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1 May 2016
This last week has been quite good for rises, very strong west winds but there were a few places out of the wind that produced some good hatches, in fact I think this April over all has been much better than the last few years. There was a regular afternoon hatch at around 2.00pm, sometimes it was not great but on several occasions it was very intense and went for a couple of hours.
They were never easy though but a minor breakthrough at the start of the week was a big help. One afternoon they seemed almost impossible to catch and after watching the rises for a while I could see that most of the trout were not taking the duns. So we put on a Dunedin dun, I have had success with this fly over the years but it has never really been consistent but after a couple of casts the trout took it and in the interests of science a sacrifice was needed. Later at home we carefully went through the stomach contents in a white saucer, there were a couple of adult mayflies but the rest of the gut was full of nymphs, not emergers but nymphs. These nymphs were very dark in colour, I have always tied my Dunedin duns in quite a light hare's ear dubbing but these nymphs were almost black.
I tied up several nymphs, similar to the Dunedin dun but with a dark brown dubbing, see photo and over the next week the results were quite spectacular. When trout put their head out of the water and are lunging around they are on the adult duns but a ring or a swirl with no head is usually a nymph or an emerger. I think the success of the new Dunedin dun over the old one is the darker colour, I knew that nymphs turned darker just prior to hatching but I didn't think it was this dark. I was given one of these flies by a Dunedin angler many years ago, I never found out his name so I just called it a Dunedin dun. You just fish it like an ordinary dry, up or down with a reach, you won't see the fly but a boil will generally indicate a take, I don't use floatant as I like them a centimeter or two under the water.
As this is my last blog for the season an overview of the season will be in order, Oct/Nov were not great, poor rises due I think to a lot of snowmelt. Dec as usual was very good, no snowmelt, beetles and good hatches and Jan/Feb were surprisingly good for spinner falls. There was not a lot of wind over these two months and we were able to find rising trout most mornings, normally Jan/Feb are evening rise months. March was tough, too warm and poor rises and they were tough when they did rise but April was good, the best April for a couple or three seasons.
24 April 2016
The hatches this week have been rather a mixed bag, they are all starting dead on 2.00pm and going for anything from ten minutes to a couple of hours and no sign of a spinner all week. There have been a ton of mayflies but not a lot of fish up on them and the ones that were are not feeding aggressively at all, just popping here and there, never the less Toshio caught some lovely trout over the week.
He caught the vast majority of his trout on a thing he calls a dark dress which is just a mahogany dubbed body with a couple of CDC feathers back to back as a wing on an #18 hook. It looks completely different from any of my aero duns but it is the same size and roughly the same shape and that is all that matters in a fly on the Mataura, the rest is presentation.
When these trout are locked into a dun hatch they are picking off #18 dark, sparse flies and if your fly is in that bracket and presented with no drag all should be well. People get fixated on what fly to use but it is probably the type of fly that is more important.
The weather has been a bit rough, especially the wind just recently and the next few days don't look much better but just find a sheltered spot about 1.30 and see what pokes its head up around 2.00.
17 April 2016
The Mataura has just had another nice fresh through it which should set it up for the rest of the season, there have been some encouraging dun hatches this week and with the colder weather today I am hoping for more. The fresh has bought some sea-run trout into the river, typical is the one on its own with an #18 black winged aero dun in it's mouth, they are not big, 1-2lbs but they are into your backing in a flash.
There is a huge variation amongst the trout we have been taking, most are in great order, see the wee fat sea-run in the net compared to the big skinny one Gordon is holding, both were caught in the same run. The colour is also starting to come up with the approach of spawning and they have a definite softer feel when you pick them up.
A couple of people have asked me how to tie the aero wing patterns so here goes, I have put up a photo of the three main ones, the nearest one is a standard dun pattern with a hare's ear dubbed body and grey wing, the middle one is exactly the same fly with a black wing. We use the black one on grey water and the grey one on black water. The far fly is our spinner pattern and it is the same except it has a red body.
An #18 Kamasan 401 whisker barb is a good size to use.
Tie in some lambs wool or other material, aerowing is OK, just as if you were tying a parachute post.
Then clip it at about 2mm so it makes a small tuft, this will act as a spreader for the wings, you can omit the tuft if you want and just number 8 the wing but I like the look of the dark center in the wing.
Then take one strand of your grey or black aerowing, just cut a length where it folds on the cardboard.
Loop this under the hook below the tuft, hold with your left hand and put a turn in front, around the back and a couple around the base of the tuft, then run the thread back to the bend of the hook.
Turn the vise upside down, a rotary is a big help here, trim the tuft in front of the wings and behind so it now acts as a spreader between the wings.
Dub the body with hare's ear for the dun and red for the spinner, I have seen some with quill bodies, cut the wing to the right hight and you have a very tough fly that does not need floatant, as I like them to sit into the film.
10 April 2016
What a difference a week makes, last week I was quite despondent but this week they really started feeding hard, I often think that they seem to get going in April about when daylight saving finishes. I know it should not make any difference to the trout but maybe the daylight hours are starting get shorter, could it be a light change or even just cooler water temperatures, I don't know but I like it when savings stops.
