Martin Langlands column for Reel Life May 2017
Winter river fishing
Anybody who knows me understands how much I enjoy the winter season, its a time when each and every river experience is very meaningful.
It's not always about catching fish mind you, but for me its a great time to test new gear, new fly patterns, enjoy the company of family and friends but most importantly a great time of year teach beginners the art of fly fishing and try to get them hooked.
Above Right: First fish on the fly, smiles all round!!!
I am very fortunate to have had a long career in the fly fishing fishing industry working in retail, commercial fly tying /design and guiding but I'Il have to say the part I find most rewarding is teaching new comers and working hard with them to get them their first fish on the fly, its a passion.
It is however so important for newcomers to realise it takes time!
A bit like playing golf your'e not going to beat Tiger Woods in your first year but more a game consisting of a long term view aiming towards getting better step by step.
Fly fishing and trout fishing in general can be very hard but please stick with it and skills will unfold, most importantly never be afraid to ask for help.
Good places for this helping hand are the quality tackle shops we have in Canterbury, fishing clubs and don't be shy of asking your local guides most will only be too happy to help you out.
Just how hard can fly fishing be? well today I am just home as I write this and have fished 3 personal winter sessions totaling 11 hours and today I'm am stoked I finally got 2 fish!
Left: Not a huge fish but very meaningful about to return to water.
Sure not big fish about 1-1.5 pound range and having fly fished all my life does not mean I too get results easy but found catching these 2 fish very rewarding indeed.
Some universal trout flies
During much of later April and May we came to find just how important a player green caddis are in the trout's diet especially in the larger braided rivers of Canterbury.
For the most part I catch and release 99% but during later April I kept just a few to eat so as always I take full opportunity to autopsy and look at stomach contents,we were staggered at the volume of green caddis we found.
Right: A green caddis in action.
There are 2 main species of green caddis; firstly Hyropsyche which tend to be a sombre shade of green-olive and have pronounced white gills on underside and Hydrobiosis that is a free living caddis often in brighter shades of emerald green with a very translucent look.
Its worth reading about the many caddis fly larvae found in New Zealand waters as its the most common trout food here and the world over.
So I set about designing better patterns to use incorporating modern materials and was amazed at the results, mine are semi realistic but many anglers have their own take on green caddis so be sure to have a range of both weights and sizes #16-14-12-10 as they are a great winter pattern but will produce all year.
Queens Birthday weekend heralds the opening of some winter lake fishing in Canterbury and as always keenly anticipated, please check your regulations for details.
My focus this winter will be on varying freshwater snail patterns, snails are very sort after by trout during winter months as many of the summer insects are long gone or relatively inactive.
Snails form a vital part of trout diet and whilst the weighted Black And Peacock is a great pattern I think we can do better but time will tell.
Getting the fly to the right depth becomes critical in cooler winter lakes and to do this there is a host of sink tip and sinking lines to help with this.
High on my list is to play with +40 sinking line combining this with floating nymphs that suspend off the lake bottom - the place were most trout will be.
In the North Island this form of "Heave and Leave " is most popular and effective and I can't wait to try it down here using floating snails, dragonfly nymphs and maybe even the dreaded Egg fly.
Left: Some family fun - winter lake fishing.
Remember UV components can be key for rainbow trout but spook the heck out of some brown trout - there is no 1 easy answer.
Recently I attended a meeting put on by North Canterbury Fish and Game to address submissions that stakeholders have submitted in regards to regulations in the area.
It was a great meeting with many view points and gave me a wider understanding of how diverse anglers are and the was a real insight into just how hard it can be for Fish & Game staff in take all these opinions in and process them.
Thanks guys for the work you do in helping manage this great sport !!! and we can see at times its not easy.
Malcom Bell of Complete Angler fame, spoke of his winter fishing passion as a disease of which many empathized with, are you infected ? I sure am back to the doctor (those healing rivers or lakes).
I hope you get out and enjoy some winter fishing, gear testing and all the best of luck .
Martin Langlands www.troutlands.com
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