Reel Life April 2023

  • Nelson/Marlborough
  • 19/04/2023

Reel Life April 2023

Above: The Branch/Leatham can produce great fishing in May.

Late Autumn Opportunities

While the regular season is all but done, there are still some great opportunities out there to put a bend in your rod. 

Besides our popular augmented stillwater fisheries like Waimea Park and Lake Argyle, which fish well through the winter, fishing the open lowland rivers can still yield decent numbers through May. 

While some fish have begun their upstream migration to fulfil their spawning duties, fish that haven’t yet commenced their runs are still suckers for a fly or softbaits, especially on a warm day when fish feeding activity is evident. 

Notably, many medium-sized (1.5-2.5lb) fish have not reached maturity, and some exciting fishing can still be had targeting this cohort.  

The Branch & Leatham can be fished up until May 31 and is a top angling destination to try. 

Our observations and feedback from anglers are that these rivers get a fair bit of use during May, and it is fantastic to see anglers making the most of this extended season that was introduced a few years ago. 

There is no need to hit the water too early, May is a frosty time of year in these steep-sided valleys, and it takes a while for the water to warm and the fish to activate into feeding mode. 

It’s worth reminding anglers that around 100km of mainstem river is available for the Wairau River (below Wash Bridge), as well as 20km on the lower Motueka (below Peninsular Bridge) and 28km of open water on the Rai/Pelorus (the Rai can be fished all year below the Carluke Bridge and the Pelorus from the Rai confluence downstream). 

We have been hearing reports of some good fishing on the Pelorus River this season, with some good catches of rainbow trout, which is great to hear considering the August flood event. 

Pelorus Drift Dive

The Rai/Pelorus were the last dives carried out for the season. 

While the Rai was pretty poor in terms of fish numbers seen (and habitat quality with high sediment load), the Pelorus had an unexpectedly good result. 

This dive was at a new site which was first completed in 2021, and is located above Dalton’s Bridge – a popular angling beat. 

The graph below shows a total of 17 large browns and 28 large rainbows, significantly higher than the 2021 count. 

However, numbers of medium-sized rainbows roughly quadrupled to 80 fish, meaning there were 130 medium/large ‘catchable’ rainbow and brown trout over the 1km beat – good odds indeed if you were flinging a few lures around. 

Predictably, fewer small trout were seen – they are the first to go in large-scale flood events. 

300 small rainbows were seen in 2021 and 60 this year. 

It is great to see the resilient nature of this fishery, considering the big flood. 

It is apparent to staff that nearly all of the juvenile trout that are abundant in the Rai/Opouri before Christmas drop down into the mainstem Pelorus (below the Rai confluence).   

Big Catch at Waimea Park

Smiles all round with Conrad’s trophy fish from the ponds.

A recent Kids Fishing Event was a success, with most kids catching a fish, and to cap it off, a 4.6kg fish was caught by a young angler by the name of Conrad. 

Conrad had been to an event three times before without success but more than made up for it with this huge fish. 

You can see Conrad is absolutely delighted with his catch, and so are a few of the guides that were there on the day. 

Thanks to the Youth Sports Fishing Trist for putting on these iconic and very special events. 

Tight Lines

Jacob Lucas, Nelson Marlborough Fish and Game.

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