We have seen some really good settled weather over the last few weeks, with cold starts but really great blue days with little wind. While it’s not great for skiing, by this time of year I've got the Hawaiian shirt out, BBQ fired up, and thinking about all the exciting possibilities and opportunities for fishing this summer.
I was at a Fish and Game meeting last week, and there was plenty of speculation about how many anglers will be around this summer. Some predict there will be record numbers of Kiwis about. One thing is for sure - there will not be foreign anglers until the borders open, which will be very noticeable on our backcountry fisheries. It is an ideal time to get into some of those rivers that you have been avoiding for fear of getting dropped in on by helicopters etc.
Many guides, like myself, are really looking forward to getting out and fishing for ourselves, something that we have little time to do during a normal season, so there is a silver lining to border closures in some respects.
Make sure you check your regulations carefully this year, as there have been some changes, mainly to more remote waters, such as the Clinton and Worsley rivers. There is also now a beat system on the Nevis and Oreti. There will also be a closed season in some parts of the Tekapo canal system to encourage fish spawning.
Locally, around the lake edge the fishing is going well. I was out last weekend, and had a nice day out. At the start, we saw zero fish for the first hour, which was not very encouraging, but when it got a bit warmer, and the sun slightly higher, we saw good numbers of fish. We had most hook ups on small bully imitations, but we did manage to catch one on a blowfly dry fly in shallow water, which was not super common for this time of year. Sometimes it pays to try something different.
We saw all browns, but a mate was out drifting with a lure off his raft on the lake, and caught a good number of fat rainbows. There have also been reports of nice rainbows being caught of small river mouths around Lake Wanaka, so it seems they are coming in to prepare to spawn over the next few months.
The larger river mouths will start to fish well also. As usual, take great care when wading. We had another fatality over in Queenstown this winter from an angler allegedly loosing their footing when fishing on a river mouth. Stay shallow and secure. Wear a life jacket as well if you can.
Southern Wild has plenty of great bully imitations, as well as midges, damsels and dragonfly nymphs for the local lake edge stuff. Use a 9’ leader and 4X flourocarbon tippet. An indicator is helpful if you are missing strikes by the trout. If you have good visibility, you can usually see the white of their mouth open and close, which is your signal to lift into the fish.
Some good polaroid glasses will also help - I mostly go for a copper coloured lens around here.