Its October. It’s our favourite time of the year once again as our brown trout rivers open and we all get an opportunity to run a fly through virgin water. While we have all been prepping and planning the past several weeks, we thought we would ask a few of our experts from around the country for their tips to help you achieve early season success.
Rob Vaz - Robfish.co.nz
“Usually flows are higher early in the season so I'm prepared to fish heavier flies if required. Sometimes the fish are less wary but they’re still healthy fish and so strong tippet is a must... Check your knots. Prepare a good box of flies in a range of weights. Most importantly, be prepared for unexpected weather conditions. River levels and weather can change at the drop of a fly into long grass. Safety first!”
Brendon Mortimore - Hunting and Fishing Invercargill
“Most importantly, give your kit a good once over. Fly lines, tippet and leaders from last season may not be in the best of condition. If in doubt, switch it out. Read the water your about to approach with fresh eyes, as if it’s the first time. Check your environment and what’s flying around and look into the water to get a feel for the size of the naturals around after the mild winter we have just had. Always stay alert and fish the flies to match.”
Mike Kirkpatrick - www.latitudeguiding.co.nz
“My early season tip is don’t be lazy! This encompasses a few things but mainly, have a few casting sessions to iron out winters kinks. Ensure you’ve restocked and/or reorganise the fly boxes so you know where that pattern is without fumbling around. Also don’t be lazy and assume that any old big blingy nymph will do, read the water and the situation and if that dictates slim and subtle, find it and throw it!”
Ronan Creane - www.ronansflyfishingmissions.com
“Top tip! There is not a better time to explore a new stream. Fish are more spread out early season than at any other time so get out there and find a trout where you’ve never fished before. Even if it looks tiny!! Also, be prepared for a mayfly hatch. October hatches can rival April..”
Brayden Hill - Hunting and Fishing Central Otago
“With often heavier flows and cooler water temperatures the key for early season is to get your flies deep. Using bigger, and bolder nymphs such as the Simons Ugly, Kyles Stoneflies or PT Jig Nymphs with a smaller dropper will get flies down where they are needed but don’t forget you can weight your leader too. Loon Black Drops and Deep Soft Weight can be applied to your tippet in seconds and help get even the smallest of flies deep. Check your knots often and use high quality tippet to hold on to these early season beasts.”
Todd Adolph - www.toddadolphflyfishing.com
“Early season fishing can be a great time to fish if you are willing to take on the variable patterns of springtime. Everybody has their favourite locations to fish early season; I find taking the time to read weather maps assessing multiple catchments can save that first season trip that we've taken time off work for. Remaining flexible in your plans and having a plan b and c comes in clutch.
If this is not an option and your favourite river is already running chocolate by the time you get there, look for access points closer to the headwaters as they will clear quicker. I find fishing water that is slightly discoloured as the river is dropping can be incredible fishing for those trophy fish as a lot of more oversized food items get washed out from the stream bed and early season trout are looking for a big snack after losing some of their condition over the spawning season. Stoneflies and Dobsons are a go-to in these conditions. The Manic Fly Collection has some great patterns under “Kyle’s Super Cool Flies. Also, Kelly Galloup Mini Sex Dungeons are a great articulated streamer for slightly murky waters.”
Santillan De Pinto - Hunting and Fishing Queenstown
“Top tip: scout, scout, scout! Don’t go in blind, go for a walk before the season begins and find the fish you want to target. You’ve practiced your casting, so go get ‘em.
Base yourself in an area like Five Rivers for browns or Central Otago for rainbows and focus on the nuances of that fishery, get it dialled, get the eats and land those feisty early season fish you’ve been dreaming about.”
Martin Langlands - www.troutlands.com
“As the oncoming season approaches I find it a really good idea to keep a note book and start with a list of places you would like to go explore, then be brave here and start google earth-map scoping. If needed, print or screenshot these and load them into your truck. Also think about access methods etc. It’s that time of year when we can all dream and as you hit the half way mark of the season go back and refer to your list to guide you.
It’s important to carry a wide range of nymph forms in sizes 16-14-12-10-8 and even more vital to have a range of weights, after all nymph angling is so often about getting the right depth. Equally carry a range of dropper nymphs with little or no weight and chain these as droppers behind the heavy tungsten bead. Consider a range of form and colours and a selection of soft hackles are hard to go past. Finally if you hit high water don’t be scared of going big with nymphs like Kyle's Creeper and the humble but omni Worm. If they can see it, they can eat it.”
Chris Dore - www.chrisdore.com
“Early season is often fraught with unpredictable weather and nothing is more disappointing than arriving to unfishable water. Here are a few ideas...
Rivers issuing from the mountains are likely to come up with snow melt in the afternoons as temperatures rise. Often fast. Plan for this and don’t get stranded on the wrong bank.
Rivers issuing from swamplands will absorb / hold back runoff to a degree, however once in flood, may take longer to drop. You can often buy an extra days fishing here before they flood.
Rivers issuing from a bush catchment often rise quicker, however drop and clear quicker than others.
Our many Southern are very underrated fisheries and guess what, they don’t colour up!”
Andrew Harding – Pure Fly NZ Legend
“Don’t be perturbed by high dirty water often encountered early season, fish those edges with a large Creeper or swing Woolley Buggers into the margins on floating lines.
Fish a dry dropper! It’s amazing how many fish will take a dry early season and a fish rising and engulfing an indicator is heart-breaking!
Make sure your emergency and first aid kit is up to scratch and always carry a PLB and headlamp on you, even on urban waterways! And let someone know where you are going!”
Jake Bindon – Rivers To Ranges Hastings
“If you’re like me, you will be pulling the fishing gear out of the closet this week and wiping off the cobwebs. With the less than ideal winter fishing coming to an end, now is the opportunity to get ready for a new season. This includes, making sure all the gear is in top order for what I am hoping will be a great opening to a new season. With plenty of time at home this year, I am sure we are all well prepared with enough flies to get us through many years of opening days. However, with all the planning we seem to do, we often miss some of the smaller details that can hugely affect our day on the river. Make sure you double check your rod, reel and particularly your fly line for any damages. With how crazy this year has been, why not shout yourself some new gear. A new high quality fly line can make a massive difference on the river and while you’re at it replace those old sun faded spools of tippet; you never know when you will get that fish of a life time. With how 2020 has been don’t worry too much if you’re not prepared enough or if the weather is below par, just get out and enjoy yourself!”