Counting down to a new trout fishing season
Excited anglers are counting down the days until Rotorua’s “trophy” lakes re-open so they can target some of the district’s legendary trout.
Lakes Rotoiti, Tarawera and Okataina, which have been closed and ‘rested’ over winter, will open to anglers from Sunday October 1.
Lake Tarawera is normally the busiest on opening, according to Fish & Game Officer Matt Osborne.
This could be you on Opening Day...
“Historically, Tarawera has drawn the most anglers as the lake provides good early season catch rates, it has the mountain and some lovely bush backdrops, and it has plenty of sheltered spots to fish.”
But Mr Osborne says that because of recent conditions, “Lake Okataina may provide the largest two-year-old hatchery fish and Lake Rotoiti has produced some superb fish in recent times.”
Most trout caught over opening will be two-year-old fish as they are the most abundant group of fish above the minimum size of 35cm, he says.
“These two-year-olds will average around 49cm on Tarawera and 51cm on Rotoiti and Okataina given differences in recent lake growing conditions.”
Mr Osborne says that environmental conditions have been favourable for trout growth.
“We expect that warmer water temperatures in the lakes over winter will have produced better-than-average winter trout growth, so our staff are looking forward to seeing the size of fish compared with last season.”
He adds that Lake Rotorua, which remains open over winter, has produced rainbows of a good improving size and quality too.
“All indications from recent fishing competitions, angler diaries and monitoring through our Ngongotaha fish trap point toward some real quality in the rainbow trout coming out of Lake Rotorua.”
“The warmer winter is on the back of a cooler 2016-17 summer where fish were out feeding rather than spending the bulk of their time avoiding the heat in cool inflows such as the Awahou and Hamurana Stream mouths.”
A water temperature of close to 17 degrees Celsius provides the ideal temperature for trout growth. If the lake can maintain this temperature and the food source is adequate, fish will grow well and pack on condition, Mr Osborne says.
Mr Osborne says that the Fish for Gold promotion where anglers who enter get the chance to catch a trout worth $10,000 is already generating a buzz and hundreds have already entered.
“Enter online quickly if you want to be in to win as the event is limited to 1200 entries.”
Fish for Gold is free to enter. All you must have is a 2017-18 Fish & Game sports fishing licence. Children under 12 are not eligible to enter on a free child’s licence, but can if they are included as part of a family fishing licence.
The event runs from Opening Day to Sunday October 8 inclusive and you need to register online prior to Opening Day. Details including entry form and terms and conditions can be found here
Eastern Fish & Game has offered a few tips on techniques to use on opening day.
Mr Osborne says that early and late in the day, shallow trolling or harling is a very good bet, as fish will be closer to the surface.
“Shallow trolling with a ‘Tassie’ and a smelt fly can be a successful way to begin. If the day comes out sunny and there’s lots of boat traffic, expect the fish to move a little deeper.
“Under these conditions adopt a deep trolling method such as lead line, wire or downrigger.
“It’s hard to beat orange as a lure colour early in the season, or something with a touch of red and don’t forget to try the ‘old faithful’ black and gold toby!”
While many anglers these days have a preference toward jigging, this method really comes into its own from mid-November, when the lakes are stratified and food items and trout are concentrated into a band of water from 20 – 25m deep.
Early season, trolling is a great method as fish are found throughout the water column and anglers cover more water throughout the lakes.
“Use your sounders, target structure, weed edges, and drop offs and don’t be afraid to ask other anglers what’s working,” Mr Osborne says.
Mr Osborne reminds anglers they should have given their motor a check over “and given it a test run before they get to the ramp.”
And he suggests they check over their fishing gear too. “check the line-to-leader connections, dab a little grease on the spindle of your reels, and buy some fresh mono when you go to the tackle store to buy your new licence.”
If you plan to hit the water early, then make sure the ‘nav’ lights are working and remember to have lifejackets for everyone, he adds.
Mr Osborne says that for anglers looking for new spots – or those who’re new to the Eastern region – then Fish & Game brochures are a great place to start.
They are available at fishing stores and licence agents, or from the Fish & Game website, www.fishandgame.org.nz