Reel Life January 2024
- West Coast
Wet weather brings fantastic angling opportunities!
The wet weather we are currently experiencing is fantastic news for anglers.
The rain improves fishing conditions, with trout feeding activity and catchability being up following each rainfall event.
Prolonged dry periods over summer can result in low and warm rivers and lakes.
The warm conditions stress trout and they will often forgo feeding and seek refuge from the heat if water temperatures get too high.
If we continue to regularly receive rainfall, the lakes in particular will continue to fish well through the rest of the season.
Salmon anglers also get excited about the rain and the opportunities it brings.
Salmon are extremely fussy about temperature and often enter rivers during flood events, so regular rain often results in improved salmon fishing.
There have been a few salmon encountered already this season so it will be well worth checking out your local salmon hole when the rivers become fishable.
As for perch, it was fantastic to see many families out targeting them over the holidays and making the most of our fantastic fisheries.
Unlike our other sports fish, perch do not mind the heat.
They do enjoy overcast conditions and elevated lake levels, but fishing does remain steady even in dry spells.
If you are taking new or young anglers, with perch being readily catchable, they are great species to target.
A screen grab from the WCRC website, showing the recent flooding in the Hokitika Catchment.
Keeping on the topic of flows, to take the guesswork out of it, anglers should familiarise themselves with the West Coast Regional Council website.
When you go to the river, take note of the flow conditions on the website and what the fishing conditions are like.
Soon you will have a preferred range of flows for fishing certain rivers.
Many rivers are not monitored but there should be a river in the vicinity of your fishing location, and you will be able to use that river as a reference.
This is very important for targeting salmon, with receding flows being ideal but if you go too early, the river may be not yet fishable.
Also, check out the rainfall if it is quite a wet spell, rivers flows might be ideal when you check the flow but if a good dumping of rain has just occurred in the catchment, West Coast rivers can rise rapidly becoming unfishable and dangerous.
Failure to Produce
Just a friendly reminder to all anglers to carry their licence whilst fishing.
It is an offence to not produce your licence to a warranted ranger.
Yes, in some instances staff can look it up on the database, but this becomes time-consuming, especially on busy lake days.
Honorary rangers do not have access to the database and there are many spots on the Coast where there is very little reception, in both instances, you would be issued an offence notice for failure to produce your licence.
Long story short, carry your licence and as a backup, a photo of your licence next to photo ID on your phone is the next best thing.
Being an Ethical angler
In the West Coast Region, we have a voluntary catch and release limit of six fish per day.
This is important when conditions warm up as catch and release survival rates begin to drop.
Many anglers who practice catch and release will cease fishing if trout are already in a stressed state knowing that the trout are already struggling to survive without needing to exhaust themselves fighting an angler.
Please keep temperature in mind over the coming months, especially when out on our small lakes and rivers that are susceptible to elevated water temperatures.
A Lake Haupiri trout being released. Small lakes like Haupiri are prone to water temperatures getting too high.
Field Work Update
Divers preparing to complete a dive in the upper reaches of the Grey River.
We completed the second electric fish of our research streams in the Mawheraiti catchment earlier this month.
Fishing conditions were challenging due to the low flows and the count was below average with seventy juveniles being caught for the day.
Staff and volunteers have completed all but one of the annual drift dives now.
Counts have fluctuated with quite a few below long-term averages.
A lake outlet was among one of the sites recently dived and it can't be understated what fantastic fishery lake outlets are.
The Arnold is a fine example, the lack of floods, results in a large insect community which in turn supports a great trout fishery.
Staff and honorary rangers were busy over the Christmas period and are pleased to report high levels of compliance.
It has also been noted how great it is to see so many anglers taking the whole family out to enjoy the sport!
Hope to see you out there!
Baylee Kersten, West Coast Fish & Game Officer