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17 May 2015
This will be my last blog as the season looks all but over, there are only a couple of weeks left and the river even though it is going down is still high, I am still hopeful of a couple of hours one afternoon with some rising trout but I think I maybe dreaming. It was not a great season with dreadful weather up until xmas, a really low spell, as low as I have ever seen it and then the autumn hatches destroyed by successive SW fronts but then the Mataura is too good a river to be really bad and in between the rubbish there was some good fishing to be found.
I'd like to thank my blog readers who gave me some good feedback over the season, last week's blog where I talked about the possibility of sub species of deleatidium vernale bought some very interesting responses.
I had always thought that there was only D. vernale on the lower Mataura but I was sent a copy of the Cawthron institute's 2012 survey of the Mataura which showed that there were quite a few deleatidium myzobranchia present in the drift. These are similar to D. vernale but a wee bit bigger and they hatch in Sept/Oct and early Nov and these would account for the bigger, dark mayflies that we see early in the season.
For some reason I had always thought that the nymphs of these species lived for a couple of years before hatching into adults but I leaned from another reader that the larvae laid in spring will turn into nymphs in a matter of days and emerge as adults that summer and autumn. And those which are laid in late summer/autumn will over winter and hatch the following spring which as a result of remaining in the river longer as nymphs could result in slight differences in size and colour when they emerged as adults.
I found this all very interesting but in the end thankfully the trout treat both species and variations the same which keeps it simple for us anglers. Have a good winter and lets hope nature treats us a wee bit better next season.
10 May 2015
It was another disappointing week on the river in what is turning into a pattern of getting a couple of afternoons of pleasant dry fly fishing followed by rain putting the river out for the rest of the week. Monday and Tuesday were calm and although the river was still what would be considered too high I had a couple of hours after lunch both days casting to rising trout, most of these trout were smallish, maiden sea run types and a lot of fun.
There have been a lot more mayflies coming off than fish up but I guess that is because the more mature fish have been thrown into spawning mode by the higher river flows. Interestingly the mayflies coming off have been the larger, darker ones that we see a lot of in Oct/Nov, I know there is really only really one species, deleatidium vernale on the lower Mataura but I think there are several sub species. I used to think it was a trick of the light that made the mayflies look different on certain days, big black ones, smaller smokey blue ones and light brown types. But I am beginning to change my mind, nobody has done much research on it and it really doesn't seem to make any difference as the trout quite happily take our imitations.
The river is coming back down again to the level it was last week when I was getting rises but the forecast for the next few days is awful so we shall see. When you look at the river as a whole it looks unfishable but the areas I have been fishing are the shallow margins of the bigger, slower pools, you can see some typical water from the photos and this stuff is clear out to about knee level. The trout move into these areas when the river is high and you will be surprised what pokes it head out after lunch.
3 May 2015
I only got three days on the Mataura this week before it went out again, it started to become fishable in certain spots over the weekend but that was out due to duck shooting. There were small hatches from about 12.30/1.00pm for a couple of hours and then that was that and that is how it will remain on and off, weather permitting until the end of May.
But if the truth be known they really taper off about the middle of May even in good weather, I think they are well into spawning by then.
I have put up some photos of the sort of fish I was catching, these are just the better photos so it is a good average, I was catching about half a doz each hatch session. I caught them all on my #18 aero dun which has a hare's ear dubbed body and the grey aerodry wings. These are all tied on Dai Riki 300 hooks which is just the perfect size for the natural, they are barbed but I crush the barb when I tie them. I ran sort a couple of weeks ago and grabbed some from my commercial box which were still barbed because some people seem to still like them that way. What a nightmare, they got caught in my fleece, my net and they were bloody hard to get out of fish.
I don't think I lose anymore trout than usual with barbless, they fall out of the fish when it hits the net or the beach and I think they may even hook a wee bit better. Another thing I have noticed lately is people using two dries, two nymphs is bad enough as the spare nymph hooks in the trout or the net, and as there is only one species of mayfly on the lower Mataura so one type of nymph should be plenty, maybe a caddis type sometimes. Even the dry with a nymph dropper is usually not needed as they are either nymphing or rising some so one or the other is much easier but this two dries seems to be just asking for drag trouble.
The weather looks unsettled again later in the week but if the river stays OK, I will continue to wander down after lunch and see what is happening.
26 April 2015
The Mataura did not come right so Christian and I spent the week alternating between a couple of spring creeks, they were not perfect either as there was a lot of run off into them from surrounding paddocks. Consequently they were running higher than usual which made them difficult to fish, nevertheless the cool weather had mayflies dribbling off them during the main part of the day which had the trout looking up. These trout are not monsters but they are keen to take a dry and they are beautiful, the photos taken on the dull days of last week really don't do them justice.
We didn't use any of my flies as Cristian has a fly tying business in Thailand so he was keen to try out his latest creations, most of these were tied as traditional dry flies and they worked well. It makes me wonder whether all these emerger, cripple, low floating no hackle aero duns are any better than the traditional styles fished by a good man who knows what he is doing. I remember not too many years ago a fisherman we knew who was thinking the same thing, he went through the old "Trout Fishing in Southland NZ" book that was published by the Southland Acclimatisation Society and tied all the flies that they recommended.
These were the likes of Greenwell's glory, Twilight beauty, Red tip Governor, Dad's Favourite, Owaka, Purple Grouse and so on and I seem to remember that he still caught just as many trout as anyone else. He tied them sparse though and that is one of the secrets on the Mataura, just look at the natural and you will see what I mean, I see too many flies that are just over dressed, the shops are full of them. You can get away with it on the small streams and in other parts of the country but not on the lower Mataura.
I didn't fish the Mataura on Anzac day and I was flying today but my spies tell me there were rising trout and mayflies, so tomorrow I will be in one of my favourite possies around 12.30 and we shall see what happens.
