Some rivers still fishable; still waters always an option

In case you had not noticed a lot of rain has fallen in the past week, resulting in flooding in places and putting most rivers out of action as far as fishing is concerned.

They are all dropping now, but most are too high and dirty and it will take little rain for them to rise again as the land is saturated.

Remarkably, there are some rivers that missed most of the rain and are fishable. The Waipahi, Waiwera, Catlins and Owaka are at summer level and all are worth fishing. At the other end of the region, the upper Clutha is above ideal level but certainly fishable, especially in the evening with sedge. The rivers of the upper Waitaki missed most of the rain too and are at a good fishable level.

Luckily, we have plenty of still waters to fish in Otago. Some such as the tussock lakes may be difficult to get at due to washed-out roads, but the southern lakes and those of Central Otago are easily accessible. The smaller irrigation dams throughout the region are fishable and well worth a cast.

It was to a couple of these dams that I headed earlier in the week. My usual route, SH87, was closed due to a wash-out at Kokonga, so I took the longer way via Palmerston and the Pigroot. As I drove up the Shag Valley, the Shag and all the side streams were very high and dirty, but I was confident that Blakelys and Rutherfords Dams would be fishable.

I started at Blakelys and not surprisingly it was very high but clear and looked promising. I wandered about having a few casts in likely spots and keeping an eye out for rises. It was over an hour before I spotted the first rise. It was well out of range but nevertheless encouraging. I saw several other rises with only a couple close enough to cover but without success.

I came to one of my favourite spots and began covering the water. Despite not seeing a fish or having any takes I persisted for about an hour, then a fish rose and I cast in the general area three or four times and a fish hit my damsel fly nymph really hard and took off at high speed. Eventually, it came to the net and weighed 2kg. I continued with renewed enthusiasm but to no avail. Must be lunchtime, I thought.

After lunch I moved to Rutherfords. Again, the water looked good and I saw fish rise before my fly hit the water and after a few casts caught a prime maiden rainbow of 1.5kg. This was soon followed by a smaller fish. I also saw a dead bully in the shallows, one of the biggest I have ever seen.

Interestingly, Blakelys does not have bullies but consistently produces bigger rainbows than Rutherfords. When there were brown trout in the dams, Rutherfords consistently produced bigger fish than Blakelys and they were often full of bullies.


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