Graeme Marshall for Reel Life December 2018
South Canterbury Report
As I write this 10 days out from Christmas, a glimmer of weak sunshine is fighting against yet more clouds advancing inland off the sea. Total sunshine hours this month must be close to an all-time low. Low cloud, drizzle and heavy, thundery showers up country seem to be the norm. Just when it looked like the Opihi was set up perfectly for the first decent salmon run of the season, it all turned to something akin to caramel custard again.
Right: Young Jack Neal with a Lake Tekapo salmon.
Still, there is hope. The hot news is that at least a couple of salmon have been taken from the lower Opihi and the Rangitata has produced a few as well. Given the high flows of recent times I would not be surprised to hear of some fish caught well up-river in the next week or so. The trick might be finding a hole where the fish pause before racing off towards the spawning grounds. The Rangitata especially is well known for early runs.
Despite the very high water levels, I continue to receive reports of some excellent trout fishing in the smaller streams and the Waitaki. Dust the fly rod off when flows in streams like the Temuka, Tengawai, Pareora and Waihao drop below 10 cumecs. All have been fishing extremely well according to some informants who speculate that most of the fish being caught are of sea-run origin which makes sense when some of these streams have been open to the sea - an unusual occurrence most years. It is actually quite refreshing to see the smaller coastal streams running high when irrigation demands are normally kicking in.
There is a wealth of fishing to be had in the region. This is arguably the best part of the year for the high country lakes with plenty of food on offer and lots of hungry trout looking for it. Trout are looking up for beetles and damselfies. Anglers should carry a selection of patterns to imitate these. This time last year I took advantage of a salmon bonanza in Lake Tekapo. One acquaintance has been enjoying considerable success again this month. Look for places with deep water close in to the shore. A small, but heavy shiny slice or jig will do the job by casting well out and allowing the lure to sink for a few seconds before retrieving slowly. These beautiful, cobalt blue fish fight well and taste great.
If all else fails there is always canal fishing to fall back on. Some stunning rainbows have been taken around the salmon farms in recent weeks.