West Coast Reel Life FEB 2017
Settled weather 'perfect' for fishing
Over the past week and a half, weather conditions have improved significantly on the West Coast, with a period of excellent settled weather.
This has resulted in perfect fishing conditions within both local rivers and the lakes.
Above Right: Lake Mapourika in February, photographed during the paradise shelduck counts.
Salmon are now being caught, and a keen local angler I know told me over the weekend that one of the lakes he was fishing recently has been producing larger than normal browns, a number going 7lb-plus.
After a sustained period of wet weather, many waters remain relatively unfished, adding to the prospects.
The higher rainfall this season has held spring-like river flows for longer, keeping the temperatures lower in some, such as those of the Grey Valley, providing good conditions for trout to hold up higher in the river systems.
Fish and Game Councillor Dean Phibbs commented at our local Fish & Game meeting last week, that when he's been out “the fishing has been excellent.”
If you haven’t been getting out much this season, now is the time.
Salmon have arrived
Anglers fishing locally have been catching salmon in recent weeks.
Above Right: Lake Mapourika in February, snapped during the paradise shelduck counts.
If you’re keen on your salmon angling, the larger braided rivers are presently clearing with a slight glacial blue colour to them, perfect for targeting salmon.
The Lakes of South Westland remain a popular option with many anglers and reports from the lakes have been promising.
Lakes such as Mapourika and Paringa are generally fished trolling silver or bright yellow salmon lures well down using lead lines or a down-rigger.
It has been noticeable how many anglers have been traveling from other regions to try for a West Coast salmon this season and with the recent conditions, why not.
This season remember also that the Okarito River has had its salmon season closure date brought back to March 31st to align with its lake source.
Cicadas in full swing
With the warmer weather cicadas are out in force offering plenty of opportunity for those fly fishing around lake edges and on local rivers.
Try casting cicada flies back under overhanging trees in some of the lakes such as Ianthe, Mapourika and Paringa and you may find some excellent fly fishing.
Why not mix this in with your salmon fishing by trying for a salmon early and late in the day, and fishing the overhanging bush edges for browns during the day?
Likewise, our back country rivers will be fishing well with cicada flies by now.
Fish & Game's Feb field work
February is generally the month for drift diving surveys to count fish numbers.
With the more settled conditions, local staff with the help of staff from other regions and volunteers have started the summer dives.
Left: West Coast and Nelson/Marlborough staff drift dive the Mawheraiti River in spring.
Rivers in this year’s schedule include: the Inangahua, Grey, Mawheraiti, Karamea and Mokihinui rivers.
If you have an interest in the fishery and are confident in the water, we often require volunteers to help complete this work.
If you’re interested in assisting please contact our Hokitika office.
Compliance checks are also a priority at this time of the year, with high numbers of anglers about and both salmon and trout being targeted.
We are lucky to have rangers distributed all along the West Coast checking licences regularly, with additional rangers in South Westland this season.
Licence checks recently have been positive with all those checked holding a valid licence or being able to provide evidence of holding one prior to being encountered by rangers.
The high number of visiting non-resident licence holders has been evident recently, as they arrive to enjoy the West Coast fishery.
Well enjoy the summer now it has arrived.
At time of writing the forecast ahead looks good, so get out and catch yourself a salmon!
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