Fishing Arthurs Lake with John Fox

John Fox is a professional Trout Guide and fishes Arthurs Lake for around 100 days each year. His success here is extraordinary and he puts much of it down to being flexible in his fishing techniques. Here are a few tips from John.

Arthurs can be fished any way you like - from a boat, from the shore plus there is polaroiding spinning from the shore and drift spinning. In fact there is fishing for everyone. There are midge hatches, mayfly hatches, caddis hatches.

It doesn't matter how many boats are on the lake there is always room for more.

In my opinion December is the best month for Arthurs without a doubt. The fish can be found right in on the shore, while later on they move away. They mayfly hatches really get under way early to mid December. One of the main reasons anglers don't do better is because too many anglers fish Arthurs with tunnel vision. Lure and spinner angler will too often stick with one lure or one type of lure when changing can make all the difference.

If there is no action on a shallow swimming lure try a deep diver. Move around - try fishing the rough shore for a change, and what happens or works one day wont necessarily work the next. Experimentation is the key. Move to a different area - perhaps deeper water, or perhaps shallow water. Try different shores in different conditions and different retrieve rates - with both fly or lure.

One of my favourite times is when there is a midge hatch on. There are seldom many boats out, and it is one of the best times. These hatches occur from early October. First light is best and you need to be on the water before dawn.

All areas of the lake have midge hatches and probably the best area is the Morass. Fish can be difficult. If they wont take a dry, try a small black sinking nymph and move it slightly when the fish approaches. A small black beetle will also often work and much of the time I just use a Red Tag. I am firmly of the belief that presentation is more important than imitation.

I can not state the importance of this enough, The hatch is over by 9 am. Warm evenings can also be spectacular for midges. The lee shore is best by far after a day that is not too windy. I take the boat into the shore and then drift out. A good floater is all that is needed. If there is no action try the rough shore or try a wet fly.

Mayfly Hatches

These occur from early December until late February. This fishing is in what I call "╦ťGentlemen's hours"from 10 am until 4 pm. The dun hatch can be spectacular. Overcast is best and rain or storms won't stop them. I usually drift in the boat and use a Red Tag - as I said before presentation is more important than the pattern. A floating Pot scrubber nymph is a good fly if the Red Tag won't work. Best areas are Jonah Bay, Cow paddock, the Opening, 7 Pound Bay, Duck Bay, Morass, Creely Bay and Hydro Bay.

Gum Beetles

These can arrive on the water on any warm day. I find this can happen from 11:30 am and it is best when there are just a few on the water. The Morass area is best and it has the largest fish. If the beetle fall is too big it can be very short lived and it can often ruin fishing for a couple of days. Again the Red Tag is a great fly in up to a size 10.

Lure fishing

The rougher the better with a grey sky. I don't like water about 4 metres deep if spinning and I like to fish as close as possible. A wind blowing along the shore is preferred and I'll drift down the shore with the wind. Green and Gold Devon style lures are best for drift spinning while for trolling the Cobra style lures are excellent and a Rainbow Rapala for the deeper water is very good.

Don't forget to use an anti kink with the spinners and I always use a loop knot to tie on the lure. This gives the lure a better action. Trolling is best around the Sandy Lake area. Set your lines at varying lengths and depths/ In bright sunny conditions the old lake bed area of Blue Lake can save the day.

A lead line or paravane can help get the lure down - although I don't like these very much. The most important thing always though is to change tacks if you are not doing any good.

Available food

As explained, food for trout is abundant. In Arthurs Lake crustaceans are the most abundant group. It is the crustaceans that give the fish their superb pink flesh. These crustaceans include Isopods, Amphipods and Decapods.

Chironomids, or midges are also in abundance as are caddis, aquatic worms, bi-valves and to a smaller, more localised extent mayflies.

Two galaxiids are also common to the water - the Arthur paragalaxias and Galaxias tanycephus are also common. These live around the lake margins amongst rocks and scrub.