Hawke's Bay Reel Life January 2020

  • Hawke's Bay
  • 20/01/2020

Hawke's Bay Reel Life January 2020

Happy new year to everyone!

We hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year holiday and took the time to get out on our rivers and lakes to do some fishing.

Please remember to have respect for everybody out on the water, you may have to contend with families making to the most of access spots to swim and cool down over the summer months.

Most part this last month has produced some excellent conditions for fishing with some beautiful sunny Hawke’s Bay days.

The warm weather has brought with it an abundance of insect hatches.

Right: Keep an eye out for those browns amongst the rainbows.

The Cicadas are out and singing, so take advantage of this and try a cicada pattern fly from mid-afternoon onwards.

When spinning try to imitate what trout are naturally feeding on.

Black and yellow coloured lures work well and look like bumblebees that have landed in the water.

Veltic lures are good at this and have the addition of vibrating thru the water and are a magnet for trout.

It’s impossible for our staff to be on every river all the time so receiving reports from anglers on what they see is very helpful and important, especially relating to compliance.

If you see somebody on the river doing something illegal, baiting, netting or taking excess trout please contact the Fish & Game office or ring the 0800 POACHING hotline.

Fishing report – Blair Whiting


The Ngaruroro has just come up after some much needed rain, sitting at 11m/sec (Fernhill).

The sections between Fernhill and Whanawhana are holding huge amounts of trout ranging from one kilo bullets up to 2.5 kg tanks.

Most of these fish are rainbows but there is always the chance of bumping into a big brown over three kilos, especially around the willow trees.

Wet fly, dry fly, spinning and nymphing have all been taking good numbers of fish.

Try drifting a big cicada dry fly and see what happens, the strikes can be savage.

Up from Maraekakaho the river is flowing very clean with not much weed at all. 


With barely any rain this river has begun to struggle with really low flow rates throughout.

Sitting at a mere 3.6m/sec, the river is forming quite a bit of weed which is making visibility a bit murky.

It can also be very tough fishing with floating weed when it’s snagging your line.

Thankfully the 13th of January brought a good amount of rain which filled the river right up.

There will be some awesome fishing as the fish begin to move around due to the fresh water coming down.

Despite the extended period of low river conditions, the fish are still in great condition.

They never really lost any fat over the season.

I would expect some rainbows around the three kilo mark in the autumn, with how good the condition already is.

The main method is still nymphing with some good success on dry droppers.

Fish will be looking up on the hotter days.

Try to find the deeper parts of the river.

The trout will congregate into big groups of over 10 fish if there is a nice cold pool. Sometimes you can land 3 – 4 out of the one section.

Keep an eye out for backwaters too, the underground inflows are very cold and are perfect for a trout trying to avoid the heat.

The rainbows are still averaging really high in weight so this is the place to be if you are looking for larger rainbows.

Make sure to lengthen your leader since the river is so low.


If you want numbers of fish the Tukituki is the place to go.

The lower river is stacked full of 1 – 1.8kg rainbows.

You will need to fish through a bit of floating weed, but it can be worth the trouble at times.

Dry flies like caddis and mayfly do really well, with fish rising in many parts of the river.

The slow-moving pools and the shallow riffles are the places to look.

Often the trout will be so camouflaged that you can’t see them until they break the water’s surface.

Look for the fast water near willows, the rainbows are stacked up in big groups of over ten sometimes.

Big browns are lurking in all parts of the river but tend not to feed until dusk.

If you see one in the middle of the day and it’s uninterested in a drifted nymph, try stripping a wet fly or spinner past its nose.

This nearly always gets a good reaction out of them.

At dusk a whitebait or bully pattern is sure to pick up these moochers.

Watch for the cruisers in shallow too, since they can be caught by tossing a nymph in-front of them.

Since the river is very low at present smaller flies and longer leaders are a must.

Your line will catch quite a bit of weed, especially after hooking a fish.

This can be worth the risk when you bank a good trout.

There are a lot of grey mullet in the lower reaches which can be confusing to many people.

If they are blueish silver and you can see extended pectoral fins, it is not a trout you are looking at.

Rainbow trout are much darker on the back and will sit much lower to the bottom also.

I caught nine fish (eight rainbow and one brown) on the lower reaches of Tukituki, the other day drifting nymphs to sighted fish.

The best: a hen brown a shade under five pound on a Black Bead pheasant tail.

Southern Tukituki Tributaries (Tukipo, Mangaonuku)

These rivers have had very low flows but will still hold fish if there are cold spots for the fish to sit in.

A long leader and a dry dropper with size 16 – 18 nymphs will take fish if you are particularly stealthy.

With a bit of rain, the streams have double the amount of water now and are well worth a look and with more on the way these can fish quite well.


With river levels at an all-time low it can be perfect for jumping on the main Mohaka.

You can find the fish with much less water to search through.

At 8m/sec the river is about as low as it gets.

The recent rain pushed it up to about 15m/sec, but it is now falling back down once again.

There have been some very good fish landed lately in spectacular condition, mainly on dry droppers or double nymph rigs.

Keep an eye on the shallows because a lot of fish hold in this water.

The larger fish will stick to the more defined pools. 

Nick Page, Hawkes Bay Fish & Game Officer.







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