Graeme Marshall Fishing Report for December Reel Life 2017

  • 18/12/2017

South Canterbury Report

Some of my most enduring childhood memories are of the seemingly endless summers of the 1960’s. if it ever rained I don’t recall it! Living in Nelson then, and a frequent visitor to an uncle’s place adjacent to Tahuna Beach Motorcamp, we often sat on the porch and mercilessly mocked the lily-white kids from Dunedin or Invercargill as they got blitzed by the sun. We were already tanned and swimming daily in rivers or the sea by Christmas.

But more recent times have not always been like this. Indeed, through the years the main holiday period has often been a huge disappointment for work weary holidaymakers, even in Nelson. We can all remember some downright, cold, wet and miserable summers. But not this one. In South Canterbury up until a couple of days ago there has barely been a drop of rain since mid October. Day after day of sunshine and gentle breezes have prevailed and have taken me right back to those lazy, hazy days more than 50 years ago.

There have been some pluses. The Opihi has been fishing astonishingly well once you find the well populated stretches and overlook the fact that the fish are a little smaller on average than in some recent seasons. But who is complaining? Not me.


T-Shirt and shorts weather. Alistair Marshall with a typical Opihi brown.

The day-time dry fly action has been quite exceptional at times. The fish are no pushover though. However, a small, highly visible mayfly imitation will do it. Nymphing too has been productive. But again you need to go small. Many fish have taken a cursory glance at the first offering before totally ignoring subsequent ones. Dropping down a size will often solve the problem.

A few days in the high country proved an eye opener. The fish are already quite educated as there is certainly no lack of anglers. We were bemused by the fact that Australian anglers seemed to just pop up all over the place and talking to some of them made us realise that they are skilled and well prepared anglers.

The downside of course, of all this sunshine and no rain, is that some of our lowland streams are in a pretty dire condition. I’ve been shocked to see the Tengawai literally draining out like water from a bath now that the irrigation season is in full swing. In fact I’ve been keeping an eye on a section in the middle reaches that has actually gone underground. An inch of rain during the week has rejuvenated it to a point but a lot more rain is needed. If you happen to come across a stretch where the fish seem to be struggling give Fish & Game a heads up.

Reports are trickling in of salmon being caught almost daily in the Rangitata and some are of a really good size. Fingers are crossed for a much better season than experienced in recent years.

I can report that some very good trout and a few salmon are still being caught in the canals but you need to be out of bed early and back into it late to enjoy success. Fishing is hard during the day. Yours truly got a couple of stunning rainbows a week back but both were caught before 6am. I also weighed one for a visiting angler that drew my digital scales down to exactly 29 old fashioned pounds. What a fish.

Hopefully, our small streams will get regular top ups. If not most fishing effort is going to be concentrated on the bigger rivers and the lakes.


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