Stillwaters pose their own challenges

A 2kg brown trout caught on a water boatman in Mathias Dam in the Maniototo. PHOTO: MIKE WEDDELL
A 2kg brown trout caught on a water boatman in Mathias Dam in the Maniototo. PHOTO: MIKE WEDDELL
River fishing could be a bit of a lottery this weekend, depending on how much rain we get from the fronts that are forecast to come through.

The best option if rivers are out is to fish a stillwater; the worst is not to fish at all.

Luckily, the first few cicadas have put in an appearance and in suitable conditions should provide good fishing over the next few weeks. Warm breezy days are the best, as warmth brings out the cicadas and the breeze carries them out over the water.

Murray Smart told me fish were feeding on them on the Loganburn Dam this week and fish were also feeding on crane flies blown on to the water.

For most anglers it is a bit of trek to the tussock lakes and if the cicadas are not flying when they get there, an alternative plan is needed.

Most stillwaters have damselflies and water boatmen in them and these are a good option for the fly-fisher.

If you fish a natural cicada with a bubble float that will still work, provided you can find a natural to put on the hook.

The artificial will still work for the fly fisher but the action will be slower than if there were lots of naturals on the water.

Bruce Quirey and I fished Mathias and Blakelys Dams in the Maniototo at the weekend.

To say that it was windy would be an understatement, especially on Blakelys, but it did help in a way.

With the wind at our backs, it enabled us to cast well beyond the extensive weed beds that pose a barrier to fishing everywhere except on the dam itself.

Large numbers of damsel fly nymphs are there and enormous numbers of water boatmen.

My setup was a damsel nymph on the point and a water boatman on the dropper about 70cm above it.

As there were very few fish rising, the fish had to be feeding well down in the water so it seemed logical to let the flies sink for a while before beginning the retrieve.

We did hook some, but not many.

Even so, hooking them was the easy part. Getting them through the weed beds and into the landing net was the real challenge.

It is a test of rod and tippet, towing in a good-sized fish accompanied by several times its own weight of weed.

It was a relief when the fish was in the net.

We fished Mathias on the way home. There was a lot more action there as far as hooking fish was concerned, even though we lost a few.

Again, few fish were rising but those that did were keen to take the damsel nymph or the water boatman and again letting the fly sink a while seemed to help.

The weed was not as bad in Mathias, which made playing a fish less nerve-racking.

Having unracked nerves was an ideal way to finish the day.

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