Well May is upon us now. Most of the rivers down here in Otago have now closed up for the winter. But do not despair, that's no reason to think that fishing is over. Quite the opposite, and some fantastic fishing can be had as we lead into winter. This time of year signals the start of a new cycle for the fish in the system. The first rains will bring in fresh water that will get them to start to move and that can be a very good thing for the keener angler.
My top three go to patterns for early winter would have to be:
Winter egg flies, how can you go wrong? I must say egg flies are something that I used to feel a little uncomfortable about using, but once you realize how effective they can be when nymphed through deep pools holding fish ready to move, you wont want to go back. Do yourself a favor and have a read of Rene's excellent piece on drop shot nymphing.
Then grab a few egg patterns such as the Manic Ultimate Egg, Early Girl being a local favourite, and enjoy catching a heap of fish while others sit inside bored, watching TV.
Another seriously effective way of catching fish at this time of year is to appeal to their aggressive nature once they start getting territorial as they approach spawning. I'm sure in summer you have all seen that one large fish chasing the smaller fish around a pool? Well when winter approaches, that aggression gets amplified.
Chris Dore's Mr Glister has to be one of the most effective streamers for NZ trout in my opinion. There is just something about a big chunk of dark brown rabbit fur that trout just have to hit, and do they hit it hard? You betcha! You're going to need a 6# rod for sure and up your tippet size to 8-12lb, but this fly is so effective. Chuck it to the top of a pool and strip it back fast, or swing it, you just cant go wrong, and the big fish will inhale it!
Over the last few years, my passion for winter fishing has grown and grown. Its hard for me to say that its surpassed my love of summer fishing but its definitely a close contender. By far and away the most efficient way to fish once we start to get really cold is to use a double handed rod (Spey rod). If you haven't tried this style of fishing, then you are seriously missing out. The last few years have seen an explosion of people picking up the double hander. Only four years ago, almost no one in Queenstown was using one, now we have a tight band of around 20 people always keen to get out and swing a fly.
Id have to say that Intruder style flys just work a treat on a double hander. The hook point right at the rear of the fly means good solid hookups. They create a big presence in the water yet are low in bulk, and so easy to cast. What more can you ask for? They're usually light in weight to promote action, and I personally prefer to adjust my sink tip system to get the fly into the zone. Swingers such as Berry's Fish Mover Orange, and AJ's Prom Dress are spot on the money for me. Get out and swing baby!!
Wakatipu Anglers Club El President'e