Counting the days to a new trout fishing season
Counting the days to a new trout fishing season
Anglers are now counting down to the opening of the fishing season on Rotorua’s renowned lakes – hoping to hook some hard-fighting trout.
Lakes Rotoiti, Tarawera and Okataina, which have been closed and ‘rested’ over winter, will open to anglers from 5am on Tuesday October 1.
Lake Tarawera is most likely to be the busiest destination at the opening, according to Fish & Game Officer Matt Osborne.
“Historically, Tarawera has drawn the most anglers as the lake provides good early season catch rates, it’s picturesque and it has plenty of sheltered spots to fish.”
But Mr Osborne says that because of recent conditions, “Lake Okataina may provide the largest two-year-old hatchery fish and Lake Rotoiti always manages to produce some stunning fish.”
Most trout caught at the opening will be two-year-old fish as they are the most abundant group of fish above the minimum size of 35cm.
Eastern Fish & Game is hoping for better catch rates early in the season as a result of a new approach to releasing hatchery-bred rainbows.
Fish have been introduced in smaller monthly batches in a staggered approach, instead of big ‘single shot’ liberations, in a bid to improve survival rates.
“Improving survival rates through this staggered method will lead to better catch rates. As each trout costs us around $3 it means that anglers are effectively getting more value from their licence fees.”
Mr Osborne says that environmental conditions have been favourable for trout growth. “We expect that warmer water temperatures in the lakes over winter will have produced better-than-average winter trout growth, so our staff are looking forward to seeing the size of fish, compared with last season.”
He adds that Lake Rotorua, which remains open over winter, has produced rainbows of an improving size and quality.
Eastern Fish & Game has offered a few tips on techniques to use on opening day. Fish & Game Officer Mark Sherburn says that initially, and before the sun gets on the water, the fishing is often slow but picks up during the first few hours of daylight.
“Shallow trolling with a ‘Tassie’ and a smelt fly is a successfully way to begin. If it’s sunny and there’s lots of boat traffic, expect the fish to move a little deeper.
“Under these conditions adopt a deep trolling method such as lead line, wire or downrigger. It’s hard to beat orange as a lure colour early in the season, or something with a touch of red and don’t forget to try the ‘old faithful’ black and gold toby!”
Mr Sherburn reminds anglers they should have given their motor a check over “and given it a test run before they get to the ramp.”
And he suggests they check over their fishing gear too. “check the line-to-leader connections, dab a little grease on the spindle of your reels, and buy some fresh mono when you go to the tackle store to buy your new licence.”
If you plan to hit the water early, then make sure the ‘nav’ lights are working and remember to have lifejackets for everyone, he adds.
Mr Sherburn says that for anglers seeking new spots – or those who’re new to the Eastern region – then Fish & Game brochures are a great place to start.
They are available at fishing stores and licence agents, or from the Fish & Game website, www.fishandgame.org.nz
The Rotorua district provides choices galore – 13 lakes packed with fishing opportunities.
Just under 11 square kilometres, with a bush-clad shoreline, sheltered from almost every wind direction. Shore-based fishing is limited apart from the main beach in the north. An average depth of 39 metres and steep drop-offs lends itself to trolling, jigging, and the use of downriggers. Popular lures include Tassie and harling flies like Parson’s Glory or Green Orbit.
The name means the ‘little lake’ in Maori, 34 square kms, but its average depth is 33 metres. It is connected to its nearest neighbour Lake Rotorua via the Ohau Channel, a popular fishing spot which can produce some of the region’s biggest fish, brown trout up to 8 kgs. Stay away if you don’t like a little company – the lake is well known for a ‘Spanish armada’ of boats on opening day, but is quiet later in the season. Fish are well spread and targeted by a variety of methods, including shallow trolling and harling. Spin or flying fishing around stream mouths and drop offs can also get results. Best lures early in the season are smaller patterns including smelt imitations and colours.
This is one of the largest lakes at 41 square kms, a deep lake (51 metres) and considered by many to produce the best fish. The lake is the source of brood stock for Fish & Game’s big fish programme . The main body of the lake is pear-shaped and Humphries Bay and Otumutu Lagoon Bay offer great fishing, shelter from northerly winds. The Ariki arm to the south contains well known Hotwater Beach, where holidaymakers go for a warm soak. Festivities begin on the evening before opening, with a haggis piping and boats blessing ceremony at The Landing. Early season shallow trolling or harling works well. Favourites include coloured Tassies – pink, green or orange – and smelt-fly combination on one or two colours of lead line. Glo-bugs on a sinking fly line or spinning rig also popular.
The North Island’s second largest lake at just under 80 sq km but an average depth of only about 11 metres. The lake has rainbow and some very large brown trout and is fished mainly by trolling - or fly fishing at stream mouths like Awahou and Hamurana, or in the streams flowing into the lake. Mokoia Island near the centre of the lake provides sheltered, productive trolling runs for boaties. Popular lures include Tassie ‘brown trout,’ purple and white colours and smelt flies like Grey Ghost or Parson’s Glory.
Fish & Game invites readers to call for tips and information on 07- 357 5501, or visit the Fish & Game website: http://eastern.fishandgame.org.nz for lots more information.