An Account of the Old Farts/Old Tarts Tour
By David Treseder of Wellington
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 man!
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 quickly.
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 worth it!”
David Treseder. Wellington, New Zealand (Junior Old Fart) January 2008.
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