Angling: Rivers, streams at ideal fishing levels

After a week of settled weather and some drying winds, rivers and streams have dropped to ideal fishing levels. With overnight temperatures in single digits water temperatures have also dropped.

These low temperatures will almost certainly have put an end to any hope of cicada fishing on the tussock lakes. However, the gains from the low water temperatures more than outweigh the losses.

At this time of year mayfly hatches can be expected in the afternoons and falls of spinners at any time it is calm.

Although the rainfed waters such as the Waipahi and Mataura are famed for their mayfly hatches, the Clutha too has a respectable mayfly hatch which is often overlooked because of the more famous sedge hatch.

The upper Clutha, although still a little on the high side for fishing, has a good fall of mayfly spinners in the evening before the sedges start. In the evening the trout will move into the edges of the river to feed on both species which makes fishing in the high water a lot easier.

The dead spinners wash into the slack water close to the banks and the sedges hatch in the middle of the river and run across the surface to the banks.

A spinner imitation should be fished inert while a sedge should be skated off the current and into the slack water.

Of course sedges and spinners can be expected on any water but it just so happens they are particularly prolific in the Clutha. It also it has a large head of fish, both of which are a huge advantage to the angler.

Although I regularly fish the Clutha in the autumn, my favourite has to be the Mataura at this time of year. Murray Smart and I fished there last Sunday and, although the water was still a little high, it was clear.

Despite the forecast of northwest winds it was calm throughout the day. It was also warm and sunny - in fact a perfect day to be on the river. However, from the results the fish were not aware of this.

Things started well when I caught a nice fish from a backwater but over the next three hours I only managed to lose one other fish. There was little fly on the water and no rises. I systematically fished some usually productive water without success.

Murray faired no better but undaunted (sometimes I think it would be better in such circumstances if anglers would be daunted occasionally) we pressed on.

We covered some of the most productive water on the Mataura to no avail then about 3 o'clock I caught a fish on the nymph in a nice ripply section of the river. This renewed my enthusiasm and I fished the water thoroughly with maximum concentration and a couple of nymphs.

The point fly was a bead head nymph and this produced several fish over the next hour and Murray was doing exactly the same thing a few hundred metres upstream. Then it all stopped. Hopefully it will have started again by the next visit.

- Mike Weddell


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 rivers throughout the region are at normal or higher than normal levels. The majority of lowland rivers are in good condition for fishing but there has been more heavy rain in the western divide and many back-country rivers are still residing from high flows. A southwest front is predicted for much of Otago this Saturday, which may affect river levels.

North Otago Area: The Shag, Waianakarua, Kakanui and Waikouaiti rivers are all at medium levels and are clear and fishable. Jamie, from the Lake Benmore holiday park, reports the lake is starting to clear and the fishing is improving. The Ahuriri River is running clear. The Waitaki River is running at about 420cumecs and trending upwards.

Southern Lakes Area: Many back-country rivers received another large fresh during the week and the big rivers, such as the Dart, Matukituki and Shotover, are receding but still discoloured which is also affecting water clarity in the delta areas. Expect from the river delta areas, Lakes Wakatipu, Hawea and Wanaka are clear and in good condition for fishing. Paddock Bay at Wanaka has been fishing very well recently. The trout are in great condition and cruising over the shallow weed beds. Heavy rain is predicted to spill into the Otago headwaters before the weekend. Anglers going into the back country should be aware rivers may rise quickly.

Central Otago: Lake Dunstan is clear and in good order for fishing in the Clutha Arm, but discoloured from the Shotover River in the Kawarau Arm. The Lindis River is at a medium level and clear. The Manuherikia is dropping and clearing.

Taieri Catchment: The Taieri River remains full and tannin stained throughout its length. Fly fishing has been difficult. Spin fishing in the deeper holes throughout the lower and middle reaches may produce some sea-run trout. Anglers have been reporting some good catches of very well conditioned trout from the Logan Burn Dam.

Southwest Otago Area: The lower Clutha has been fluctuating from 500cumecs to 700cumecs each day. It is a bit discoloured but clear enough for worm and spin fishing. Seals have been reported near Kaitangata. The Pomahaka is still running a bit discoloured which is often a good condition for spin fishing. The Waitahuna, Wairewa and Kaihiku Streams are at medium, clear and in good order for fly fishing. The Waipahi is fairly low. Often small South Otago and Southland streams can experience good mayfly rises on calm afternoons in March.

WaterwayWater Level/Condition
• Kakanui River - Medium, clear
• Shag River - Medium, clear
• Taieri River at Canadian Flat - Medium, slightly discoloured
• Taieri River at Outram - Medium, slightly discoloured
• Pomahaka River - Medium, slightly discoloured
• Waipahi River - Low, clear
• Clutha River at Balclutha - Medium to high, slightly discoloured
• Clutha River at Cardrona - Medium, fluctuating, clear
• Hawea River - High, fluctuating, clear
• Lake Onslow - Medium, clear
• Lake Dunstan - Medium, discoloured in Kawarau Arm
• Lake Hawea - High, discoloured near river deltas
• Lake Mahinerangi - High, clear
• Lake Wanaka - High, discoloured near river deltas
• Lake Wakatipu - High, discoloured near river deltas

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