It did not make them any easier, even though they were feeding aggressively and we had to make a few fly changes, something which I always try and avoid, for example we even went back to the old "First choice" a pattern that was popular a few years ago on the Mataura. I don't like changing flies because it is easy to see whether the trout are on duns, spinners or emergers and as long as your fly is in the same size, colour and shape of the natural it should just come down to presentation. That is no drag and over the nose of the trout, what we do is pick on one and keep at him until you either catch him or put him down. They are operating just below the surface and moving from side to side so their window is very small and sometimes they just don't see the fly but if you keep at them sooner or later that fly will go over the trout's nose and if the fly is the correct one there is no reason why it should not be taken.
An old Mataura saying is that when they are on duns they will still take emergers but when they are on emergers they won't take duns and this is true, just watch the wee duns floating down, the trout look as though they are rising but the duns float serenely along, they are taking the emergers/cripples just below the surface. They were much harder to catch when they were on duns than when they were on spinners this week, usually it is the other way around but Sakakibara san had a very sparsely tied spinner that was deadly so maybe that was the reason. Another fly that we changed to was an #18 parachute adams and one afternoon it was deadly and I have not used a parachute adams on the Mataura for years.
We seem to be getting a lot of NW/NE wind at the moment, if it changes back to a more SW and cooler wind I think there may be some good hatches.
3 April 2016
The last week has been tough, in fact the whole of March was not easy, the months of Jan/Feb which we usually don't rate were miles better, the trout have only risen spasmodically and they have been picky. Last Thursday was a lot colder and I was expecting a good dun hatch, there were mayflies coming off when I got there about 12.30 but the trout were only half hearted, it was the old rise once trick. Around 3.00 there was a brief flurry of duns and then a huge spinner fall started and they were feeding well but they were really tough, I was fishing in a spot that rarely gets fished so they had not been pressured.
We usually describe Mataura fishing as "Goldilocks" fishing, not too easy, not too hard but just right but lately I would almost put them in the too hard basket. All the same we have been catching trout, I have been trying other patterns instead of the #18 aero dun and the #18 aero spinner all the time and I have gone back to 5X tippet and the #18 aero emerger, see one of the photos and it has been working quite well.
The low water could be a factor and it has been very warm so if we can get a cold spell it will help, plus the end of daylight saving and the shorter days in another week seem to get them going.
28 March 2016
There has still been no significant rain, probably just enough showers to keep the level relatively constant and the cool nights are keeping the water temperature around 14/15 which is about perfect. This week was again mainly spinner falls, although there was a good dun hatch on Thursday afternoon which was bought on by a cold SW change. I called into Rodger's garage in Wyndham later in the week and their front window was covered in duns which means that the majority of the dun hatches are still occurring at night.
The spinner falls have been difficult, they don't seem to be really going for it, just coming up here and there even though there are a lot of spinners on the water, I don't think the low water is helping either, you have to be very careful how you wade. The spinner falls seem to happen any old time but generally if there has been no wind for a couple of hours you will see them starting to congregate over the water. The birds can be a bit of a give away too, when duns are coming off the birds will be lower and you will see splashes as the swallows take them right off the water, the birds operate much higher on spinners. When you are sitting waiting for a hatch the first sign will be the birds, then you will see mayflies in the air and on the water and last of all the trout wake up and take notice.
I have gone back to my Hare's ear nymphs and given the glister ones away, nothing scientific, just a gut feeling that we were not catching any more with them and anyway I do like the look of natural materials much better, the H/E nymphs look just like the natural when they are wet but I shall keep a couple of glisters in the box just in case.
20 March 2016
The Mataura has dropped back down to its previous low levels but it is trying to rain as I write and there is more rain over the next few days. The plan is for a nice fresh to lift the levels and see us through for the April hatches but as we well know anything could happen but here is hoping for the best.
The usual pattern for mayfly activity over the season is for good dun hatches over Oct/Nov and up to Xmas if it stays cool. The Mataura mayfly, deleatidium vernale, loves cold ,showery conditions and those early months are perfect for dun hatches, some of the best rises I have seen are when it is almost snowing, there is hail about and the wind is from the SW.
Then over Jan/Feb the weather becomes too warm for daytime hatches and the mayflies hatch at night when it is the coolest. Spinner falls will occur over this period and all through the season when conditions are right, this Jan/Feb we had some super spinner falls, mainly I think because there was very little wind especially in the mornings.
Then over March/April the days get shorter, cooler and the afternoon mayfly hatches start, years ago with the short Southland summers dun activity could even be seen at the end of February but over the last few years the dun hatches have been starting later and later and it is now into April before they really get going. The reason I think is climate change, it has been slowly getting warmer over March and this has delayed the hatches, it was 28 degrees in Invercargill yesterday for goodness sake.
We have had Sandy with us and he is a classic example of how the Mataura is a great river for beginners, Sandy arrived here with about five days of unsuccessful fly fishing in Tasmania. Someone had given him some good casting basics and on his first evening he hooked his first 4/5 trout on the fly, none of them stayed on but that was not the point. The next day all his trout were taken on the nymph which was a lot of fun for someone who had never caught a trout on a fly, next time is dry fly time.
