New Season Tactics
AT SEASON’S START THE FISH CAN OFTEN BE AS UNPREDICTABLE AS THE WEATHER. TIM ANGELI WRITES THAT SUCCESS AT THIS TIME OF YEAR OFTEN COMES DOWN TO BEING FLEXIBLE IN YOUR PLANNING AND APPROACH TO ANGLING, AS WELL AS BEING ABLE TO MIRROR THE SPONTANEITY THAT
IF I WERE ASKED TO SUM UP EARLY-SEASON trout fishing in New Zealand, in one word, it would have to be this: unpredictable. As many well know, the weather, river conditions and fish behaviour are constantly changing at this time of year when our temperamental spring is supposed to be in its last throes but still threatens ascendency over summer when December rolls around.
To be clear, ‘early season’ transcends the traditional season start of October and generally extends into December depending on climatic variables but also the staggered opening of different waterways throughout the country, such as the high country lakes of the South Island. So, spontaneity – in our angling approach, trip scheduling, and the ability to pick trout behaviour – can often lead to earlyseason fishing success… and not forgetting that often a good measure of luck also plays a part.
I literally lost count of the number of times fellow anglers asked me about my plans for this season’s opener recently gone. For most diehard trout anglers, October 1 is etched firmly in their minds – the day that marks the opening of many of this country’s fisheries after their long winter rest. For those of our ilk, it is a day more keenly anticipated than any other in the year. And as you’ll no doubt be aware, this year the season start and that hallowed date fell on a Saturday, creating the perfect opportunity to plan a trip, even for those of us that struggle to sneak away from mid-week work commitments.
Yet, looking back a month now, despite my anticipation and eagerness, I still found myself replying to all of the excited inquiries about Opening plans with the same response: “I actually don’t have anything set in concrete for the start of the season this year.”
It wasn’t a flippant response, nor was it a cagey tactic to ensure that no one else ‘stole’ my planned location for that celebratory first
October fish. The truth of the matter is I stopped planning Opening season trips years ago after a string of three or four consecutive annual attempts turned into wasted holiday time, with precious leave spent hunkered down in tents or backcountry huts getting pummelled by rain and watching swollen rivers flow by like chocolate milk on its way to the bottling factory.
Early-season trout fishing can be the most unpredictable fishing of the entire season with the weather changing in an instant, taking rivers from low and clear to raging torrents. Many locations are often plagued by high-water through the early months from the frequent rain, or in the case of watersheds fed from the high-country, snowmelt. These situations often call for big, heavy nymphs or streamers, with lots of movement to grab the attention of the fish.
Although high-water conditions can be difficult to fish, they often result in opportunistic trout, unlikely to turn down the prospect of a sizeable meal drifting through their feeding zone.
PROSPECTING A BIG WATER RUN ON A CHILLY OPENING MORNING