Christmastime forecast looking good

We are on the countdown to the Christmas holidays and for the keen angler that means time on the water.

The weather forecast around Christmas itself is looking good but rain this week has raised the level of some rivers overnight from fishable to unfishable. Hopefully, they will drop quickly.

The Mataura, even though it has risen, is still fishable. It has been well above normal for weeks and if it drops a little will be ideal. Some of the smaller streams such as the Waipahi, Catlins and Waiwera are at a fishable level.

Many anglers will be holidaying near lakes either in Central Otago or the Waitaki Valley.

Lakes are good for holiday anglers as they fish well first thing in the morning and again in the evening, leaving the day free for holiday things.

In the morning a midge hatch can be expected and if it is calm, fish will be easily spotted when rising to pupae just below the surface.

If it is breezy, they will be hard to spot but they will still be there, and fishing blind can be just as successful as casting to risers.

In the evening there is likely to be midge hatching too, as well as sedges.

A bit of a breeze can be good for sedge fishing - a floating pattern such as a deer hair sedge retrieved through the waves can produce exciting fishing as fish smash into the fly.

If you fish during the day and there is not too much wind, walking the shore spotting fish cruising in the shallows can be challenging but great fun.

Trout will feed surprisingly close to the shore, so look carefully before getting too close to the water or wading.

Because the lakes are quite high at the moment there will be lots of items washing out of the grass for trout to feed on.

A general pattern such as a black and peacock, a diving beetle, corixa or a damselfly nymph will catch fish.

If trout can be seen rising during the day a dry beetle pattern, my favourite being a coch-y-bondhu, will usually do the trick.

Fishing streams during the day at this time of year is best done with nymph unless there is a definite rise to surface food.

If it is calm, a rise to mayfly spinners is always a possibility. This can be difficult fishing, but it is totally engrossing to be surrounded by rising trout all in full view in the flat water.

The spinners disappear if the wind gets up but if there is just enough breeze to ruffle the surface of the water, the fish can be a bit easier to catch.

Small dams are also an option and lots of them are dotted around Central Otago.

My favourite fly is a damselfly nymph, which has been my most productive fly so far this season as most of my fishing has been done on dams.

The same early and late fishing can be found as on the big lakes.

Have a good holiday and remember, to catch fish you have to go fishing.

by Mike Weddell

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