West Coast Reel Life October 2017
New season offers 'huge' opportunity
The new fishing season has begun, and with it comes the opportunity to fish a huge selection of West Coast rivers and streams once more.
Early season weather conditions have been a mixed bag so far, as several westerly fronts have passed through with fine settled days in between.
Despite some periods of wet weather, river flows have for the most part, remained at excellent levels.
So far fishing has been promising, with anglers reporting nicely conditioned silver sea-runs in the estuaries, and chunky browns from the lakes.
Relatively low angler numbers on the rivers early season has resulted in a considerable amount of un-fished water, offing great angling for those who get out during the coming weeks.
Right: An early season West Coast brown.
The West Coast Region regulations remain unchanged from last season, with the continuation of the back country designated area in the Karamea River upstream of the Kakapo River confluence, and The Mokihinui River above its confluence with Rough and Tumble Creek.
Your free Backcountry Endorsement is easily obtained by going to this link once you have obtained a full season licence.
If you’re unsure of any of the regulations for local waters, download a copy of the South Island Fishing Regulations here .
Recently staff have been out maintaining existing angler access signage and looking at new potential sites.
With many anglers planning their trips for the summer ahead, I thought it would be worth mentioning some information on West Coast angler access.
Left: Replacing faded and missing West Coast Angler Access Signs.
When looking at potential sites Fish & Game staff consider the value for anglers, trying to offer practical access points that also offer good water.
We typically look for sites that offer legal walking access, however some cross private land.
Please consider that many of our region's access sites are established through goodwill with the landowners.
In recent years we have started adding more directions to access signs, providing instructions regarding specific access sites, so please ensure you follow these.
If you have travelled from another country to fish in New Zealand, it can be difficult to know where you can and can’t go.
For those of you who are non-resident anglers, and are visiting for the first time this summer, here are a few basic access considerations .
- In addition to the Fish & Game website, The Department of Conservation, and Walking Access Commission both have a large amount of public land information available online to help you plan your trip.
- Always leave gates as you find them, including how they were fixed to posts,etc.
- At the end of a days fishing don’t take a shortcut back across the paddocks, landowners may not appreciate people crossing their land at random. Many of our signs are put in place to manage where people cross private land.
- Consider where you're parking your vehicle, as a two-wheel drive vehicle may become easily stuck in soft ground.
- If you meet stock being moved along a road, consider the number of animals and direction they are heading. If stock are coming towards you, pulling over to the side of the road and waiting for them to pass is the best bet. If you're traveling in the same direction as the animals, you may be better to follow behind if they are not being moved far.
- Proper sewage management is important. It is worth hiring a self-contained camper if you are going to travel around New Zealand camping near waterways.
- Angler access signs are just that, and don't give permission to hunt. If you plan to hunt as well, always seek separate approval for this.
- If in doubt about any access, ask for permission. Most landowners simply want to know who is on or near their land.
Early season trout tactics
Post-spawning, as water temperatures begin to increase, trout are eager to feed and put condition back on.
When considering what you should be casting for trout, think of the food sources available to them at this time of the year.
Food in the lower river sections will largely consist of baitfish, so whether you're fly fishing or spinning, imitations should reflect this.
Consideration should be given to the tides, an incoming tide allows estuary trout to forage areas they couldn’t reach previously, while current from an outgoing tide may confine baitfish to the edges, where trout can target them more effectively.
Further upstream, before large numbers of terrestrial insects begin to fall on the water, trout will be feeding largely on aquatic insects.
There may be certain types of mayflies or caddis that trout are concentrating their efforts on, which in turn may dictate the time of day they are most actively feeding.
Likewise, other factors such as a fresh in the river may see more aquatic insects dislodged from stones on the stream bed into the water column, increasing trout feeding activity.
Being observant and matching the conditions you're faced with on the day will certainly help catch those early season trout.
West Coast December fishing competitions
The annual Lake Brunner and Reefton fishing competitions will be held in early December, and are a good opportunity to get together for a social occasion with other anglers.
If fishing competitions are of interest to you, both events are scheduled for the same dates of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of December 2017.
Lee Crosswell, West Coast Fish & Game Officer.
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