Reel Life March 2024 - Hawkes Bay

  • Hawke's Bay
  • 21/03/2024

Reel Life March 2024 - Hawkes Bay

March is seeing some fantastic Trout being caught, particularly in the Tukituki and as the heat of summer subsides, the stress on the fish will lessen and their condition will continue to improve as they prepare for spawning, so it’s an ideal time to head out and spend some quality time in nature.

Catch & Release

Catch & release is now a popular method for anglers and the rise of the selfie has been sparking some recent discussions on local social media.

It may seem a simple process, hook the fish, reel it in, pick it up for a quick snap and place back in the river to swim away.

However, this will probably see the fish die a short time later due to the stress that’s been inflicted and with our river systems already in recovery we can’t afford to lose any more fish because of poor handling techniques.

These can include damaging the layer of protective slime that covers the fish by picking it up with dry hands or using net bags that are made from cotton or nylon and are abrasive (if you are going to be practising catch & release switch to a net with a soft rubber mesh bag).

Do Not drag the fish up onto the bank.

All fish have delicate gills, and their internal organs are not protected by a sturdy rib cage like ours. Don’t stick your fingers into the gills, and never squeeze a fish while attempting to hold it or you will injure the fish.

So to practice safe catch & release so the fish lives to swim another day follow these simple steps:

  • Use a net as described above, and keep the fish submerged at all times while removing fly and barbless hooks will cause much less harm.
  • Make sure the photographer is ready before you lift the fish from the water.
  • Get as close to the water as possible before lifting the fish.
  • If you are alone, cradle the fish half in/half out of the water with one hand, and shoot a few close-up pictures with your digital camera with the other hand.
  • For larger trout reviving the fish before releasing is very important as they have probably been played to the point of exhaustion. Hold the fish facing into moderate current so that cold, clean water naturally rushes through the fish’s mouth and over its gills. In the summer, when the water is warm, properly reviving the fish is critical. When you revive a trout, don’t do it in warm backwaters or sloughs off the main river. Revive it near riffles where the water is as cool and oxygenated as possible.

As the fish regains its strength, its gills will work faster, and you will feel the fish struggle to get away.

When the fish feels strong, allow it to slip behind a rock or along the bank where it has some shelter from the current. Do not release a weakened trout or other fish into fast water.

Handling a fish as little as possible and limiting its time out of the water have always been the main tenets of catch-and-release fishing. If you follow these basic steps, the trout will likely survive to provide a little excitement for the next fly fisher who comes along, and to propagate the species for future generations.

Summer Satisfaction Survey

We are looking for your feedback on your experiences over this season. This feedback will help us plan for the future and provide valuable insights into your angling habits over time. All information is anonymous and kept confidential. To show our appreciation you can enter the draw for a $100 Rivers to Rangers voucher after completing the survey. Winner will be drawn April 30th 2024.
Click here to take the survey


Planning is underway for next season's fishing regulations and licence holders are invited to provide feedback on proposed regulation changes.

The HBFGC are proposing that the bag limit will be increased to 2 fish/day and to remove restrictions on fishing methods and allow bait to be used by all anglers in Hawkes Bay.

The reasons behind this are to encourage more people to the sport by simplifying regulations and increasing the chances of success for inexperienced anglers by using the wide range of baits now available.

Please provide any feedback to

Tight Lines

The Team at Hawkes Bay Fish & Game

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