19 April 2015
For the first time for as long as I can remember I have not fished for a week. the snow came on Monday and the river started to go out, a couple of hard core mates tried to find rises overthe next few days but to no avail. It was starting to come down rapidly but then it rained all day Thursday and that was the end of that, although it is going down again fast except for the level in the Waikaia going up and down as the snow melts with the warmth of the day.
I flew over where the Mataura and the Waikaia meet this morning and the contrast in colour is dramatic, the Waikaia is a very dark milk coffee colour and the Mataura is a trim milk colour and you can see that it is clearing at the edges. Some select spots on the lower Mataura will be fishable in a couple of days but my big worry is that the snow melt dribbling in every day from the Waikaia will spell the end of the hatches.
The Mataura mayfly loves cold, showery conditions but hates snow melt in the water so we shall see, usually adverse weather this late in the season seems to bring the hatches to a halt and the trout turn their minds to spawning. Although last season the river went out and only became fishable about now and we had the best dry fly fishing through the end of April and into May that I have ever seen.
12 April 2015
The river is still in perfect condition although I am not sure what the next 24 hours will bring, the forecast is for hail, strong SW wind and snow to 400m so we shall see. In spite of this Met service is talking about a warmer than usual autumn which is not what I wanted to hear as the hatches have been patchy recently and this could be due to the warm weather we have been having so far.
Mind you we had a very cool, showery afternoon on Friday(You can see some wet and cold anglers in two of the photos) and we had a very good rise to hatching mayflies. But they were tough, there were three of us, very experienced Mataura dry fly men but we only managed to hook one trout each during the main part of the hatch. I rarely change flies but I went through aero duns, aero emergers and even the famous Dunedin dun I was skiting about in last week's blog, until I finally had a hookup on an #18 aero dun but it was a rather long skinny trout which I think would have taken anything just for a feed.
The next afternoon I went to a different pool, same time, same weather conditions and same type of straight forward mayfly hatch and I hooked
8/9 trout all on the #18 aero dun. So what they were doing the previous day I have no idea, it is not as though they are under pressure as the hatches have really only just started and I have also not seen many anglers on the river rarking them up either. I guess that is why we keep coming back instead of taking up golf.
I put up a couple of pics of Mike holding a trout, it is the same fish and the idea was to show the difference between a good and a bad hold but being a nice trout it looked OK in both photos. The idea though is to make the trout look as good as possible, your fishing mates back home know what you look like, all they want to see is what sort of trout you have been catching.
By the way I have been forgetting to say in the blog that I passed my Flight Radio exam, 99%, only one question wrong, I couldn't believe it.
6 April 2014
The Mataura is still perfect and the hatches are happening, just remember to put those 3.00pm hatches back to 2.00pm, I know because I got caught out. There was a huge spinner fall yesterday starting about 1.00pm over much of the river, I was on a long, slow pool and the water was literally carpeted with spent spinners so extrapolate that out over the rest of the river and the mayfly biomass must be incredible. The health of the river must be in good shape to produce that amount of flies, this is reflected in the condition of the trout which are starting to colour up and are a real handful to get in the net.
I had an interesting few days with Garry and Gai Cullen from Kenya, they were here for 13 days and had struggled a wee bit so they wanted instruction on how to fish the river. Most people new to the Mataura use flies that are too big, #18/#16 are as big as you want to go and the other people they do is fish the heavier water. Once I had shown them how to nymph drop offs and the shallow ripples and how to fish down with a reach cast to rising trout they were away. Over the next few days on their own they caught some lovely trout, including the big one in the photo which Garry said picked up the nymph almost at his feet in a shallow ripple.
I tied up some Dunedin duns with a copper ribbing just to get them under the surface film and they worked better, it is something I have been meaning to do for a long time. I know some people would say it is just nymphing but at certain times this is the stage they are on and with no indicator it is a lot of fun looking for that boiling swirl just under the surface.
It is getting colder at night now and I see the water temperature is down in the 14/15C range so I am expecting fairly regular afternoon hatches soon. Don't sit on a pool waiting for the whole thing to start boiling but watch the tails and heads of ripples, sometimes they are just rising in one part of the pool so walk around a bit. You only have to find a doz of them going in a corner to have a lot of fun.
29 March 2015
The river is still at a perfect level but there have been these continual east winds, not strong but enough to affect the fishing, once an east wind was rare and a signal to head north of Gore where there would be no wind. An east wind around Gore/Mataura means conditions should be pretty good on the Oreti and other rivers in that area, by the time you get to the Mandeville/Riversdale area things will be looking better already, the Waikaia is another place to head to in these conditions.
During the week there were some good dun hatches, even some spinner falls and one day I took Andy and Ted to a small stream which still produces some nice trout. The trout have been tough even during a couple of big dun hatches, you have to watch the hatch closely and even though the trout look like they are taking off the top, the sight of unmolested duns flying away is a give away that something else is going on. The flies I have developed over the last few years using TMC aerowing instead of CDC, with no hackle and no tails they sit low in the film and allow me to get away without changing to a full on emerger pattern most of the time. The true emerger is the next change but if that doesn't do the trick I will put on the curiously named Dunedin dun, see photo.
Over fifteen years ago I was fishing a dun hatch in the company of an angler I didn't know, he was quite a bit lower than me but I could see he was doing well, after the hatch we sat on the bank talking and he showed me what he had been using. He gave me a couple and told me he was from Dunedin, I never did find out his name and I have never seen him since so I called it a Dunedin dun, I think it represents the rising nymph just before it becomes the emerger because it really is just an unweighted nymph. He told me that it must be tied with red thread and I did this for many years but lately I seem to have reverted to 8/0 Uni thread, camel colour, I don't think it matters, a mate ties them with a gold thread rib and they just look like a GRHE. I tie most of my flies as #18's but I have always tied the Dunedin duns on #16's, exactly as the fly I was given, recently I have been experimenting with #18's but nothing conclusive yet. They are also useful to use when the trout are just rising now and then as I think they may be taking the odd nymph in the drift, also in these conditions I let the fly swing at the end of the float.
