Reel Life January 2023

  • Nelson/Marlborough
  • 24/01/2023

Reel Life January 2023


After a prolonged hot period, many of our rivers are heating up from the middle of the day onwards.

Catch and release anglers are advised to think about fishing the early part of the day, then either calling it off at around midday or heading to rivers with cooler temperatures.

With little rain on the horizon, there could be some challenging fishing ahead on some rivers.

Once the water temperature goes beyond 20 degrees, we advise you stop fishing: any fish caught have an unrealistic chance of survival if released.

If you’re taking a fish or two home for tea, then this is less of an issue

Having a water thermometer is a really valuable asset: they’re cheap to buy and you can learn a lot about how trout respond to water temperature.

Above Right: After a day of fishing a warm river, Shannon Aram found a cooler river and enjoyed plenty of success.


Drift diving season is in full swing, and staff are making the most of the clear water and low flows to monitor the state of our fisheries.

Recently, the Riuwaka River was dived at three sites, and trout numbers were slightly down on previous years.

The river had changed a fair bit with winter flooding, and in places, some good holding water had been lost.

There was also fine sediment entering into the river from a couple of tributaries, which made spotting fish difficult, so it may be the case that a few fish were missed due to poor clarity.

Staff will be undertaking annual electric fishing surveys in the North and South Branch shortly, monitoring juvenile trout numbers as well as native fish abundance.

Riuwaka drift dive 2023


Mark Jowsey

Mark Jowsey with a Motueka fish from the Club day

Recently, the Nelson Trout Fishing Club held a club fishing day on the Motueka.

On typical club days, experienced anglers are paired with less experienced anglers, so there is a flow of information passed on to the newer angler.

The Motueka River is a river that is initially difficult to learn, but once you unlock its secrets and understand its vagaries, then your success rate will markedly improve, and you’ll enjoy fishing this great river even more.

Around a dozen anglers hit the Motueka on a warm and sunny day, perhaps too warm as the water temperature was already high on arrival.

While some anglers did pretty well, there were stretches of water that held few fish, likely due to the high water temperatures, where fish would have likely sought thermal refuge in cool water areas (groundwater flow, cooler tributaries).

If you’re still learning how the Motueka ticks, consider joining the Nelson Trout Fishing Club and mixing with some great anglers who are more than willing to part with their knowledge.


The Lake Argyle tag comp is in full swing, and at the time of writing, over half of the tags have been handed in, and half of the prizes won, including one of the lucky $500 fish.

Most will be pleased to know that there is still a $500 fish swimming in the lake, as well as some other great prizes.


Licence holders are encouraged to have their say on the future management of any of Marlborough’s waterways they currently utilise for fishing or any other form of water-based recreation.

Following on from the Government's release of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020, Councils are required to identify, through community and Tangata Whenua engagement, the values, visions and aspirations for freshwater in the region.

Feedback from this process will be used to guide the management of Marlborough’s freshwater resources into the future.

Fish & Game encourages as many licence holders as possible to take the time to go onto the Marlborough District Council's website and complete one of the survey options there contained under the “Freshwater Management Marlborough” section of the website.

Fish & Game will also be doing this on behalf of licence holders, but there is a real risk thatFish & Game valueswill be significantly diluted by the myriad of other values the Council are now required to identify within surveys.

If as many licence holders as possible take the time to participate in this survey, then additional weighting may be placed onactivities such asfreshwater fishingand game bird hunting,and hopefully improved future protection of thesevalues.

While we generally agree with Council’s “freshwater management boundaries”, it is unclear to us at this stage how much value weighting will be placed on the nationally significant sports fishery values in rivers such as the Wairau versus other values council are now required to consider and manage waterways for, including “commercial and industrial use of water”.

The easiest way is to make an online submission, which you can do here:

Tight Lines

Jacob Lucas, Nelson Marlborough Fish & Game

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