Graeme Marshall Fishing Report for Reel Life November 2018
South Canterbury Report
I should have taken ‘before and after’ photos of some of our local waters recently. From staring down the barrel of a potential drought situation, south and mid Canterbury received a deluge over a couple of days that dropped up to 100mm of rain in some parts of the region. The Rangitata River peaked at just under 2000 cumecs – a massive flood by any terms. Smaller streams in the region also reached flood level and in many cases tore into banks and gravel bars, completely altering the shape of the river bed. As I write over a week later, the Opihi is still carrying a high silt load and is marginal for anything but bait and spin fishing. Virtually every pool and run in this and many other rivers have been changed. With further unsettled weather forecast it could be a while before some degree of normality returns.
Top right: Lake Opuha all to myself on a stunning day.
Despite these dramatic events, many anglers have reported an excellent season to date. I continue to hear rave reviews of the fishing in the lower and middle Waitaki. And, despite shocking weather for the Opening Weekend of the high country season, most of the hardy souls who braved the elements did really well. The Hakataramea River always features in opening weekend reports and this year was no exception. The ‘Haka’ is a fly fisher’s perfect stream really: easy to get around on and well stocked with plenty of eager browns and rainbows.
November and December are some of the best months for all forms of fishing. With a bit more water in the streams than there was on October 1 spin fishers have an excellent chance of making the acquaintance of some very well fed sea-runners. The lower Opihi has been producing some stunners right among the whitebaiters from time to time. Expect the Rangitata to fire too as big numbers of smelt and yellow-eyed mullet come into the lower reaches.
If the rivers are a bit too murky check out the lakes. December is an excellent month for salmon in Lakes Tekapo and Heron, for example. In my experience December is the month when browns begin to actively prowl the edges of Lake Opuha and Benmore. The latter boasts vast areas of shallow flats that are patrolled constantly by hungry browns.
Don’t overlook the canals. They are mainly considered a winter fishery by serious trophy hunters, who fish well away from the salmon farms. Early summer is the time to target monsters back around the cages. On a recent visit I caught a couple of very nice rainbows and saw a superb brown caught by a Southland angler that was destined for a place on the wall. Egg patterns still work but dark-coloured streamer patterns are proving deadly after dark. Despite some rather ordinary weather, there is still plenty of great fishing on offer.