I don't use floatant as we want it to sink a bit, they are hard to see but don't worry you will see the swirl when a fish takes it, another angler fishes this fly only during a hatch as it covers emergers and shucks, some trail it a few cms behind a dry but fished on its own it gives you the satisfaction of finding out what stage they are on, its all part of the game.
21 March 2015
The river is in perfect condition at the moment although it is raining quite heavily as I write this so we shall see, the weather lately has been a series of fine, sunny days with awful east winds followed by a cool SW which seems to bring more rain than it used to.
The good news though is that the hatches started on Sunday afternoon and they have been regular every afternoon since, kicking off about 2.30 to 3.00 and as long as you are out of the wind they have going until 5.30 or so. The cloudy, cooler days as the SW is passing through have been the best, although if you can get away from the easterly which has been following the SW there have been rising trout which have been a lot of fun as you can see them quite clearly in the sunny conditions. These sunlit hatches are not as intense as the SW ones but there are still enough trout swirling and rising to a well placed fly with no drag.
I would have thought that these trout which have really only been rising regularly for a week would be a lot easier than they have been but the have been quite picky even when they are rising hard during a hatch of duns but don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. I have seen no spinner falls either which is odd considering the amount of duns that have been coming off. The nymphing has also improved out of sight, ripples that we touched nothing or just the odd one the week before now seem full of trout, I presume with the start of the hatches there is more nymph activity during the morning.
There is one photo there of a client fishing what I call a sod bank, all along these banks sods have rolled into the water and they provide great trout habitat. These sort of banks are all over the Mataura and it pays to sit and watch one for awhile and you will soon see a rise, often there is a rise every 20m. These are also generally bigger fish and they are good places to check out in the morning and after the main rise has finished.
15 March 2015
The Mataura is perfect, just the right level and if these east winds, even though they have been light would turn to the south and cool things down it bit all would be well. I have found the fishing tough, especially the nymphing although we have found some rising trout along the sod banks, these are generally high banks where the river has been eroding chunks of earth and grass. These fall into the water and provide great habitat for the trout, at first glance they don't look promising but if the sun is out and you have a mate spotting for you on the high bank, there is usually a trout every 20m or so and they a mostly above average. I think it is much more fun to do the spotting as you can see all the action when the fish takes the fly but if you are on your own and move slowly you can see the rises, sometimes you have to wait a bit but it can be worth it.
In spite of all my moaning we did have rising trout almost all day on Tuesday, although I don't know why as there was a stiff downstream breeze most of the morning, it died down later. I don't know what they were on as there was nothing on the water and only the odd mayfly in the air, by the way if you are looking for mayflies, look at the willows not at the water, they stand out against the background. It was fun fishing as the sun was out and the trout were very visible, we could see them lift from the bottom, take something or follow back down and take it. They didn't seem at all worried about us but any drag on the fly and they just turned away.
Drag is the killer on the Mataura and with the autumn hatches hopefully getting under way there are going to be a lot of trout rising on long slow stretches of the river and any cast straight up or straight across is going to result in drag within seconds. The way to avoid this is to use the reach cast, I know I go on about it and it is the only variation that I use but it is essential, it is easy, so find someone to show you or google it, there are heaps of youtube thingys. I have gone into reach cast in detail on one of last season's blogs but basically you get at least opposite or above the trout and cast down to it and if done right the fly with no drag is the first thing it sees. The fly will go where the rod is cast to and as you cast and the fly is on its way you reach upstream, one motion, the fly has gone where you wanted it to go but the line is laid out on a 45 degree line upstream, this will allow the fly to drift for a long time with no drag.
Once you get the hang of the reach cast you will find you are using it to some degree or other in most of your casts, nymphing or dry.
8 March 2015
The fishing has not been that great over the last week, it was looking good with a couple of rise days towards the end of the previous week but warmer weather and east winds put paid to that. We have found rising trout but they have not really got going, all of the trout in the photos have been caught on dries but it has been just a matter of picking one up every now and then. Mataura trout can be very difficult when they are just rising now and then, often a wee wet or soft hackle swung through them will produce a hit but if you have a dry fly on and the odd one is rising a wee wet is not the preferred option.
Today we had fish rising now and then in the morning and I thought they might have really gone for it as there was a very light SW with a soft drizzle, the swallows were flitting around and I could see the odd mayfly. We picked up a couple but nothing really happened, this was around 11.00am and a couple of mates lower down in the river at the same time had a huge mayfly hatch.
We changed spots, tried some nymphing but to no avail and then all of a sudden at around 4.00pm mayflies started pouring off and there were trout rolling and swirling everywhere. As March rolls into April the rises will become more settled and will start coming off at more predictable times, you might be surprised by a spinner fall in the mornings but generally the duns will start coming off around 2.00pm and if conditions are right this can morph into a spinner fall. Climate change is affecting the fishing on the Mataura, once you could get the dun hatches from the end of Feb with the shorter summers but now it can be into April before it gets cool enough to set them off.
Here is hoping for some cooler weather.
27 February 2015
I have been very busy guiding recently so I took what was left of last week off and watched some cricket and did a bit more study for my exam this coming Monday. That didn't last long as my time span from not wanting to see another trout to going fishing again is about two days, I checked out the river on Thursday morning but I saw nothing rising although I picked up a couple on nymphs.
Although things could start happening by the feel of the weather, it has had a distinct autumn feel about it with some very cool mornings and in fact there was a light frost here the other morning. An American visitor has also been seen at his favourite possie several times recently and as he is a dryfly man I would think something could be coming off over there.
There is some more rain forecast for Monday but let us hope that it is not too much, the river is at a nice level for fishing right now, actually it can be quite high and the dry fly is still good, generally you want it fairly low for good nymphing. There is actually not a lot to report about the fishing as the Jan/Feb months are not great months on the Mataura, it is too hot for hatches except in the evening and fishermen are better off in the back country casting cicadas about, the next couple of months March/April and the first half of May is when the dry fly on the Mataura really comes into its own.
