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23 April 2017
We have had very good dun hatches this week and only one true spinner fall, although with the good weather there have been spinners mixed in with the mayflies that are coming off later in the afternoon. It has been unusual this April for the dun hatches to be spread throughout the day instead of there being no action until an intense hatch will start around 2.00pm which is the normal pattern. Maybe it is the settled weather but we have found fish rising at 10.00am with a peak around 11.00/12.00 and then another peak around 2.00/2.30pm.
The trout caught this week have been a lot smaller than the previous week, it could be just the spots we have been fishing because some pools on the Mataura definately hold smaller trout than others, it could also mean that the bigger trout have started spawning but I have seen very
little sign of spawning yet. There is nothing wrong with smaller
trout, I don't care what size a trout is, all I ask is that he comes up and takes a dry fly, these smaller fish are very strong, absolute gems and just as selective as their larger brethren.
Aoyama san has had great success this week using comparaduns and sparkle duns, now I have never really used them, mainly because they are difficult to tie, getting the deer hair wing right is a right proper bugger. But I have been taking lessons from him and mine are now sort of passable, the sparkle dun is the one in the photo with the trailing shuck of zealon and the comparadun has the split mayfly tails, otherwise they are essentially the same fly. But they are working really well on the Mataura as they fill the main criteria of sitting in the film and not on the surface and this is crucial on the lower river and they are easy to see on the grey water with their dark wing. Tied with a red body and a lighter deer hair wing they have been good also as a spinner pattern.
This has been the best April we have seen for quite some time.
16 April 2017
The rain we had has set the river up perfectly, this is the second time the river Gods have smiled, usually a dry spell is followed by a lot of rain which puts the river out but these last two rainfalls have been just right. The afternoon dun hatches have continued and today around 4.00pm there was an excellent spinner fall, the first I have seen for a while. Spinner falls are one of the few times that colour is crucial in the flies you choose, after the dun hatch and the spinners started one of my guys carried on with his dun pattern that had been so successful an hour before. His mate had changed to a red bodied spinner pattern and was immediately into fish, his friend was touching nothing until I checked his fly, a quick change to a red body and he was away.
One of the guys was using a red bodied comparadun in #18 and the other one was using the fly on the right of the trio of flies I put up last week but it had a finely dubbed red body.
Some of the dun hatches have been incredible, I have put up a photo, it is not that flash but you can see the duns on the water, this was replicated all over the river surface and was as thick as this from 2.00pm until around 4.00pm. Wonderful to look at but difficult to fish as the trout were only taking some of the natural duns but accurate casting and perseverance resulted in quite a few hook ups.
The weather looks good for hatches for the rest of the week, cool, showery and a SW wind.
9 April 2017
The mayfly hatches have been going really well all this last week, probably too well as the water has been covered with duns and your fly is hard to see but we won't complain! They have been starting around 2.00pm and going until around 4.00pm when I would have expected a fall of spinners but I have not seen a spinner all week.
The river is seriously low and at 309mm at Wyndham today it is the lowest I have ever seen it but it is still clear and cool, a few years ago at this level it would have been a right proper mess. I have included a photo of the three flies that Yatagawa san has been using, they are all CDC types and all in #18, the photo is not that great but you will get the idea. The fly on the left has a CDC post that lets the body sink in the film, it has been working very well when the trout have been taking just under the surface.
There is a shot there of a trout with two flies in its mouth, he hooked this trout and it broke him off and then no more than ten minutes later he caught it again with his fly still in its mouth, that has got to tell you something but I am not sure what it is. He has been using 6X tippet which is a wee bit over 2lbs because of the low water and that is the only trout that has broken him off. And there are some good sized fish in these photos and he gets then in PDQ, as long as it is steady, firm pressure with a lot of side strain the trout are not stressed at all.
It looks like some rain this week, I know you have to be careful what you wish for in Southland but a wee top up would be good.
2 April 2017
The Mataura last week was as low as I have ever seen it according to my records, it was 327mm at Wyndham, 340mm was the previous lowest. But it was in great condition and still fishing well, a small fresh a couple of days later pushed it up a bit but it is now down to 390mm, it will be interesting to see how much we get later in the week when the tail end of Debbie brushes by us.
April has started well with welcome signs of fish rising here and there, hopefully these will turn into the full blooded hatches that April is
famous for. During the week we would nymph a ripple in the morning and
generally at the top and in the tail of the next pool we found trout swirling in the shallow water and here and there up through the pool.
They were not easy to catch even though there were mayflies in the air, we found a floating nymph like an unweighted pheasant tail or one of my Dunedin duns tied in the dark brown to work best. They would not look at anything presented on the surface.
I had an interesting evening with a mate down at lake Waituna, we were just fishing woolly buggers, Jarred landed the one in the photo and we had several on and off in the space of a couple or three hours, it was a lovely evening and I must do it again.
