Reel Life May 2018

  • Northland
  • 23/05/2018

Reel Life May 2018

We’ve got a simple message as May rolls into June and the start of winter…there is still some terrific fishing out there!

The temperatures may be falling but in many parts of the country, spawning runs are only now cranking up.

Trout often hang round stream mouths waiting for the “right time” to migrate upstream to spawn.

These fish can be very aggressive and a brightly coloured lure or streamer can be just the trick to spark a strike.

Oh, and did we mention the rivers and streams are much quieter than at the height of summer when anglers were competing for space at popular spots?

In the Rotorua lakes district, nearly all the fisheries remain open until the end of June when some upper reaches of rivers close to protect spawning trout, and the famed lakes, Tarawera, Rotoiti and Okataina, close to boat-based fishing.

In the South Island, many lakes and rivers remain open through the winter, with the added bonus than many lakes offer land-locked salmon for the angler.

In Southland, Lake Te Anau and Lake Manapouri offer great fishing, as do Otago lakes like Wakitipu and Wanaka.

And of course, if you’re chasing monsters, the Central South Island’s famed hydro canals are a must visit destination.

We risk jinxing things by saying that in the current mild weather, there was never a better time to go fishing…

A correction to last month’s Reel Life where we got the name of the president of the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers wrong. The president is Graham Carter.

P.S. Thanks to David Hay for the photo of his three year-old grandson Luther, visiting from the U.K., with his first catch on the Kawarau River near Queenstown – a nice 3lb brown.

P.P.S - If you think you've got a freshwater fishing image worthy of featuring on our 'cover', email it to Richard Cosgrove for consideration. (

Creasy's Column - By Hugh Creasy

Opening weekend of the game season came and went, and the boom of shotguns died away with hardly a repeat of the opening morning fusillade. All that remained were a few errant decoys washed up on the river bank when heavy rain took hunters by surprise. On a mid-week morning, with the air clean and fresh, and the river obligingly subsided, a venturesome angler peered out at the rising sun and felt the urge to wet a line.

The hunt for ducks kept sensible anglers in their beds, or at their fly-tying vices devising new ways of capturing their chosen prey.

(Continue reading here).

Fishing News

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Fish & Game has welcomed the government’s intention to develop a new national plan to halt the decline in water quality and improve rivers, lakes and streams. The Environment Minister David Parker says a new national plan is being developed to manage freshwater quality. It will be compulsory for regional councils to follow the plan. Fish & Game’s Chief Executive Martin Taylor has applauded the move. Click here

Around the Regions


Christine Goodhue good condition trout kayak winner 2018

Christine Goodhue with some good condition trout and the winner of the lucky draw Kayak at the 2017 competition.

2018 Kai Iwi Lakes Trout Fishing Competition

It’s that time of the year again when we hold our annual Kai Iwi Lakes trout fishing competition. Make sure you save the date of the 7th And 8th July 2018 into your calendar.

Flyers and tickets are available from Nola Sports Dargaville and McCoy & Thomas stores in Whangarei and Dargaville and on the Fish & Game website.

The ticket prices are: $50.00 per adult.

As part of our “Take a Kid fishing” programme, juniors and children are FREE to enter but they must register and they must be accompanied by an adult.

We are looking forward to seeing you and your family all participating in this great event.

We appreciate the support of our sponsors for making this fun family event happen.

Check out our website for tips on how to catch your competition winning trout.



Matta Daniel with a nice
Arapuni Rainbow

Plenty of big fish to be caught this winter

It has been an amazing season with plenty of happy anglers and big fish but It’s not over yet.

Despite the occasional monsoon rains disrupting plans, the anglers that made it out have been happy they did.

Fisheries manager Adam Daniel has fished the Whanganui and Lake Arapuni recently and boasted “my nine-year-old caught two rainbows over four pounds in less than a half an hour on Lake Arapuni and I had a monster straighten my hook out on my fist cast into the Whanganui last weekend”.

Fish are beginning to move into position for spawning so it’s a great time to start to fish around the lower reaches or the mouth of spawning tributaries.

Please be respectful of our spawning fish and keep in mind early spawners will be in some of our rivers prior to the season closing so avoid wading in spawning gravel or disturbing spawning fish.

Spawning fish can also lead to poaching so please be vigilant and don’t hesitate to report poaching to Fish & Game (07) 849-1666.


20180424 102209

A typically well conditioned rainbow from Tarawera this season.

Winter spawning runs are well underway with promising fishing occurring at the stream mouths and fish release points around Rotorua.

Our Te Wairoa trap run is well ahead of this time last year so expect good fishing to continue around the region.

To date, the fish we’ve seen have been in excellent condition perhaps as a result of good food availability during the autumn smelting.

Boaties have experienced excellent catch rates too on Tarawera and some really solid fish on Rotoiti over the last few weeks.

