Winter fishing the Upper Clutha

I lived and fly fished the lower south island since the early eighties, my season would start in October and finish at the end of April, that was until ten years ago…

One July afternoon while driving home from Twizel on a blue dome day I needed to let the hound out for a run so turned off highway eight just south of Tarras, headed down a track through the willows to park beside the Clutha.

I stood beside the river, there was snow half way down the Pisa Range, the river was high and clear, better still there was a good-looking stretch of edge water running a hundred meters or so down-stream, shallow out for maybe three/four meters or so then a nice change of colour as it dropped into deeper water…

Drift Boat Fly Fishing

I hadn’t had a flick since the end of season, there’s aways a rod in the back of the truck… and the river did look good, to my left the down-stream reach to my right an up-stream a riffle with a nice eye and some good-looking nervous water. The hound was happily chasing bunnies and what the hey I had an hour up my sleeve so I set up the 5wgt.

Discissions, discissions should I nymph up stream and fish the eye or put a streamer on and work the downstream drop-off. On went the streamer, I cast out directly across the creek, a quick up stream mend as the weighted fly hit the water, then I let it swing.

Drift Boat Fly Fishing

Great to be back on a river and how good did it feel to be casting a line again.

At the end of the swing, I took three paces downstream and cast, another quick up stream mend, as the sunken streamer came across the outer edge of the drop-off there was a single knock, bugger I thought, bottom, but instinct took over, the left hand, with a firm grip on the line, pulled back while the right arm lifted the rod…

This was no snag, top of the rod bounced, I had to let line out, five minutes later and ten metres down-stream eased a very fit & feisty six-pound hen rainbow into the net. If this was winter fishing on the Clutha, I was a convert.



About the Author 

Roger Tompkins is professional guide and a member of the NZPFGA. He and fellow Guide Simon Wilkson run an American built, out-board-jet powered drift boat they guiding on many of the South Islands rivers and lakes. The top of Lake Dunstan & the Upper Clutha their ‘home’ water offering great fishing summer & winter.