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Guides Corner – The Season That Was: 2015/16
– Fly Fishing

With guests arriving as early as September and others fishing as late as June, the fishing season at Poronui is definitely getting longer and with up to six guides working at times, this represents a wide variety of fishing experiences.

Consequently, summarising an entire season is not a straight forward task. However, from my personal perspective, three things stood out.

First (and probably most important), the weather was very benign. Weather anywhere can be unpredictable, but happily the weather this past season was pretty much ideal for the angler. There were no reports of people ‘clinging to a cow for dear life as both were swept away in flood waters’ such as happened in the lower North Island in 2004.

Nor did a forecasted drought occur, as was our experience late in 2013.

By some happy dint of circumstance, spring of 2015 was warm, calm and the rivers in top condition. Rain, when it did arrive, occurred in brief bursts in January and February. This was enough to freshen rivers, with good flows and cool water. As a result the trout stayed on the bite well into March. Then, from early April, there followed an incredible spell of settled weather / sunny days that lasted well into June. Those few anglers that were around late in the season experienced some terrific fishing.

Whether climate related or whether it was just ‘one of those things’ a second notable and somewhat disappointing feature this season was the spotty and short lived cicada hatch. Normally, an exciting feature of fishing mid-December to late Feb is the crashing take of fish hitting big dry patterns that are no doubt taken for cicadas. For some reason the cicadas started late, finished early and never really swarmed in their usual proliferation.

Fishing throughout was still very good but the ‘large dry only’ approach definitely had to be supplemented by the use of dry / dropper and smaller dries as the trout fed more generally than is usually the case at this time of year.

In direct contrast to the cicada season, my third ‘stand out’ moment was witnessing the most prolific hatch of mayflies I have seen in over 45 years fishing in New Zealand.

Late October I was on the Mohaka with regular guests Chris and Fiona Todd. Just after lunch we noticed a few mayflies fluttering about. By 2 pm large mayflies were sheeting off the water and the trout started going nuts … literally swimming around our feet as they gulped and slashed at the abundance of food available.

Dave Wood was a couple of beats higher up and had a similar experience with his clients.

In a little over an hour and a half, Chris and Fiona hooked 14 good sized rainbows / browns from an area about the size of half a tennis court.

14 fish on a full days fishing is a great result … to hook that many in half an afternoon was incredible. Just why the mayflies turned on that day, at that time I have no idea, but it made for a remarkable fishing experience and an enduring memory for all those involved.

In a few days I’m heading off to the US and already looking forward to the amazing food and wine in New Orleans / New York / Napa. Following, there’s an opportunity to chase Bull trout on the Metolius River in Oregon as a guest of Bob and Elizabeth Lende … long time visitors to Poronui.

While I’m there I’ll be talking to Bob about the amazing October mayfly hatch on the Mohaka … purely as an information giving exercise vs fly fishing one-upmanship.

No reasonable angler would do such a thing to a fellow angler … Right?

Grant Petherick

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