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The joys of winter angling - plenty on offer around NZ

The joys of winter angling - plenty on offer around NZ

Don’t give up on trout fishing just yet – especially with some of the crisp, clear winter’s days the country’s been served up.

That’s the message from Fish & Game NZ, pointing to productive trout fishing waters including lakes, rivers right throughout the country which are still open to anglers.

Fish & Game North Island communications advisor Grant Dyson says some anglers quit about now because well-known lakes like the ‘big three’ in Rotorua – Tarawera, Okataina and Rotoiti – have closed to boat fishing.

“But the boat’s not essential. You can of course, continue to fish these lakes – from the designated shoreline areas – so it’s an opportunity to try some different and very productive methods.”

Mr Dyson says that most anglers will be aware that the closures serve a genuine purpose, allowing the lakes to take a rest from fishing pressure, while streams that close are usually those where fish are spawning.

But some folk may be simply unaware of how many other lakes remain open –fishable right through winter - such as Rotorua, Rotoehu and Rotoma.

“It’s surprising, when you take a look, just how much water is still open and very fishable. Auckland residents, for example, often head south towards Rotorua or Taupo and overlook the hydro lakes of the Waikato, which are very accessible and offer some great winter fishing much closer to home.”

In the South Island, the cooler, crisper days are generally more still than in summer, therefor offer more opportunity for the fly fishing. According to Andrew Currie, Fish & Game’s South Island communications advisor, “Winter can be a great time for angling as you don't have to contend with the pesky easterly breeze along the east coast regions.”

Mr Currie also adds: “We urge anglers, whether they're old hands or novices, to be a little adventurous and sample what neighbouring regions have to offer.”

To find some great winter angling opportunities, all it takes is a little bit of swot – consult your Sports Fishing Regulation booklet, or visit the Fish & Game website, and you’ll discover plenty of angling on offer over the cooler months.

It’s also timely to remind people their fishing licence covers the whole of New Zealand (apart from Taupo catchment). If you’re heading from Auckland to the South Island for a holiday, take a fly fishing and spinning rod along – for a different fishing experience.

But anglers visiting other regions are urged to heed the ‘Check, Clean, Dry’ (CCD) message, to prevent the spread of didymo and invasive aquatic plants.

Around the North Island regions

In the ‘winterless North’ fishing focuses on lakes and reservoirs. The Kai Iwi lakes are open all year, along with Wilson’s Dam and Whau Valley Reservoir which hold brown trout. Whau Valley, along with lakes Manuwai, Taharoa, and Waikere all offer superb winter fishing for rainbow trout.

The Waikato River hydro lakes are often overlooked by anglers traveling south from Hamilton and Auckland in search of good trout water. Lakes Karapiro, Arapuni and Waipapa are all good options.

Lake Arapuni is only an hour south of Hamilton and produces some great fish. Some fish survive up to five years in Lake Arapuni and approach the 70cm mark.

Eastern (Rotorua lakes, East Coast)
There are excellent winter fishing opportunities on a number or lakes and streams still open. Lakes Rotoiti, Tarawera and Okataina have closed to boats but remain open to shoreline fishing from the designated areas.

Lakes Rotorua, Rerewhakaaitu, Rotoma, Rotoehu and the smaller Nagpouri and Okaro are all good places to try. The stream mouths on Lake Rotorua are also worth a crack, especially the Ngongotaha and Waiteti mouths which will continue to attract fresh runs of trout after rain.

Lake Waikaremoana remains open to fishing throughout the winter .Recent fishing reports indicate some nice catches around the shoreline, trolling and at the stream mouths. Also reports of some good catches of well-sized trout at Lake Waikareiti, a steady 45 minute walk above Waikaremoana. Dinghies can be hired or anglers can fish from the shoreline by fly and spin methods.

Hawke’s Bay
Most of the region’s most popular spots are still fishable through winter. They include the Tukituki River below SH50, the Mohaka River below the Mangatainoka confluence, and Lake Tutira which is open all year round, and fishes best during the winter.

New Plymouth’s Lake Rotomanu is also open to winter fishing for trout and perch. Rivers like the Waingongoro and Kaupokonui reaches downstream of SH45 are well worth a visit on a sunny winter’s day, particularly for spin fishing.

The Stony River remains open and has a few rainbow trout that were released as two-year-olds in January 2013. The lower Waiwhakaiho River can also produce some nice fish. The Mangawhero River downstream of the ‘golf course’ Bridge remains open all year.

There are plenty of opportunities for anglers to go fishing over winter here. The Ruamahanga, Manawatu and Hutt Rivers, to name just a few, are all still fishable right through the winter.

Around the South Island regions

North Canterbury
If you are in North Canterbury and it is high country lake fishing you seek, then Lake Coleridge, Loch Katrine, and lakes Lyndon, Pearson, Selfe, and Taylor – which are open from June 1until September 30 -- are the waterways to head to.

“The air may have more bite at this time of the year but don’t be fooled into leaving the sunblock at home, many an angler has returned with sunburn from a winter day’s fishing in the high country.”

West Coast
Lake Brunner is the West Coast’s most popular winter trout fishing destination and for good reason; the lake holds a high population of brown trout averaging 1.4kg, the scenery is some of the West Coast’s finest, and access is good for both shore based fishing and boaties.

Although being popular most of the anglers fish in holiday periods. It is not unusual to have the whole lake to yourself on a sunny winters day and “July will be a good month to target hungry post-spawning fish and those yet to spawn in prime condition,” Mr Currie points out.

Central South Island
In the Central South Island region, the major lakes are open all year around and offer great fishing whether from the shore or trolling the shallows. And of course there is the ever popular hydro canal system, which is still producing large fish on a very frequent basis.

Otago offers some of the most accessible fishing through the winter months and Otago Fish & Game have released excess hatchery stock into the Southern Reservoir, Sullivan’s Dam and Tomahawk Lagoon in Dunedin along with Butchers Dam in Alexandra in an effort to encourage winter angling.

The winter season on Otago waters runs from April 1 and through to September 30.


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