Hawke's Bay Reel Life August 2018
Nice fish if you caught the ‘windows'
Winter fishing has been up and down in Hawke's Bay the last couple of months.
Top right: Trout don't come a lot better...Blair Whiting with a rainbow that was sitting at the base of the cliff behind him.
Rain seems to arrive shortly after rivers have cleared from the previous downpour, leaving small windows of opportunity for anglers.
Those who've ventured out whenever possible, have generally been rewarded with landing nice trout.
Lake Tutira has produced some nice fish this winter as well.
Fishing, as happens, has seen some anglers put in long hours for little reward, but then in another part of the lake or on another day, the fishing has been red hot.
So those who've persevered at the lake, have generally reeled in some nicly conditioned trout.
While on the topic of Tutira, thanks to all the volunteers that helped plant over 2000 plants at the lake in July.
It was great to have members from all three fishing clubs there. This area is going to look great in the future. Thank you and well done!
Staff received a great article from one of the region's keen young anglers, Blair Whiting. The idea was to place it in this year's newsletter, but unfortunately we ran out of room for it.
So to finish off this issue of Reel Life, here is Blair’s article. Thanks Blair!
Autumn trout adventures - By Blair Whiting
It’s autumn and the water temperatures are going down, the weather is more settled, and the trout in the late season are around in great numbers.
In the Tutaekuri River, trout are starting to prepare for moving up river to spawn in the tributaries.
This means they're hungry, great for the angler if you can match what the fish are eating.
Fish gather in any section of the river that provides shelter and food.
A typical session for me is spent nymphing from above Dartmoor. I've made some excellent catches in this area due to the way the river has formed after flooding.
It had created slow water for trout to rest and feed in.
There were deep clear backwaters, willow-lined pools and many runs with slack water on the edges.
Large numbers of fish inhabit locations like these and it's not uncommon to spot upwards of 30 fish in an afternoon.
Your fly fishing set up doesn’t need to be advanced to catch rainbow trout. All you need is a fly rod and reel with some floating fly line on it and you're away!
The most important part of your rig is the leader, flies and the indicator. This is the end the trout will be judging.
In super clear water anything that looks wrong will be rejected by the fish.
You should pick an imitation of whatever the fish are feeding on.
The main options I recommend are mayfly nymphs, cased caddis and willow grubs.
I work this out by looking under rocks or opening up the stomach of a trout I decide to keep.
In autumn, you will find that fish are almost exclusively feeding on cased caddis.
These are scattered across the top of the gravel and are picked up by the current then swept down to waiting trout.
To the right, are top flies for upstream nymphing.
Trout will stick to certain areas of the river, occupying only a fraction of the total water.
When I head out I have to be ready to do some walking to find the holding sections.
These can be over a kilometre apart. A change in colour to a blue means deeper water, shelter and a feeding lane.
Many fish will sit deep, out of the current, and have an easy time picking up nymphs drifting past.
One favourite pool of mine had strong current on the far bank and a fast run at the head, with a drop in depth into the main current.
On my bank, the water slowed and had many fish feeding in the middle, with two large rainbows in ankle deep water.
There were 15 fish in this section of river in the space of 50 metres.
Finding the perfect feeding habitat is the key to catching these trout and I've been able to catch more than five from a single stretch.
Still waters are an often overlooked part of the Tutaekuri, but it's where some of the most exciting fishing can be had.
There is nothing quite like nailing your cast ahead of a cruising rainbow, then giving it the smallest of twitches to see a fish rush in to inhale your fly.
Moments like these are special. Still waters or ‘back waters’ are formed after long periods of rain that flood the river bank to bank, then recede to leave behind gashes on the river bed.
Not all still waters hold fish; they must have sufficient depth, shelter and a good oxygen level.
Willows create shade and sunken logs make trout feel safe.
When fishing this clear water, your leader needs to be as thin and light as possible; for a fish to be fooled into eating a nymph, 4lb or lighter is best.
Typically fish cruise on a ‘beat’ ; watch where they swim and wait for their return. Make a cast ahead and wait for the trout’s reaction.
Movement can be key: if they look at a fly and reject it, a quick twitch will often turn their attention back to taking the fly.
Shallow holding fish require the most challenge of all; a very delicate drop in front of a fish with a tiny unweighted nymph is the only way.
Fish can spook from a splash so putting it some distance ahead can change your fortune.
Nymphs in size 16 or smaller are essential since trout have a long time to inspect a possible meal.
Trout operate on conserving energy and finding the most sustainable source of food.
Bigger is typically not better when it comes to your nymph size. Sizing down I have found is best to encourage more takes.
Depth is an important part of hooking fish; if your nymph does not sink in time to reach the bottom, the fish won’t even see your fly and won't be able to eat it.
If you lengthen the distance of your indicator from your nymphs, you will eventually see it move slightly on the surface, which means your nymph is rolling along the bottom and in the zone.
I run a heavy fly at the front to get the trailing size 16 to the bottom as quickly as possible.
Since the 16 is unweighted, it allows the small fly to sit at trout eye height while drifting.
Fishing at this height you will get almost all your fish on the smaller nymph.
Trips further up country have proved extremely successful for me.
The wilderness settings and different river structures produce more holding pools, so fish are spread more evenly throughout the area.
The river from Flag Range Road and above has less willow-lined stretches, which are are replaced with towering cliffs and high banks.
They don't put the fish off as they provide shelter up against them.
Many deep pools are created and trout seek out these areas to rest and feed. Finding the slower water is the key once again.
One thing novices may have trouble with is getting a drag-free drift. Trout will almost always refuse a nymph that is dragging.
What you want is the nymph to drift as if it’s a natural food item. Casting from behind the trout or mending the line upstream will fix this issue.
On one trip I took, I caught 11 rainbows over the afternoon, many from the same pool. This was in a simple drop off against the bottom of the cliffs.
Trout are always a challenge and always changing behaviour. Some days I can do no wrong with every fish pouncing on my offerings.
Other days they reject even the most delicate presentation. The more you experience the more you will learn.
Trout, I have observed, are unique and many feed in different ways.
Some move with enthusiasm while others beat their tail slowly and act sluggish, some even falling asleep it seems, which makes it interesting when you almost step on them while crossing banks.
These unique experiences put the whole sport and adventure together.
Trout fishing is a new adventure every time, and that’s why I keep coming back!
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