13 March 2016
The Mataura continues to stay low, I thought the last rain would help but it didn't, there is some more, hopefully coming on Tuesday as I would like a good fresh through before the April hatches. A lot of people are complaining about how the trout are becoming very spooky in these low water conditions, I think this is more up river and in the Waikaia. I have not noticed it much down here as most of the trout we cast to are in shallow water anyway but on several more pressured pools I have seen the pods of rising trout just moving out of casting range with each cast. I normally stay away from these places but when confronted with this problem we have found that as long as you make the first cast, to preferably the tail end charlie right on the money, you might pick him up, otherwise you are going to be chasing them around the pool all afternoon.
The low water seems to be affecting the nymphing runs more than the risers in the flat water and I am now certain that the long, 15' leader and the indicator up by the end of the line is the way to go under these conditions. Foam lines are a good place to target as the trout seem to stay in them as vs. moving away, I don't think that they see you as well. Also strangely enough shallow water feels easier than say thigh deep water when casting to rising fish, again I don't think they see you as well. Then again it is much bigger water down here and it doesn't seem to be too much of a problem.
I thought we had moved into a cooler autumn phase last week but the last few days have been quite warm although the water temperature is unlikely to warm up much now. I have been continually surprised at the number of rising trout we have found over the last couple of months, normally dull months rise wise on the Mataura and hopefully it bodes well for the autumn hatches.
6 March 2016
The Mataura is getting very low again but it is in good condition and the water temperature is not too high, there were some small dun hatches on Tues/Wed and Thursday in the mornings which is encouraging as we are all looking forward to them kicking off this month and into April. I was made aware on Wednesday morning of just how crucial the body colour is when fishing duns or spinners, I had picked up a couple on an #18 aero dun and I continued to fish to rising trout even though I had seen some spinners on the water. But being the lazy fisherman I am I didn't bother to change but with nothing coming to my fly I was forced to, two casts after changing to an #18 red bodied aero spinner I was into fish.
We only went to Lake Onslow a couple of times during the cicada hatch but both times I felt we were catching bigger trout than usual, sure there were plenty of small ones but in between there were some good fish
and they really are beautiful up there. The other spot that I noticed a size increase was in the Teviot which flows out of Onslow, we always have a lot of fun in there on the way home catching heaps of tiny trout and every now and then you will hit a half pounder or even one of a pound and it seems a monster. We got a couple of two pounders both times and some Aussie guys caught a couple of three pounders, one day I must start lower down in the Teviot and fish my way back up to the dam.
The other interesting thing was the flies we caught the Onslow trout on, Christian was fishing the two flies in the photo in tandem about 20cms apart and the trout consistently took the "Black cricket" as he calls it, the cicada imitation looks pretty good to me but it was the black one they wanted. The only thing I could think of was the presence of legs on the cricket, the first day we went up it was dead calm and you could see the legs twitching every time it hit the water. The second day was very windy and we only saw a couple of rises but fished blind they still came to the cricket, even though you couldn't see them I am sure the legs were more active in the choppy water, than the dead calm.
It looks like rain later in the week but we may need it by then.
28 February 2016
We have just had a nice fresh through the river, it put it out for a couple of days but we needed it as the river was fast getting down to as low as it was before. In the last blog I said I was going to experiment with the indicator right up the leader at the end of the line, we did and I think it is just as good as a meter and a half from the nymph. We caught plenty of trout and probably didn't spook as many but you have to use it in fast ripples and it is too far away to register strikes on drop offs but I shall keep playing with it.
The other change I have made is the material I am using to tie my nymphs, David and I had a good trout that was hanging off a drop off, we tried several nymphs and then I tried one of Chris Dore's glister nymphs. The trout grabbed it first drift through so I have tied up some new nymphs which seem to work well, I still like my gold ribbed hare's ear so all I changed was the H/E body for a glister body and retained the H/E collar behind the bead head, see photo, these nymphs are tied on TMC 2488H #16 hooks.
I tie all my nymphs with 2mm tungsten bead heads and 2mm gold bead heads, I use the tungsten in waster water but if I start hooking up on the bottom I will change to the gold bead head. With these 2488H hooks use a #14 which is actually a nice #16 and use the #16 to get a perfect #18. Although it was warm today, the nights have a distinct autumn feel and with a cold SW coming through in the next few days I will be looking for some dun hatches.
21 February 2016
The rain during the week freshened the river up nicely and it is now in perfect condition and the good run of spinner falls in the mornings continues, I have never seen a Jan/Feb like it. I had not seen a dun hatch all that time but yesterday being quite cold they came off in the morning, #18/small #16 brown duns and then again in the afternoon on the lower river. But the afternoon duns were big, #14 black duns, the body and the wings were a solid black, quite different from the morning duns but still I assume sub species of deleatidium vernale. My client caught all his fish in the afternoon on a #14 CDC dad's favourite and in the morning on an #18 CDC emerger.
The nymphing came right after the rain as the ripples and dropoffs that had got too low filled up again. Usually I put the indicator about a meter and a half up from the nymph but I had a client who could not see it very well there, especially in the rain so being from the Taupo area he put a great blossom of an indicator right up at the end of his line.
