The willow grub challenge (or frustration)

The Mataura River, better for you sanity. Photo: ODT files
The Mataura River, better for you sanity. Photo: ODT files
For the first time this season I can advise that all waters are fishable.

Most are at or approaching summer level but not too hot yet, although a few of the 30degC days that we have had recently will soon get them to critical levels.

Trout are now feeding on willow grubs, so if you want to be driven crazy or like a challenge - depending on your outlook - give them a go.

If you want to avoid the frustration of trying to catch trout that are feeding on these tiny grubs, stay away from willowed sections of rivers.

If you spot trout sipping away at willow grubs, it is difficult to avoid being seduced by large brown trout lying in full view for hours on end, feeding flat out and in theory catchable.

It is safer for your sanity to fish the Mataura at the moment, where trout can be spotted and are eminently catchable.

The Pomahaka too is in good order, although the above warning about willow grubs definitely applies.

The lower Taieri is looking good and the hint of colour is an advantage for spin fishers.

Murray Smart and I fished the Mataura the other day and we ran into David Murray-Orr, who guides on the Mataura.

He also has a website with a good blog which helps to keep up to date with how the river is fishing.

He was not fishing when we met him, but checking out the river for changes due to the recent floods.

This is a really good thing to do as old favourite spots could well have disappeared, but others appear to replace them.

You may also spot concentrations of feeding trout and remember them for future outings.

This reconnaissance is usually done at the beginning of the season but significant floods as we have had recently can change the river a lot.

On one part of the Mataura we fished it was divided into three channels, the easternmost one having moved more than 100m further east.

I spent some time recently tying some killer willow grubs, at least that was the theory. I tried them out this week.

The first group of trout that I found grubbing away produced two fish, both on hare's ear nymph.

At one point, I found three fish lined up sipping grubs flat out. Naturally, I tried a hare's ear, having already caught fish on that pattern.

The trout totally ignored it, so it was up to the new super-improved willow grub imitation to do the trick.

They ignored it even more than the hare's ear - if that was possible.

Out of desperation I tried a water boatman, and one of the fish took it first cast, rushed off and the hook pulled out.

The second fish took first cast and was duly landed but not another fish throughout the day would take it.

The moral is if logic does not work try the illogical.


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