A day on the Clutha at the end of September got me fired up for the new season which was fast approaching. I explored another new section and found a great variety of water in a fairly small area. Side braids, backwaters, and the main river all in close proximity. There were quite a few fish present too. I adapted my methods as I fished the variety of waters and picked up fish in each one. Dries, nymphs and spiders all accounted for a few fish.
Last weekend was the first weekend of the new season. October is probably the best month of the season if river conditions are okay; the big “if”. The small tributary streams still hold a good stock of trout after their spawning escapades of the previous June and July. Usually the tributaries are nice and full from rain and snow melt but sometimes too full, October often brings high rainfall and rivers which are too high to fish with any comfort. With good river conditions (like right now) it’s all on and great fun. As the season progresses the water recedes and the fish numbers decrease as they fall back to the main river. Larger rivers fish well in October too. Even those with a resident stock of trout often seem to have more fish about than in high summer, although, this is a sweeping statement and could be not be applied to all rivers. Either way, I love October. Plenty fish about and usually very catchable! Sometimes browns can be in poor shape having not mended well after spawning but over the years I’ve learned where to avoid so as not to catch ragged fish.
My opening weekend was a great one. I had loosely planned to go to the coast but the forecast put me off that idea. My chosen river for Saturday had some serious barriers in the form of mud slides and road slumps, but the new truck carried me over. Minor slippage gave me a pang of fear due the severe slope of the rubble on the track and drop below it but all ended well. That day I walked a solid 8ks of river but did not see many fish. Possibly due to the high and slightly coloured water. I hooked and landed 3 out of the 5 I saw. All great fish up to 7.75lbs. When I saw the second fish of the day I decided I’d have lunch before I made my cast. Usually I take the shot quickly but this time I thought, “No, I’ll have lunch first”. The fish is always in that lie so I was confident I had all the time I needed. I had never caught a fish from that lie before, possibly it’s always the same fish but also quite possible that they move around a bit and a number of fish utilise the same lies, but thats another story! I ate my lunch and forgot about the fish. I thought about the season ahead and the one just gone. I usually bring a beer with me for my lunch, as I got to the end of it I moved to the rivers edge. I said a few words to the river and to whoever / whatever and shared a libation. I felt good. Happy. I packed up my stuff and changed my rig to suit the fish up ahead. He was still there. I worked on him for a while before eventually hooking him on a #16 nymph tied to a heavily weighted Hair & Copper to get it to depth. A really spectacular fish he was. Two of the three fish were. At the end of the day I got a lift back to my truck from Shane and Eddie from the Athol Hunting & Fishing Club. They were travelling the opposite direction but gave me a lift back anyway. Much appreciated, fellas! Every NZ angler knows the value of a lift back to the truck at the end of a big day on the river. They also gave me a cold beer. Legends.
Day 2 saw me battling the most mental winds I have ever cast into. To be honest, it wasn’t always casting, sometime it was a case of just fuck the flies at the fish. I cant think of a better way to describe it. The wind was gusting to 150kph so you know what I’m on about. The willow trees were roaring and I was always looking around to see if one was about to fall over. There was plenty evidence to support my fears. The good thing about the fish on the day was that they weren’t concerned by my bad casts. The piles of fly-line which I landed beside them for time to time just looked like another willow branch for them to avoid (there were heaps!). With all the movement of bushes and trees from the gales, me and my movements went unnoticed by the trout. I could get very close. Sometimes no fly-line out, just a short leader and tippet and slam the nymph down in front of the fish. Watch for the swing or any evidence of a take and lift the rod. I landed quite a few in the insanity! Good fish too.
My old mate Robbie Mcphee is joining me this weekend!
(as it turns out the weekend is now over and Robbie has gone back to Dunedin. I wrote this on Friday but didn’t get a chance to edit it! We had an amazing weekend with 11 trout between 5 and 10lbs. Watch this space!)
Happy Season everyone..
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