Today is the final day of our South Island back country rivers being open for fly fishing. Lakes Wanaka, Hawea and Wakatipu are open to fish all year round as a others a little further afield with Lakes Benmore and Aviemore springing to mind as a couple of favourite winter destinations to fly fish so still plenty of fishing for those brave enough to venture out.
Autumn this year was a little different from than previous years with plenty of unsettled weather consisting of rain , lots of wind and plenty of snow making conditions pretty tough for the most part. We found our selves heading to more still water destinations to fly fish as many of the rivers were constantly high and coloured over the months of April and May due to snow melt. I spent the majority of my guide time in the Southland region this March and April and experienced some of the best dry fly fishing ever on the days when the conditions we're right. One day on the Upper Mataura with regular client and friend Wim from Queensland Australia really sticks in my mind. It was over cast and cool with a light breeze blowing from the South and the river was low and clear, things were very slow at first with one nice 4lber on a lightly green caddis nymph from the first riffle then touched nothing else all morning. We sat down for lunch about 12pm on a favourite pool and watched a solid brownie rise several times and sip off the surface. We chatted as to what dry fly we should tie on and decided an on #14 Aero Wing emerger, my go too Mataura emerger pattern. Typically the fish had stopped rising (as they usually do when you get your dry tied on and have moved into position to cast ! )Wim carefully moved into position and covered the fish with a perfect cast, slowly the fish lifted inspected the fly closely before opening it's mouth and slowly inhaled the dry, I heard Wim mumble "GOD SAVE THE QUEEN" and then lift into a cracking 5lb fish !
I guided a dozen or so days through the month of May with some great fish wetting the net for clients as well as a few not ! Many of the brown trout we encountered were well into spawning so we left these guys alone to do their business. Rainbows wer'e in superb condition with a couple in the 5-6lb range being landed which was pleasing for both myself and clients.