Reel Life February 2022
Summer fishing is on
The warm hot weather has pushed fish to higher elevations where they can find cool, oxygenated water.
Water temperature in streams without shade can skyrocket, so most lowland streams in the Waikato are not suitable for trout in the summer, forcing fish to move upstream or to thermal refuges like spring creeks.
The good news for anglers is that fish are concentrated and hungry.
The key to finding fish will be finding cold water. In our streams, this means going upstream to shaded areas at higher elevation, and on the hydro lakes, it means fishing around cool inlet streams.
Summer drift dives have begun, and some of our streams are very stressed due to prolonged summer heat and heavy algal growth.
The bright side is that record numbers of trout have been reported in our initial drift dives.
South Waikato and Whanganui headwater streams have been fishing very well, but please remember fish caught in water temperatures above 19°C have low survival rates if releasing, so please find cool water or kill the fish you catch. Even if you are fly fishing, you expect at least one in three fish you release to die at a minimum.
Above right: Auckland Waikato Fish & Game staff member Dr Adam Daniel with a Whakapapa River rainbow.
What to do if you see a fish kill
1) Call the local regional council immediately
- Auckland 09 377 3107
- Waikato 0800 800 402
- Horizons 0508 800 800
2) Document as much as possible
- Take pictures
- Note how many and what kind of fish
- Are there dead ducks
- If you are on a river, can you find the most upstream point of the fish kill
- If you have a very clean jar, take a water sample, and put it on ice (wear gloves)
3) If you are as unhappy as we are about the state of our river and lakes, tell everyone you can
- Send an email or letter to your local MP
- Get it to the news
- Post it on social media
Regional councils normally investigate fish kills, and the only way their staff have a chance of finding the source of a spill is to get there quickly before the evidence is washed away.
So, if you don’t know the source of the fish kill, the best thing you can do is call quickly with as much information as possible.
Don’t be surprised if council staff don’t seem concerned; they, unfortunately, deal with fish kills all the time due to poor water quality.
The only way water quality in New Zealand is going to improve is if our leaders think it is important.
But don’t expect council staff to raise the alarm bells with the media or politicians, get the best pictures you can and call a local news agency.