I was horrified but with 15' of leader in front of it and in the fast shallow ripples it worked like a charm, it was no good at the drop offs as there was too great a time lag but in fast ripples I thought it may be better the indicator closer up. It didn't spook trout and the strikes were easy to see so I shall do a bit of experimenting, although I wouldn't use the big Taupo budgie, maybe we don't need the indicator so close to the nymph. I remember in the early 70's we never had indicators to start with, we just watched the end of the line and if it stopped we struck, we seemed to catch plenty of trout too.
During these morning spinner falls they are not so easy when the first start but then the trout get in an aggressive feeding pattern and they are not difficult to catch but then as the spinners taper off they get tough again. We have found that a soft hackle #18/#16 swung through the remaining difficult feeders will pick up a strike, I don't know why but we found out just by accident.
14 February 2016
The Mataura is seriously low now at 340mm at Wyndham, I have never seen it this low but it is in good condition and even though it hit 26
degrees today the water temperature was only 17.1. The nymphing is
tough as most of the ripples I fish have virtually dried up but most mornings we are still getting these lovely spinner falls. I tried to take a photo of one this morning, if you look closely you can see a few of the rises but believe me there were a heap of trout up on them.
I still use my aero spinner but I still tie up the old Owaka, see photo, for lots of people, it is still probably the best spinner pattern for mataura trout and it has been around for a long time. I use light grey hen hackle for the wing, reddish brown for hackle and tail and stripped peacock quill, dyed red for the body. When I have finished the fly I trim the hackle underneath, I know this is a sacrilege with expensive hackles but the fly sits in the film like the nataural. I never use a spent style spinner as most of the spinners are still sitting upright during a fall on the Mataura and if they are not the upright fly is easier to see and the trout don't seem to mind, plus the spent styles are hard to see.
I should tie and use the Owaka more but they are fiddly to tie plus I put head cement on the body to strengthen it and make the red peacock quill glow and it takes time to dry. I still seem to catch enough on my aero spinner but I make sure I always have a couple of Owakas in my box just in case the trout get really picky, I tie them on #18 hooks.
It looks like rain over the next few days and it may put the river out but we really need it.
8 February 2016
The Mataura is getting very low, 418mm at Wyndham right now, it got down to 385mm at the end of January last season which is the lowest I have ever seen it. But is still clear and clean, a few years ago whenever it got this low a black mat would cover the stones and there would be gunge in the water but it is a long time since that has happened. We were fishing to a pod of trout on spinners yesterday, they were operating in knee deep water and with the sun out on the crystal clear water we could see every spot on them as they came for the dry. There seem to be plenty of trout around, there has been some comment that trout numbers have been down over recent years but a walk along any high bank in this low water period soon dispels that theory.
For many years we used to say that Jan/Feb were the worst months of the year for dry fly fishing, especially during the day as it was too warm for dun hatches, although on a warm, cloudy, calm day there would be a good chance a a spinner fall as these conditions replicated the evening. Jan/Feb were when the evening rises really came into their own as the spinners fell and the "mad rise" would occur but since Xmas this has not been the case. Maybe it has been the lack of wind, especially in the mornings but the evening rises have been disappointing to say the least and the spinners have been falling during the mornings and some afternoons in bright sunny conditions which is most unusual. Whatever, it has given us the best daytime dry fly fishing I have ever seen over a January, early February period.
I have not seen a dun hatches anywhere over this time but they have to be doing it sometime to produce these sometimes huge numbers of spinners. We think it is during the night, which aside from a few very hot nights have been reasonably cool, this has also been helping the water temperatures which have not been, aside from a couple of days too high, it is 17.4 as I write. There seem to be plenty of cicada about, we usually think of Waitangi day as when they start but we visited a high country lake on the last day of January and they were everywhere, I am not sure about Onslow and those lakes though.
Some rain would be nice but it looks aside from later in the week fairly dry.
31 January 2016
There was a nice wee fresh though the river during the week which was great for the river as it is very fishable now and dropping fast. I thought I might have a wee talk about willow grubs, not that I am an expert, I normally keep well clear of them but I have many clients who love them so I have been able to pick up a few tricks along the way.
One of the inherent problems with them is their movement in the water, if you watch them closely they twitch which is impossible to imitate in a fly so we have to forget about that. Trout when they are feeding on the grubs have a much higher cruising speed than normal as they move around the pool, this can be used to your advantage. The reason being I think, is after watching the most successful anglers, the common denominator is their ability to drop the fly just in front of the trout, not a meter in front but just centimeters.
I don't the trout has time to think about it and just reacts as I have seen some very strange flies taken that were dropped right in front of a trout that was supposedly locked into the grubs, it also cuts down on drag which I think is the other crucial component. There seems to be a large variation of willow grub patterns so I don't think the fly pattern is that important as everybody seems to have their own favourite. Just the right size/colour, right in front of the trout with no drag and a longish leader which probably helps to cut down on the drag. The other thing is to try and keep out of sight, I know they look unspookable but they soon know you are there I am sure that makes a difference. Also don't stay too long with the same pod, often you will pick one up quite quickly and then you can keep at them for a while but it often pays to head off to another pod.
