West Coast Reel Life April 2019

Winter fishing season kicks off

The winter fishing season starts on the first of May and brings some great fishing.

Don’t let the cold or being limited in water choice put you off as what's still on offer is fantastic!

A lot of the larger West Coast lakes are still open and with the water temperatures much cooler, the trout tend to be more opportunist feeders and fight much harder than over summer.

Above right: A brown trout recently taken from a West Coast winter fishery. (Photo Baylee Kersten)

WC2 RL April 2019

Spin fishing is very effective when required to cover a lot of water (Photo Baylee Kersten)

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 a fly or lure.

Ensure when you do head out this winter that you check your fishing spot against the regulations to ensure that when you bump into a ranger, the only thing being given out is friendly fishing advice.

Some tips for winter fishing

  1. Find a location that's open year-round to trout fishing!
  2. Be attention seeking. Beaded nymphs, glo bugs and bright lures/soft baits all work well over winter.
  3. Cover a lot of water. Trout densities will be lower in most locations given some will be off spawning so keep moving.
  4. Be visual. With low calm clear conditions try to sight fish to increase your odds.
  5. Fish deep. Trout will be deeper with spawning behavior and limited insect life.
  6. 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.
  7. Target trout where streams and small rivers enter large rivers and lakes. They’ll congregate in these areas during spawning runs.
  8. 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.

Fishery enhancements underway

WC3 RL April 2019

Fish & Game Officer Baylee Kersten releasing the last of the salmon smolt in the Taramakau tributary.

The first of this year’s fishery enhancements have been completed over the last couple weeks.

On Tuesday, April 10th , Lake Kaniere received 3,000 juvenile brown trout.

This release is sponsored by TrustPower to mitigate their impacts on the fishery via the use of the Kaniere river for power generation.

We believe that Lake Kaniere fishery is limited by recruitment as of a result of very limited spawning habitat.

The releases carried out in recent years will hopefully resolve this issue by removing the need for spawning success to create a healthy fishery.

The Taramakau also received its annual addition of salmon with 4,000 smolt being released into a spring creek in the headwaters on Wednesday, April 17th .

There will be further salmon enhancement in the coming weeks for the Hokitika River and Lake Ianthe. 

Baylee Kersten, West Coast Fish & Game Officer.

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