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The education centre has long run a successful fishing programme that allows children to catch fish from a specially-stocked pond on-site, about 50km south of Taupō township.
Centre chief executive Bevin Severinsen says although the facility has welcomed the junior programme’s exponential growth in recent years, his staff have consistently fielded complaints from disappointed grown-ups wanting to try their luck with a fly fishing rod.
“We have seen a huge increase in visitor numbers here, which has absolutely blown us out of the park,” Bevin says. “It’s a great thing. Except we keep hearing from the kids’ parents or visiting adults who don’t have kids, that they want to have a go, too. They’re saying ‘why can’t we fish’.”
He says while New Zealand’s conservation legislation bars adults from fishing for captive trout, the centre is situated on the banks of New Zealand’s most famous trout fishing waterway.
“It took us a while to realise we have the perfect solution right next to us, on the Tongariro River. And, right now, that river has so many trout running, you can just about walk across the backs of them.”Bevin
Now, adults who are new to the sport can receive basic fly casting instruction and the chance to catch a rainbow trout alongside experienced trout centre staff. Those with children can purchase a package that allows them to fish with their family and the fee includes:
Anglers who experience beginner’s luck will have their catch fileted and smoked.
“It’s different from what fishing guides offer. Our focus is very much on those people that have never done it before, who just want to find out what it’s all about, and it’s only a two-hour experience. We hope it’s a first step for them, that they might go on to become hooked on fly fishing.”
He expects plenty of customers will be the parents or grandparents of visiting young people, who can also visit the trout centre museum, aquarium and hatchery.
Bevin says the recent popularity of the children’s programme, which has been running for 35 years, has taken him and his team by surprise. Consequently, it has been redesigned and upgraded.
“We were getting long queues so we have introduced a booking system that has massively improved the wait times. And instead of bulk-smoking the fish and sending it home in a plastic bag, we are giving the children hot, fresh ciabatta bread with fresh smoked trout.
“We want to give families a great experience. That’s the children and the adults, too.”
-from NZ Fishing director Doug Stevens
While we may do everything correctly, there are times the fish do not respond.
Because fish are opportunists, they will eat what is readily available and ignore other offerings. So watch for nearby insects, then try to fish using a fly that is a good imitation of what’s on offer locally.
Fishing is so much more than just catching fish - look around at the environment and relax. The fish you catch are really a bonus.
Have you caught a keeper for the first time, or maybe looking for new ways to enjoy your trout? Read more for three recipes from locals in our region; you may just find your new favourite!