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This is the time of year that most fishers dream about - days on end of being able to go fishing whenever the desire comes over us. Yeah right!
Well, at least we can fish a little more often than during the rest of the year. The other good thing is that all rivers and streams as well as lakes are in good fishing order. Because of a cooler spring and high water the weed growth in small streams is less than normal, making it easier to fish them. The bigger rivers, too, are worth fishing as they are low enough to cross and cover most of the likely water.
My picks for the early part of the holiday period are the lower Taieri in the big water category and the Waipahi as the small water. The Waipahi is often dismissed as too weedy to fish at this time of year but most of my best catches on it have been in December, even when here has been a lot of weed. The fishing is different from the spring. There is more fishing for sighted fish or blind fishing into small pockets of open water or in narrow channels between the weed beds, rather than covering wide expanses of open water.
The lower Taieri carries a good head of fish and they are usually hard to locate but at this time of year they can often be found cruising under the willows, sipping down willow grubs. They can be hard to catch but it is absorbing fishing and often the size of the fish makes it worth the effort.
Murray Smart and I fished the Taieri last weekend. The start of the day was about as perfect as it gets - warm, calm and sunny with the water fairly low. Within a minute or two of starting I spotted a fish swirling along the edge of a weed bed and it took my hare's ear nymph as soon as it saw it. At 2kg it was a good start.
After that there were few fish moving but the odd one came to the same nymph fished blind. As things warmed up, a few fish began to jump at damsel flies as they hovered above the water. These are difficult to imitate but luckily trout feeding like this will still take a sunk fly.
I put on a diving beetle imitation and caught one that was jumping. Then I saw a nice fish working the edge of a weed bed. It swam slowly upstream, picking up what I presumed to be snails. It ignored my fly but when it turned downstream, it grabbed it. I presume it was looking down as it searched the weed bed but was looking up as it swam the other way. It was over 2kg.
As we were heading back for lunch, a fish jumped. I covered it with the diving beetle and it took straight off. This fish, too, was over 2kg. I kept it and, no surprise, it was full of damsel flies.