Reel Life January 2024

  • Southland
  • 19/01/2024

Reel Life January 2024

Terrestrial tips 

The heat of summer brings out the big bugs and trout dine out on them as they are an energy-efficient meal.

‘Terrestrial’ is defined as anything land-based, and when anglers refer to ‘terrestrial flies’ they are generally meaning large fly imitations of land-dwelling bugs. Such as cicadas, blowflies, stimulators, hoppers, beetles etc.

These insects land on the water, either by a misplaced landing or are blown in by the wind and make a ready meal for a hungry trout.

As these insects naturally land with a splash and trout will often travel a reasonable distance to take one - they can be very forgiving for a novice fly caster as the cast doesn’t necessarily need to be delicate or accurate.

This type of fishing is great for prospecting likely-looking water where you suspect trout might be holding – an undercut bank, near an overhanging willow tree or a likely riffle or foam line.

Simply drift the fly past, then take a couple of steps upstream and repeat. Working a section methodically like this can be very productive.

No luck? Then tie a small dropper nymph below it, trout may come to have a look at the terrestrial but decide against it, preferring the safety of feeding subsurface.

A sunken willow grub pattern would be a good choice for this time of year.

Terrestrials can also be fished subsurface. Remember these are land-based insects who aren’t suited to water, so they can sink when they are waterlogged.

Spin anglers can also fish these flies by using a bubble. It could be drifted down likely runs or cast from a lake edge and left for a trout cruising past.

Fishing large terrestrial flies is highly visual which makes for exciting fishing.

About Right:  A cicada certainly provides a protein-rich meal for trout.

Junior anglers should get amongst it at McGregor Pond

Pierce (6) with a well-conditioned rainbow caught at McGregor Pond recently while holidaying in the Te Anau basin.

We’ve heard recently that there have been good catch rates at McGregor Pond.

So, if you’ve struggled to get younger anglers hooked up, then this could be worth the trip.

Every year Fish & Game stocks this pond in the lead-up to the ‘Take A Kid Fishing’ event held over Labour Weekend.

Last year, 200 rainbow trout were released and only 32 were caught during that event.

So, combined with surviving chinook salmon from previous year’s releases, there is a reasonable population of fish to be caught.

The fish spend most of their time cruising the bottom, so your lure or bait needs to be fished deep.

Spin anglers should be using a lightweight lure, around 7 grams, or soft-baits with a 1/12 or 1/16oz jig-head.

These should be retrieved slowly so that they remain in proximity to the bottom.

Bait anglers could use either a weight or float.

The weighted rig has the bait tied from the bottom of a sinker, like that demonstrated here.

The floating rig swaps out the sinker for a bubble and then has a trace of around 2 metres between the float and the hook.

This allows the bait to be suspended in the water and present naturally.

Southland regulations allow the use of molluscs.

So, Southland anglers can use squid and mussels which are both effective and easy-to-use baits.

To get to McGregor Pond, turn into McGregor Concrete near the bridge over the Whitestone River from SH94 Te Anau Mossburn Highway, then follow the Fish & Game signage.

Continued access improvements 

Southland Fish & Game Field Officer Ben Febery puts the finishing touches on a new access stile.

Fish & Game staff continually work to improve angler access to our fisheries.

This takes many forms… opening new accesses, improving signage, cutting & spraying weeds from tracks, building stiles and it also includes our online access maps.

Basically, anything that makes it easier for anglers to get to the water.

Most noteworthy, is the erecting of stiles at two of our most iconic locations - Cattle Flat & Nokomai - and at one of our most used locations - the lower Oreti River near West Plains.

This section of the Oreti River is prone to flooding and our signs and accesses had taken some punishment, so staff recently gave it all a refresh.

We encourage you to drive along the Taramoa-West Plains Road to see the ready accesses to such a productive and nearby fishery.

A map with all of Southland’s access points can be found here -

Summer staff addition – Blake Harper 

Blake has joined the Southland Fish & Game team for January and February while on break from his university studies.

He’ll be based in Northern Southland and will be catching up with anglers in the area.

He has some survey questions, so please be helpful with responses as these will inform our management decisions.

He has hit the ground running, which is in no doubt due to his background.

He grew up locally in Winton, is a keen fly and spin angler, has worked in other Fish & Game regions, and was heavily involved in an eel research project here in Southland for Fish & Game.

Please welcome Blake and we look forward to his many contributions.

Tight Lines,

The team at Southland Fish & Game

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