22 February 2015
The Mataura is in super condition, the rain a few days ago raised the level a wee bit and freshened it up, we have just had seven Japanese fishermen here for a week and they caught a lot of trout but mostly on nymphs during the day. They caught trout on dries in the evening but the evening rises were not great and a couple of the crazy ones would stay out most nights until about midnight and they caught a few but there were no late night hatches or caddis rises reported.
They were all keen fly tyers and insisted on fishing their own dry flies, I just supplied nymphs, their dries were all in the #18/#16 range but quite varied which just goes to show you can probably fish just about anything as long as it is the right size and presented properly.
Only a few fish were caught on dries during their everyday fishing but Thursday was calm and we had mayflies dribbling off all day. The same thing happened on Saturday in spite of the heavy rain showers, it was again calm and every time the rain stopped the trout would start to rise again.
These were dinkum mayfly hatches although there were a few spinners intermingled on Thursday, hopefully if the weather stays cool we may get some mayfly hatches as we used to in late Feb/ early March.
15 February 2015
We only started fishing the Mataura on Friday as it was starting to clear and as is usual you only seem to catch smaller trout at first and them as it gets lower the fish start to size up. With the weather nice after the rain most people headed for the high country lakes until the lowland rivers cleared. I went up twice and had what I thought were tough days even though the weather was perfect, where as mates went up on consecutive days to me and had a great time, it just shows you the difference a day makes.
The Mataura is dropping fast although there is still a wee bit of colour in the deeper water, I have a party of seven Japanese here this week so we should have a pretty good handle on how the river is fishing by the end of the week. I thought I might have seen a few mayflies coming of on Friday and Saturday afternoons as it was quite cool with a cold SW but there was nothing. Interestingly all the trout we caught were mostly small sea-runs and when we stomach pumped them they were full of grey bodied free swimming caddis.
I see plenty of the green bodied variety but not the grey ones, I tied up some imitations which the trout took but nothing conclusive was proved. I think they would have eaten any sort of nymph, in fact I was getting desperate on the Friday when the water was more coloured and I tied on a #12 brightly coloured stonefly, the bigger fish in the photo with Angela really whacked it. Although the smaller sea-runs in the photos with Chris and Angela really went to town, they thought they had much bigger fish on.
The weather looks good, fine but with a few showers on Wednesday and Thursday to cool things down, by the way the photo of the rock that Angela caught was interesting as there was really nothing for the hook to grab hold of, we thought we were into something good.
8 February 2015
I didn't fish at all this week, the river had become too low for fishing and as I had no clients I thought I would wait and see what the forecast rain did, it freshened the river all right and as usual put it out for the rest of the week. It was just what we needed and it is tracking down nicely as I write but another spell of heavy rain is forecast in the early hours of Monday morning which could put it back up.
I have been inspired by the derring-do of the dashing Dave Witherow in his Rans S-6 as he flies from river to river so I have been learning how to fly the same aircraft, see photo. I have also had to do a FRTO (Flight Radio Telephone Operator) ticket so the time off the river last week was a chance to do some study, I haven't worked this hard since I sat school cert nearly 60 years ago!
As I have no photos my own I have included photos that have been sent to me, the lovely conditioned trout lying in the water by themselves were caught up in Canterbury by Hide and Miyu Morimoto and the other big fish which were caught in the same area were sent to me by John White an English friend. They were reputed to be mouse eaters, I gather there has been a serious mouse plague up there but nothing seems to be happening down here. The big, obviously dead brown was caught on a nymph in the lower Mataura when the river was really low, I was told it weighed in at nine and a half pounds, it was a pity they donged it as these large jacks are what you want to leave in the gene pool.
The weather looks very settled for the next week aside from the rain early tomorrow so there should be some cicadas about.
1 February 2015
Last week the Mataura was at the lowest level I have ever seen it, it got down to 385mm at Wyndham yet it was in remarkably good condition, a few years ago it would have had a black mat of algae on the bottom and quite a bit of gunge floating along in the current but it remained clear. There was some welcome rain last night and a few showers today with rain and showers forecast for the remainder of the week so if we don't get too much it should bring it back to perfect order, although it has been interesting and fun to fish it in these extreme low levels.
I had Jeff and Dave out during the week and they did well, Dave who had not fly fished before ended up catching the biggest trout of the trip on a nymph. There is a photo of Jeff fishing a classic drop off and as you can see they don't have to be very big, the idea is to cast a nymph up to his right in the very shallow ripple and then let it drift over the drop off where it is usually taken, not further out in the deeper water.
While we were fishing this drop off the trout suddenly went mad for a short while, splashing and seeming to take stuff of the surface and in fact Jeff caught one on a dry which was sacrificed for the greater good and lo and behold it was full of large silvery smelt, each about 7/8cms long. They would do this every now and then and in between we were taking them on #18 gold bead hare's ears but when I got home I made sure I put a couple of smelt flies in my box. The smelt or silveries must have been coming up in in mobs every now and then, I wish I had taken a photo of the ones out of trout's stomach but they were big and this wee trout was full of them. It was amazing to see just how many trout there were in that drop off when they were all charging around on the surface.
I was very disappointed at the lack of activity in the evenings, hardly anything rose, maybe it was just that nothing was doing on in the pools we picked, I didn't see anything rise during the day anywhere either except the one Jeff hooked
25 January 2015
The Mataura is very low and very warm and although the forecast is for cloudy and drizzly weather this week there is no sign of any substantial rain for a while. I saw nothing rising during the week although I was only going out in the mornings and not in the evenings.
I have just got myself a new camera which takes better macro shots than the old one so I have re posted my three main flies, these are the only flies I have used this season aside from my beetle pattern which I put up a better shot of a couple of weeks ago. With the nymph I use #18, #16 and sometimes #14 depending on how full the river is. The red bodied fly is my upright spinner and I use that when there are spinners on the water and the hare's ear dun when mayflies are hatching, both of these are tied on #18 hooks. The hare's ear aero dun sits very low in the film and I think it doubles as an emerger because I have hardly used a true emerger pattern all season.
