Small streams and still waters best for now

Perfect conditions on the Upper Clutha River
Photo: ODT files
No sooner have rivers dropped back to a good fishing level than they are rising again, and it will be quite a few days until they drop.

The ground was already wet and it will not have soaked up much of the rain that has fallen this week. Although the rain has been fairly widespread, South Otago seems to have missed most of it.

According to the regional council website, the Waipahi and Waiwera are both still fishable as I write. The forecast for the weekend is good but longer rivers such as the Taieri and Mataura will take a week or so to drop, so the small streams will be the best in the short term.

Of course we still have the still waters to fish, the tussock lakes, if the access roads are still passable, and the lower-altitude, smaller dams.

I have fished the latter several times this season with mixed success on individual dams but overall, they have been well worth fishing. Most of these dams are stocked with rainbows from the Fish and Game hatchery at Macraes. Because of the vast amount of food available to trout in these fertile waters, they put on weight rapidly. They can double their weight in no time at all and within a year can be 1.5-2.5kg and in great condition.

The dams have a reputation for being fickle, but if you persist there is always the chance of a good fish or two.

One dam that I have fished regularly over the years is Blakelys. It was about two years of fishing it before I landed my first fish there, although I did break off on a few during that period. On the other hand I struck it lucky on my first visit to Rutherfords Dam, landing a 3kg brown trout. Brown trout are scarce in Rutherfords and Blakelys now, which is a shame, as it gives an extra dimension to the fishing.

Mathias Dam has a mixture of brown and rainbows in it, as has Hamiltons. The browns access Hamiltons from the Cap Burn which is the source of its water, and Mathias has a race from which small browns enter. I have had days on Rutherfords and Blakelys when the rainbows have been unco-operative and a visit to Mathias on the way home has produced a few brown trout. The latter trout are not as big as this in the other two dams but they are well conditioned and there is always a chance of one around 2kg.

The methods of fishing are much the same on all the dams. If there is not much surface activity or nothing to be seen in the shallows, a damsel fly nymph regularly produces fish. This fly is tied on a large strong hook which helps hang on to big rainbows when they are hooked, especially when it is weedy, which is most of the time.

A water boatman or snail imitation works well to fish in the shallows.

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