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Southland, New Zealand

Trout Fishing, New Zealand Mayflies

Maurice Rodway

Column for December 10,  2004

Trout fishing often springs surprises. One of the most pleasant is one that turns a cold rainy afternoon into a fascinating sunny one even without the sunshine.

For the last three weeks, possibly longer, the weather has been of the most depressing kind, so it was with some surprise and relief that the last few mornings have begun in a calm if cool manner. Gentle clouds that fleck the blue sky are a pleasant accompaniment to breakfast and contrast with rain pouring out of a windy greyness. Puddles on paddocks reminiscent of winter silently slip away as sunshine replaced rain. The only remarkable feature of late spring puddles is that they mirror a black lab eager for a morning walk, and they provide easy access to worms for duck broods nearly ready to fly.

A cold front however, can bring other pleasantries that interest anglers. Such as mayflies whose lives are tied by a physiological string to the rain and the chill that they bring. On Saturday afternoon when the cold rain had eased to leave a lazy wind fingering its way up the Waiau impressive Coloboriscus mayflies appeared on the surface of the water. Excited chaffinches chased them over the river and greedy gulls lifted off their riverside roosts to swoop for them over the river. Why mayflies fly after a front is a secret yet to be revealed.

These large mayflies are not quite New Zealand's largest, the prize of which goes to another, the swimming mayfly called Oniscigaster. However Coloboriscus has wings about 2cm long and a body to match. It has lemon yellow shoulder pads and a reddish brown body. The most common mayfly, which provides the matchless dry fly fishing on the Mataura, is called Deleatidium, and while abundant is smaller with a wing of only a centimetre long.

Coloboriscus is to an America's Cup yacht as Deleatidium is to a lazer. Both have their appeal but the larger is more mysterious and awe inspiring.

While both mayflies are indicators of a healthy river Coloboriscus is rarely found in lowland streams and it is uncommon in pristine ones. It can only be found by lucky, or persistent observers. When you find it gracing the riffles you are likely to be alone with the wild things of the river. Things that bring truth to the saying that "Every cloud has a silver lining".  

Maurice Rodway
Southland, New Zealand                           E-mail:

Article © 2004 Maurice Rodway, All Rights Reserved.


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