Techy Thursday - Dodgy Weather & Fickle Fish

Brown trout, back country new zealand, fly fishing

Many NZ streams are what we can best describe as ‘hatch driven’. That is, the fish respond to the food that is most readily available at the time. Now with the notable exception of the Mataura, and maybe one or two other instances we don’t have the massive populations of invertebrates found in some overseas destinations. Fish here must feed on what’s available, which luckily means we don’t experience too many true, match the hatch, specific feeding situations. If our flies look like something the fish eats, for the most part they will do so.

Simms River Camo, trophy brown trout

This summer so far has been a strange one for me in the South. Fish feeding avidly one day and the next, we can hardly buy an eat. Some of the time its weather related - a cool or drizzly day following a string of hot, summery weather, and some of the time, who knows?

As a client of mine says “Chris, until trout learn to talk, fly fishing ain’t nothing but theories and B.S”.

If it’s not warm enough for terrestrials, yet too warm for the mayfly then things can become tough. If the food is not there then it’s a fair chance the fish aren’t out.

So, what can you do to turn such days around?

  • Cover ground. Keep moving, looking around the hotspots for those fish that didn’t get the memo and something, somewhere will be feeding.
  • Fish the heavy water. If the nymphs aren’t drifting, you can be sure a few are being washed out of that turbulent white-water. Cover the water immediately below methodically.
  • Nymph deep. They will take cover in the riffles and likely feed on something if it’s close to them. Fish heavy, fish slow and repeatedly cover the best drifts. Chances are they may not eat it on the first, or third pass and are unlikely to move too far.
  • Bang those banks using large, ‘come eat me’ flies. Streamers, big PMX’s, stoneflies etc fished close to cover will eventually draw something out. Even if it’s only one or two fish, that’s one or two you wouldn’t have caught tossing your dainty parachutes into the foam.

If all else fails, move to plan B, a different type of stream far, far from here.

New Zealand Brown Trout, Chris Dore