The photos of the trout are a cross section of what I have caught this week and they have all been taken on nymphs. I have been finding most of my nymphed trout on drop offs, you can see them lined up along the lip like wee black submarines. You can get very close to them but they are not as easy as they look, I think most of them are just resting up in the more oxygenated water, although the ones you see skidding around are probably feeding.
I have been using the same leader system of a 12' leader tapered to 3X with a 3' tippet of 4X fluro which seems OK in this low, clear water.
18 January 2015
Yesterday the river was as low as I have ever seen it, it was 427mm at Wyndham and it looked more like a large stream rather than the sizeable river it really is. Despite this low level the condition has remained good with excellent clarity, this is possibly because aside from a nearly 22c blip last week it has remained in the 16-18c bracket and as I write this it is raining quite heavily and along with the rain last night will be more than welcome. It had become a wee bit scummy along the slower edges but the river does not seem to get that black mat of algae on the bottom that it used to get a few years ago when it was getting down to this level.
There were no dun hatches all week although a cockie told me he had seen the trout rising aggressively to what he thought were duns when he was getting the cows in at 5.00am so there is a thought. I did hit a couple of good spinner falls in the morning before the wind got up and we came on one of them when I had Rodger Williams out on his first go with the fly, he landed one on the dry using my #18 upright spinner with the grey aerowing and four others on #16 hare's ear gold bead heads, he was very chuffed.
I didn't do much fishing myself as the weather was pretty awful, hot and windy but I did hit that other spinner fall and picked up trout from a drop off that has nearly disappeared before the wind got up one morning. I noticed that Mike Weddell in his ODT fishing report remarked about the absence of willow grubbing trout on the lower Mataura in spite of the large number of willows, he also thought this was a good thing for fly fishermen, to which I would heartily agree. You can see my opinion of willow grubs in some of last season blogs from around this time but it is strange and I am sure somewhere there is a trout happily munching on the grubs below Mataura but I never see it.
It is still raining and it looks like showers over the next couple of days and the river has gone up 30mm at Cattle Flat so it maybe just the fresh we need.
11 January 2015
The Mataura has been very warm and low and at 460mm today at Wyndham could be as low as I have ever seen it but it is not as hot as it was last week when I had Graham Henton for a few days. It got up to just under 22c and with a stiff NE wind every day it was tough, there was nothing rising and ripples that we should have nymphed 4/5 out of we were lucky to get one or none. The old adage that the two best days to fish the Mataura are the day before you arrive and the day after you leave were never truer as a cold, wet SW on the morning he left really turned the trout on.
I went out the next day and although nothing was rising the ripples and drop offs were full of trout, they had probably been there all the time but now they were feeding and one ripple where we had touched nothing the day before bought 7 to the net. Although the evening rises were very good while Graham was here and still are from the reports I have been getting. I only go out in the evening when I am guiding people who are staying with us, we fish all day until about 6.00pm and then come in for dinner and then we go out after dinner until dark.
At this time of the year I prefer to get out about 8.00am when I am on my own and just fish the morning, there is usually something rising somewhere and I can generally find a couple to take the beetle. The nymphing is good in the morning and all the trout lying by the rod in the photos were taken on nymphs, the two sea-runs in the photos put up a tremendous fight, one of them had me into my backing before I knew what was happening. Then I come home and watch cricket and do some gardening in the cool of the evening, I am not one of those fishermen who lives to fish, fishing is just part of a well balanced life as far as I am concerned.
I have found that small ripples and drop offs have been nymphing well, I find a big ripple just too much like hard work, look for the drop off areas right in the eyes of the pools where the ripple runs in, it may only be the size of a car and it may only involve two or three casts but there will always be a trout or two in there.
29 December 2014
The river is very low and very warm, it was 21.7 degrees the other day so there have been no hatches and I have not seen a spinner fall. The duns may be hatching at night which would also account for the rather slow nymphing as there is probably not much nymph activity in the ripples during the day. I still only use one nymph when nymphing despite everybody saying you have to use two, I like the ease of just the one nymph, it doesn't tangle in the net or worse in the fish while you are playing it. The water we nymph is only knee deep or less and if you go through it carefully the trout will see the nymph and come up for it, but I hear people say, they mainly take the smaller nymph when they are using two, well just fish the smaller one, why give them a choice.
I was guiding Miki Ozaki during the week and one morning we found a ripple where the trout were rising to adult damsel flies and when I say rising they were jumping clear of the water, I knew this because a few years ago I had seen them doing the same thing in this very ripple but at the time I could not figure out what they were on as I had always believed that trout didn't take adult damsels in the air. I tried to catch these trout and finally caught one on some sort of caddis thingy and decided that it was going to die in the interests of science and surprise for me it was chokka full of adult damsels, the unbeliever had been converted!
Since then I have never had much luck with damsel imitations so as Miki already had one of my beetles on I told her to go ahead and fish it blind and to target a rise when she saw one. She hooked and landed ten by the time she was near the top of the ripple and then the wind came up and she only rose another one, I don't know that the beetle was the complete answer but the fact that the fish were looking up and were happy to take a beetle as well as a damsel. I couldn't see many damsels on the water but they must have been there and when the wind got up it must have dispersed them. By the way when I say my beetle pattern, it is actually a creation of Shinji Ito, the owner of the Last Hope flyshop in Japan so credit where credit is due, it is just that I have been using it for so many years now it has become such an integral part of my fly box.
Again the mornings are the time to be out and about as there is always some action before the afternoon breeze.
21 December 2014
There were some heavy showers yesterday which has coloured the river up but it has not gone up much so it should clear up quickly and the rain has probably done some good in freshening the river as it was very hot last week, the water temperature was 19 degrees on Friday. When it is hot I like to go out in the mornings, there is usually little wind and you can usually find some activity but by lunch the wind has generally got up and the river goes doggo, whereas in the colder weather after lunch is best as that is when the hatch is most likely.
