Angling: Small waters look best bet

If you are keen on cicada fishing you will probably be disappointed again this weekend. At this stage, there is rain forecast and strong winds for Sunday so you may need a plan B.

At the moment, the weather is so unpredictable and rainfall is patchy there is bound to be somewhere that is fishable. The upper Waipahi has had 89mm of rain in seven days but further inland there has been less and further east there has also been less. So, typically for Otago, the northeast is the driest and the southwest the wettest.

As usual, smaller waters will be the best bet. There are more of them so at least one of them should miss the rain. The Tokomairiro looks promising at the moment and the Pomahaka, although it has been between 70cumecs and 90cumecs three times this week has been reasonably fishable in between these peaks when it has dropped to 10cumecs to15cumecs.

The Taieri has gradually dropped and is close to a good fishing level and, hopefully, will reach that level be the weekend.

Regardless of the conditions, or maybe despite the conditions, fishing is a pastime that needs a certain amount of optimism to avoid total despondency. Last weekend, the weather forecast was far from ideal, with gale-force winds and rain at times, but the Mataura was at a fishable height and it was the first time I was free to fish for a while when it was not too high.

Passing over firstly the Waiwera, which was discoloured, and then the Waipahi, which was not much better, things were not looking good. However, driving down the hill just before Mataura township the first glimpse of the river at least indicated it was not discoloured.

At Tuturau I could see that it was clearish and there was a little shelter from the wind so I pulled over and tackled up. I started with a couple of nymphs and fished a stretch of likely water and, after about 20 minutes, hooked and landed a modest trout. Inspired, I fished on for another two hours but without a touch so I decided on a change in location.

Stopping to have a look at Wyndham bridge I immediately saw a rise, then another. I quickly grabbed my gear and headed for the water.

Just as I waded in a fish rose below me. I dropped the nymph near it and I was into the second fish of the day. Fish were rising spasmodically up the flat in front of me. They would not take a surface fly so I put on a small nymph and caught one or two before the rise petered out.

Putting on a beadhead I continued to fish and was rewarded with a couple more. Optimism triumphed over common sense once again.

- 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: Many rivers throughout Otago have received another fresh and are still higher than normal and discoloured. The Central Otago irrigation dams are mostly in good condition for fishing.

North Otago area: The Shag and Waikouaiti Rivers are at medium levels and clear, but the Kakanui is still dropping and clearing. Pam, from the Lake Benmore Holiday Park, reports Benmore is clearing but is still quite cloudy. It could take another week to clear properly. The discoloured water has not stopped anglers catching fish. Fly and spin fishing from boats over the weed beds has been quite productive recently.

Southern Lakes area: Many of the back-country rivers have received yet another fresh and are still dropping. The larger rivers such as the Dart will remain discoloured for a while. Many back-country trout will be very hungry because of the discoloured waters conditions over the last few weeks. When it has been fishable, the Lochy River has been very busy with anglers recently. Small lakes such as Hayes and Diamond Lake are often over looked by anglers and have been fishing well.

Central Otago: If it is a warm day, a trip to the Central Otago irrigation dams such as Manorburn, Onslow and Loganburn is worth considering. Temperatures are predicted to rise over the next week and some cicadas should be on the water soon. The Manuherikia and Lindis Rivers are clear and fishable.

Taieri catchment: The upper Taieri River has received another fresh and is still a bit discoloured. The irrigation dams such as Blakelys, Rutherfords and Coal Pit are always a good back-up option if the river is too dirty.

Southwest Otago area: The lower Clutha is very high, quite discoloured and potentially dangerous. Wading is not advisable. A few salmon have been caught near the Roxburgh Dam wall recently. Trout are targeting adult whitebait which are schooling near the tidal zone on the lower Clutha. The adult whitebait are preparing to spawn in bankside vegetation. Soft plastic bait-fish imitations can be deadly in these conditions. The Waipahi and Pomahaka are high and discoloured. Smaller streams such as the Tokomairiro and Waitahuna will probably be the first to clear.

Waterway - Water Level/Condition
• Kakanui River - Medium, dropping and clearing
• Shag River - Medium, clear
• Taieri River at Canadian Flat - Medium, dropping and clearing
• Taieri River at Outram - Medium, dropping and clearing
• Pomahaka River - Medium, dropping and clearing
• Waipahi River - High, dropping and clearing
• Clutha River at Balclutha - Very high, discoloured
• Clutha River at Cardrona- Very high, discoloured
• Hawea River - Very high, fluctuating
• 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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