Tactics changes for shorter, cooler autumn days

Autumn is here and with it come lower water temperatures. I can tell, as I wade wet.

Because most days have been warm, the water is not yet cold enough to reduce fish activity to mid-morning to late afternoon.

It will only take a couple of frosty nights to drop the temperature markedly, especially in small streams.

Once this happens the best fishing will be in the afternoon when mayflies will hatch.

At the moment, and with little rain forecast, all waters are at a fishable level.

The only problem in some smaller waters is the amount of weed and algae.

Fishing dry is easiest but if fishing a nymph, it pays to fish a very light one to avoid fouling the hook.

At this time of the year, with the sun low in the sky, especially early and late in the day, it pays to fish facing the sun to avoid spooking fish with leader flash.

Recently, I experienced this with fish spooking before the line had even touched the water.

It is even worse if there are several fish in front of you. You may get everything right for the fish you are aiming at but may spook one of the others, which in turn spooks other fish, including your target.

I fished the Shag the other day and fish were shoaled up ready to run upstream to spawn and in gin clear water a dozen pairs of eyes do not miss much.

In flat water, when the sun is shining, even if laying a small nymph and the line gently on the water the disturbance is patently obvious.

The one thing that helped me catch a few fish was to cast well away from the fish as they cruised around a pool and to twitch the fly as they approached it.

Another successful tactic is to fish pools that are ruffled by the wind. A good ripple hides a lot of mistakes.

Murray and I fished the Maniototo dams last Sunday.

Conditions were good, mainly fine and warm, with a light variable breeze.

There were odd fish rising on Rutherfords when we started but after plugging away for a while the rises petered out and we had only one missed take for our efforts, so we moved to Blakelys.

There were a few fish rising and they were more consistent than those on Rutherfords although no easier to get on to.

After a while the breeze picked up and set from the north. I moved to a favourite point with the wind from left to right, parallel to the shore.

Experience has shown that the fish feeding upwind pass within range of the point. The tactic is to cast across the wind and retrieve quickly.

On this occasion I was using a damsel fly nymph, which is a big fly, and fish can spot it from a distance.

It worked. After a while a good rainbow hit hard and eventually came to the net and was soon followed by another. A third dropped off.


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