I caught a lot of trout this week and all on beetles, it is a great way to get your dry fly fix when there is no hatch, I fished them blind in ripples and to the odd fish I saw rise as there were no hatches or spinner falls. There may have been something happening in the evenings but as I was catching 5/6 trout in the mornings that was enough for me. They don't all gobble up the beetle though, I was fishing one day in shallow water under the willows, the sun was out and I could see the trout and quite a few of them totally ignored the beetle but enough of them would slowly rise and sip it in to make for a memorable morning.
I have included a photo of the beetle pattern I have been using, I tie it on a Gamakatsu C-12, #16 hook which is lighter and slightly smaller than the TMC 2487 #14 I had been using and I have also started using a bigger hackle which along with the lighter hook floats the fly better and longer. I am still using a 12 foot tapered leader to 3X and a 3 foot tippet of 4X, I added a bit of 5X the other day but it didn't seem to make any difference. I was given some 60 meter rolls of flurocarbon tippet by a client the other day in 4X, 5X and 6X and I have been using this and again I can't see any difference, probably because after I have put floatant on the fly I always run my fingers up the tippet as I like it to float.
The long range forecast looks good for the next week so the river should drop and clear quickly.
14 December 2014
The Mataura is in lovely condition right now and has dropped to a good level, although at around 750mm and no more rain it can go down just as though someone had pulled the plug out of a bath but at this stage I am not complaining, after nearly two and a half months of some of the worst weather I have ever had put up with anywhere. As the river has dropped the size of the trout we have been catching has gone up, this happens every time and I don't know why.
Mattias and Maria, a lovely couple from Sweden were with us for a few days and they caught a bunch of trout, Mattias actually hooked a seriously big trout late one afternoon which after a lot of drama broke him off. Big trout are inclined to do that and as I had a couple of goes at landing it I got a good look at it and it would have been near double figures, it took my beetle pattern, actually most of the trout in this blog were taken on beetles. There is a photo of this pattern and instructions on how to tie it in previous seasons blogs, I have always used beetles on the Mataura but this season they are really slurping them up.
They seem to take them anytime, especially when you are only seeing a rise here and there, and even as the hatch or spinner fall starts but once the trout are locked on to the duns or spinners they ignore them.
The trout also take the beetles with the smallest sip, I think they look at them in the same light as a spinner, they know the beetle/spinner is not going to get away so there is no hurry. Watch your fly carefully, I use a pink wing post on my beetle pattern and this makes them very easy to see. You can cast to fish that are rising on and off, fish up a grassy bank blind or fish up a ripple blind just as you would nymph it, this is what we have been doing the most of and right now it seems to be more effective than plain nymphing.
7 December 2014
The weather hasn't got any better although we managed to get summer in last Tuesday which was a gorgeous day, then it reverted to the usual wind and rain but in spite of that the Mataura is dropping fast. It is now at its lowest level all season, around 850mm at Wyndham, we have been fishing it all season until now at very high levels, 1050mm plus and in spite of all my bleating it has fished quite well to the dry fly, the nymphing aside from a couple of spots had not been good as the high water disperses the trout all over the ripples.
Akira san and Jun san arrived last Sunday for a week when everything was dirty but we caught trout everyday and there were some very good hatches , still no sign of any spinner falls though. Another interesting aspect of the week was the large number of sea-run types that was a high proportion of the catch rate, I guess they have come into the system with the river being continually high and have just stayed here.
If you look closely at some of the photos you will see beetle patterns in the jaws of trout, one of the guys was having trouble seeing his #18 aero dun in the rain yesterday so I put on a beetle and several trout took it without hesitation. These were trout that had been feeding on mayfly duns and emergers all day so I don't know where this leaves us on that tidy theory of selectivity that I have been going on about. Jun san then took it a stage further and as a he has only been tying flies for a few weeks he wanted to try a Royal Coachman that he had proudly tied, if you look closely you will see this fly , white wings, golden pheasant tails and all in the jaw a trout.
In fact he caught three good fish on this fly, I have no idea what they took it for, maybe a beetle but this was when fish were rising and the air was full of mayflies. I am beginning to realise that these Mataura trout are not as snobby as some of the people who fish for them, it certainly made me think of how we pontificate about the importance of this type of emerger or that dun pattern.
There is rain in the forecast but hopefully it is not too much and the weather people are talking about the next couple of weeks being much cooler than usual so with a cooler spell and a lower river there should be some good mayfly hatches.
30 November 2014
The last couple of days have cheered me up since my last blog in which you could probably sense the frustration I have been having with the weather on the lower Mataura and the local tribs. We didn't go anywhere until Thursday, the day of the gales, I had a friend staying so we went and had a look at the most sheltered of the backwaters but the wind was just too tough and we only saw about three fish.
Friday was still awful but the river was just down enough to be worth a look, there was a huge hatch of mayflies which started around 2.00pm and there were a few trout still popping when I left just after 4.00pm. It was difficult fishing with the strong wind making accurate casts tough and even though the water was covered in mayflies there were not a lot of trout up, even so I still managed half a dozen very strong but smaller fish. When the river has been up and starting to drop the trout seem to be smaller and as the river gets lower the size of the trout seems to get larger, unfortunately I didn't get any photos as I was standing in the middle of about 5 acres of pool.
On Saturday I went to a different spot and even though the weather was no better it was a wee bit more sheltered and there were a few trout swirling in a ripple when I got there at 1.00pm. Again there were huge numbers of mayflies which were still coming off at 4.00pm when I left, there has to be some very large spinner falls if this wind ever stops, I don't know what the spinners do in these conditions. I managed a few photos as this spot had a beach and again these were smaller fish but strong and a lot of fun, I don't really care about big fish, all I ask is that a trout is big enough to come up and take my dry fly.
