Will Spry column for Reel Life September 2017
The first signs of spring are starting to show up in the high country, with blossoms budding, daffodils springing up and a few insects starting to move around. Yes, spring is generally quite a bit later in the high country than down on the coastal areas, and it’s with this in mind that we consider the opening of the Central South Island on the first weekend in November. While many other fishing areas open on October 1, we wait a little longer here for the rainbows to complete their spawning and the farmers lambs to touch down. Do remember this when venturing into the CSI Region.
The only fisheries open in October are the bigger lakes and the hydro canals (along with a short stretch of the Lower Tekapo River). If you can’t resist the rivers, stick to the low country to the east of Burke’s Pass and the main Waitaki River, all of which open October 1. Do remember also, that the upper Ahuriri River opens on the first Saturday in December.
So what to do in preparation for November? It’s tackle check time.
Give your breathable waders a clean (usually best hand washed in warm water, with washing powder), before rinsing and drying them inside and out. It’s also a good chance to repair any pinprick holes or other wear and tear, before you’ll need them in late spring and early summer. Tackle wise, check your lines. Fly lines could do with a wash in warm soapy water, before you draw them through a dry cloth and wind them back on the reel. Check your connection knots carefully, both at the backing and leader, for wear and tear as well as strength. Any dodgy leaders should be swapped out for a new one and you might also consider a spot of reel grease if your reel requires it. Fly fishers should also have a look over their tippet supplies and test them for strength (simply pull out a length and give it a steady pull – it’s unscientific, but if it gives way easily, consider a new batch for the season!) as well as going over the fly boxes and tossing out any of the dodgy flies. Rusted or bent hooks and loose hackles for example should be rejected – maybe even tie up a few new ones for the coming year. Finally, check your net for wear and tear and confirm you’ve purchased your new licence.
Other anglers need to check their reels for soundness – again, maybe a dab of reel grease if applicable, and that the mechanisms are all working to order. Have a good hard look at you line and decide whether it will continue to do the job over the coming season, or whether it could do with replacement. It’s not worth losing the fish of your dreams over dodgy gear. Have a look at your terminal tackle and again, if in doubt, chuck it out. Maybe run a file over the used hooks, to keep them penetrating well.
Final jobs for the start of the season might be to go over the maps and Google Earth to have a look at a few new spots to try this season. Plan your trip by contacting land owners, making sure your vehicle is up to it after winter, and checking the camping gear if you’re planning to rough it through the season. Finally, remember to let someone reliable know where you are planning to be and have a basic safety plan in place if you are not home at the expected time.
Tight lines everyone and enjoy the 2017/18 season.