Graeme Marshall Fishing Report for Reel Life April 2018

  • 30/04/2018

South Canterbury Report for April 2018

Eating humble pie

In last month’s column I expressed concern that recent major flood events in virtually all of South Canterbury’s lowland streams might have had a serious negative impact on the in-stream environments and the fish. While I concluded the column with an optimistic tone, I have to confess that I was really concerned by the ‘flat-lining’ and the enormous movement of the river beds that had occurred.

I need not have been concerned. Despite the much changed environment the fish have not just survived but thrived in the new habitat. My wife and I have a daily ritual, summer and winter, of walking our two dogs on one of a number of handy river bed locations or on the stopbanks paralleling streams near our home. It's surprising how much information is gleaned from these outings. We note the water level, water colour, insect and bird life. A recent highlight was the spotting of an Australasian bittern – a rare beast indeed. Of course I always have a look for fish if conditions are favourable.

The last major flood was over a month ago but frequent rain events had continued to top up waterways that would often be gasping for breath in a ‘normal’ dry summer. For over a month few lowland streams have appealed as  places to employ a fly rod. However, quite suddenly - almost overnight it seemed - they all dropped to a respectable level and water clarity improved dramatically. My interest was aroused. One favoured walking spot is right alongside a long run which is somewhat unusual in that the top one third is around three metres deep. It shallows really quickly though to a classic diagonal riffle – a virtual ‘factory’ for emerging mayflies.

On previous visits I was bemoaning the lack of insect activity and a total absence of rising fish. This day though my heart skipped a beat as a casual glance upstream revealed an unmistakable rise. Then another and another. Within minutes the entire run was literally boiling with fish taking the tiny mayflies as both emergers and duns.

“Just tiddlers,” I remarked to my wife but very quickly swallowed my words when a whole pod of fish rose boldly, literally shouldering each other out of the way. These were chunky, good looking specimens in the 2kg class.

Was I back there with a fly rod? Yes indeed. I enjoyed a fantastic two hour session later in the day. Once I worked out that they were only taking flies no bigger than #16, and preferably #18 or #20, I enjoyed the best action of the entire season. The season now ends with me happy in the knowledge that despite everything nature can throw at it,  this trout population is very much alive and well. Roll on October 1. Now, I wonder what’s working in the canals right now?!

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