Don’t pack away the rods

The Press - Escape - - FISHING -

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 ...

Photo: PETER SHUTT

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.

Photo: PETER SHUTT

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.

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