Fly Fishing New Zealand

Ponds – Fishing Challenging Small Waters in the Otago Lakes District

Pondering Ponds with Monty Wright

Monty with a 2.5kg jack from the pond behind, Central Otago. Fishing ponds are challenging but can be rewarding for the adventurous fly angler.

In most of my articles I generally tell anglers exactly where I catch my fish, but on this occasion, it shall remain a mystery. Only those who can work out the hills in the background of the photograph will be able to recognise roughly where I am fishing. One piece of information that I will give, is that it is in the Lakes district.

I have often specifically fished in Lakes Wanaka and Hawea for some big fish over the years, sometimes with success but mainly without, but generally finding the quarry that I am after. When attempting this, it is some of the most heart-stopping fishing I have ever clone, and I guess it is the thrill of attempting to catch some of these big fish that offers the challenge. Otago regions sports fishing regulations for the 2017-18 season – pdf.

Ponds Fishing Challenge

On this occasion, it was no different. I was hunting for a fish that had been observed out of a plane. To some people that might seem a little far-fetched, but it was only a small plane and often they fly close to the ground. Fish that live in some of these areas often get trapped there by high waters or have found their way up very small streams and into lagoons and ponds.

I had fished this area several times in the past. One of the most important things is to have a reasonably calm day, but preferably just with a fraction of ripple every now and then to hide your presence from the rolling eyes of the trout. We must remember when fishing these areas that the environment, if small, is known explicitly by every fish that lives within it. If something strange moves at the side, often it is the last you will see them for the day.

Some of them have stock present around the edges, which allows you to get away with a little bit of movement as you move around the pond attempting to find the best position to catch the fish.

On the morning of this particular day, I had spent two hours trying to catch some fish at one place, unfortunately not achieving my goal. Both my fishing buddy and I had tried just about every method possible to tempt these fish, and upon leaving the area we discussed what it could be that they were feeding on. We had tried cicadas on top of the water, damsel flies under the water, but it was obvious that they were feeding just at water level. Several emerges of midges, caddis and mayflies had been tried, without success. We had also tried several different types of leaders, just in case that was the problem, but again without success.

After selecting another place for the afternoon’s fishing we headed off. On arrival, I immediately observed a trout in the shallow muddy edges and covering it with a small Coch-y-Bondhu it immediately took. The breeze which was blowing occasionally stopped completely while I was playing this fish, and I observed to my left a very large shape moving slowly through the water. In attendance though were several other fish which were moving much faster, but generally in the same direction as the monster. One thing I have learnt when fishing some of these pond areas is that often the bottom is very soft. As I went to net the first fish I overstepped and ended up with a very wet foot and muddy bum, as both mud and water went over the top of my gumboots.

As I released the fish the breeze blew again, and I could not see any fish to cast at. I cast the small cochy out onto the water and just left it there. It was impossible to see into the water at all at this point. After several minutes and with the wind blowing it round in a half circle, the fly disappeared. I lifted the rod and had a nice fish about 2kg on, but it came straight to the edge and was in very poor condition. I released it back into the water to do whatever it had to do, to either replace its condition or move onto the next big fishing pool in the sky. As I released it the wind stopped and there he was again, this big lunker moving out of this hole going to my right. I threw a long cast in his direction but did not observe a fish to the side, which took the fly immediately it landed on the surface.

As I played and released it the breeze came up again and actually turned into quite a strong wind. There was my one chance I thought, blown it again by not casting close enough to the fish.

I landed the fish and stood by the water’s margin waiting for the breeze to go down again. I noticed the trout retrieve something from the surface as I was changing to a new cochy, and as I completed the job the wind dropped, the breeze dropped and there he was again.

I immediately knew I had to cast much closer, but because of the calm conditions wished to allow a considerable amount of lead of which I thought about three metres would be sufficient. I could see on the right another fish and one to the left as well. God, there are some fish in this pond I thought, so accuracy was important and I dropped the fly three metres in front of the monster moving in its direction. Again watching the big fish and forgetting about the other, the same thing happened. Under went the fly again from the fish from the left. As it landed he must have observed it, tore over and took it right in front of the large fish. My nerves were in tatters at this stage as I played and landed another excellent fish of around 2.5kg (5.5lb). He was a jack in excellent condition, so I decided to keep him.
I cast the fly again and landed right in close to the margin edge, waiting for the breeze to drop so I could get another cast hopefully at this big lunker.

Thirty minutes went by before the opportunity arose. I could see three fish to my right and one fish to my left, but out of the dark hole, he came again. It had to land on its nose this time, or I’ve got more problems with the other fish.

Have you ever been in that position where there’s more fish than you need? The cast was accurate. About a metre in front he started to move in to take it and all of a sudden a splash occurred and another fish had retrieved the fly before him. I moved the fish to the right, which didn’t seem to upset the large fish at all as he sunk back down into the water margin and carried on his way. While playing the fish I decided I would have to try something under the water to catch him.

I knew his line and it was all on. The breeze had come up again. As soon as I landed the third fish I changed to a small damselfly nymph. The wind blew consistently for an hour. I cast consistently for an hour. Although I knew how many fish were out there I never touched one of them.

I had caught and landed four fish and knew there were at least eight others. It was unbelievable, that over a period of an hour when the wind blew that nothing took the small damselfly, as I had cast in the same line as they were travelling previously.

We left the pond, both of us catching fish, but none of us getting the big one, and would you believe it, the minute we got back to the vehicle the wind stopped. That’s fishing!

This post was last modified on 13/03/2024 3:37 pm

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