Angling: Effects of loss of wetlands apparent

After another fine week rivers are lower than last weekend. Some waters are now at low summer level.

It is at times like this we see the effects of losing wetlands in the headwaters of our rivers and streams. The Waipahi is very low, below 1cumec - unusual at this time of year but happening more often in recent years. No doubt the loss of the Cairn Wetland has contributed to this. There are streams in our region that dry up regularly and hold trout only in parts, temporarily. I can see this becoming more common in the future unless the loss of wetlands is reversed.

Again, the bigger rivers look to be worth a visit this weekend. The Clutha fishes well especially at its daily low level in the late afternoon. The Taieri is quite low throughout its length and is starting to get a little warm especially on hot days, but the early morning and late evenings are worth fishing.

The Mataura is approaching perfect fishing level and, when it is calm, a fall of spinners can be expected and there have been duns hatching in the afternoons.

There are lots of smelt in the lower reaches of most rivers, with the Waitaki and the Clutha being the best bets for bumping into some big sea trout.

Last weekend Murray Smart and I fished the Mataura. For a change we fished above Gore in a couple of spots that I had not fished for quite a few years. The weather was perfect, dull with low cloud and a little drizzle at times but warm and virtually no wind.

We parked by a long flat which looked ideal if a rise eventuated. To start, I wandered off downstream and soon came across a small backwater. There were some dying ripples on the surface when it first came into view which could have been made by a trout. I had tackled up with a beadhead nymph but I removed this and replaced it with an unweighted size 14 hare's ear nymph.

A fish moved on the far side of the backwater and luckily I was able to see it in the shadow of the far bank. I dropped the nymph a metre or so in front of it. The fish shot forward and the leader drew away and I tightened into a nice fish which eventually pulled the weigh net down to 1.6kg.

On returning it, I spotted another fish move further along. It, too, took the nymph.

Some spinners were now coming down the river and I returned to the promising flat. Murray had already landed a good fish and several were rising spasmodically. We covered these fish for quite a while and found them difficult to get on to. I lost one and landed one and Murray landed another.

It was frustrating as the fly was hard to see and the fish were moving about and eventually the rise petered out.

In the afternoon there was a sparse hatch of duns which brought on a steadier rise and we caught a few more fish up to 2kg. Another Mataura visit cannot be far away. River and lake conditions

River and lake conditions are supplied by Fish and Game Otago with information from the Otago Regional Council received at 9.00am on Thursday.

General Situation: Most waterways are clear, stable and in great order for fishing. A southerly front is forecasted for many areas this Sunday afternoon.

North Otago Area: All of the North Otago streams remain low and clear. There are still a few whitebait in the estuaries. These are highly sought after by sea-run trout and there are reports a few kahawai have been lurking near river mouths. These fish are highly underrated and are excellent sport on trout gear. Try bronze toby spinning lures if the traditional silver ones do not work. Soft bait lures such as silicon smelts can also be deadly. Not many salmon have been reported in Dunedin Harbour yet. A 9.5kg salmon was recently caught at the Waitaki River mouth.

Southern Lakes Area: Most back-country streams are clear and in good order. However, the Dart and Matukituki flows have been fluctuating, possibly due to snow melt. In December, fly anglers should carry a few green beetle imitations with them. The traditional Cock-y-bondhu dry fly is an excellent beetle and blowfly imitation. Good numbers of trout have been cruising the shallows of Lake Hawea near the Craigie Burn stream mouth, especially in the evenings. Bully imitations should work well. Lake Hayes has not experienced an algal bloom this season and it has been producing some great trout and a few perch.

Central Otago: The Hawea River recently received a flush of 200cumecs which should help to blow some didymo out. This water also flushed the Upper Clutha. These rivers should stabilise again by today. The Manuherikia is clear and stable and the Nevis has dropped down to a good level for fishing this weekend. The head of Lake Dunstan continues to hold good numbers of large, well-conditioned rainbows. It is often advisable to target this water before the Christmas holidays. After the fishing pressure received during the holiday period, the trout appear to become harder to catch.

Taieri Catchment: The Taieri remains clear and stable throughout its length. Look out for trout rising to mayflies on calm evenings. These fish will often change to caddis flies as darkness approaches. Relatively small dry flies (size 14 or even 16) generally work best on the Taieri. Lakes Waipori and Waihola have been fishing very well over the last week. Try fishing small, bright spinning lures for perch, which are very active at this time of the year.

Southwest Otago Area: Most small streams are in excellent condition - flows in the Clutha have been fluctuating daily. This is a great time of the year for exploring smaller waters such as the Waiwera and Tokomairiro, before water temperatures heat up too much. The Owaka River is often overlooked by anglers and is holding a few medium-sized trout at the moment.

Waterway Water Level/Condition
• Kakanui River - Low, steady
• Shag River - Low, steady
• Taieri River at Canadian Flat - Low, steady
• Taieri River at Outram - Low, steady
• Pomahaka River - Medium, steady
• Waipahi River - Low, steady
• Clutha River at Balclutha - High, fluctuating
• Clutha River at Cardrona - Medium, dropping
• Hawea River - Medium, dropping
• Lake Onslow - Medium, clear
• Lake Dunstan - Medium, clear
• Lake Hawea - Medium, clear
• Lake Mahinerangi - High, clear
• Lake Wanaka - Medium, clear
• Lake Wakatipu - Medium, clear


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