After I left Gisborne my mate carried on into the Bay of Plenty and fished some of the tiny streams over there which hold some big browns and rainbows. The creeks are very small as you can see from the photos and it is a close combat sort of fishing, they are very over grown, the pools are small, they use 3X/2X tippet, flick out a short cast and then try and hold the trout in the same pool.
26 March 2017
After we left Lake Waikaremoana we were hit with a second dump of rain which put the main Waioeka out but left a couple of smaller side streams fishable. This meant we had to spread out a bit and the rocky fast flowing nature of the streams precluded a lot of fish photos but you will get the general idea. They ranged from a couple of pounds up to four pounds with a couple of the browns bigger at around the 6lbs mark.
I had forgotten just how rainbows will fight and in the fast water you really had your hands full, they would be off down the river and into your backing in a flash. At this time of the year they are rising to what we call Lace moth but are more correctly called passion vine hoppers, they are a small, #16, sized triangular insects which live under the ponga leaves and on the Tutu bushes. They get blown into the river or just fly into it and the trout lock into them just as they do down here when they are on willow grubs.
My mates had some very good imitations and a parachute adams also worked, it was fun fishing as these trout would line up down a foam line, usually with the biggest in front and take the lace moth with splashy rises. There were still plenty of cicada around but by the time we got into the gorge they were well and truly locked on to the Lace moth.
I also had my first experience of Czech nymphing, a very effective way of catching trout in fast water but not really my scene, there is a photo of my mate Paul with his arm out Czech nymphing. I won't go into the details of how to do it but I was amazed at how he would pick up fish right under his nose as in the photo.
I have just got back and the Mataura is as low as my records have ever shown it at 335mm at Wyndham but there is some rain over the next week which may help.
18 March 2017
I am writing this blog from Gisborne on the east coast of the North Is, we are having a couple of weeks off and I am fishing some of my old stamping grounds with old fishing mates. The weather has not been great as we arrived right at the end of the weather bomb which hit the top end of the North Is. This put all the rivers out so we started by fishing Lake Waikaremoana, this has to be one of the most beautiful lakes in NZ and it is full of trout in wonderful condition.
We camped in Mokau bay and then every morning we would head off to different beaches, park the boat and stalk the browns and rainbows which are cruising the edges of the lake looking for cicada which have landed in the water. These cicada are huge and their singing is deafening, you can actually be driving along through the bush with the windows closed and you can still hear them.
It did not matter which way the wind was blowing as we could always find a sheltered beach but to spot them you have to have sun, which we did not have all the time so we missed quite a few. But when the sun came out they were easy to see, you could see them slowly cruising towards you from quite a distance away. Then it was just a matter of casting a cicada pattern in the path of the trout and waiting, some of them ignored it, some changed direction but most of them accelerated as they saw the fly and then rose and took it. It was a lot of fun in the crystal clear water.
We are using cicada patterns tied by my mates, the one in the photo where the cicada is attacking it on the rod handle is just 2mm foam tied over a glister dubbed body, trimmed to shape and an aerodry wing. The great big teal coloured one worked really well after we attacked it with a marker pen and it is currently undergoing improvements,like an olive green body which we will mark with a black pen. But it sat up very realistically just as the natural does, these are big insects and sit up and kick up quite a commotion when they hit the water.
Tomorrow we are going to hit some of the streams in the Waioeka gorge area.
12 March 2017
What a wonderful spell of weather we are having and it looks like there is another week of it, the Mataura is low but the water is quite cold due to the cool nights. There has been a mixture of spinner falls because of the lack of wind and definite hatches of duns. There has been no regular time for the mayfly activity, we have just stumbled across them at any time during the day and any evening rising seems to have stopped. This is because of the shorter, cooler evenings and hopefully the advent of the afternoon dun hatches.
As a matter of interest all the trout in these photos were caught in very low water conditions on the Mataura using 4X tippet, which just goes to show what you can get away with. This also means you can put a bit of heat on them and get them in and released quickly. I have put a photo of a sea run trout up just to show the difference, the sea-run has crosses as verses the spots on the resident fish. I don't know what this one was doing in the river in this low water, they usually pour into the river for a while after a fresh.
I am off to Gisborne for a week of fishing, leaving these perfect conditions for an area which is having major flooding, I can now sympathise with people who travel here only to find the Mataura less than perfect.
5 March 2017
The Mataura is low and getting lower everyday but with colder day and night temperatures it is staying cool and the trout are feeding actively. All of a sudden autumn is here, it is darker in the mornings, we went out for a couple of evening rises after dinner and we only got an hour in, a brief flurry of rises and then it was dark. But at the same time this is signaling the start of the afternoon autumn dun hatches.
