Lowland rivers have good fish too

MAURICE RODWAY
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2014

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At last there is some reversal in the weather. The North Island is getting some rain and wind and we have more sun.

A week in Wanaka makes many Southlanders wonder why they still live near the coast. While it can be windy there once the wind dies it's a beautiful place. The Upper Clutha, the lakes of the area and many of the inflowing streams make it a good place for angling too. Being able to relax on a balcony in the last rays of the sun without a gale blowing the chips off the table is an additional bonus.

Lake shore fishing is best in the spring but as the cicada season approaches there will be reason again to take a fishing rod to the shoreline of many of the lakes of Central Otago.

In the meantime the lake tributaries are the best places to fish with summer dry fly fishing being at its peak. Rivers such as the Greenstone and Caples, the Lochy, Hunter and Young all provide marvellous fly fishing in beautiful surroundings. The biggest problem is finding a reach of the river to yourself. Overseas anglers and those from other parts of New Zealand are lured away from their jobs in the cities to wet their toes in the unparalleled quality of New Zealand's backcountry fishing.

Some rivers have ballot systems in place to ensure anglers do not tread on each others toes and others have "gentlemen's agreements" to help ensure that everyone gets some water to enjoy by themselves.

Backcountry angling requires peace and solitude for it to satisfy, something that the tourist promoters rarely appreciate. Like all resources trout fishing is finite. Not only does it require good quantities of good quality water in pleasant, natural surroundings, it needs space between anglers too.

While the backcountry rivers may be overcrowded at times lowland waters generally are not. There are plenty of trout there too despite the bad press they get. A warm day without too much wind will see trout looking skyward for floating insects. One common one is the blowfly. As insects go it's not the most lovely but trout find them tasty. Using an imitation on a pastoral stream or in one flowing under beech trees with snowy peaks in the background will catch a trout out.

For updated river conditions visit www.es.govt.nz/rivers-and-rainfall, and for fishing licences and information go to fishandgame.org.nz.

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- Fairfax Media

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