Reel Life March 2024 - Eastern

  • Eastern
  • 21/03/2024

Reel Life March 2024 - Eastern

Cooler Conditions Bring About Change

Conditions sure have changed since last month's Reel Life, with an early autumn feel suddenly hitting the Bay of Plenty and Rotorua lakes area.  

And as if the trout have sensed the thermometer dropping, we’ve noted full-on spawning activity in the rainbows of the Rotorua streams including the Ngongotaha and Utuhina. Small groups of rainbows can be seen taking up space in the gravelly tailouts of pools where they prefer to spawn, and micro Globugs have begun to be effective again.

Upstream brown trout migrations have commenced and will only increase through April, May and June, tailing off in July. The big Rotorua browns can be targeted effectively at stream mouths with wet fly tackle, especially effective at night, or in the streams themselves. While the Rotorua stream tributary rainbows are relatively easy to catch the browns can be frustratingly cantankerous – sometimes taking small nymphs, sometimes ignoring everything you throw at them. It really is just a matter of trying different things until one opens ít’s mouth!

Shoreline fishing for returning adult rainbows will have started by the time this reaches your inbox. Big hatchery-released fish return to the shores where they were released two years earlier (or to any nearby stream), and this creates exciting winter fishing action. Remember early and late are best and rain stimulates action.

Cooling lake conditions haven’t slowed the boat fishing opportunities down at all. Surface temperatures are currently sitting about 19 or 20 degrees Celsius with thermoclines commencing about 16m. Jigging and soft baiting remain popular and effective methods in this situation.

As autumn smelt spawning begins fish will be active higher in the water column than they were a month or so back. Shallow trolling and harling becomes a preferred method especially at dawn and for a few hours until the sun gets high and the smelt move deeper. Harling and shallow trolling can be overlooked as a fun and very successful methods during spring and autumn. Rig yourself up with some light tackle and you’ll have a ball!

East Coast Streams Get a Health Check

Staff conducted health checks on several headwater Eastern Region streams recently. We were particularly interested to see if Cyclone Gabrielle and other heavy rainfall events last summer had had a serious and detrimental effect on fish populations and the habitat of the area.

Although some catchments will have been more greatly affected than others, we were pleased to see in the area we assessed, that trout numbers in most of the year classes were good.  Invertebrate populations and general habitat looked better than we had expected also which is positive for future seasons.

It reinforces that rivers and stream populations are robust and might take a hit but almost always have the ability to bounce back with time.

We’ll provide a full report in our next Fish & Game magazine.

Woman’s Introduction to Fly Fishing Course – May 2024

Tauranga Anglers, in association with ‘Women on the Fly’, and aided by Eastern Fish & Game will be hosting a tuition weekend for women interested in taking up, or learning more about fly fishing.

This two-day event will cover everything you need to know about tackle, casting, wader safety, caring for your catch etc and you’ll likely meet up with some like-minded women. Both classroom and on-water sessions are included.

Contact Jill Sweeney for more information. Limited spaces will fill fast so don’t delay.

Keep them Wet!

If you intend to practice Catch and Release then please, do it well or not at all. During our outings, we see all sorts of cringe-worthy fish handling. A quick study of popular TV shows or YouTube videos show up some very questionable fish handling, sometimes from supposedly experienced anglers. It’s really quite simple. Here are our suggestions:

  • Don’t take the fish from the water at all – if you must, make it for a few seconds only
  • Use a quality, soft, fine mesh landing net. Nets reduce handling time and allow you to keep the fish in the water (see above)
  • It’s obvious – but don’t touch the gills or anywhere nearby
  • Barbless hooks, or pinched barbs help release fish quickly
  • Don’t use woollen or fabric gloves to grab the fish around the tail – gloves grip by biting through the protective mucus layer. Removing this layer will harm the fish
  • Wet, cold hands are a must
  • If you want a ‘grab and grin’ photo for your album, get your fishing buddy ready with the camera first. Lift the fish from the water for a couple of seconds only
  • Consider not fishing C&R in waters above 20 degrees

Stress accumulates in fish so just because it swims away doesn’t mean it has survived.

New Zealand Fishing, Hunting and 4X4 Expo

It’s on again! The highly successful NZ Fishing, Hunting and 4x4 Expo will run again in Rotorua on 23-25 August 2024. This year it’s going to be bigger and better. Follow their social media to keep in touch:

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

Mark Sherburn, Eastern Fish & Game

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