Don’t pack away the rods
n Dunedin last week, members of the Streambashers and Flyflingers fishing club were addressed by two important speakers –Murray Gardner and Tanya Dann. Tanya is a PhD student in the Department of Zoology, University of Otago. Her research subject was ‘‘Investigating the life history and distribution of two New Zealand Damselfly species.’’
You may say the fish don’t know the life history or distribution of these damselflies, but club members learnt how to recognise the fly and where you would find it. And that’s where the fish will be.
Club president Clive Wooffindin explained that while winter fishing for many of us is time to restock the fly boxes and attend to tackle maintenance, he always tries to make a few trips to the Twizel area, braving sub-zero temperatures in the campervan, to fish the stream mouths.
My whole point of telling you this is to remind you that fishing clubs all around the South Island offer programmes over winter and it is a great time of year to become involved and learn new skills.
Some clubs specialise in the marine fisheries while others (most) concentrate their interest on freshwater trout and/or salmon sports fisheries.
Many clubs have accommodation facilities near good water in their region. And I remind you that fly hatches will likely bring trout to the surface in early afternoon sunshine.
So don’t write off fishing just because someone says it’s winter. Adapt to meet the challenge and like many club members, enjoy the winter ‘‘away’’ trips. *** Over the last couple of decades the number of ‘‘year round’’ fisheries or special winter season fisheries has increased.
Over the years I have seen some really good fish come to the net in weather that many would avoid. Ice in the rod rings; frigid fingers, and cold feet are not uncommon.
Winter is when trout, after furiously feeding throughout summer, head for their spawning grounds. They are in prime condition, so when a really good fish comes to the net, do consider its spawning condition.
Fishing regulations prohibit you from casting near or into specified spawning waters but in larger ‘‘year-round’’ rivers or lakes you will occasionally catch a big fish en route to spawning waters. If you choose to take awell-conditioned hen fish (and you are quite entitled to do so) consider whether the thousands of eggs she carries are important to the regeneration of this fishery for future anglers to enjoy. Some fisheries are more fragile than others so the choice is yours.
Using a net is important to help land and release it as quickly as possible. If you must handle the fish, wrap a piece of pantyhose over your wet hand to avoid damaging the fish scales with the bacteria on your fingers. I’m sure you will have seen fish with ‘‘finger marks’’ superimposed.
If you leave the fish turned belly up in the net while you remove the hook, the fish will remain passive and you can quickly achieve your goal of releasing it. Consider using barbless hooks. Every region has favourite winter waters, but if the campervans on the Mackenzie country hydro canals show they are obviously a prime attraction.
Those are the anglers you see during daytime, but if you were to inspect Lake Coleridge after dark you would be surprised how many anglers are using lumo flies to attract the attention of trout and landlocked salmon.
During daylight hours the tackle will more likely be spinning gear or nymph. A black and gold toby or zed spinner would be my first choice.
Lake Coleridge is the largest lake in the series that border the Rakaia River headwaters. It’s approximately 16km long, (3673 ha). It is deep rugged water along much of the accessible shoreline.
Salmon usually comprise the biggest percentage of the catch although trout (rainbow and brown) of 2.5 pound to 6 pound weight are common. Trout of around 10 pound can surprise anglers. These fish are usually taken over the numerous weed beds within the lake or by trolling deep.
Deep trolling is common below the steep slope of Kaka Hill, as is trolling back along the south edge, past the restricted area in front of the power station intake.
Both Lake Coleridge and Lake Selfe give a choice of boat or shore-based fishing that’s worthy of winter exploration.
Lake Selfe is well-known for the large brown trout that cruise close to shore and at 64ha offers walk-around fishing to fish easily spooked trout. I’ve always preferred fishing the back of the lake and size 6 muddler minnows or red setters left to lie on the lake bed and twitched into life as a cruising trout comes past can offer a spectacular result.
If these waters don’t suit you there is always Lake Brunner and the Arnold River as it exits the lake ...
For the table: The lower Waimakariri River is used by manyfood gatherers like Jeff de Lacruz, of Christchurch, here with one of his manyherring catches.
Road rules: In years
past campervans parked as they pleased along the canals but
today parking restrictions contribute to a safer environment for anglers.
Shallow swim: Dolphins spotted frolicking in the edgewater at Amberley Beach by photographer Steve Nolan.