before the engine starts roaring at full speed, we take the time to have a chat with Richard, getting to know each other so it’s just like a mate taking you out fishing, as well as learning about where we are heading this morning.
Fishing at the Maori Rock carvings
Richard is keen to take us out toward the Maori Rock Carvings, 14m carvings into a stone cliff only seen from the waters of Lake Taupo. Not only are the carvings a scenic place to stop, but Richard has recently had a good last few days catching trout in the area. It’s a double whammy!
As we approach the Maori Rock Carvings hidden in Mine Bay, Richard explains more about about the fancy fishing equipment he has, which is more than just your standard fishing rod.
An introduction to “Champagne Fishing”
“Today, we are going to be doing ‘Champagne Fishing’,” Richard says with a smile on his face. As you may have guessed “Champagne Fishing” is an easier type of fishing, otherwise known as trolling – and yes, it’s a bit different than bullying people on Twitter. With a diagram, Richard explains how trolling works using a weight and line attached to the line of your fishing rod, keeping your fishing line at a desired depth in the water. Then Richard can slowly move around the water, as well as moving the line around the water, with the boat. The fishing rod will be in a bent position as we move around, but as soon as the tension releases, that means a fish in on the other end! All we have to do is keep an eye on that rod, then reel up the fish once we think we have one hooked.
Richard assures us that we are not just driving the boat around on the water randomly though. He shows us his fish finder/chart plotter, which not only picks up where the fish are underneath us (and the small fish that the trout feed on), but allows Richard to plot the good spots. This surely increases our chances of catching at fish hugely!
A quick photo before the slippery guy jumps back into the water
Our first catch of many!
Sure enough, the rod straightens out as the tension loosens, then Richard is passing the rod onto Laura to attempt her first catch of trout ever! With some easy and smooth reeling, the trout slowly come to the surface, where Richard catches it in a net, takes the hook out of the trout’s fishy lips, and hands it over to Laura to hold. It’s a beautiful rainbow trout with shiny red scales on the side, spotted green upper scales, and pink cheeks. We are more keen to release the fish back into the water than to take it home for dinner, so we try to take photos of releasing it back, but the slimy and slippery bugger jumps back in the water, hitting the boat on the way out, and swims out of sight. He’s clearly had enough of our sh*t.
Revival of the mother fish
Only about three minutes after, Robin has the chance to reel another rainbow trout up, this time, it’s a female with a belly full of eggs. Of course, we want to release this one back, but it jumps out of Robin’s hands and onto the boat, knocking the wind out of it. When we try to release the fish, it does nothing but float! Noooo! Richard, with his heeling hands, gently pulls the fish back and forth to get some water flowing through its gills. The rainbow trout comes back to life, swimming away from us! Hurray!
Six rainbow trout caught makes a good morning on Lake Taupo!
After that, we are catching and releasing four more rainbow trout, with us taking one back to the hostel for lunch and Richard saving one to take home for his father. The fishing regulations on Lake Taupo require people to only fish for three trout per person as long as the trout are over a particular size. Although you need a fishing licence to fish on Lake Taupo, Richard can sort that out for you when taking his charter, as he has the forms and can take the payment for the licence, which is NZ$17 for 24 hours at the time of writing.
Going back to the hostel with a trout bag in hand
Before we head back to shore, Richard guts the fish for us, leaving on the head and tail which is required by fishing regulations in-case it needs to be measured. Then we head back to the Taupo Boat Harbour, leaving Richard and Pinnacle Charters with a trout bag of a fresh fish and no idea how we are going to cut the fish in a hostel kitchen where knives are renowned for always being blunt…
fresh fish for lunch
We grab some potatoes and garlic butter from the supermarket, bring everything back to the Base Backpackers, and attempt to cut the fish. It’s not pretty, but we do end up with nice fresh lunch even if it does look a little rough around the edges.
On a none-fishy note, join us tomorrow where we are going to be trying out the Craters of the Moon Mountain Bike Park!
An atmospheric morning at the Maori Rock Carvings
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See you tomorrow!