Rivers staying low and clear so fish easily spooked

The long-range weather forecast predicts little rain in the near future which bodes well for us anglers as rivers will remain low and clear.

It is hard to choose where to fish when everywhere is looking good. The Taieri, the Mataura and the Pomahaka are the best bet, or your favourite small stream.

The one disadvantage of low clear conditions is that fish are very spooky especially if it is sunny and calm.

It pays to proceed slowly and cast gently with a light tippet and small flies.

Life is easier when casting to rising fish as you can approach from behind and drop the fly close to the fish.

When fishing blind it is so easy to plonk the fly or the line right on top of an unseen fish, resulting in it spooking.

Flat open areas of water are particularly difficult to fish under the current conditions. The best chance of a fish from them is when there is enough breeze to ruffle the surface which masks mistakes and makes them less wary.

I have had a couple of outings over the past few days, both of them on waters that were low and clear and in bright sunshine with little wind.

The first was with a class with a group on the Hakataramea which was very low.

The fish were very easy to see but difficult to approach but, if a fly could be presented without them being spooked, they would take a mall nymph.

The number of fish in the river is low with them being confined to well spread out, deep pools which means there is quite a bit of walking between chances.

Challenging but rewarding when a fish is hooked.

The other session was on the Taieri above Waipiata. It was the lowest I have seen it this season and very clear.

When fishing in the morning the sun is behind the angler which under such conditions is even worse than usual.

Several times I started to cast over a pool and there were bow waves in all directions.

I eventually caught a fish but it was a while before I got another. I got it while walking upstream with the fly trailing behind me.

There were quite a few fish lying in the shallow water at the tails of pools. I covered these areas carefully but invariably there was no response until I was lifting off for the next cast and any fish nearby would come ripping towards me trying to catch the fly only to spot me and take off in the other direction.

I worked on the principle that if I plugged away long enough some of them would make a mistake and be hooked. This happened mid-afternoon when I caught several in quick succession over about 20m of water.

There were odd rises for a while and I landed a few more. A hard day but a pleasure to be on the water on a fine autumn day.


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