Smaller streams a possibility; still waters the backstop

In last week's column I was mildly optimistic (some would say totally out of touch with reality) about the prospects for opening but the outlook for this weekend is not as good, due to snowmelt.

Rivers are up a little, although not too high, and water temperatures are down; however, there is still a chance of smaller streams being fishable, as the weather forecast is not too bad. There is also the backstop of still waters, of which there are plenty to choose from. Mahinerangi is very low at the moment and in one way that is a good thing as fish, both trout and perch, have less water to hide in. The main problem with dams when they are low is wind action stirring up the silt and making the water discoloured, so choose calm conditions to fish. Early morning is the best time as the water would have had to settle overnight.

Midges are present in the silt to great depths so there is always the chance of a midge hatch, which usually occurs early in the morning or late evening. A midge pupa imitation is the fly to use.

If streams are above ideal level there is still a chance of catching fish on a fly, as mayflies still hatch even though the water is high and discoloured. A dun imitation is the best bet as nymphs below the surface would be harder for the fish to spot.

In bigger rivers, like the lower Taieri or Clutha, fishing a feathered lure close to the bank is a good option. There is also a chance of an afternoon hatch on these rivers.

For opening day, Murray Smart, Trevor Millar and I - not to be outdone by the snow, as many sensible anglers would have been - drove to Maniototo to try a dam. The drive was spectacular, with snow blanketing the ground from Lee Stream almost right up to Mathias Dam.

It was sunny and 1degC when we arrived and luckily the water looked to be in good order, mostly clear and not too high. As to be expected at this time of year there was little weed growth, which makes life a lot easier.

We started in a sheltered spot out of the nippy wind and the plan was to fish a damselfly nymph slowly and deep. The response of the first fish came surprisingly quickly. In cold water the fish do not dash around and soon in the net was a nice brown of 1.5kg.

Not long after, another fish took the dropper, in this case a water boatman. The day warmed and the odd fish continued to feed throughout the day.


 

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