Techy Thursday - Autumn Smelters
See fish cruising but they won’t consider your dry or nymph? They probably have a larger, more plentiful food item on their mind. Freshwater galaxids are present in many, if not most cool, clean stillwaters and at certain times can produce some exhilarating shoreline action. The scenery is unbeatable throughout the Southern Lakes region and the clear, crisp autumn days set the scene.
So whether you’re getting a reaction, but no eat, or no reaction at all, think of galaxids. What fly you ask? Check out tomorrows Friday Fly Day for my personal picks. Want to know the what, why, when where and how? Read on!
What to use: I generally fish a fast intermediate ( Airflo sixth sense, or clear camo lake special ) or floating line with a long leader. These fish will often be found within feet of the shore and the floating line will allow a quick pick up and cast when a smelter is spotted, whereas the fast inter will minimise surface disturbance on those often, uber-glassy autumn days.
Why: Like most species these galaxids are congregating to spawn as the seasons change, and when a large amount of food is to be found in one area, it becomes trout heaven!
When: While fish will feed on smelt at any time, it is the late autumn months when they are found amongst the shallow gravel and bays in large numbers, and come to the attention of trout. Early morning is my favourite time to target smelting trout in the shallows, before the wind gets up and waves disturb the edges.
Where to look: Focus around the river mouths, channels, and especially the backwaters and lagoons where trout can herd their prey and cause maximum damage.
Now, the How: As often mentioned, I usually fish baitfish patterns in tandem to create an eye catching, synchronised movement with every strip. Walk the edges looking for bow waves, swirls and bulges. They won’t always appear bold, so look for the slightest disturbance. A sure tell-tale is seeing smelt launch themselves from the water, trying to avoid predators below. Fish will often hunt very close in along gravelly or rocky shorelines, so stay back, keep the sun high and behind you, and make use of glare reducing backdrops.
It pays to keep your fly at hand with enough line outside of the rod tip to load a very quick cast. Once a fish, or disturbance is located, get your fly there fast, ahead in the direction of travel. You may choose to cast well ahead and have your combo sitting in wait of the approaching fish. A couple of short strips when in range should do the trick.
Another tactic could be to plop your flies comfortably on the outside edge of their vision and strip away! When trout are hunting in such clear waters, they can detect a streamer for quite some distance.
We asked top Wanaka stillwater guide, Paul Macandrew to sum up in one sentence his best advice for autumn smelters... “Long leaders , slim patterns , fish them close to the surface in the main flow at river mouths. Great sight casting them in the shallows to cruisers also“
That’s actually two sentences Paul.