The last few days have seen some spinner action in the morning before the wind gets up and yesterday was quite cold so there were a few rising fish in select spots. The terns and the swallows are rising and dipping more than they have been which means even if you don't see them there are duns about. When a hatch is imminent the order is, you will see the birds working, then there are a few mayflies on the water and in the air and then finally the trout start to rise. I think what they have been doing is feeding underneath on the drifting nymphs and then taking off the top and in the film as the emergers and duns reach the top.
The terns and swallows are a sign that something is happening even if you can't see the mayflies, I had a client nymph through a ripple the day before yesterday and touched nothing, he went through the same ripple yesterday with the terns wheeling all over it, no sign of mayflies but he hit several good fish on the nymph. They were obviously feeding on drifting nymphs under the surface, a wee while later there were rises in the calmer water against the bank.
26 February 2017
We are getting a great run of weather, warm during the day but you can feel the autumn change in the cooler mornings and see the colours changing on the trees. I love autumn, the weather is usually settled and the fishing can be great, especially on the Mataura.
The river has dropped to a good level and this last week the nymphing has been very good but there was very little surface activity, we stayed out for a couple of evening rises but nothing much happened then either. The nymphing rig is a 12' leader tapered to 3X with a couple of feet of 4X, a small wool indicator, I use the stuff that comes with that indicator thingy, it floats all day and by mixing the colours half and half it is easy to see. I hold the nymph in one hand, stretch my arms apart and tie the indicator there with a slip knot, there is an old wives tale that the indicator should be tied in at the depth of the water you are fishing from the nymph. Most of our nymphing is in knee deep water and an indicator that close could spook fish, most of our ripples are running quite quickly so you could probably put an indicator up by the fly line and still see the stop. I still use a gold ribbed hare's ear with a 2mm tungsten bead head, tied on a #14 TMC 2488H hook, this hook is called a #14 but in reality it is a #16, the same as their #16 equakes to an #18.
We are now heading into our prime dry fly months of March/April so as the weather cools over the next few weeks I am hoping to see some mayflies starting to dribble off around 2pm.
19 February 2017
At last the weather has come right and the weather is beautiful, the Mataura is in great condition and at a perfect level although technically we are only going to get a couple of weeks of summer. That won't matter though because if this weather continues we could have a fabulous autumn, the mornings already have a cool autumn feel about them. In fact the best time to fish the river on these hot days is in the morning, it is cool, no wind and there are usually a few mayflies still hatching from the night before and maybe some spinners.
The Mataura mayfly, deleatidium vernale, much prefers colder weather and not warm, summer afternoons as most people expect, in fact they like it downright crappy, some of the best mayfly hatches I have seen are in hail shower conditions. Part of the reason for the lack of dun hatches over recent years is we think due to climate change, it is just getting warmer so the mayfly have changed their habits and are now doing a lot of hatching during the night when it is cooler. We have also been seeing far more spinner falls so those mayflies have to be hatching sometime, the best conditions for spinners are no wind, cloudy and warm and generally in the afternoon.
The pattern was good daytime afternoon hatches during Oct/Nov and early Dec, then they would revert to the evening/night over Jan/Feb because it was too warm and then start again in the afternoon in March/April when temperatures started to cool again. But with the advent of climate change hatches that were common in March have now been pushed back into April and even later.
12 February 2017
It is still not summer weather but the Mataura and all the other streams have dropped back to a nice level, although there is a dollop of rain coming Monday morning which I am watching closely. After that it does not look too bad for the rest of the week, the usual wind but not much rain.
We had a lovely day on Friday, NW and 25 degrees in Alexandra so I shot up to lake Onslow, the lake is as full as I have ever seen it and there are reports of much bigger trout than usual being caught. There were a few cicada on the water , not many and the fish never really got going, I caught a couple on a black cricket and then when they had virtually stopped I hung a buzzer underneath it and picked up a couple more.
The wind dropped right away on Saturday and there was a lovely spinner fall where I was on the Mataura and given the conditions, no wind, cloudy and warm I bet it was happening all over the river. When they are really chomping on the spinners my aerowing upright spinner works well enough but as they taper off a bit and get more picky I find the Owaka is better. It is just a bit of a hassle to tie with it's light grey hen hackle wings, stripped quill, dyed red body and ginger hackle/tail, I suppose I have just got spoiled with tying the simple aerowing style flies.
A friend of mine fishing the Waimea was horrified at the number of dead fish he found the other day, these were good conditioned fish that had been dead for only a short while. He said they all had fresh hook marks in the jaw, they had probably been photographed to death and released too soon. We leave the fish in the net in the water, then get ready with the camera, then tell the other person to lift the trout, take the photo and then put it straight back, this results in a neat effect as you can sometimes see the water dripping off the fish in the shot.
I think we may have had summer but here is hoping for a lovely autumn.
