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  • Writer's pictureTony Entwistle

Bring on the New Season!


With the opening of the new Trout Fishing Season less than two weeks away, I'm sure we're all keen to get back out on the water again after a long winter. The prospects are for a good start to the season here in Nelson-Marlborough. The stable winter has probably helped ensure good trout stocks in most rivers, and the long-range weather forecast is predicting some fine weather to get the season underway ... Bring it on! Recent reports from anglers fishing the open winter areas around the Nelson-Marlborough district have been encouraging, with good catches of healthy ‘maiden fish’ (young trout that are still maturing and haven’t yet spawned), in the 0.6 – 1.5 kg range. I recently enjoyed a good morning with guide friend Hans Kreuer, when we both landed some nice fat trout on small #16 and #18 nymphs before strong winds and drizzle forced us off the water. There have also been reports of good mayfly hatches in recent weeks, with willing trout rising to take dry flies already. With weather forecasters predicting an El Niño cycle this coming summer, stronger winds from the west and southwest will be a feature on most rivers. Early season fishing can sometimes be a battle with the weather, and managing your casting to ‘beat the wind’ is a major step in refining your casting skills. When forced to deal with any significant wind many anglers give up too quickly. Below, I have detailed a couple of ways you can adapt your casting technique to help cope with the wind … The ‘Elliptical Cast for when you have a strong tailwind, and the ‘Ping Cast’ when confronted by strong headwinds. Don’t be discouraged … casting in the wind is all part of fly-fishing and anyone who has mastered the basics of fly-casting is also capable of upping their casting game enough to keep fishing in quite strong winds. If you find yourself struggling don’t give up … give me a call and I can help you make the necessary adjustments.


Fishing Schools

There has been a fantastic response to this coming season's Fly Fishing Schools, with the following courses now sold out. · First Steps: The Basics of Fly Fishing · River Skills #1: General Skills · River Skills #2: Fishing with Nymphs · Trout Tactics Reefton · Trout Tactics St. Arnaud However, for anyone still wanting to join this season’s programme, there are still spaces available on: · River Skills #3: Fishing with Dry Flies · River Skills #4: Passionvine Hoppers · Trout Tactics Murchison If you think you would like some more Personalized Coaching or Mentoring, check out my Evolution – Personal Skill Development Programme. It may be that you may want to learn a new fly-fishing technique, refine some existing skills, or overcome some specific difficulties. Maybe you just want to learn more about a particular fishery. You can define your goals and together we will work to achieve them. This is not 'guided fishing', but a collaborative mentoring process driven by your abilities, circumstances, needs, and goals. It is not an experience simply motivated by 'the need to catch fish'. My role is to support you in taking action to pursue your chosen goals on the way to becoming a better fly-angler.


If you need some help to get on top of any niggly 'casting issues, I am also pretty much always available throughout the season for some quick-fix Fly-Casting Tuition.


While we enjoy the privilege and freedom to fish some of the best trout fisheries in the world, it is inevitable that these fisheries will also be facing regular threats; some natural or others more heavily influenced by human intervention or mismanagement. It is an unfortunate fact of life. When we are out on the water having fun, we should be mindful of the many recreational anglers who also dedicate their time and effort to helping ensure we can all continue to enjoy our chosen sport. Even though many of us are not able to get directly involved in helping to maintain our fisheries, either through lack of time or knowledge, we should be grateful to our compatriots who do the hard yards for our benefit. In this regard, I’d like to bring to your attention the Federation of Freshwater Anglers (NZFFA), and the good work they do on your behalf. Currently, they are engaged in a court case of National Significance which will potentially decide who is responsible for monitoring and managing all Water Conservation Orders across New Zealand ... and they could do with your help. They are seeking financial help from every freshwater angler in the country to fight for our Water Conservation Orders. Back in February 2023, the Christchurch Regional Council, (more commonly known as Environment Canterbury, or ECan) applied to the Environment Court for a declaration that it (ECan) ‘has no statutory duty to enforce the provisions of the National Water Conservation (Rakaia River) Order 1988 (WCO)', other than to ensure its regional policies, plans and resource consents are not contrary to it. North Canterbury Fish & Game and the Environmental Defence Society submitted counter declarations that ECan is responsible for monitoring adherence to the WCO. The New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers has filed as ‘interested parties’ under s274 of the Resource Management Act to this case, along with the NZ Salmon Anglers Association and NZ Future Rivers Trust. The Minister for the Environment, Dept of Conservation, Fish & Game NZ, and Ngai Tahu have also registered their interest in the case.