All the rivers and streams are in good order and the weather looks settled for a while.
24 January 2016
I forgot to say that those good trout taken in the drop offs last week were all on nymphs, #14 black tungsten( 2mm), gold ribbed hare's ear tied on TMC 2488H hooks. These hooks are really a size bigger than they actually are, the #14 I use is really a #16 and the same for the #16 which is closer to an #18, they have a lovely wide gape which accounts for the size discrepancy but with a very short shank. The short shank allows you to tie a small fly on what is a really quite a large, heavy fly, I have put a photo up of one of these nymphs.
I have not seen any rising trout over the last week, they may be doing it in the evening and they are on willow grubs in other waters if that is what you want to do so nymphing during the day is the way to go on the lower Mataura. I only use the one nymph, I know lots of people advocate the use of two but I find on the lower Mataura one is plenty, we are only fishing knee deep ripples so there is no need to use anything heavy just to get the nymph down. Some fishermen say that two gives the trout a choice and that they mostly take the smaller nymph, if that is the case why not use just the smaller nymph, it won't get tangled as much and I think they would be surprised at the results.
I like the hare's ear type better than the pheasant tail, the pheasant tails don't last long and great fly that it is, it only represents a mayfly nymph, whereas the H/E does the mayfly, the caddis and tied roughly an emerger but it really doesn't matter that much as I don't think they are that selective on nymphs. I use a white indicator of the same material that you get with those indicator tying tools, I think it is wool but it floats all day and in white just looks like a piece of foam. I tie it in about a meter and a half from the hook which gives me all the indication I need, although you might want to put it a wee bit closer in slower water.
And you can fish slower, smoother water, I watched a guide who had a couple of clients nymphing up a long slow pool which was about knee deep to about a meter deep and I was amazed at what they hooked, I couldn't do that, a small ripple or a drop off is enough for me. You can also go deep in you want to do that sort of thing, I remember a guide from Taupo who came down here, he would toss his heavy Taupo rig up as far as he could in a deep, long pool and then let it drift down and then by mending he would also get a long downstream drift. Not much fun I thought but he hooked some impressive trout out of those deep pools, trout that had probably never seen a nymph before.
There is rain for tomorrow, a wee bit would be nice but you have to be careful what you wish for in Southland.
17 January 2016
The river came up on Friday after some badly needed rain, the main branch and the tributaries were getting very low, it is dropping fast now and should be quite fishable by tomorrow. I only fished one morning this week before the river came up, Mike and I went a checked a few drop offs, these spots hold some good trout as you can see in the photo. The best one I got was 60cms which is all I go by as I don't have a weigh net but Mike did and it came out at 5lbs so I know now what a 60cms trout weighs, a 50cms or 20"trout weighs 3lbs.
There have still been rising trout in sheltered spots in the mornings, this is by far the best time to go as a breeze can get up most afternoons. I think the reason there are still rising trout is that it has been rather cool and the water temperature has been low, usually it is getting too hot at this time of the year for daytime rises. In the afternoons we have been checking out sheltered sod banks, it is quite an eye opener to sit for a few minutes and see what happens along one of these banks before you rush in and start sight fishing. These trout are picking up the remains of the mornings dun/spinner hatch and whatever else takes their fancy and they will still quite happily take a beetle.
There have been a couple of salmon taken below Mataura and one 10lb fish was hooked a couple of days ago on a swung nymph! The other interesting fish being caught are perch, I have had reports from several fishermen who have hooked into them in some very open pieces of water. There is a high population of perch in the lower river but they usually like deeper water with sunken willows and other obstructions, generally not the sort of water one is fishing when targeting trout.
10 January 2016
The weather finally came right over Xmas and up until the gales of the last few days has been perfect, hardly any wind, especially in the mornings. Maybe this is the reason for the good spinner falls most mornings even though it has been very sunny, spinners usually prefer cloudy, cam days as this replicates the evening conditions when they mostly return to the water. The evening rises have been very poor, I presume that this is a consequence of the spinners falling in the morning instead of the evening.
Whatever it has been fun as usually at this time of the year daytime rises are rare, evening rises being the norm and we will spend the day nymphing or floating a beetle along the banks or through ripples, see photo. We have had Hiroshi and Miki Ozaki with us and I have included a photo of the flies he ties and uses during spinner falls, they are very traditional and I have included the fly I use on spinners for comparison, they caught all their trout while they were here on these flies.
The spinners started to fall around 10.00am and usually went for about an hour and a half which was full on action and then it would suddenly stop and appear dead, nothing only the odd rise. But we found that by looking in foam lines, back eddies and along those high banks where the sods have fallen in the water trout would rising, not madly but steadily to the left over spinners.
I have included a photo of my new flyline that John White bought me courtesy of Airflo from England, thank you John. The plan is to use this line on sea-runs, Jarred Martin has been using one very successfully in the Clutha, we have found that even with fast sinking lines they are not getting down and are hard to mend. This line with it's fast sinking tungsten tip does the job, plus you can still mend the floating section so I will let you know how it goes.
The river is perfect but getting very low, although water temperatures have not been a problem due to cooler nights, the low levels are starting to expose some nice drop offs and ripples making for some good nymphing.
