Start of season looking good

Another fishing season is almost here and after a mild winter with few floods, trout should be in good condition.

With a few days to go, rivers are in good order and most are at a fishable level. Water temperatures are about normal for the time of year: a bit cool in the morning but by noon warm enough to encourage insect and trout activity. The most productive period for fishing is from about noon to late afternoon. On recent warm days water temperatures have been rising to 12degC, which is ideal for fishing and not too bad for wading.

The big question is where to fish. We are spoilt for choice here in Otago, as we have small streams and bigger rivers as well as still waters. My choice at this time of year are the smaller rainfed waterways such as the Waipahi and the Waiwera and although a little bigger the Pomahaka can be worth a look.

A bonus this year is the lower Clutha, which is running quite low and well worth fishing. It has a hatch of mayflies and anywhere there is a gravel beach is worth a try. At this time of year mayflies hatch out in the afternoons, regardless of the size of the river so do not be discouraged if there is a lack of success in the mornings.

If you are spin fishing, smaller dull-coloured lures should produce fish as rivers are clear. If there is a rise in levels and the water colours up a larger brighter lure would be a better choice. If fly-fishing is your choice, a weighted nymph or bead head nymph are good to start and than change to an emerger or a dun pattern if fish rise to mayflies.

Early in the day trout will be lying in slower, deeper water but by the afternoon they will move up into shallower ripples to feed on any hatch that eventuates. Trout activity after a hatch drops off rapidly at this time of year but on bigger waters there is a chance of an evening rise as they do not cool off as rapidly as small streams.

It pays to check all of your gear before going out for the first time, especially if you have not looked at it since the end of last season. It is a good idea to put a new line on spinning reels and check fly line for cracks. A new leader on a fly line helps ensure no unexpected break-offs. Make sure you have a good selection of lures or flies. I expect I will catch most of my fish on a weighted hare's ear nymph if I am fishing in running water but will back this up with an unweighted version of the same fly and an emerger.

I have a new rod this season, the first for years, so I am looking forward to putting it through its paces. Tight lines.


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