Hooking good — conditions give rise to purple patch

Bruce Quirey, my companion on the Mataura, with a nice trout on a perfect day.PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Bruce Quirey, my companion on the Mataura, with a nice trout on a perfect day.PHOTO: SUPPLIED
We are in the middle of a purple patch as far as fishing is concerned and cicadas are dropping on the tussock lakes, willow grub are falling on lowland streams and trout are taking advantage of both. Rivers are low and easy to wade, opening up more fishing opportunities, and the weather has been kind — what more could an avid angler ask for?

One of the advantages of cicadas and willow grub to the angler is that trout take them from the surface or just below it and in so doing show the angler exactly where they are. This allows an imitation of either of these insects to be dropped near a fish on every cast, increasing the chances of hooking a fish.

Of course, it is not quite as simple as that in reality as a certain skill level is needed to cast the fly the required distance to the fish, as is accuracy to land the fly in the right spot. I was talking to my friend Ian Cole, an expert angler, the other day and we agreed that the single-most effective way to become a better angler is to become a better caster.

This applies to spin and bait fishing as well as fly fishing. It is also one of the things that is most controllable when fishing if the effort is made to master it.

I have been out fishing a few times lately and although I have seen enough fish to keep me occupied, I was surprised to see fewer fish than expected on the Mataura. Although I did come across pockets of fish that were feeding well and were catchable, there seemed to be an absence of fish in other areas. Being an optimist, I assume that on another day I would have seen more.

However, there have been two devastating floods throughout the Mataura catchment in a 12-month period and maybe it will take a year or two for it to recover. The riverine environment is fragile but also resilient if given a chance.

Another river that I fished was the Pomahaka. That, too, has been devastated by floods and there has been a lot of erosion, which causes siltation in the river which in turn reduces the number of aquatic insects it will support. Most of trout food is aquatic in origin, unlike willow grub and cicadas.

Willow grub were falling on the Pomahaka and there were plenty of fish at the surface to cast a fly at. I spotted a fish that was not rising lying behind a sunken log. It swung towards my fly on the first cast but did not connect, but on the second cast it hit hard and exploded out of the water and took off at a rate of knots, leaping several times.

I suspected by its behaviour that it was a sea trout and sure enough it was. A lovely, silver fish of 3kg — the best fish of the day.

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