20 December 2015
I only fished a couple of days this week, one morning on the Mataura before it went out with overnight rain and one afternoon on a small stream because everything else was dirty, the rest of the time was spent watching cricket, I feel rather privileged when the only real concerns I have is the state of the river and the result of a test match.
The Mataura is coming right and I probably would have fished it today but for a rather interesting state of play in the cricket, there does not look like anything adverse in the weather so it should be good over Xmas. All the small streams have plenty of water and beetles are the way to go, I also hear reports that the dreaded willow grub is making an appearance in some areas.
This will be my last report until the 11th of Jan so I would like to wish everyone a merry Xmas and a happy new year and most of all, tight lines.
13 December 2015
I have put a selection of trout up this week from big to small, the big trout was 63cms long, I have no idea how heavy he was but he was a very solid fish and a handful to land. He was in a slowish ripple in water that would not have been calf deep, right on the edge of the ripple, there were 3/4 other fish rising and he was only making a tiny ring when he rose. I thought he was only a very small trout so I ignored him while I screwed up the others and when I cast to him there was just the slightest change in the surface of the water.
We caught a lot of trout like the small fat one, I could catch trout like that all day on a dryfly but the rest were all like the average ones in the other photos but as you can see overall they are getting bigger as the river drops. They are all however well and truly up on beetles, Tony Dawson hooked 18 the other afternoon, all on beetles, he said there was no hatch and they were not interested in nymphs or aeroduns but they took his coch y bondhu with reckless abandon, you can see his fly firmly in a jaw in one of the photos.
I have been watching cricket this week so I have only been going out in the mornings for a couple of hours and also in the evenings, the mornings are good on the Mataura, the afternoon wind has not got up, it is cooler and there seems to be more mayfly action, not big hatches but fish rising here and there. The evenings have been good, I am not a great fan of evening fishing but recently there have been a lot of fish up and they have been quite catchable, they are usually far more difficult at night than during the day. I was asked how I could see my fly as it got darker, the grey wing on my aeroduns is quite visible but most times I watch for the small ring that the fly leaves as it hits the water, I know how fast the current is moving so I have a good enough idea where the fly is. Another thing, in the evening or during a daytime hatch if the trout you are casting to has not taken your fly and it is not dragging just let it drift until it does then pick it up. I wouldn't mind a buck for the number of times I have seen a trout that was sitting just behind my target fish come up and take my fly.
There have been some heavy showers and the river has come up a wee bit but hopefully it won't be too much as it is fishing well at the moment.
6 December 2015
The weather has been awful as usual, rain and gale force winds from the SW most days but the mayflies have been hatching and in big numbers. I was trying to cast to rising trout this afternoon, the wind was bad enough and the water was carpeted with duns so my lone fly out there was a bit of a lottery, mind you I should not be complaining. I managed to fluke a few on an #18 aerodun and they were around 2 - 3lbs so it is nice to see some larger trout around.
The river became quite dirty on Friday, in fact most everything was so Christian and I ended up on a small stream and he caught several on various dries but most of them on a #16 CDC caddis type fly which was easy to see and the fish seemed to like. There was no hatch but he was able to target the odd fish that rose but most of them came up to a fly fished blind along the bank. The trout in this stream are beautifully coloured, they are absolute jewels with their red spots, golden flanks and black, green backs, they are not big, a pound, pound and a half but every now and then one of over a couple of pounds will take the fly.
A couple of weeks ago the reel/butt section of my Hardy Zenith came off in the water, I retrieved it and joined it back up but maybe because it was wet it stuck, I have seen plenty of people flick their tips off a put them back with no trouble but this butt section was there to stay.
I tried every trick I knew and a lot of other peoples tricks but no way could we move it. I was distraught because I love this rod above any I have ever had so the next move was to send it to Hardys but Adam Royter who is the Hardy man in NZ sent me a youtube vid of a four handed method and it worked! The youtube thingy is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8bOgtWtrNE if this does not work just google stuck rods, four hands method. We had been putting a fair amount of pressure on this rod but with two of us using this method it came apart quite easily with hardly any pressure.
29 November 2015
It has been another tough week on the Mataura with gale force winds, which were not conducive to good dry fly fishing, never the less we picked up a few here and there and the old beetle along the bank trick is still working well, in fact the trout are now fully switched on to the beetles. There were quite a few heavy showers on Friday which put the river up, not much but it became very dirty but it is coming down now and clearing fast.
A few years ago we used to chase the sea-runs in Sept/Oct but over the years we have realised that later may be better, sure they chase whitebait but smelt are their main targets. The main runs of smelt start in December and go to around the end of January and that is when the bigger sea-runs come in. Mike and I went up to the Clutha mouth yesterday to see what was happening, we got there around 6.00am just as the tide was becoming full, there was a lot of swirling along the edges but these trout were smaller like the one in the photo.
The hairy looking fly in it's mouth is a woolly bugger style fly tied by Jarred Martin using a very cheap but effective material for sea run flies, it is called "golden jackal J306" and you buy it by the meter from Spotlight. The action stopped as the tide went out and by then the wind was gale force so it was time for home but we are going to concentrate on the sea runners over the next couple of months and see if our theories about the smelt are the answer. There is a fascination about this sea-run fishing, it is probably like salmon fishing, the fact that you don't catch many actually makes one all the keener.
