Reel Life April 2023

  • Eastern
  • 19/04/2023

Reel Life April 2023

All Change!

This time of year normally sees gradual changes occurring in fish behaviour and conditions. However, shorter, cooler days in April have prompted a rapid change with early season runs, surface smelting, and some cracker condition trout occurring.

Cooler, wet conditions are probably the cause. 2022/2023 will be remembered as the summer we never had. For trout fishing enthusiasts, the lack of warmth combined with high and coloured rivers made for a testing time. 

Brown trout (Above) usually start running the Lake Rotorua tributary streams in April. Small numbers at first, then increasing in May and June. This year we’ve seen good numbers of browns already, and many of them are fully coloured up and in spawning mode. As mentioned last month, they aren’t easy to catch. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of making dozens (maybe hundreds) of casts; other times, they will take the first fly they are offered! And again, don’t dismiss the idea of a large wet fly swung on a sinking line. It’s a method that has been known to produce some really big fish, browns and rainbows.

Winter shoreline fishing action to spawning rainbows has commenced on Rotoiti, Tarawera, Okataina and Rotoma. Ruato and the Pipe, and the Landing and Te Wairoa stream mouth at Tarawera are producing nice fish. Nighttime action at the Okataina beach, where the water level is extremely high, won’t be far off.  

The lakes too have cooled, with surface temperatures currently sitting at about 16 degrees. This, too, has been a rapid change. Fish are suddenly actively smelting on the surface and much less visible below 25m. Jig and softbait methods remain successful, with the latter perhaps coming up trumps, but you’ll need to be actively fishing mostly in the 15-20m zone. Shallow trolling or harling works well in these conditions also, and any rig from straight monofilament with a Tassie Devil right through to a couple of colours of lead line, which will get you down about 3m, should hit the mark. Try the Gisborne Point area on Rotoiti, Humphries Bay on Tarawera or Dogger Bank on Okataina. Light-coloured (smelt-like) Tassie devils in tandem with a grey ghost or Jack’s sprat fly will do the trick!   

This is also a great time to explore one of the smaller Rotorua lakes like Rerewhakaaitu or Okaro. One couple Fish & Game spoke with had had an absolute ball trolling at Okaro recently, reporting several double hook-ups from a standard two-lure trolling rig! Rerewhakaaitu also fishes well in autumn and winter, either trolling or fishing from the shore, and good access is available from Brett and Ash Pit Roads or the Rerewhakaaitu Domain. A Rotorua Lakes brochure with access information and fishing tips can be found here

Game Bird Season Opens Saturday, May 6th

The opening of the duck season is scheduled for May 6th this year. Several hunting locations are also popular for angling. We suggest anglers stay clear of duck hunting locations on the weekend of the 6th and 7th of May. These would include lakes Okaro, Rerewhakaaitu and Ngapouri and the Waikato hydro lakes. 

River Fishery Assessment

A number of east coast rivers and streams were subjected to high flows and heavy siltation during cyclone Gabrielle. When conditions allow, we will carry out assessments of the state of these fisheries, fish populations and key environmental factors. In some cases, this work won’t be able to take place until next summer once silt has been washed through catchments and river conditions have stabilised.

Trout are amazingly hardy and have evolved to handle the toughest of floods. Our team took a look into some coastal BOP streams during April and were pleased to see several size classes of trout, stable stream beds, good insect populations and suitable water quality readings.

Mclaren Big Fish release

Twenty trophy-sized rainbows have been released into Lake McLaren. Raised in display ponds at the Ngongotaha hatchery, the release is in addition to the 1,500 yearlings stocked into McLaren each season. Mclaren, near Tauranga, has easy access and is a great spot for a family fishing outing and picnic.  

Datawatch tagged Trout

Tagged trout can now be entered online. Entries go into the draw to win one of 20 free whole-season fishing licences:

Eastern Region Fishing Diaries – All lakes and streams
Fill in your fishing diaries here to help us manage the Eastern Fish & Game region. Participants go in the draw to win a $100 voucher from Kilwell:

 Tight Lines

Marc Sherburn, Eastern Fish and Game.

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