Reel Life April 2024 - West Coast

  • West Coast
  • 26/04/2024

Reel Life April 2024 - West Coast

Winter Fishing Season Kicks Off

The winter fishing season starts on the first of May and with it brings some great fishing.

Don’t let the cold or being limited in water choice put you off as what is still on offer is fantastic!

A lot of the larger West Coast lakes are still open and with the water temperatures being much cooler the trout tend to be more opportunist feeders and fight much harder than over summer.

The lower and mid reaches of most large rivers are also open, and like the lakes, good fishing is to be had.

The calm weather typically experienced over winter on the Coast and little snow melt often results in rivers flowing low and clear.

This makes great sight fishing for the trout and with little angling pressure, they don’t often hesitate when presented with a fly or lure.

Above: Julien Lopez with a salmon caught in a West Coast River this season.

Ensure when you do head out this winter that you check your fishing spot against the regulations to ensure when you bump into a ranger the only thing being given out is friendly fishing advice.

A Few Tips For Winter Fishing

  1. Find a location that is open year-round to trout fishing!
  2. Be attention-seeking. Beaded nymphs, glo bugs and bright lures/soft baits all work well over winter.
  3. Cover a lot of water. Trout densities will be lower in most locations given some will be off spawning so keep moving.
  4. Be visual. With low calm clear conditions try to sight fish to increase your odds.
  5. Fish deep. Trout will be deeper with spawning behaviour and limited insect life.
  6. Wrap up warm, if you’re not comfortable when fishing you’ll struggle to fish well and won’t have the patience sometimes needed with winter fishing.
  7. Target trout where streams and small rivers enter large rivers and lakes. They will congregate in these areas during spawning runs.
  8. Fish where and when the water is warmer, fish feed more when their metabolism is higher. E.g. Following rain, where warm streams enter water bodies and, in the afternoon, rather than the morning.

Angler Feedback Wanted

For the 2024-25 season the West Coast Fish & Game Council are proposing to expand the system from the Upper Karamea and Mokihinui rivers to include four additional Reefton fisheries.

We are seeking feedback on this proposal and have prepared this survey for completion.

You can read more about the Designated Waters being proposed and complete the survey HERE.

Your time and input as an angler will allow us to best manage the resource from now and into the future.

Fieldwork update

Staff have been busy doing salmon compliance, with regular visits to South Westland over the last two months.

From what we have seen and heard; it was a tough salmon year, but a few have been caught and the population appears to be recovering.

We will be starting our salmon spawning counts very shortly so it will be interesting to see how that goes.

Compliance has been pretty good, but a few non-resident anglers have failed to grab a licence and now have a much better understanding of our court system.

Staff and volunteers braved the cold water this week and competed a late-season drift dive on the Mawheraiti.

It was fantastic to see plenty of good-condition fish preparing to go spawn with above-average counts at both sites.

Staff also completed their final electric fish of the Mawheraiti recruitment research sites and were pleased to find the juvenile trout have done well with the cooler summer we have experienced this year.

Hope to see you out there!

Baylee Kersten, West Coast Fish & Game Officer.

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