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Fishing the Waipapa River

Back in February 2020 four of us, myself, Lloyd, Bradley and Wim, belly boated up the Waipapa River.  It took about 4.5 hours to get all the way to the first waterfall and only 1.5 hours for the return.  Whilst it sounds like a long haul up, the flow is quite gentle, we were taking our time exploring weed beds, deeper channels and areas of good cover.  I caught 7 on the way up and 5 on the way back with one of them being a nice fat Brown. The day before, Lloyd and I saw a school of Rudd, that would easily have numbered in the hundreds in all sizes, from 50mm to as big as they get. I caught the Brown on what I consider a reasonable small Rudd pattern. Between us, from memory we landed in excess of 30 fish with a great many lost takes. The river feels almost primordial with the native bush reaching down from high cliffs to the waters edge, it fives you a feeling like a first explorer and that you’re the first to ever see it.  Interestingly te further up river we got the water temperature got cooler and the fish action increased.  For those of you who can this has to be a ‘bucket list’ fish for the North Island.

lloyd and I (Barrie) found a place alongside Lake Waipapa where we camped for the night.  It was only a short walk to the Waipapa River where it enters Lake Waipapa.

The view looking up the Waipapa River from the road bridge beckoned us. The plan was for an early start the following day.

An early morning start.  There’s a reasonable track down from the road bridge to launch the belly boats.

For of us, myself, Lloyd and two friends, Bradley and Wim headed (paddled) off on our adventure.

Whilst the river has a reasonably deep channel there a lot of weed beds along the sides in parts.

It was along a weed bed that I picked up the first Brown.  It was in excellent condition.

We fished the river in many ways – dry fly dropper, nymphing and wet fly.  All methods resulted with fish being caught.

The river sides were steep to sheer with vegetation down to the waters edge.

The vegetation overhanging the river provided great cover for the fish and we made good use prospecting these areas.

It took us about 4.5 hours to paddle and fish our way up to this, the first waterfall.  We had it to ourselves until the last few moments we some geriatrics on canoes came paddling up. I say geriatric as they we totally ‘not fit for purpose’ with one almost drowning in the big hole just below the small waterfall. Some no life jackets and the others had jackets that were too big or done up. This ain’t a place for an accident that’s for sure.  Anyway apart from all that, as I said in the introduction, the Waipapa River has to be on you North Island bucket list.  Do it again – I sure hope so!