The Ngongotaha took a serious hammering during flooding on the 29th of April but has recovered remarkably well and was fishable again within a week.

Eastern Fish & Game are on Facebook here, and Twitter here. Follow us and we will endeavor to keep you updated on regional events.


RL May Urewera 3

Nice rainbow caught by Alex Meban in Uruwera country.

Regular autumn freshes are keeping the winter fishing reaches of ringplain streams in great condition and the current warm conditions and lack of snow on Mt. Taranaki means trout are still in feeding mode.

Lake Mangamahoe is continuing to produce some nice rainbows.

The lower Kaupokonui Stream is also well worth a visit, as is the Manganui River downstream of Bristol Road Bridge.

TRL1May18. A winter season lower Kaupokonui rainbow photo Alan Flynn

A winter season lower Kaupokonui rainbow
(photo Alan Flynn)

Unfortunately, the Stony River has again been affected by an erosion event on the mountain and the pools are currently full with sand.

The lower Waiaua River below SH45 at Opunake is in a similar state.

Up in the Ruapehu district, the main-stem of the Manganuioteao River downstream of the Makatote River confluence remains open until the end of June and fly fishing with a weighted 2-nymph rig, or spin fishing should produce fish.

From 1 July, only the section downstream of Ruatiti Road Bridge remains open and spin fishing in the pools adjacent to Rautiti domain will be a good option.

The Mangawhero River downstream of Raetihi-Ohakune Road Bridge is another Waimarino fishery that will be worth a visit in the winter season during periods of stable flow.

Hawke's Bay

Insert HBRL May 2018A

A couple of nice rainbows
caught on Lake Tutira.

Headwaters close on the 30th of June

Remember the tributaries and upper reaches of the Tukituki, Waipawa, Ngaruroro, Mohaka, Esk River and many of the smaller streams and rivers close on the 30th of June.

There are still plenty of rivers and streams that are open for winter trout fishing. These lower reaches offer plenty of opportunities to fish the lower reaches of these rivers.

The lower reaches of the Tukituki, Ngaruroro, and Tutaekuri rivers provide great winter fishing with some nice size fish.

Anglers usually use nymphs or small wet flies with good success in these reaches.

Winter Lake Fishing

Although we only have a few lake fisheries, the fishing in Lakes Waikopiro and Tutira have been good with some sizable trout being caught in both lakes.

For those who enjoy a little time in the bush the Twin Lakes usually fish really well throughout the winter.

Although the brown trout do not get very big, there is plenty of action and the scenery is hard not to enjoy.

Fill Your Fly-tying Box Up with Feathers

Most people think that the game bird season is for hunters, but keen fly-tyers know that this is the time to talk to duck and pheasant hunters and ask them to save the feathers of the birds they harvest.

Game bird hunters are usually generous with fly-tiers.

This is also the time to get a few coveted pukeko feathers for your fly-tying kit.

Most hunters do not regularly target pukeko but if they know you are in need of feathers, they are willing to shoot a couple for you.


Spawning rivers and streams close from the end of April until end of September to protect the spawning fish and habitat.

But some rivers remain open all year round and can often be very rewarding.

Arapaoa Moffat released this lovely fish caught on a dry fly, Waikanae River.

Popular rivers still open for fishing include the Hutt and Ruamahanga rivers, and large parts of the Rangitikei River.

These rivers take a bit to become dirty so they’re always a good option throughout the winter season.


Staff have just released 153 rainbow trout into Lake Argyle, with a few going in to the lower canal below the dam.Argyle release1.jpg 2

NMIT student David Stephens with a double

Some of these fish are whoppers too (right) , with a few in the 4.5kg (10 pound) range, and plenty around the 3kg mark!

This was entirely funded by Trustpower as mitigation for the recent desilting and dewatering of the canal, which saw around 300 trout rescued and relocated to nearby waters.

We encourage anglers to have a go at Lake Argyle while the weather is settled and the fish in top condition.

Argyle 10 pounder3Bear in mind, though, that fishing the headrace canal above the powerlines is off limits until the new season begins on October 1.

Argyle 10-pounder.

This is to allow trout the chance to spawn without disruption.

Also, keep on the lookout for another release which is scheduled to coincide with the July school holidays.

If you’re impressed by the double digit fish that have just gone into Argyle, wait until you see what another two months of growing will do for the next lot of fish!

North Canterbury

North Canterbury

The main fishing season has drawn to a close but there are still some areas that are open during the winter months.

Some recent restrictions were introduced to winter fishing due to concerns over the resource, so here's a reminder of areas that are open to fishing:

There are two high country lakes which are open all year - Loch Katrine and Lake Sumner.

In the low country, there are The Groynes fishing lakes and Lake Courtenay for junior anglers only.

