Nelson / Marlborough Reel Life FEB 2017
'Exhilarating' cicada season in full swing
If you step outside on a warm February day, the cicada choir will fill the airwaves around you, in some cases drowning out normal domestic sounds like traffic or the barking of your labrador.
This raucous chorus, made only by the male of the species in search of a mate during its short time above ground, is like music to the ears of the trout angler.
Cicada fishing is exhilarating, where trout can be seen abandoning their post at the bottom of a deep pool, skyrocketing towards the surface and literally smashing the fly.
Top right: Cicada patterns come in all shapes, colours and sizes.
The takes are spectacular, splashy and loud. Often the angler will have to do nothing in return to set the hook; mutterings of “God save the Queen” are generally not required.
Trout love them, any why shouldn’t they? After all, there must be the equivalent of a hundred or more mayfly nymphs to the single chorus cicada, which fill up the palm of your hand and have the wingspan to boot.
The ripple they make on the water when haphazardly blown on the surface is like a moth to the flame for trout, who are wise to take advantage of the terrestrial bonanza which occurs this time of year in order to pack on condition for the winter ahead.
Even wary selective trout, will lose their cautious ways and move metres for your cicada pattern.
Some anglers may not know that there are many different species of cicada of all different sizes, so that anglers, when selecting suitable imitations, should have an array of sizes in the fly box.
Back country rivers are famed for their cicada fishing, however lowland rivers are also excellent locations to ply your trade.
The Wairau for example, willow lined in many places, has excellent cicada fishing; just find a suitable willow lined run and slap down a suitable imitation. Don’t be too worried about delicate presentation.
When a cicada hits the water in the wild, it does so with speed and gusto, and this action in itself will draw in a trout from distance.
So you should reflect this in your presentation, subtlety and accuracy are hardly paramount here, and watch that fish streak to your fly and wolf it down.
Willow grubs a no show?
Whether it’s a seasonal anomaly, or the effect of the giant willow aphid (and resulting wasp problem), it appears the willow grub is not making up significant portion of the trout diet in many rivers this summer.
Staff and concerned anglers are noticing a distinct lack of blisters (galls) on the willow leaves, which house the willow grub pupae.
This is a real concern as the willow grub is an excellent food source for trout, which in the summer months, seek out the tiny pupae.
Left: Willow grubs are an important food source for trout, however they appear to be present in low numbers this season.
‘Grubbing’ trout make for some excellent (and at times frustrating) fishing, depending on the mood of the fish or the quality (and presentation) of your fly.
They are an easy pattern to tie, and it pays to have some subtle variations in colour in the yellow to green range.
The semi-translucent grubs are generally taken by the trout in the surface film, so your imitation should be light enough to remain within the film (you can do this by applying dressing to your nymph or tying/buying flies that float – foam, CDC).
Somehow imparting movement into the flies is a good idea, CDC feathers work well here and will give your fly ‘life’ that other materials cannot.
When seeking grubbing fish, the first obvious step is to fish willow-lined waters, where willow grubs will be regularly falling into the water.
Foam lines can be useful indicators of where the grubs will end up along with willow bays – these provide some diversity in currents allowing the fish to reside in slacker water adjacent to faster currents where more food is found.
When it’s time to pitch your imitation to the trout, do so just a foot or so ahead of the fish, without worrying about landing the fly a metre or more ahead of the fish.
Trout can get obsessively locked into willow grubs, and will often refuse any other offering no matter how small, meaning grubbing fish can be tough to catch.
Patience is the key here, and know that many casts may be required before a trout, having snubbed your previous two dozen casts, will suddenly grab your next one.
Salmon heads needed for important research
Salmon heads are required for a nationwide study looking into genetic variations in the wild salmon population between different regions and catchments.
If you’ve enjoyed some salmon action on the Wairau or Clarence, please keep the head and record sex, fork length and weight, as well as the river in which it was caught.
Staff can arrange to pick up the frozen heads to make it easier, or drop them in to the Nelson or Blenheim office.
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