There are some showers around over the next week and even the wind is not too bad, so hopefully summer may be on its way.
22 November 2015
The weather has been awful, there has been rain, not enough to affect the river though as it has been dropping but gale force winds so I have had trouble finding rising fish. What I have been doing though is finding sheltered, grassy, willowy banks like the one in the photo and fishing a beetle blind along the edge, no more than a couple of meters out. Mostly the rise to the beetle comes from nowhere but often I will see a rise ahead of me and I can target that, I find knee deep to no more than mid thigh is perfect.
These trout I have been catching are a size up on the ones the previous week, whether this is because the river is dropping or that these bank feeders are just bigger anyway I don't know but it is a great way to catch trout when nothing else is rising. I have not taken many photos of the beetle trout because as you can see there are few places to lie them in the water for a photo and I won't plonk them up on the bank just for a photo.
Contrary to the usual weather Saturday was dead calm, not a breath all day so I went over to the Oreti with Tony Dawson and had an afternoon of dry fly to rising trout. This is not the upper Oreti of big fish fame but the Oreti below Lumsden and as you can see from the photo it is not dissimilar to the lower Mataura. There were mayflies dribbling off all afternoon and trout were rising to them here and there, not a big, intense hatch as you will see on the Mataura but there was always something to cast to. They were not big trout, one and a half ponds up to a couple of pounds but very strong and ran well in the shallow water. They all took the #18 aerodun, you can see one in the close up photo and Tony even nailed some on an #18 hare's ear nymph with a 2mm black beadhead when the action tapered off later on.
They were not easy but I described them as "Goldilocks" trout, not too easy but not too hard and they were pretty, not big and I like to catch the odd big fish but I would be happy to cast to trout like these any day, it was a wonderful afternoon.
16 November 2015
The trout have started taking beetles in the last few days, it has warmed up a bit and that has helped to kick them off, they usually start about mid November and although they have probably been around for a while it takes the trout several days to latch on to them in a big way. They make the fishing easier, especially on the small streams, just cast a beetle to a rise or down a feed lane blind. Even on the Mataura, fish a ripple blind with a beetle just as you would fish it with a nymph and at this time of the year the beetle fished dry will often out perform the sunken nymph.
They are easy to tie and I have some good photos on how to tie them on my blog, I think the photos are a couple of seasons ago. It is good to see the beetles as they set up the terrestrial action for the next few months, the brown beetles will be still around when the green beetles start around xmas and these will lead into the cicadas around the beginning of February. This will give you dry fly fishing over the warmer months when the mayflies have decided it is too warm and are only hatching in the evening or later at night.
The Mataura is dropping nicely and getting to a level where the nymphing will be coming into its own, ripples are becoming shallower which concentrates the fish more and the drop offs will start to appear. This week the bigger trout have started to be caught, I hit a heavy spinner fall on Friday and it was great to see the big black heads coming out of the flat, grey water in front of us. It was the first really aggressive feeding I have seen and it made a change from casting to the odd dimple here and there.
The river is lower and the water temperature is higher so the Mataura should start fishing better than it has.
11 November 2015
At last the trout are starting to move and so are the mayflies, the river is dropping and the the water temperature is up to 12.7. I went out yesterday in the rain for an hour and trout and mayflies were everywhere and they were easy to catch, today I guided Nelson and Gary and although they hooked plenty in the same pool I had fished yesterday they were tough. There were duns coming off most of the afternoon and as there was no wind a good spinner fall about 4.00pm but for the amount of naturals on the water there were only a small number of trout up on them.
The trout size is down but that often happens on the Mataura in the early season, as the river drops the trout seem to get bigger and generally easier to catch and I don't know why this is. All the trout today were taken on #18 aero duns and slight variations that Nelson and Gary had tied, Nelson also picked up a couple on #18 amber coloured floating nymphs.
I also think we dodged a bullet with the weather today as there was quite a bit of rain forecast but we only had periods of light drizzle which I rather like as it seems to get the duns and the fish going.
Tomorrow the plan is to find some easier and bigger trout.
1 November 2015
Finally, after a week of wandering down to the river every afternoon, waiting for a rise, seeing only a few mayflies come off and then heading home, today they went for it. I went to the same pool as I had done all week about 12.30 and I could see a few swirls in the ripple at the head of the pool. These trout took an #18, grey winged, hare's ear bodied aero dun on a 4X tippet without hesitation, in fact, all afternoon as long as the fly was anywhere near them they took it, after a good win in the rugby some rising trout did my soul the world of good after a lean week.
The rises were just here and there and I could see the odd mayfly in the air until about 3.00pm when the duns really came off. A lot of the trout I caught were small( I have only put photos of the bigger fish up) but still a lot of fun, I really don't care how big a trout is as long as he comes up to my dry. The water temperature was 11.8 and I think that is why they rose, the water has just been too cold all week, down in the 9's most of the time.