5 February 2017
After another rough week I think the weather is changing for the better, the long range forecast looks not too bad thank goodness, last week was bad but we did find places to go and catch fish. The small lake again produced and my faith in buzzers is now complete, I again forgot to stomach pump any of them but the majority of the trout took the buzzer hanging under the dry. There were only a few cicada around but I have heard that they have started up at Onslow and with a temperature of 28 and a NW wind in Alexandra today and tomorrow they should really get going.
During the bad weather and high water I see that some of the guides are advocating the use of San Juan worms, I had a couple that were given to me that resided ashamedly in my fly box for years. But one day in desperation I tied one on just as you would a nymph with an indicator and fished it upstream in coloured water with surprisingly successful results. Now it is standard operating procedure with me when the Mataura is dirty, I see it as still imitating a natural as the trout are feeding on worms that have been dislodged from the banks. It must be fished upstream and drifted down, they don't work on the swing. The versions I have seen have been tied with super chenille but by far the best material is a product called worm body(gone is any pretense that these things are imitations of blood worm larvae), it is soft, it jiggles, it comes in three colours and it is perfect.
Now after that bit of heresy here is some more, I see that guides have been complaining about a jet boat on the upper Mataura, we have had them down here now for years and I used to hurl rocks, shout abuse and take numbers. But it has slowly dawned on me that they actually spark things up a bit, a couple of weeks ago we were having lunch before fishing a ripple when the eel man went through in his jet boat at a rate of knots. My client thought that that had buggered the water but we pulled 7/8 good fish out of it and I have seen that replicated many times over the years, its a bit like a super San Juan shuffle. I have often noticed when I have been standing in a ripple for a while with a client, I can look down and see several trout feeding on the nymphs that my feet have dislodged.
Enough of the desperate measures, with the weather improving we can look forward to cicada, spinner falls and even some evening rises.
29 January 2017
I hate to start every blog off about how bad the weather has been and it has but that is just an in convenience because the fishing has been very good. The rivers have been low but good because it has been cold but the wind was the killer, then the rains came last week and blew most places out so now we have rain and the wind is still blowing.
Never the less there are still spots to go and a small lake was first on the list, I was hoping for some cicada but there was no sign of them, they were on this lake this time last year but I am beginning to think that the cold, wet weather may have delayed or even stopped the hatch.
Normally we just fish this lake with cicada or other bushy flies, humpys, wulffs, that sort of thing but after my early season conversion to midge pupa or buzzers as the English call them, I had the guys hang a midge pupa 12" under the attractor fly. They hooked a dozen or so fish, two took the dry and all the rest took the buzzer , I should have stomach pumped a couple but I forgot all about it but I bet they had a big proportion of chironomids in them. You can see a photo of the buzzer they were using in the jaw of a rainbow if you look closely.
We then spent the rest of the week in a small stream where the trout were happy to eat beetles, caddis and Jun san who is new to tying flies and is very proud of his royal coachman creations took everything on this fly, you can see it in the mouth of one of the browns. It just shows that old patterns still work, I remember a guy a few years back who tied up all the old flies that are recommended in the F&G "Trout fishing in Southland" booklet, I don't think they have changed the flies since the first edition. These were twilight beauties, red tipped governors, greenwell's glory, mole fly, peveril of the peak and so on and he caught over the season just as many fish as the rest of us with our fancy new emergers, floating nymps, crippled duns and CDC styled flies.
I think any heavy rain is over for a bit but it looks like the wind will still be with us.
22 January 2017
The weather is still bad, everything was coming down well after the last lot and then we get hit with this new storm today, the Mataura here is coming down nicely but things don't look so good up in the Athol/Waikaia area, we shall just have to wait and see.
Just before the last storm hit I had a fabulous few days with Mike and Deb Lee, the river just came alive, contrary to all the weather forecasts the wind stopped and there was not a breath on the lower river. All those duns that we have not been seeing must have been hatching somewhere because there were spinners all over the water and a few duns too but it was the spents they were after. The nymphing sparked up too, I like to use a gold ribbed hare's ear with a black 2mm tungsten tied on a TMC 2448H in #14/#16 but Mike had tied flies he wanted to try so they took flashbacks and other assorted nymphs. I think as long as the size/presentation is right they will take, it was the same with the spinners, different flies but a down stream/ across reach cast with the fly getting to the trout first with no drag works most times.
Recently I have heard rumours of the demise of the Mataura and I must admit with the bad weather and lack of activity I was beginning to think there might just be something in the reports I was getting. But Mike and I stood on a high bank and looked down a long pool and all the way to the tail there were fish rolling on the spinners so the trout are still there and so are the mayflies so all we want is some decent weather.
16 January 2017
The weather just keeps on getting worse, not much rain as the Mataura and the small tributaries are really too low for good fishing, even the nymphing is starting to fall off as the ripples fade away. But the wind has been the main culprit, just dreadful and from the wrong direction, most of it from the NW which runs straight down most rivers in Southland so it has been a struggle.