I had the same fly on both days, it is an emerger pattern tied on an #18 TMC 2487, I used to tie these with CDC but I have now gone completely away from it and never use it on anything anymore. I first started tying this pattern with black aerodry wing but since I have had good results with the grey wing on the aero duns I thought I would try it on the aero emergers. I fished this fly for two afternoons and never once did the wing see a drop of floatant and it fished equally well as the aero duns I had been using in previous hatches. I really think it does not make that much difference which fly you use as long as it is the right size, sits low in the film and is presented without drag. Tippett is not too important either as you can see from the big hunk of 4X which is attached to the fly in the photo. I fish across and maybe a wee bit down with a reach cast and the first thing the trout sees is the fly, I talked about this in more detail in one of last seasons blogs.
I didn't fish today as I had to pick up a couple of clients but hopefully the weather is looking better for next week.
23 November 2014
This season has been terrible and on Saturday it got a whole lot worse! I should have fished on Friday, the river and the weather were horrible all week but Friday was good and the river was coming down. I had a few things to do and I thought yesterday would be OK even though there was some rain forecast in the morning but the rain started early in the morning and was very heavy over all of Southland. Consequently I don't think there is a fishable river or stream in the whole of Southland, it is lovely today and everything is coming down so we live in hope that the weather pattern may be changing, mind you the next thing is that we will all be bleating about how low the river is! There are a few beetles around, I saw some around the outside lights on Friday so that is something to look forward to, although a fat lot of use that is to anybody right now.
16 November 2014
Another week of awful weather, don't be fooled by the sun you can see in some of the photos that was just a brief moment of hope, the Mataura and it's tribs were out all week so it was back to the backwaters and gravel pits. I was rather disappointed in my water boatman pattern which had been so successful last week, maybe the trout had seen too many of them but the wee #18 gold bead head hare's ear nymphs still took the majority of the trout. I tie these on TMC 2488H hooks as they are a very heavy, strong hook in these sizes.
There were some hatches in the afternoons but they were difficult to fish to in the high water and even higher winds and I have added a photo that I took yesterday of the conditions. The photo though does not do justice to how awful it was but when I took this shot there was the biggest hatch of mayflies going on that I have seen for a while. It was more like a spinner fall and the water water was covered with them and they were on our clothes and in our faces.
It was difficult conditions but Haithan hooked four on a #16 wee wet with a dubbed hare's ear body and starling hackle swung across and down just before the main hatch started, he was chuffed as he had never fly fished before. His brother Bassam was blown away by the sheer numbers of mayflies on the water but it was tough as his #18 aero dun was just one of millions or so it seemed.
In spite of the rain, hail, wind, getting stuck in a patch of mud, losing the car keys and other disasters he managed to hook a few plus a very strong brown which finally broke him but he will be back in April when the weather is more settled. I have given up forecasting what the weather may do but surely it is going to settle down sometime, I have also not seen any beetles around as mid Nov is when they usually appear, maybe the crappy weather has slowed their appearance.
9 November 2014
The weather does not improve although the river is but very slowly, yesterday was the first day all week that we were able to fish it and in the afternoon there was a hatch below Wyndham starting about 1.30 that dribbled on until about 4.30. But it was good to see as it was the first all week, the trout were rising occasionally but there were a lot of fish in the pool who were only rising when a dun drifted over their heads, so we caught trout with a combination of casting to rises and blind casting. We were using both the aero dun and the aero emerger in #18's but neither fly was out fishing the other.
We went out for evening rises most nights during the week but nothing much was happening, there were the odd splashy rises which indicated the presence of caddis and a wee wet swung across and down would pick up a few fish. There were not a lot of trout caught in the river but a fair proportion of them were sea-run types, even in the backwaters and gravel pits that we frequented during the day had a few of them.
The backwaters were fun and Shinya san and Ichiroh san did well, these trout were rising quite often, especially in the mornings but we just couldn't see what they were taking. In the end a small trout made the supreme sacrifice, purely in the interests of science. The stomach contents were black midge pupa and very small water boatmen with a yellowish cast around the head. That night I tied up what I thought were reasonable imitations but not a trout took them, they consistently went for the #18 gold bead head, hare's ear nymphs.
The most successful method was to hang a nymph 35/40cms below a white indicator, we were using that wool like stuff that comes with the indicator tools. Sometimes they took the nymph as they swam past and the indicator would dip or they would strike when the white mouth of the trout opened, other times a wee twitch of the nymph when the trout was a meter away and then just wait was the answer but heaps of times the trout would just swim nonchalantly by ignoring all our efforts. All the same it is very absorbing fishing and a lot of fun when everything is dirty.
I thought the weather patterns were on the change but this coming week has a lot of hail and cold SW winds which will be good for mayfly hatches as long as there is not too much rain.
2 November 2014
Another bad week and it looks like it is going to get a lot worse, there was a lot of rain up in the top end of the Mataura and the Waikaia and the graphs are going straight up on the Enviroment Southland river levels!
I got out a couple of times between the rain and wind and actually had some nice wee hatches which started both times around 1.30pm and went on and off until about 4.00pm. I took Christian and Bryce down to the Mataura this evening after dinner, we got there about 8.00pm and they were going really well on a dun hatch. I caught one on an#18 aero dun while I was demonstrating how to do a reach cast, Christian hooked another one and then they stopped. I changed them over to wee wets and Christian picked up another one but that was that so we trudged home.
Hopefully the blip upstream comes through quickly.
27 October 2014
The Mataura is still rather full but over the last two days I have had some superb dry fly fishing, not big fish but very strong and not too difficult, they can get difficult later but at this early stage of the season co-operative trout are a lot of fun. The trout in the photos are a good sample of what I was catching, I caught them all on an #18 Aero dun with the new grey wing instead of the old black one, it shows up better on the dark water plus I think the trout like it better too, it has a dubbed hare's ear body, a brown spreader and a wing of dark dun aerodry wing. There are photos of this fly in previous blogs, I love it, I put some floatant on it on Saturday and used the same fly all afternoon and again this afternoon with no more floatant, in fact I don't think these flies need it, the aerodry wing keeps them floating in the film. I never changed the fly, same one both days, so much for the old saw about re tying your fly after each fish and this was after 20 odd trout!
