Martin Langlands column for Reel Life August 2018
Before we talk about the upcoming season, let me recap on the passing winter’s fishing.
For the most part, the larger rivers have been carrying high flows making for limited angler opportunities.
But that said, at time of writing we have experienced some decent fishing in both the Waimakariri and Rakaia rivers .
The best methods have included covering water with streamers with occasional blind indicator nymph fishing also working.
There seems to be fewer fish about in both rivers than in past seasons but some very nice specimens, and playing with colours, sizes and the weight of streamers was key to catching them.
The winter lakes have at times provided some superb fishing mixed in with days that have been remarkably quiet.
Lake Coleridge has been the best which, with it's very low levels, has made fishing drop offs and stream mouths very accessible.
Fishing UV streamers on a mix of floating and sinking lines during the day and lumi lures at night got the best results, as did the heave and leave method of casting floating glo bugs on a fast sinking line.
The rainbow trout from Coleridge are in very good condition this season, and in mid July I witnessed Peter Langlands catch one of the best he’s seen in 25 years!
It was a remarkable fish in every way weighing in at eight or nine pound.
Let’s hope these fish get a good spawn and the lake levels increase over spring, as Lake Coleridge is truly the jewel in the crown for angler participation and such a stunning location to fish.
Dobsonfly larva - aka Toebiter, Creeper, Hellgrammite
As the new season approaches, it’s a great time to start tying or thinking about getting the fly box in order and well stocked.
An often overlooked and little understood insect, the Dobsonfly larva, forms a huge part of a trout’s diet, not only early season but all throughout it.
These insects are large in size and they’re a predator themselves, feeding on mayfly, caddis, etc.
They live under stones in the stream bed and are frequently dislodged when river levels rise, and it’s then that trout feed on them.
They’re also widely distributed in rivers and streams throughout both low and high country waters that have a stone or rock structure.
There are many patterns that mimic these insects and its prudent for anglers to have a range of sizes and weights.
For the most part, these are best fished deep under a large indicator and are ideal for covering large amounts of water blind fishing, especially after floods and freshes.
They can also be used in clear water situations as trout will move a long way to grab an imitation tied with good features to suggest the natural version.
Over the past few years I’ve been having a lot of fun fishing with a version that is really a morph between a nymph and streamer fishing.
Swinging lures across the current in deep runs and pools has proven very effective on both brown and rainbow trout.
So if you find rivers flowing higher or discoloured, don’t give up – the trout will still be feeding they just need to see your fly.
This style of streamer that originated for spey casting has a rich history in the U.K. and U.S.
In modern times they’ve become a very popular form for steelhead fishing.
The intruder-style is growing in popularity in New Zealand, and I’m aware of many anglers using them to great effect in the South Island.
It is important to note this form of streamer in not limited to spey casting, and works really well on regular fly gear.
Increasingly we are finding this style of streamer very effective as they feature the hook right at the back (stringer), thus minimising missed takes that can be so common.
Intruder streamers are easy to tie and swim very well in the water with lots of animation. They can also be tied in a huge variety of colours and fish well on both floating and sinking lines.
Please check them out as they’ve formed an integral part of better results for many anglers over the last few years.
Back to the future
It is that time of year when we all make plans and dream of future halcyon days on the rivers, but as they say, ‘If you want to give god a laugh just tell him your plans.’
So as we look forward I find it good to do the following ...
Check your flows from now on; this gives you a better understanding of what the river’s volumes are like. It pays to understand average flow for a particular river over time not just the day you plan to fish!
This is a huge tool and will help you more consistently select the right place at the right time.
Check weather sites and develop a better understanding of nor-west and southerly weather patterns. It is forecast to be an El Nino spring-summer, which often means nor-west winds.
Don’t go out with one single plan in mind; have a plan B and C and remember sometimes being thrown out of your comfort zone will lead to new finds and new ideas...
Learn to fish in the wind! This involves some adaptations that will get you results. If you are nymph fishing, be prepared to fish across the current using careful mends.
Streamer fishing across and down the river is also a good approach and remember as I’ve noted above, there’s a whole world awaiting the angler that experiments with nymph-streamer cross over…
Don’t forget the forecast – but get out there and enjoy it all by being well prepared.
Enjoy the pre-season build up and please support your local fly fishing retailers and manufacturers be they big or small!
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