It's been a great season for brown trout anglers on the Tongariro River.
A long hot dry summer has led to more trout and the condition factor has been excellent, according to Tongariro River Motel owner Ross Baker. A keen fisherman for many years, Ross says "one or two pools in the Tongariro River are good for brown trout, it's been a long time since this many brown trout were caught."
In his opinion, gravel removal from the lower reaches of the river has pretty much destroyed the brown trout fishery on the Tongariro River.
"The regional council flood protection works are right in the brown trout breeding area. Ten years ago I caught 21 brown trout in one afternoon, it's not like that now."
Ross sends anglers to the Hydro Pool below the Mangamawhitiwhiti Stream, and to Delatours Loop, saying the brown trout gather in the lower reaches of the river. Two weeks ago angler John Palmer from Tauranga was staying at the motel and he caught a nine pound trout in one of the middle river pools, the Stag Pool, wet lining with an olive woolly bugger.
"I haven't seen the river like this for seven or eight years. The condition factor of John's trout was superb." says Ross.
Brown trout caught in Department of Conservation fish traps show that on average brown trout are one kilogram heavier this year compared to last year and that the brown trout are running a bit earlier this year.
Brown trout make up about 5 per cent of the trout population in the Tongariro River and Ross says that most anglers catch them by chance. Some anglers prefer to eat the rainbow trout because their diet is restricted to koura and smelt, whereas the brown trout will eat a more varied diet including mice, snails and slugs.
"To get a big trout over five pounds then you really need to catch a brown trout. Americans and Australians love to catch a big trout.
"It's a man thing, the bigger the better!"