The Mataura is world renowned for the quality of its brown trout fishing. From down at Gore in its lower reaches, all the way to the headwaters above Fairlight, the fishing is as good as it gets. Many fly fishers travel the world armed with their favourite five or six weight and a selection of carefully tied, hatch oriented dry flies, in anticipation of fishing the Mataura's wonderful mayfly hatches.
While this is all well and good, what about the rest of the time when our beloved duns are not hatching? This is when the backwaters come into their own. Stalking the edges from mid-morning until evening will offer up many opportunities to tangle with rising fish at close quarters. Many will be feeding on willow grubs, some on beetles and others just mopping up whatever has collected on the water's surface during the day. All will be catchable given the right approach, fly choice and a willingness to spend an hour on a single fish.
These photos, taken on one of the Mataura's smaller tributaries cut right to the heart of this style of fishing. Eyeball to eyeball encounters where the angler is even scared to draw breath, lest they be discovered. Refusals at point blank range and marvelous moments of serendipity where an unseen fish takes your fly while you are watching another trout swimming away, having just ignored your presentation.
What a wonderful place for a fly fisher. Does it get any better than this? Take a look at the following photos and decide for yourself.