Angling: Good fishing in store this weekend

If last weekend was good for fishing, this weekend should be even better if that is possible and only because the water should be a little cooler.

Water levels are good again just about everywhere and rivers and streams are running clear which can make things a little more challenging.

If I had to pick one water to fish this weekend it would be the Mataura. I drove past it last weekend and it looked perfect - low with that slightly greenish tinge that is characteristic of the river. A quick glance as you drive past can be deceptive as that greenish look makes it seem a little discoloured but closer inspection shows that it is quite clear.

There are other waters worth fishing, too, such as the Taieri and lower and upper Clutha; it is just that I have not fished the lower Mataura yet this season. At this time of the year you can expect anything to happen on the lower Mataura.

If it is warm and calm there could be a fall of spinners; cool and overcast there could be a hatch of duns and there are always nymphs in the ripples. On hot, calm days there are trout leaping out of the water to take damsel flies in flight.

It is hard to imitate a damsel fly in flight but an imitation drifted through an area where fish are jumping catches fish anyway.

If you are first on the water you might encounter trout cruising the shallows off gravel beaches or lying in eddies off cut banks.

Another thing to start looking for is trout feeding on willow grub. On warmer days they will be falling like rain on the water. Look for dimple rises under willows that continue all day. If you do not have a willow grub pattern a size 16 hare's ear nymph will often work.

At other times, however, a more exact imitation is needed and even then there is no guarantee of catching anything.

I did not have much time to fish last weekend but managed a couple of hours on the lower Taieri with my son Chris. The water was falling with a tinge of colour and quite low.

We saw the odd rise in inaccessible places until we came to a deep pool with willows hanging over the other side.

The odd fish rose here, the first of which I caught on a size 14 hare's ear. Having had a request for a fish I kept it. It was full of brown beetles and willow grub.

A second fish did not respond and stopped rising.

Chris switched to the killer pattern and was soon into a good fish which he caught exploring where the willows hung low over the water. This fish, too, was full of beetles and willow grub and also a large bully. This fish was half as big again as mine at well over 2kg.

Despite his fish being bigger than mine I did not, quite magnanimously I thought, make him walk home.

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: Summer conditions have arrived and most waterways are at medium or low levels and clear. Scattered showers are forecast for many areas tomorrow, but Sunday is looking mostly fine.

North Otago: The Hakataramea, Maerewhenua and all the North Otago coastal streams are low and clear. The Waitaki lakes are clear and producing good numbers of trout. Ten thousand salmon were released into Lake Benmore in June and July, and now anglers are catching good numbers. These fish are great eating and up to 2kg in weight. Try spin fishing near weed beds with black and gold toby lures. If that doesn't work, switch to trolling in deep water with bright Tasmanian Devils. Some of these salmon were tagged, so if you catch a tagged fish please report it to the Central South Island Fish & Game Office (ph 03 615-8400). A few salmon around 6kg have been caught in the Dunedin harbour.

Southern Lakes: The Dart and Matukituki Rivers are dropping and clearing, and most other back-country rivers are in good order. Blowfly and beetle imitations have been fishing well. Schools of salmon are cruising in the deep water off the Lake Hawea Dam wall. These are an ideal target for young and novice anglers. Try casting out a long line and a deep retrieve.

Central Otago: As December progresses warm water temperatures will increase aquatic insect activity on our larger lakes such as Dunstan. This is a great time of the year to fish damsel fly nymph imitations like Hamills Killers flies over shallow weed beds. On smaller still waters such as Falls Dam, water temperatures will get quite high during the middle of the day, and the early morning and evening periods might fish the best. The Manuherikia River is presently clear and low and has been fishing well.

Taieri catchment: The Taieri River at Canadian Flat has risen slightly to a medium level, but it remains low elsewhere. Trout have been slashing at adult damsel flies in the middle and upper Taieri. Sometimes these fish can be caught on a large Royal Wulff dry fly with a red body.

Southwest Otago: Most waterways are in good condition for fishing. The Waipahi is low and will get weedy quickly if these conditions continue. The lower Clutha is in good order. Flows have been fluctuating and tend to be lowest in the mid afternoon. There are lots of smelt in the estuary area and some very well conditioned trout have been caught. Try fishing with small silver spinning lures and silicone smelt imitations.

WaterwayWater - level/condition
Kakanui River - Low, steady
Shag River - Low, steady
Taieri River at Canadian Flat - Medium, dropping
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, dropping
Hawea River - High, fluctuating
Lake Onslow - Medium, clear
Lake Dunstan - Medium, clear
Lake Hawea - Medium, dropping, clear
Lake Mahinerangi - High, clear
Lake Wanaka - Medium, clear
Lake Wakatipu - Medium, clear

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