Holiday season a chance to try fishing different waters

Mike Weddell
Mike Weddell. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The rain that raised river levels last weekend has done little to dampen prospects this weekend, although there is more rain in the forecast.

At this time of year, still waters are well worth fishing, especially at the end of the day if it is warm and calm.

The fish are still there even if it is cool and windy, although they are less likely to rise, as the insects they feed on will not hatch in great numbers.

Even if the fish are hard to catch, it is a more enjoyable experience to not catch fish when they are rising than not catching fish and seeing nothing.

As for the insects they feed on, especially as dusk approaches, they will be midge and sedge. The best stages of these to imitate are the adult sedge, which should be skated across the surface of the water, and the pupa of the midge, which should be slowly retrieved just below the surface.

The rises to these to insects are easy to distinguish. The sedges are skating across the surface and the trout are trying to grab them before they reach the shore, so their rise is quite explosive and they are easy to see even in a ripple. Midge pupa, however, move very slowly, and the rise is quiet with little disturbance of the water, as trout expend as little energy as possible to catch their prey.

One of the pleasures of the holiday period is that there is often a chance to fish new waters, those that have never been fished before, but because of their proximity to the holiday location it would just not seem right to not fish them.

Our family expedition this year was to the Catlins. I have fished Catlins rivers before but a long time ago, once on the upper Catlins river, once on the Tahakopa and once on the Owaka. This time I fished the lower Catlins. The water was very low and peat-stained but clear, and there was lots of good holding water.

One snag was the number of large tree trunks in the water, which had found their way into the stream from stands of native bush. There was also lots of bank erosion from the big flood at the beginning of the year. I turned over a few stones in the water and was pleasantly surprised at the number of mayfly nymphs I saw.

On two of the evenings, I fished with my son Chris; there were good numbers of mayflies hatching and we had takes to the emerger pattern that we fished but only managed to land a few of them to just over a kilogram.

It was surprising how shallow the water was where some of them were feeding, and when they were hooked, they bounced all over the place and often came unstuck.

The one evening that I fished on my own there were few rises a few flies were on the water. I got one blind on a nymph and another on a sedge. I also saw two Dobson flies, the only time I have seen more than one in a day.

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