Saturday afternoon the mayflies started coming off about 1.30pm and were still going, albeit not so strong when I went home at 4.00pm so today I went down about 12.30pm but nothing happened until dead on 3.00pm. The water was about a degree cooler so maybe that made the difference, I don't know but there are a lot worse things in this world than sitting on a riverbank waiting for a rise. There was quite a variation in the mayflies coming off, usually they are the same but both afternoons there were wee smokey grey ones, wee brown/tan ones and big, black ones that could have been #14's. This is the usual variation but I have never seen them all at the one time, it didn't make the blindest bit of difference to the trout, I think they are all sub species of the main mayfly on the lower Mataura which is the deleatidium vernale.
I wish I could say the weather is settling down but I really don't like the look of what is shaping up for Wednesday, it has been a rough month on the lower Mataura, I have had to put off several clients but luckily most of then are coming back later. I gather the Oreti and the upper Mataura have not been too bad but this blog rarely fishes above Mataura.
19 October 2014
The Mataura was a mess all week and it is still not right, there is still snowmelt coming down the Waikaia, you can tell by the jagged lines on the graph, the river goes down overnight and then comes up again during the day as the sun melts more snow. It wasn't looking too bad mid week and was coming down nicely and then on Friday there was a huge afternoon thunderplump with the heaviest rain I have ever seen in Southland and that put paid to any improvement.
I went out this afternoon but the main river is not fishable and the other small streams I fish still need a couple of days so I checked out a few gravel extraction ponds and they were clear and holding plenty of trout which had obviously come in from the main river. I usually like to use my water boatman pattern for this type of fishing, I have put up a not very good photo of one but they are easy to tie and really work well. But unfortunately I had none in my box so I used a #18 gold bead head hare's ear nymph, it worked OK but I prefer the water boatman.
I tie them on a #16 hook with a wide gape, I slip on two glass beads, courtesy of Spotlight, then start the thread behind the beads and back to the tail. I then tie in some pheasant tail fibres, about the same amount as if you were tying a PT nymph. Tie in a small ball of dubbing, push the beads back hard against this dubbing ball, take the thread up in front of the beads and secure them with the thread. Then dub another small ball in front of the beads, bring the pheasant tail fibres over to form a wing case and tie off. Spread two single fibres back and cut the rest off, then cut the remaining two fibres to the length you like, these form the legs. Then I whip finish and give the body a liberal dose of Sally Hansen nail hardener, this protects the delicate pheasant tail fibres and secures the glass beads to the hook.
The glass beads give this fly just the right speed of sink, normal bead heads sink too fast but this pattern plopped just in front of a cruising fish seems to work just right. You can use an indicator but I like to watch for the white mouth as he takes it, another sign is if he comes to where you think the fly is and turns away, strike then but most of the time it is just intuition. I really love this type of fishing plus these trout are generally good sized fish.
12 October 2014
So much for my comments about the river being OK in a couple of days, it carried on raining after I wrote last weeks blog and heavy rain at that for the next few days. The weather looks more settled now and with a level of 1150mm at Wyndham today I would like to be able to have a look around on Wednesday, the small streams have been slow coming down as well.
But people have been catching trout, I have added this photo of a 6lb brown taken on a #14 Olive shrimp in the Test river in England sent to me by John White who will be here in NZ any day for his annual pilgrimage. Thanks also John for the Elite Super-dri 4wt line you gave me from Airflo in England, I love the 5wt you sent last year and I think these Airflo super-dries are the best lines I have come across, I am going to put it on a Waterworks P2 and use that on my 4wt Sage SP 4wt rod.
Other people have been catching fish as well, my friend Mike desperate to catch a trout, tied up some San Juan worms and he and his wife Lorena braved the murky water and picked up some fish on them. I was given a couple of San Juan worms many years ago when I was fishing in the US but they stayed in my fly box until a couple of seasons ago when I tried one when the Mataura was a bit dirty. They have been a great success, I know they are meant to imitate a blood worm and I am sure they do but in dirty water fished just as you would a nymph the Mataura trout, I am sure, nail them as a dislodged garden worm! There are some photos of these flies somewhere on the blog, they are easy to tie and they work, I had a wee battle with my conscience for a while but you soon grow out of that.
Hopefully parts of the Mataura and some small streams should be fishable by mid week.
10 September 2014
Opening day was absolute beautiful on the Mataura except for a stiff downstream NE and fishermen everywhere although there were still plenty of spots with nobody. It was good to see so many familly groups with heaps of kids fishing, you don't see so many young anglers these days.
It was tough though, we never saw a trout rise, probably because it was so hot but then the nymphing was tough too and Mike only hooked two smaller fish but was broken off by something solid, I hooked nothing all day.
The next day was still warm but there was cloud cover and not a breathe of wind plus we only saw one elderly spin fisherman who came walking down from up river in neopreens and wearing a life jacket, he looked very warm. It was a complete contrast from the day before, I guess it is like duck shooting, everyone out for the opening and thats it.
The only thing that was the same was the tough fishing, I thought with the conditions that there would be spinner falls but again we never saw a fish rise. We never caught a fish until we came across this backwater where Mike got one and I hooked three. Then the rain came that night with snow and everything went out, the Mataura is coming down fast and should be OK in as couple of days.
Hopefully there may be some rising trout when that happens.
28 September 2014
Things are looking good for Wednesday, the Mataura went up last week but since then has been coming down nicely and should be fullish but perfectly fishable.
The weather looks good too with no rain in sight but with these warm days there may be some snowmelt which can affect mayfly hatches but with a water temperature of just under 10 degrees I would expect some rises somewhere.
I have not been out but I have heard of sea-runs being caught, I have added a photo of a nice one on the blog. This is just a short note to let you know what the conditions are like and I will be back into full blogging from next Monday.