The encouraging thing is that the moment the wind stops we have been seeing mayflies, this is because the water is still cool and aside from the odd hot day it has been quite cold on the river. The old beetle has saved the day on several occasions, I still have only seen the one but the trout still come up for the artificial. The brown beetle first appears around mid November and will continue on until February, this overlaps with the green beetle which starts around Xmas and goes a little longer. Whether they are green or brown makes no difference to the trout although the green is quite a bit smaller. They have become used to the fat, round silhouette and they just keep on eating them, in fact I have tied beetles with various coloured backs mainly for visibility and it made no difference. The beetles morph into the cicadas in the beginning of February so there is quite a long period when they will take a large buggy fly.
The wind will continue for the rest of the week and there looks like some heavy rain late Wednesday/ early Thursday and then it looks like this bad spell may break.
8 January 2017
It has been a rough couple of months, the last few weeks have been awful and next week looks just as bad. There has not been a lot of rain, just enough to lift it to a nice level as it was starting to get a wee bit low but the wind has been horrific.
I only saw one hatch of mayflies and that was about 6pm one evening and we managed to pick up several on aerowing duns but that has been all, the strong winds have put paid to rising fish. On the other hand the nymphing has been great, a lot of smaller trout but some good ones in between, I think the wind ruffled surface has also helped.
Even though there has been a lack of mayflies the trout have been happy to come up for a beetle and I have only seen one of those and that was after a friend had caught a trout on a beetle he found another one swimming around in the water. That was on the lower Mataura but a trip to a small lake on one of the few good days just after Xmas saw heaps of green beetle but the trout did not seem to like our green beetle patterns. But after changing to rather large chernobyl ants, see photos, the rainbows gobbled them up, maybe they could see them better I don't know. They were also taking midge pupa which we tried just in the interests of science, the more I experiment with fishing midge pupa the more possibilities I see for the use of them.
This coming week looks rough but all this will soon pass and a glorious summer will appear, I hope.
18 December 2016
It was another rough week, not so much rain which is letting the river come down nicely but the wind was horrific at times and I think we have some more coming. But the river is at a perfect level which has exposed the nymph spots as it has been a tad too high for good nymphing.
The nymph fishing has been good, plenty of good trout in most ripples and they are in great condition but I have not seen a mayfly for a long time, they must be hatching because if you can get away from the wind or on a day like Saturday without much wind there have been spinners about. I was talking to a couple of Aussie fishermen who had been here for over two weeks, fishing all day and everyday and they had not seen one either, spinners yes but no duns. They could have gone back to hatching at night as there have been several really cold SW afternoons early in the week when I would have expected to see a hatch. Mind you, I have not seen a beetle yet and I hear that the green beetles have been early, yet run a beetle along a bank or through a ripple and the trout will come up for them.
I like to use the white wool that comes with those indicator thingys where you use the small lengths of plastic tubing, I don't use them, instead preferring to tie the indicator material in with a slip knot, it stays in place where as the other system is inclined to slide up and down the leader plus it is a lot quicker to tie a slip knot. Anyway, sometimes the white is hard to see in certain lights so I then use the orange which can also be tricky to see sometimes but a client showed me how he uses a piece of white and a piece of the orange. The contrast between the two colours makes it easier to see in good or bad lights.
This will be the last blog for three weeks as my wonderful IT man, John Rountree of Grassroots IT Ltd. Gore, will be away so fish hard and have a great Xmas and a happy new year.
The Mataura is now down to a good level but the fishing is on the tough side, the weather has not helped, very strong winds, then cold and then
28 degrees in Invercargill!
I had not seen any dun hatches this week and only a few spinners here and there so we had a look at the backwater where I had been midge fishing. We caught a few trout but only managed to land a couple as the rest just dived into the weed and that was the end of that.
We had another day after sea-runs as I had heard that the smelt were starting run, the guys landed a couple and also broke several off but the ones they caught were chocca with large smelt so if the hatches don't improve on the Mataura we will go back again.
Today was perfect for an afternoon hatch, it was cold, showery with a SW wind but nothing rose, the only way we could hook anything was to fish along the banks with a beetle, I still have not seen a beetle anywhere but the trout are quite happy to come up and take the imitation.
4 December 2016
The Mataura is coming right and I shall probably fish it tomorrow but it has been a rough month, even the small streams are just that tad too high for good fishing. Luckily my backwaters were not too badly affected and as I am becoming obsessed with these midge feeding trout I had a couple of goes at them during the week and I think I am finally getting somewhere.
