Reel Life April 2023
- West Coast
Above: Dan Scoltock with a fantastic late-season brown! (Photo Emily Rutherford-Jones)
Winter Fishing Season Kicks Off
The winter fishing season starts on the first of May, and it brings some great fishing.
Don’t let the cold or being limited in water choice put you off, as what is still on offer is fantastic!
A lot of the larger West Coast lakes are still open, and with the water temperatures being much cooler, the trout tend to be more opportunist feeders and fight much harder than over summer.
The lower and mid reaches of most large rivers are also open, and like the lakes, good fishing is to be had.
The calm weather typically experienced over winter on the Coast and little snow melt often results in rivers flowing low and clear.
This makes great sight fishing for the trout, and with little angling pressure, they don’t often hesitate when presented with a fly or lure.
Ensure when you do head out this winter that you check your fishing spot against the regulations to ensure when you bump into a ranger, the only thing being given out is friendly fishing advice.
The regulations can be viewed by clicking here.
A Few Tips For Winter Fishing
John Phillips fishing a popular winter fishery the Arnold River. (Photo Baylee Kersten)
- Find a location that is open year-round to trout fishing!
- Be attention seeking. Beaded nymphs, glo bugs and bright lures/soft baits all work well over winter.
- Cover a lot of water. Trout densities will be lower in most locations, given some will be off spawning, so keep moving.
- Be visual. With low calm clear conditions, try to sight fish to increase your odds.
- Fish deep. Trout will be deeper with spawning behaviour and limited insect life.
- Wrap up warm; if you’re not comfortable when fishing you’ll struggle to fish well and won’t have the patience sometimes needed with winter fishing.
- Target trout where streams and small rivers enter large rivers and lakes. They’ll congregate in these areas during spawning runs.
- Fish where and when the water is warmer, fish feed more when their metabolism is higher. E.g. Following rain, where warm streams enter water bodies and, in the afternoon, rather than the morning.
Harrison Calder carefully releasing a undersize salmon. (Photo Baylee Kersten)
Staff have been busy doing salmon compliance, with regular visits to South Westland over the last two months.
From what we have seen and heard, it was a tough salmon year.
We will be starting our salmon spawning counts very shortly, so it will be interesting to see how that goes.
Compliance has been relatively good, but anglers are reminded that No licence holder shall continue to fish for a particular species of sports fish on any day in which he or she has already killed the limit bag for that species.
This applies even if you intend to do catch and release, that being as not all fish can be released when deeply hooked or bleeding from the gills.
What has been really good to see is everyone releasing undersized salmon and doing so carefully to ensure that they have the best chances of survival!
Hope to see you out there!
Baylee Kersten, West Coast Fish & Game Officer.