Got this fishing report via a mate in New Zealand so it would appear that the Trout blue’s were everywhere
American author John Steinbeck wrote “It has always been my private conviction that any man who pits his intelligence against a fish and loses has it coming.” Opening day of the new fishing season Steinbeck would have been nodding knowingly as in many respects the fish came out the winners. The Waitaki River for most of the winter has looked in “tip top” condition. In the upper reaches gin clear flows replaced the glacial colour, usually experienced during the first few weeks of the season, didymo free runs were numerous and the weather, for half a day at least, was fine and sunny with a wind which wasn’t going to cause too many problems. Conditions appeared perfect. By midday the fishing was described as “hard going” however the afternoon would surely provide an improved catch rate.
In the upper river the “Polaroiding experts”, experienced at sighting trout, initially could not find a feeding fish. Persistence paid off and eventually a couple were seen. Although fly casters of many years experience the catch for them was unusually abysmal. While names can’t be mentioned, there were anglers who remained fishless for their entire day, “skunked” as some anglers would say. One angler admitting to the first “skunking” for over 30 years of fishing the Waitaki. Many kilometres downstream in the mid reaches, several boats laden with anglers of repute had to admit that although everyone caught a fish they fished longer for less. Equipped with spinning rods and “tried and true” spinners and wobblers, although the “top boat” landed 14 fish for their day, the remaining crews were not as successful and all agreed the opening was a win for the fish. Water too clear, too cold? Effects of didymo? Bananas in the lunch boxes? Who knows?
To find an answer I checked the solunar tables for the 1st of October. Solunar tables forecast the daily times of activity and feeding for fish and game. In a 24 hour period there are generally 4 periods of increased activity and these are separated into 2 minor periods and 2 major periods. As the name suggests “majors” usually last longer than “minors”. A “major” may last 2 hours. A “minor”, 45 minutes to an hour. “Majors” have been known to last as long as 3 hours. So what was the forecast for opening day? Minors occurred at 6.05am and 6.30pm. The first was too early for most anglers, especially jet boaters navigating a braided river. The lateness of the day and the deteriorating weather conditions at 6.30pm saw most people off the river by this time. The first “major” of the day was at 12.20pm the later period at 12.45 am. Obviously the prime fishing time was just after midday. Perhaps everyone opened their lunch boxes at this time, consumption of the mandatory wedge of bacon and egg pie wasting the best fishing time of the day.
Most anglers approach any opening day with a high degree of anticipation and high expectations of a good harvest. The success rate is measured against the catch of last season’s opening day. As with any fishing story there will be exceptions but the consensus of opinion indicated that this year the opening day catch rate on the Waitaki River was definitely down compared with the opening day of 2011.
During the afternoon, as enthusiasm waned, the clouds gathered and a very heavy downpour signalled a welcome end of what was for many a forgettable opening day.