Reel Life December 2021

  • West Coast
  • 19/11/2021

Reel Life December 2021

Fishing Action Heating Up

Thanks to fine weather over the last month, the rivers and lakes are really starting to fish exceptionally well.

The warming water temperatures increase insect activity and as a direct result trout tend to be more actively feeding.

Right: Seven-year-oldBirch Hayman with his Buller River brown trout caught less than 4 hours after purchasing his first fishing licence. (PhotoRick Hayman)

When doing fieldwork, we are observing that trout are now holding in the head of pools and shallow water rather than seeking refuge in the depths, so if you enjoy sight fishing it's time to get the rod out.

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Harrison Calder releasing an undersize salmon. (Photo Baylee Kersten)

November and December are also known to be the months when smelt turns up in great numbers so now with the white baiters out of the way, it’s a great time to visit your local river mouth.

We can now confirm that trout are in excellent condition with reports of chunky trout regularly coming in even despite the wet spring, but we did have a very stable winter.

High numbers of lake resident salmon and the occasional large trout have been caught recently in South Westland lakes.

Anglers are reminded that there is a minimum size of 450mm for salmon in South Westland lakes.

Perch are also very active with the lakes really starting to warm up.

No shortage of opportunities

Despite licence sales being up locally and nationally as kiwis take to their backyard, there still is rivers and lakes being neglected.

With the lack of non-resident anglers, mid-week compliance rounds have been rather lonely with only the occasionally retiree or someone on leave.

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Leo Kersten with a good conditioned estuarine trout caught last week. (Photo Baylee Kersten)

This means when anglers do get out, the fish are typically well-rested and ready to accept a fly or a lure!

On top of this trout are in great condition this season and very large trout are regularly getting caught so the fishing couldn’t be better!

Perch Fishing 101

Perch fishing during the summer can be extremely action-packed and a great family activity.

Being readily catchable makes them perfect sports fish for younger anglers with shorter attention spans to target.

To try and get more anglers utilising our fantastic perch fisheries on the West Coast, last month we put together a video, hopefully setting you and your fishing crew up for some successful perch fishing.

To view the video click here.

Upcoming Events

This year’s Annual General Meeting for West Coast Fish and Game will be held on Tuesday, December 7, 2021, at the Ashley Hotel, 74 Tasman St, Greymouth beginning at 7 pm with 6:30 pm supper.

Remember licence holders are welcome to attend, and it’s always good to have local licence holders present.

The annual Lake Brunner Fishing Competition is taking place from November 26th to 28th and as part of it, Fish & Game are running an educational family fishing skills and information session.

For more information check out the Facebook event by clicking here.

At popular request, we are looking to run another Basics of Fly Fishing Course this year.

Last year this event was a four-hour session to teach all the fly fishing basics - covering everything from casting and fishing techniques to setting up your rod and recommended beginner fishing locations.

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Juvenile trout caught electric fishing Mawheraiti River research streams. (Photo Baylee Kersten)

Rather than us just choosing a date and hoping people turn up, instead we are looking for an expression of interest and then we make a plan from there.

Expressions of interest and questions should be directed to

Field Work Update

Our first round of electric fishing in the Mawheraiti Research streams was completed this month.

The results were very pleasing with high numbers of juveniles present from this winter’s spawning.

This is the second year in a row that we have observed very high spawning success so there should be no shortage of trout in the coming years!

Although these trout currently weigh around 1 gram, they will quickly grow becoming a good catchable size in two to three years.

Summer marks the start of the annual drift dive season.

Last year’s results can be found on our webpage for those interested along with all our other reports.

If there are any experienced divers out there who are keen to assist with our drift diving programme, please get in touch with:

Hope to see you out there!

Baylee Kersten, West Coast Fish & Game Officer.

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