Low river levels make for good prospects this weekend

An angler fishes the Pomahaka River earlier this month.
An angler fishes the Pomahaka River earlier this month.
The rain last Sunday raised the level of most rivers and streams in the region, but the subsequent warm weather has dropped them to good fishing levels for this weekend.

The Pomahaka is the lowest of the larger rivers and is at low summer level - just how I like it for trying to catch trout that are willow grubbing. The Taieri, too, is looking good although it has quite a peat tinge to it. The Mataura is dropping steadily and will only get better, as the lower the water the easier it is to find trout as well as making crossing the river easier. The small streams of the region are all worth a cast and can be very good at this time of year.

Conventional wisdom dictates that the smaller streams are best in the spring but go off as the water drops and weed growth increases.

In my experience, the opposite is true: midsummer on streams such as the Waipahi, Tokomairaro, Waiwera and Kaihiku have provided some of my best days fishing on them. My best two days ever on Waipahi in particular, have been at this time of year.

When fishing small streams when the water is low and clear, and the sun is shining, it pays to proceed slowly and to concentrate, looking well ahead for the slightest sign of a fish feeding. Fishing each likely spot carefully, even if fish cannot be seen, increases the chances of catching fish.

During the holiday period I spent a weekend at Karitane and although I did not fish, I did a spot of reconnaissance in the tidal reaches. I had been reading about British anglers catching mullet on fly in estuaries and remembered seeing large numbers of big mullet in the Waikouaiti river years ago.

I did see a lot of mullet but they were small, but I did see what I presumed were sea trout chasing these mullet in the shallows. At one point I saw a large bow wave coming up the river and thought it must be a very big fish but when it got close enough, I could see that it was a shoal of fish. There were 13 of them between 2kg and 3kg and I guessed they were kahawai as I had seen anglers catching these fish from the wharf at the river mouth, all of which were in this weight range (the fish, not the anglers). There are fly fishing possibilities for future visits.

I had an outing on the lower Waipori, where I spotted a few - some of which were on willow grub and were difficult to catch. I only managed to hook and lose one of these.

In the more open areas they were more obliging, and I landed those on the good old hares ear nymph.

Another outing was on the upper Taieri, where my son Chris caught a bigger fish than I did, but I suppose I will get over it - eventually.

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