Reel Life April 2023

  • Southland
  • 19/04/2023

Reel Life April 2023

As you read this, the last week of the season for most of our waterways lies ahead of you.

So, it’s your last chance to revisit one of your favourite spots or get around to checking out that piece of water you have been intending to for a while.

May Mayfly Fishing

The Mataura River between the Gore Bridge and Mataura Island is open throughout May (except for the weekend of May 6/7) - allowing anglers to make the most of the late-season mayfly hatches that the Mataura is world famous for.

The settled autumnal weather can create calm conditions, which allows spotting surface movement and accurate casting a touch easier.

Look for a section of water that has a smooth glide to the surface and where the wind isn’t too much of a hindrance.

Sit and wait for the trout to reveal themselves from around 1-2 pm onwards.

Chances are, there will be more than one in the water you’re watching.

The fish are likely to be feeding in the surface film, and the surface disturbance you see is often just their ‘follow through’.

So, think emergers, parachute adams and unweighted nymphs in sizes 16/18.

These fish are sitting high in the water column, which makes their ‘cone’ of vision very narrow, and they are continually moving around.

This means that your fly has to land in a very small area and at the right time for it to be seen.

So, target one fish. Persevere and keep landing that fly in the zone, and eventually, it will (might!) all come together.

Don’t assume that it has snubbed your fly; chances are it simply hasn’t seen it.

Instead of the traditional approach from downstream, use the fish’s limited sight window to work yourself across and slightly upstream of it.

Then throw out a reach cast. This will reduce the chance of drag – both large and micro.

Remember, long leaders, will reduce the chance of spooking the fish.

This is technical and rewarding fly fishing at its very best. 

Gore District Council ‘On The Fly’ event

It was great to see the community getting in behind the Mataura River and fishing in general.

I enjoyed discussing all things fishing with those that came by. 

For those that were there, I hope you’ve managed to apply something from the casting & line control demonstrations. 

Anglers should support this event as it raises the profile of our sport, shows the high participation rate and recreational usage of the river, and highlights the many and varied benefits that we all gain from fishing.

Here is one of Brett McGregors’ (MasterChef NZ) recipes from the day. Get in touch if you want any of his others.

Young anglers getting hooked

Amelia & Pierce (Above and top) Febery having success on a bluebird day during the Easter holidays at McGregor Pond.

Recently I have chatted to several families that were out trolling and unable to get their kids hooked up.

Trolling on the lakes is most successful both early and late in the day – the very times that it’s hardest to have young kids out.

So, I’d like to plug McGregor Pond. It is open all year (except the week before the Labour Weekend Take A Kid Fishing Event) and is a great place for an autumn/winter fishing trip.

It’s got easy access and catches plenty of sunshine on a winter’s day.

Put a bubble about 2m above a small hook that is baited with squid.

Cast it into the deepest piece of water you can find.

Then it’s a matter of patience. If the bubble makes any unnatural movement, then a fish has taken your bait, and the child just needs to lift and wind.

It’s as guaranteed a method as fishing will ever get. 

Didymo Testing

Fish & Game staff have been collecting samples from various sites all around Fiordland National Park. 

Southland Fish & Game Field Officers Ben Febery & Dwight Grieve collecting drift samples from the Chester Burn.

This is done by scraping macrophytes off submerged rocks and using mesh nets to catch what is drifting suspended in the water column.

These samples are then frozen and sent to NIWA for analysis.

Fiordland rivers, including the western tributaries of our lakes, are almost all free of didymo. By not getting complacent about freshwater pests and ensuring we all Check, Clean, Dry between waterways – then we can keep it this way.

The heuristic here is, don’t take the lake upstream.

Also, remember if you intend to fish a Fiordland waterway, most require a Clean Gear Certificate.

Winter Fishing

As for winter fishing, remember the lowest reaches of our four main rivers are open all year, as are most of our lakes.

These provide great options for those anglers willing to brave the cold.

A lot of our southern anglers head to the McKenzie Country to fish the canals over this time. 

The increased demand for electricity requires increased flows in the canals, and that extra current can make the fishing there very productive.

Be sure to follow the Central South Island Fish and Game Council for localised information and updates. 

For those that like to give the fish and/or themselves a break.

While enjoying the warmth of the winter fires, you can simultaneously enjoy reflecting on this season and the anticipation of the next.

Tight Lines

Ben Febery, Southland Fish and Game.

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