An English friend, John White who does a lot of midge fishing in the UK kindly sent me some midge patterns and instructions on how to fish them, he also suggested that I read up about Frank Sawyer and his "bow-tie buzzer", the English call midge pupa buzzers. Frank Sawyer was the father of nymph fishing and invented the pheasant tail nymph but he also developed a very good midge pupa pattern called the bow-tie buzzer and an innovative way of fishing it. It is far to complicated to explain in this blog but if you are interested google Frank Sawyer and the bow-tie buzzer.
I tied up some of his buzzers, see photo and fished them with his method, briefly you slip the fly on to your tippet and then with a Duncan loop you tie in some white wool, I used aerowing, trim it to size, this represents the breathing filaments and also keeps the fly on the tippet, the fly then is free to swivel and jiggle on the tippet. I caught a couple of fish with this method and it was rather a buzz, pun intended, using the exact flies and techniques that Sawyer had used all those years ago.
The only problem was that when I wanted to try out some of my other pupa patterns it was a bit of a hassle to re tie with the Sawyer style so used a very small indicator about 12" from the fly, I started off with the indicator about a meter from the fly but they spat the fly out before the indicator moved. Sawyer suggests greasing your leader and tippet to a few cms from the fly and watching it draw under when a trout takes the pupa but I found the leader difficult to see in certain lights.
I took a couple of shots of my midge pupa pattern in the jaw of a couple of trout, this fly is #14 but I am going to try some in #16, I pumped a couple of fish and that seems to be the size of the pupa. Interestingly although they were feeding on pupa when I was catching them there were far more tiny freshwater shrimps in them, these were only about 4/5 mm long and how on earth you imitate them is another question.
27 November 2016
The weather has been and still is dreadful this week, I managed to get out on Tuesday afternoon, the river had dropped a bit but went back up again that night with more rain. I went to a long, slow, wide pool, I was in knee deep water and they were rising all across the tail, swirling would be a better word, I tried an aerowing dun as there were mayflies about, then an emerger and finally one of my new brown coloured dunedin duns. see lower fly in the photo. I hooked one almost straight away and with a stomach pump, something I have scorned for years, found it was full of the brown mature nymphs, nothing else, not even an emerger. I feel this has been a break through, it is the dark colour of the nymph that is doing it because after catching several, I tried my old Dunedin dun which is tied in grey hare's ear and got nowhere. If you scroll back to some of the last blog entries last season you will see how we got on to this darker coloured nymph. All the trout were good conditioned fish of about a pound and a half which is normal when the river is high, the trout get bigger as it drops.
I have not fished since then as the river is still high, I suppose I could have found somewhere but with marginal conditions and a cricket test on I wasn't going anywhere. I was asked to put up a photo of the Owaka or red spinner that I was talking about a couple of blogs ago, the top one in the photo is tied on a #16 hook and I have tried aerowing instead of the hen hackle for wings and the middle one is standard on an #18 with hen hackle wings. These are small flies and some people say they can't see them on the water but that does not matter, a lot of the time I can't see it either but I know where it is. When you cast, look for the end of your leader and you will often see a small plop where the fly lands, then even though you can't see it you know how fast the water is moving so you can track it and if anything rises in that area, chances are it is your fly.
20 November 2016
What a terrible week, rivers and streams down this end all up and dirty, plus a very strong westerly the last couple of days so with a cricket test on there was no fishing done. I did a bit of tying though, mainly these midge pupa as we are finding that they work on any back water and slow pools. There is no added weight, just the hook but they sink at a nice rate with their slim profiles, fish them to sighted trout or with a very slow hand twist retrieve.
They are fun to tie and if you google "images for buzzer patterns" there are heaps of them there plus tying instructions, the three in the photo, black, red and one with a stripped peacock body and brown thread are the main ones we have been using. They are easy with a thread body, thin silver wire, tie in a strip of flashaboo either side of the head, build up a small head and coat with Loon UV knot sense and then hit it with a UV torch.
The Mataura is coming down and the small streams should be right, and there should be beetles around this week.
13 November 2016
It has been a very lean week, the Mataura although rather full was fishable on Friday but only a few mayflies came off and I only saw one or two swirls. Yesterday was a much better day with a cold SW wind, the river had dropped and was clear but between 1.00pm and 3.00pm when I would have expected movement the river was dead. It could have been where I was because I like to go to different spots, as this is how I find good new places and they could have been rising elsewhere but somehow I doubt it. I even went through a ripple with a brown beetle but touched nothing, it might be just a few days yet for them to appear. It is still a tad high for good nymphing and anyway it is hatches I am looking for, the nymphing spots are obvious to anyone.
Earlier in the week when the river was still high Mike and I planned a day on some back waters, things started off well and Mike got a couple on a midge pupa and then the wind blew us off. I will look at some small streams in the mornings next week and get back to the Mataura in the afternoons to check out the mayflies.