The NZFFA position is that the requirements of the Rakaia Water Conservation Order (‘to retain the relevant waters in their natural state’) are not being met. For more than a decade, river users have reported; reduced flows in the lower river that have resulted in once ephemeral braids becoming vegetated islands; deposition of silt and sediment onto once clean gravels; river bed armouring; river mouth contraction; and increased flood events as a result. There has been a collapse of once prolific populations of black flounder, black-billed gulls, and Stokell's Smelt. The collapse of Stokell's Smelt populations has had a huge influence on the dramatic decline of the once healthy sea-run trout fishery the lower Rakaia Rv was famous for. The NZFFA executive has committed $11,000 towards the costs of this case and has also received donations from individuals and clubs from across NZ and overseas. The Environmental Legal Assistance fund, c/o Ministry for the Environment, provided $10,000, and the Future Rivers Trust has also promised a generous contribution.

However, NZFFA is still well short of sufficient funds to effectively fight the case … … and this is where you can help personally. Any contribution you can make will be incredibly helpful … You can donate directly to the NZFFA bank account ... 02-0524-0112601-000 This is a classic David & Goliath battle in economic terms. ECan, Manawa Energy (Trustpower), and the irrigation companies have very deep pockets, well-funded legal teams, and strong financial motivation to maintain the status quo. The New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers has formidable legal counsel, extensive on-the-ground historical knowledge of the Rakaia fishery, and the tenacity and a deep moral sense that if New Zealand’s anglers don’t stand up to this threat, then who will?



Use an 'Elliptical Cast' in a Tailwind A light tailwind is every angler’s dream and makes for easy casting, but a strong tailwind can create significant problems, especially when casting weighted nymphs. As a tailwind increases in strength, the inability to efficiently keep the rod loaded on the back-cast becomes an issue. This can be downright dangerous with a heavily weighted nymph whizzing past the ear. Normally on the back-cast, we are taught to cast over the shoulder in an upward motion, which exposes the underside of the line to the force of any tailwind. This slows the fly-line and stops it from fully loading the rod. Good presentations become increasingly more difficult and inefficient as the wind intensifies and casting distance increases. The solution is to keep the line as low as possible on the back-cast, and then use the force of the tailwind on the front-cast. This is achieved quite easily by creating an elliptical under-and-over motion with the cast, rather than the more traditional lift-and-push usually employed ... READ MORE


Use the 'Ping Cast' for Casting into a Headwind Most anglers find casting in any wind difficult, but a headwind has many packing up and heading home. Many anglers resort to double-hauling into the wind and trying to slice the flyline under the wind, which in my observation, yields inconsistent results at best. However, (short of an outright hurricane) headwind casts can be achieved quite easily and effectively using what I call ‘The Ping Cast’. While it won’t be possible to make 20 metre plus casts with this method, with practice, accurate 10-15 metre casts can be easily achieved directly into a strong wind. Firstly, it is important to shorten the leader to around 3.5 – 4 metres. The leader must be tapered; a single length of nylon simply won’t cut it. Sorting out an effective casting distance takes practice but starting short at around 5 metres of flyline plus leader will help build your skills. Not surprisingly, it’s best to practice the following into a headwind ... READ MORE


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