Southland Reel Life September 2018
Small Southland streams – perfect early season fishing
Southland is blessed with some great small stream fisheries - the likes of the Orauea, Mokoreta, Mimihau, Otamita, Waimea and Hedgehope to name a few - and early season is the perfect time to target them.
Above right: A Southland small stream trout holding tight against the stream bank.
Early in the season flows are often optimal (not too low or warm) and resident trout have not seen a lure or fly in a while.
This makes them a bit easier to catch.
If you're spin fishing, try using a light bladed spinner of soft bait with a light jig head.
Bait fishing with a floating worm can be highly effective particularly early in the season.
If fly fishing, a small size 16-18 nymph should do the trick and if there's a little bit of colour in the stream go for a nymph with a gold bead head.
Something to keep in mind when planning to fish these small streams is that when it rains they are immediately affected.
However, small streams do tend to clear quickly after rain and are usually worth visiting 24 to 48 hours after the weather has improved.
Heavy rain and associated high river flows can really take their toll on spawning trout.
High waters can batter trout during spawning, making it harder for them to recover.
Additionally, high flows can damage trout redds resulting in increased egg mortality.
Fortunately, we've had a relatively settled winter this year meaning the streams have remained in favourable condition for trout spawning.
Post-spawn recovery should be high this year meaning there will be a few extra fish in our rivers.
Click here to see a video of some spawning Southland trout and salmon.
Selecting a trout for the table
Often when I am out checking fishing licences, I get chatting with anglers and they will tell me that they only practice catch and release.
Practicing catch and release has its place, particularly if we catch a fish that is not suitable for eating (in poor condition) or we are fishing in a particularly sensitive fishery.
However, an important part of being and angler (and therefore a hunter gatherer) is harvesting a fish or two to enjoy with friends and family.
When choosing a fish to harvest, be selective.
It is not worth taking home a skinny post-spawn jack.
When you do decide to take a fish, look after it.
Bleed and gut the trout as soon as possible and put it in a cool place, preferably on ice.
If you take the right trout and look after it, you can be assured of a tasty meal come dinner time.
Good luck for the season ahead. I look forward to catching up with Southland anglers on our rivers and lakes this season.
Cohen Stewart, Southland Fish & Game Officer.
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