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The glorious weather this week has done wonders for the state of rivers in the region.
The larger rivers have now dropped into the good fishing range. The whole of the Taieri is looking good and that is an awful lot of fishing. The lower Clutha, too, is at a good level and clear, and fishes well when at its lowest in the middle of the afternoon, especially off the gravel beaches.
The Mataura has dropped and still has that grey tinge that you would expect at this time of year, but that only helps hide the angler's mistakes and makes the fish easier to catch.
At this time of year, fish activity can vary considerably according to the temperature. If it is warm there is little likelihood of a mayfly hatch but nymphs will be active and fish will concentrate on them. There is also a very good chance of an evening rise to either duns or spinners or both.
Evenings on still waters can be good, too, after a warm day with hatches of sedge and midge, both of which can go on long after dark.
Last weekend I fished the Waipahi Gold Medal fly fishing competition on the Waipahi River, of course. The competition is organised by the Otago Anglers Association, the club involved with the inception of the medal in 1882.
Thirty-seven anglers com-peted, weighing in a total of 46 trout for 53kg - a good average weight of over 1kg gutted and gilled. This number of fish was down somewhat on the recent average which is about 60.
There were four four-fish bags weighed in and three three-fish bags. Fifteen anglers did not weigh in a fish which is better than the long-term average of half the field.
The fish that were weighed in were in very good condition. The larger fish were red-fleshed from eating crayfish and make very good eating.
The one consequence of trout eating crayfish is that it takes a very good hatch of fly to bring them to the surface to feed. This is a sensible move on the part of the fish as one crayfish has the same food value of dozens or even hundreds of mayflies. Many competitors reported reasonable hatches of mayflies on the day but few fish rising.
Warwick Blakie and Steve Dixon won the gold medal. Yes, there was a tie for the first time, even after a reweighing of their fish. The winning weights were four fish for 4.72kg. Warwick caught his on section 19 and Steve' s came from section 17. I was third with three fish weighing 4.38kg, caught on section 2.
The biggest fish, weighing 1.9kg, was caught by Dan Rietveld. Interestingly a four-fish bag came off section 18 between the two gold medal-winning beats, caught by Jeff Hansen, a past gold medal winner.
RIVER AND LAKE CONDITIONS
River and lake conditions are supplied by Fish and Game Otago with information from the Otago Regional Council received at 9am yesterday.
General situation: Most waterways throughout the region are stable, clear and in great condition for fishing. The warmer weather is starting to increase insect activity and anglers should carry some brown beetle imitations with them. These insects are active on warm, calm November evenings, and are highly sought-after by trout.
North Otago: The Shag and Kakanui Rivers have dropped to very low levels. Light line and long leaders will be required to tempt trout in these conditions. The Waitaki lakes have been fishing well. Trolling over weed beds with small rapala type lures and fly fishing with bead head nymphs has been productive.
Southern Lakes: The backcountry rivers are low and clear. The Greenstone River has been producing lots of rainbows. Most fish are in good condition, but some are a bit skinny. It is likely that these fish have not recovered from spawning, which was unusually late this year. The Lake Hawea fishing competition is on today and tomorrow. Contact the Lake Hawea Hotel for entry information.
Central Otago: Angler numbers in Central have been relatively low recently. Lake Dunstan has been experiencing large midge rises on calm mornings. Midge flies are a small non-biting mosquito-like insect. The Lake Dunstan fishing competition is on this Sunday. Contact Cromwell Sports to enter. The Nevis River remains a bit high and boisterous, possibly from snow melt. The Manuherikia River is at a medium level and in good condition.
Taieri catchment: The Taieri is low and clear from its headwaters to the sea. Trout have been patrolling the sandy beaches, and chasing smelt in the estuary area. Banana toby lures are often effective. The Kyeburn is holding a few trout above the main road bridge. Trout have been rising to midge flies in Tomahawk Lagoon on calm evenings.
Southwest Otago: Most South Otago streams are low and clear. November is a good month to target small streams such as the Tokomairiro, Waiwera and Waipahi before they become too low and hot. The lower Clutha River is in great condition. Large numbers of baitfish (smelt) are resulting in some good spin fishing.
The lower Tokomairiro is often overlooked by anglers. The Toko estuary can produce good numbers of medium-sized brown trout. These fish have a high protein diet of estuarine crabs, and are generally great eating.
WATERWAY - WATER LEVEL/CONDITION
• Kakanui River - Very low, steady
• Shag River - Very 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 - Medium, fluctuating
• Clutha River at Cardrona - Medium, steady
• Hawea River - High, fluctuating
• Lake Onslow - Medium, clear
• Lake Dunstan - Medium, clear
• Lake Hawea - Medium, clear
• Lake Mahinerangi - High, clear
• Lake Wanaka - Medium, clear
• Lake Wakatipu - Medium, clear
- Mike Weddell