I am sure someone could still have caught trout all week, nymphing or swinging a wee wet but I have become a very lazy fisherman, I go to the river when I think there may be a rise, sit and watch and it either happens or it doesn't. But hopefully we have turned a corner, the river is dropping nicely and the graph is coming straight down with no big zig zags which indicate snow melt.
25 October 2015
There is still not a lot going on but at last I have put up some trout photos! The Mataura did not drop to a fishable level until Friday and again it was just a flutter of a few mayflies and the odd trout swirling around 3.00pm. I think it is still too cold with too much snowmelt, the temperature was only 9.4, although it was up to just under 12 this evening so I will be interested to see what happens tomorrow.
There was a wee bit of sun poking through on Saturday so I went and checked out a couple of backwaters that still remain clear when the main river is still high. One of them was full of trout, they come in to get away from the dirty water and they were quite happy to take an #18 gold beadhead hare's ear tied on a TMC 2488H hook and later on I changed to a water boatman which they were even more enthusiastic over, I don't know why I don't use the boatman more often. I have several guides who buy them from me and swear by them, there are photos and tying instructions on last season's blogs or it may be earlier blogs if anyone is interested. This backwater is a difficult place to take photos and all the trout were carbon copies so I have just put up a couple of shots.
Today we went after sea-runs, perfect conditions and we all had hits and I landed a small one that took a chartreuse rabbit but then it was all over as the wind turned to a strong NW but we will return later in November when the smelt are running, we think that the sea-runs are far more active when they are after smelt than when there are only whitebait on the menu.
19 October 2015
No change in the blog this week, only that things are worse, heavy, constant rain on Friday and during the night has made most of Southland's rivers and streams unfishable. Even if you could find a place to fish, maybe a lake or such like, the winds have been gale force, I have been getting a lot of flies tied. The forecast is horrific, with snow to 400m and more gale winds, it has been the worst start to any fishing season I have ever seen but never fear, this will all pass and the rivers will clear and the trout will rise.
I will give the river a couple of days to drop a bit and then I will go in search of a few sheltered backwaters, they are usually full of trout escaping the muddy main river conditions. There may even be a couple of small streams that will fish, most of them were actually getting too low so there is still hope as I have only landed one trout so far this season.
12 October 2015
I have nothing to report, I didn't fish until Saturday as the weather had been so bad during the week, mainly wind, there has been very little rain and the river is dropping quite quickly, in fact the small streams are getting very low. I went to the same spot on the Mataura as last week and a small hatch of mayflies came off about 3.00pm, enough to get the swallows interested but not a trout rose. I went back again yesterday afternoon and not even the mayflies came off so apart from the good hatch in the small stream on opening day the first week has been a bit of a disaster.
It has been very warm and although the river is dropping and clearing fast it probably needs a few days to settle down, the forecast for tomorrow is for colder SW wind and showers so that may get the mayflies and the trout going, we live in hope.
4 Oct 2015
Not much to report this week, Mike and I looked at a few spots on the Mataura on opening day but there was a nasty NE blowing downstream so we shot off to a small Mataura tributary which suited the easterly wind.
We arrived about 11.30 and there were trout rising to mayfly duns in most of the pools, I was using a #14 quill bodied parachute with a CDC post that had been sent to me by Christian Ion. They certainly worked but I ripped through several of them before I finally landed the fish in the photo, I think it was old nylon, my tippet stays in my vest which spends the winter draped over my fly tying chair in the sun. Anyway I chucked those spools and bought some more for the next day on the Mataura.
Mike and I went to our favourite Mataura pool about midday fully expecting and hatch anytime after that, conditions were perfect, light, cool SW and the river was in lovely condition, we finally left around 3.00pm after seeing a couple of rises and probably four mayflies. A glance at the graph when we got back showed the zig-zag pattern of melting snow coming down every day and the water temp was 9.1. The Mataura Mayfly likes cool, showery weather but snowmelt seems to be a big no no, this is going to be an on going problem for a while as there is an awful lot of snow up in the Waikaia, so our plan is to stick to some of the smaller streams.
The last couple of days have been a bit rough especially yesterday with some of the strongest winds I have seen for sometime, the coming week is not too flash either with a lot of strong wind, the Mataura is coming up as well, the warm NW has probably melted a lot of snow as there has been not that much rain.
28 September 2015
Everything is aligned for Thursday, it is not often that it happens like this but the Mataura is dropping steadily and should be in good order by opening day, there is no adverse weather in sight although there will be a few showers around but that will only encourage them to rise. And rise they have been, I have been watching a favourite pool and there have been quite a few heads poking out from about 1.30pm (DST).
The long range forecast is for a cool but not too wet spring followed by a rather severe El nino which could mean a very dry summer also there is a lot of snow up in the Waikaia which is going to have to come down sometime. At the moment it is dribbling down and not having much affect on the river but if it does all the small streams have a ton of water in them and they should fish well.
This is the first winter where I have not fished off season so I am looking forward to Thursday and actually it is rather nice not to have fished, the anticipation for opening is that much greater. I have been doing a lot of flying and a client/friend who knows Mark Petitjean manged to get me a very good deal on one of his new vises so I have been enjoying tying on that over the winter months.
Good luck to everyone and tight lines