With the snow melt and the frequent top ups from the dominant norwest winds filling our braided rivers at present it seems incomprehensible to be discussing techniques to maximise your chances during clear river conditions. Towards the end of February unfortunately our river levels in Canterbury drop, become clear and fishing can become hard. I personally relish these times and have prospered from changing my techniques and mind set.
Many people hang their rods up at these times convinced the fish wouldn’t be in the river system during these conditions. For this reason you can quite often have good pieces of water to yourself. This is important as you don’t want a lot of people thrashing the same water as you. The salmon are spookier at this time and you need as little disturbance as possible. Fish through the hole and then give it a good rest.
The change of light is critical. Salmon are crepuscular. This means that they are more active during a change of light. If salmon, therefore, are going to move a distance upriver it is likely to be at either dawn or dusk. It is important to be on the water early to maximise the first and last hour of light.
For the past few seasons I have been experimenting with lumo or glow in the dark lures. I have had great success with these during clear conditions. The lumo tape is simply cut and applied to any lure and can be purchased from most tackle stores. It can be used at any time during the night or early morning. The tape is charged with a quick flash of your torch or camera.
The number one rule for clear conditions in my opinion is to fish smaller and light. I prefer to fish 20-25lb braid during these times. Braid gives you great sensitivity and feel so you can detect the most tentive bite but it also has an incredible thin diameter. Another added benefit of it is that it sinks a lot faster than mono. I find I can confidently fish a 10 or 12gram zeddie instead of a traditional 22gram and still get the nice bounce from the river bed. Some people prefer to fish a short mono trace on the front of the braid but I have not experienced any problems tying my lures straight onto the braid.
If you are not a fan of braid there are some fantastic low diameter fluorocarbons on the market. I personally use and recommend Yo-Zuri line. It has great abrasion resistance and strength. A 15lb diameter has the breaking strain of close to 19lb.
Lure selection is crucial. During periods of low flow you need to fish smaller profile lures that don’t emit as much shine. I tend to use my older lures that have lost their silver. Fish as small as possible. Last season a friend and I had a lot of success in the Rakaia River fishing little 5gram zeddies with size 4 hooks. We even observed several fish come out of the deep water that had been previously fished with a 22gram zeddie to nail these lures. The fish tend to really swallow these smaller lures and we have yet to loose a fish due to the little size 4 hooks straightening. S-ower trebles come in packs of ten and are very good quality.
With all fishing you need to adjust to the conditions. What works one day may not the next. Don’t be afraid to try new things.