‘MAD’ fishing camaraderie

Department of Conservation —  27/10/2020

A group of mates, a few beers, hearty food, tall stories and a heap of laughs. Add some fly-fishing gear and you have all the ingredients for a great fishing trip.

By James Barnett, Community Ranger

Three of the MAD group with their catch
📷: MAD

Every year for nearly two decades Roy Bowers, Chris Power, and a group of 12 mates have made a pilgrimage to the Tongariro River.

The group call themselves MAD (Men Aging Disgracefully) and get together for an annual fishing competition where they compete for the MAD Challenge Trophy and the MADfurley Shield.

What began as a weekend trip has now turned into an unofficial event which starts on a Wednesday and runs through to Sunday. Fishing is always the focus but it’s the friendships and camaraderie that keep these mates returning year after year.

Tongariro River in Tongariro National Park
📷: Ben Gracewood

Roy said over the years a real brotherhood has developed with the mates supporting each other through ups and downs.

“We all live around the country and for some of the guys it’s the one time we catchup each year.” Roy says. “One of the guys now brings his adult son so, we have the next generation with us learning the ropes.

 “A few of the guys didn’t even know how to fly fish at the start, but came long for the social side, and now have all fallen in love with fly fishing and become pretty good at it.”

Underwater view of a brown trout swimming
📷: J. L Kendrick

The trip is rife with tradition — Blair Littlejohn, a keen member of MAD, developed a logo for the group which is used on apparel, and the group always stay at the same bach in Kuratau — which they view as an unofficial clubhouse. They never go hungry, as Chef Curtis delivers a steady stream of culinary delights from the old bach cooker.

There’s no doubt about it, perusing trout with artificial flies has the uncanny ability to unite people.

Whether it’s the variety of techniques, multitude of trout flies, latest gear or fickle quarry, fly anglers always have plenty to chat about.

Sharing incredible locations such as the Tongariro River is another important ingredient — this is a near pristine wild mountain river where anglers enjoy the company of rare whio/blue duck.

Whio in Tongariro River near Turangi
📷: Leon Berard, DOC

The clean, cold, clear, oxygen rich water that provides ideal conditions for whio is also perfect for trout.  

It’s hardly surprising the MAD group keep coming back for more.

For more about the Tongariro area and the Taupō Trout Fishery, see:



2 responses to ‘MAD’ fishing camaraderie


    Keep at it guys .2 decades is great!With some mates we have completed 50 years of annual Taupo fishing trips.Simply marvellous sport and comaradery.In wonderful surroundings.Taupo is a great place to meet,stay and Fish.Well done a nice story.
    JIM Harvey 31.10 2020.

    Peter Hallinan 27/10/2020 at 4:56 pm

    Lovely story, though I’d rather pursue trout than just simply peruse them 🙂 Your blog reminded me of halcyon days in the mid 1970’s when the science and biology lecturers at Christchurch Teachers College organised trips to the Marlborough Sounds as “marine biology expeditions”. Much the same camaraderie as you describe. We slept in a woodshed on the waterfront, having hired a launch at Havelock to get there. If the fish weren’t biting within 10 minutes, the skipper upped anchor for a more desirable location … Glory days…