6 November 2016
I only had two days on the Mataura this week, it was starting to come right on Wednesday and I went down about 1.00pm and there was a big hatch of duns at 2.00pm, the big black ones and smaller smokey grey mayflies but only a couple of trout rose, I think it was still a wee bit high. I went back yesterday, it was cloudy, warm, no wind and there was a huge fall of spinners around 1.00pm and I caught three good conditioned trout before the rain stopped the rise and put the river out again but it is dropping again as I write this. I used a classic spinner pattern instead of my usual grey aerowing with a red body, it is a very old fly called an Owaka, I think it is the best when spinners are around but it is a bit more trouble to tie than the aerowing, it has a gingery tail and hackle, very light grey or white hen hackle wings and a red, stripped peacock herl body. I also trim the hackle off flush underneath so it sits on the water just like the spinner. I never use spent spinners as they are harder to see than this fly and the trout seem to take it quite happily even when there are mainly spents around.
I am still having my midge battles with these backwater trout, I can catch them on the pupa which I retrieve very slowly through the rises with a number eight hand twist but they won't look at my suspender nymph. This is the classic midge pupa with breathing filaments, see last blog, this is the one you are meant to catch them on but I could easily see them in the bright sunlight, swimming right under it with total disdain, I have been tying this fly in #14 but I will tie up some #16/ #18 and see how they go.
I have not hit any of the small streams yet as I like to wait until the brown beetles start to appear which should be in about a week.
30 October 2016
It has been a lean week, after a fabulous few hours on the Mataura, see the last blog, the heavens opened that night and that put most everything out. Mike and I then decided to re visit some backwaters but they were not that flash either as the main rivers were making them a wee bit cloudy
We are both becoming rather obsessed with these trout that are feeding on midges and freshwater shrimps because that is all they have in their stomachs. The midge deal is coming along nicely but there is a long way to go on the shrimps. We are using some English leaders that have a point and a tippet which comes out at right angles about 50cms from the point for the dropper fly. This system looks easy enough to tie up in future just by using a surgeon's knot to add the dropper and cutting the tab that is facing to the point off. All this info came from perusing heaps of English books and mags as they do a lot of this sort of fishing in their reservoirs
There is not a very good photo of the flies we have been using, the midge pupa with the breathing filaments and no weight is tied to the right angled dropper and the other midge which is lightly weighted goes on the point. This system is cast out amongst rising fish and retrieved with a slow number eight twist but in practice so far nothing has hit the floating midge just the weighted pattern on the point. So off with the floater and it is replaced with a very small indicator, this works much better, plus it is much easier to plop in front of a cruising trout and especially when you can't see the mouth open the indicator is a big help.
It has been a tough month so I am looking forward to November and a few beetles.
25 October 2016
Today was the first time that I have caught trout in the Mataura, it has been clearing rapidly over the last few days and today although fullish it was clear. They started rising to big black mayflies about 1.30pm, these mayflies are very common in the early season on the lower Mataura, some people say they are the result of carry over nymphs that did not hatch last season or a sub species of the common deleatidium vernale, I went into great detail about them this time last season on the blog if anyone is interested in scrolling back. Whatever, they are easy to see on the grey water and the trout feed voraciously on them, I was using a #14 aerowing dun with a black wing, body and tail, I don't put tails on anything under #14 but when I get up to that size I think a tail floats them better.
There were also heaps of wee trout, I included a photo of one that I caught as it is probably the smallest I have ever hooked in the Mataura but they were everywhere. It is usually very rare to hook small trout, clients often ask me where are the small trout, I don't know but they were around today and I guess that has got to be a good thing. The bigger trout are all sea-run types as you can see and with the river being high for some time they have come into the system as they are very common after a fresh.
The shot with the small fish shows a black reel, I was trying out a Chinese rod,reel and line combo for a shop but I really didn't like it and as the hatch was starting to look really good I changed back to my beloved Hardy 9' 5wt Zenith, I just love this rod, it works well close in and also has the grunt to throw a good length of line if I need it.
I was wedded to a 9' 5wt and a 4wt Sage SP for many years and I thought I would use them now and again after getting the Hardy but I never have.
Lets hope this is the start of the early season hatches as the river is looking good and the snow seems to have gone.
17 October 2016
After some heavy and steady rain the Mataura and most of the small streams are high and very dirty, the run off from paddocks that are under cultivation for winter crops causes this, once the crops are established it is nowhere as bad. So Jarred and I decided to have another crack at some sea-runners, we tried in the main channel near the mouth but touched and saw nothing. The tide was almost out and there was quite a flow from a fullish main river so I don't think they were holding in the strong current, the two hours from high tide as the tide is going out seems to be the best.
