Lake Rotoiti 'star performer' on trout opening
Lake Rotoiti 'star performer' on trout opening, says Fish & Game
Lake Rotoiti has emerged as the “most improved” of Rotorua’s three popular trout fishing lakes - where the start of the new season is celebrated – as anglers fished the first day of the new season.
The new season for lakes Tarawera, Okataina and Rotoiti, which have been ‘rested’ for the past three months, began on Tuesday (Oct 1) in picture-perfect, fine and clear conditions.
Eastern Fish & Game has released some initial findings from interviews with the 1000-odd anglers they talked to across the three lakes, who were quizzed on catch rates and fishing methods.
More than 800 fish were measured across the three lakes, some approaching the 4kg (nearly 9lb) mark.
Eastern Fish & Game manager Rob Pitkethley, who was stationed on Rotoiti, says “the lake produced more fish per angler than we’ve seen for quite a few years – so there were some very happy anglers around.”
Anglers on Rotoiti were not only more successful, but the fish were bigger than they’ve been for the last couple of openings. Around 260 anglers interviewed had kept 250 fish that were measured by Eastern Fish & Game staff.
“Very few anglers were empty-handed and generally the fish were in better condition than last year with very nice 2-year-old fish making up most of the catch.
Mr Pitkethley says that while Rotoiti produced the best average fish on the day, “Lake Okataina overall produced the highest success, although people need to bear in mind that catch rates do vary considerably from one day to the next.”
Deeper trolling methods seemed to work the best and with slightly warmer water temperatures than the same time last year.
“Successful techniques, including jigging, were more typical of methods that anglers would use fishing in November and December, so the summer season appears to have come a bit early.”
The fish caught on lakes Okataina and Tarawera were slightly smaller than last year’s opening, “but we know that a good number were younger than normal as they were released later in our new ‘staggered’ approach,” says Mr Pitkethley.
Since last spring, releases of hatchery-bred rainbow trout have been spread over a four-month period instead of a few big releases, many fish at a time. “Work on liberations has shown us that we get a higher survival rate from this new technique – we know there’ll be more fish available to be caught this summer.”
The Ohau Channel connecting lakes Rotorua and Rotoiti appeared to have fished reasonably well, with anglers commenting they’d never seen so many smelt in the water.
Fish caught from the Channel had been very fat with one tipping the scales at 3.5kg and another angler sadly losing a very large brown trout that he’d hooked.
Mr Pitkethley says that it was pleasing to see holidaymakers from other parts of New Zealand appeared to catch their share of fish, including 10-year-old Ruby Roche from Napier, who landed a 3.3kg rainbow trout 620cm long on Lake Tarawera, after a 20 minute battle. Staff on duty at Tarawera saw some “nice-condition” fish showing good growth rates, two year olds of around 50cm and over 2kg, the biggest tipping the scales at 3.5kg.
At Lake Okataina the opening was “a very good one in terms of catch rates,” says Fish & Game officer Lloyd Gledhill who was on duty there. "We had a ratio of nearly two fish per angler on the day." The two-year-old hatchery- bred fish were showing good growth, but some of the older fish were still recovering from the stresses of spawning over the winter period. The largest fish measured from Okataina was a 3.7kg rainbow trout.
Fish & Game says it still has the notes taken from hundreds of anglers to process, so it’ll be some time before it has a more accurate picture of catches and fish sizes to compare with previous October 1 openings.
All the signs across these three lakes are pointing to a very good summer ahead, and with trout growing very quickly at this time of the year anglers should get the most out of a full season across the region.
Meanwhile, Destination Rotorua Marketing (DRM) general manager Oscar Nathan says it was pleasing to see the opening coincided with the beginning of the school holidays. "It was the perfect opportunity to get out on the water with the kids and create some lasting memories."