The sun had come out so we moved a wee way upstream to see what we could spot along the edges, it was surprising to see what was cruising only a meter out, the resident browns or the browns that move down to intercept the whitebait look just as you would expect a brown to look like. The sea trout on the other hand look quite different in the water, they look quite white all over with black edging on their tails and fins. They are easy to miss at first because they don't look what you are used to seeing when spotting trout but after a while they really stick out. I added a photo to show the difference between the spots on a sea trout, they are like wee crosses and not round spots like your normal river brown.
Then we started spotting flounders, we disturbed a few at first until we learned what to look for, all you can generally see is the head, mouth and one eye, the rest of the body most times seemed to be buried in the sand. They are really quite aggressive and any large woolly bugger or smelt type lure dragged across just in front of them resulted in a lunging strike, we never actually landed one as they are very strong and fight quite differently from trout but they are definitely up there as a target species from now on.
It was not a good fishing week, the heavy showers continued and the river stayed up and became a bit discoloured, it is not too high and would be perfect for spinning but not pleasant for the fly. I went out once earlier in the week to a backwater that stays clear even when the river is dirty, there were several trout in there taking something off the top but just under the surface. They were very difficult, not spooky just selective, I finally hooked the trout in the photo on the midge pattern in the other photo, it must have had some serious injury in her early life but it seemed healthy enough and shot off when released. I pumped the stomach, something I have been doing since I found they were on brown nymphs not grey, see late blog last season and it was full of grey midge pupa.
This convinced me that they are on midge pupa a lot more than we think so I have read up on all the midge pupa info that I can find, tied up a heap of patterns in red, black and green/grey and I am going to see what I can learn about midge pupa fishing. I am now sure that some of those sipping trout on the long slow, silty pools are feeding on pupa, I will keep you posted.
The smelt patterns are what I have settled on for a fly for sea trout, they are easy to tie and look really good in the water, I have always liked rabbit flies. The chain eyes can be bought in Mitre 10, you just clip off a couple for each fly, they come in two sizes and are cheaper than anything you will buy in a fly shop. I tie them on Kamasan B175 #4, I wind the gold wire tightly up the body and with the chain they seem to be heavy enough and I also like the wee pupil that is left when they have been cut.
Well, it happened again, just as it does most years, the weather has been fabulous, some of the best spring weather I have ever seen in Southland then the day or night before some rain somewhere wrecks the fishing. It is no big flood, just a wee bit high for good fishing and should drop fairly quickly.
I started nymphing in a favourite ripple on Saturday morning, I could see it was a tad high and coming up but I continued and never touched a thing until I reached the top. I was just standing there wondering why nothing had hit the nymph because it is a good ripple and I had seen several trout swirling when all of a sudden the small trout in the photo took my dragging fly. I thought about swinging a fly back down through the ripple but I could see it was getting higher so I decided to go to a long slow pool where something might rise.
I waited until after 3.00pm but nothing showed it's head so it was time to go and watch some Mitre 10 cup rugby, I went out again today after the AB test but the river is decidedly coloured. I think I will give it a couple of days and see what happens, I may have a look at a small stream, it also looks as though our run of golden weather may be coming to an end.
The nice big brown in the other photo was caught by Mike Dennis somewhere over in western Southland.
We have had a fabulous spell of weather and the Mataura is in perfect condition, although this could change as it usually does just before opening but the long range forecast is not bad so here is hoping. When conditions are like this and there is not too much snow October can be brilliant on the Mataura, I have only seen it a couple of times but it was great. I checked out a few spots last week and there were mayflies coming off around 3.00pm so around 1.30/2.00pm should be the time to be there now.
I did not fish at all over the winter preferring instead to use the nice days to go flying, we have found that the winter sea trout fishing is nowhere near as good as it is in Nov/Dec. They do come in after the white bait but smelt are what they really like and they are at their peak in Nov/Dec, so is the Mataura and the small streams but if you like chasing sea trout that is the time to target them.
Even so Jarred Martin and I had a go last weekend, it was mainly to get our gear and our casting sorted out but it turned out to be a great day, we landed 3/4 each and had plenty of hits and fish on for a while and then off, which by sea trout fishing standards is pretty good. They were all lovely chrome coloured fish all about the size of the ones in the photos, still a tad slim at this time of the season but the smelt will change that later and a lot of fun. All the trout were taken on black woolly buggers and a Swedish fly called a Grey Fred, google it because it is a great sea trout fly, all the flies had bath tub bead eyes courtesy of Mitre 10, Jarred even caught a perch which was full of wee flounder, see photo.
Both of us were using the Airflo streamer max lines with the super fast sinking tips, we also were using stripping baskets made by Jarred which are essential to stop your line getting tangled up in the waves and to help with the shooting of the line, you can see them in a photo of Jarred with a jumping fish and one with me holding a trout, they are very easy to make. The streamer max took a bit of getting used to as I have never done any shooting head type of casting but once you get the timing they rocket out, thank you to John white and Airflo in England for sending it to me. Good luck for next weekend and the rest of the season.
Tight lines David