Other lakes that are open all year round to all anglers are:

  • Lake Forsyth
  • Kaiapoi Lakes
  • Monopolies Pond
  • Lake Rotokohatu
  • Lakes Coleridge, and Lyndon are open from the June 1 to August 31.
  • Lakes Pearson, Selfe and Taylor are open from the June 1 to September 30.

For the rivers, the Rakaia, Waimakariri and Ashley have an open winter season (May 1 to September 30) upstream of State Highway One to the western zone boundary for trout only, and this is catch and release. Fishing for salmon is not permitted.

For the Hurunui and Waiau Rivers, there is an open winter season (May 1 to September 30) from the mouth to the western zone boundary for trout only, and this is also catch and release. Once again fishing for salmon is not permitted.

West Coast

Many of the lower river reaches remain open for anglers during the winter months, along with the majority of the larger lakes.WC Many of the West Coast lakes are open for fishing during the winter months

Many West Coast lakes are open for angling.

The lake fisheries are probably the best option for winter angling.

During periods of settled winter weather, the lakes are a great place to be.

Even during the winter months trout can be seen cruising the lake edges and are often found rising early in the morning.

The Hokitika and Whitcombe rivers remain open during the winter mouths providing anglers with back country opportunities.

They are also one of the few catchments in the West Coast Region that hold a healthy population of rainbow trout.

The Grey River is another good option for winter fishing; it is open up as far as its confluence with the Clarke River, offering plenty of productive water downstream.

Central South Island

Not unlike Turangi and the Tongariro River, anglers are drawn from all corners of the world to Tekapo and Twizel to fish the Mackenzie country canals in winter.

CSI RLmayCSI18 Zane Levett and his canal rainbow from winter 2017

This photo isn't photoshopped! Zane Levett and his canal rainbow.

The drawcard for the Tongariro is the spawning run of lake fish.

There isn’t so much of an epic run in the canals, but the fish do get aggressive and feed opportunistically on spilt eggs around spawning time.

For this reason, fishing the canals in winter can be dynamite.

Don’t get fooled into thinking it will be all sunshine and lollypops though, the Mackenzie basin can get as cold as negative 22°C.

Your line will freeze, your rod guides will freeze, and your finger dexterity will be rendered null and void.

The next day could be balmy though…

The canals are all open year-round for fishing along with several large lakes including: Benmore, Tekapo, Ohau, Tekapo, Aviemore and Waitaki.

June the first heralds the opening of several handy “winter season” options in the CSI Region.

Our year-round fisheries are all confined to the high-country, so the winter season provides some handy local lowland options again.

The winter season applies to these rivers downstream of their State Highway One bridges: Ashburton, Rangitata, Opihi and Waitaki.

There is also a winter season for lakes Hood and Alexandrina.

Please do closely read the winter season regulations as they're more restrictive in terms of methods and bag limits.

Please click here to view the online version of the regulation guide and inform yourself of all the winter regulations relevant to your fishing activities.


Rainbows at their best

Autumn and early winter is a great time to catch rainbow trout in wonderful condition.

They will have emerged from the summer flush of food with adults now in peak fitness for their spawning duties ahead.

All the tributary deltas of the main glacial lakes are ideal places to fish especially at dusk when trout regularly feed and prepare for upstream migration.

A drizzly evening with a falling barometer is highly recommended.

Fly’s or lures with red and orange will be effective and as the light diminishes change to darker patterns.

Last season anglers reported some superb fishing from the Upper Clutha River during June and July with many rainbows weighing in around 3kgs.

Good luck to those of you that continue to fish through the winter, Reel Life will commence at the start of the 2019 season.


Trout around the region will certainly be in spawning mode at the moment, with many fish now in their spawning tributaries which are closed to fishing.

However, there are always a few trout that decide not to spawn, or are too young to do so, and these fish are available to the angler in certain lakes and river sections.

RL May Southland Photo 1 SOU

A late season brown caught in the lower Oreti, a great year-round fishery.

At present, key places to target are the mouths of streams that flow into our lakes.

Both brown and rainbow trout often hang out near stream mouths at this time of year waiting for the right time to move into their chosen spawning tributary.

While waiting for the ‘right time’ to migrate upstream to spawn, these fish can be very aggressive, and a brightly coloured lure or streamer can be just the trick to provoke a strike.

Some notable Southland rivers, streams and lakes that are open for trout fishing all year include the:

  • Aparima River from the Thornbury Bridge to the Sea
  • Oreti River from Invercargill Highway to the Sea
  • Mataura River from Gorge Road Bridge to the Sea
  • Waimatuku Stream downstream of the Rance Road Bridge
  • Lakes Te Anau, Monowai, Manapouri, Thomas, Henry and Mavora (North and South).
  • Photo : “Super happy” Lisa with her first trout, a lovely rainbow, caught on the second cast of the day at Lake Te Anau.

Make sure to check your regulation book before any winter fishing trip.

Trout caviarRL May Southland 2 trout caviar photo 2 SOU

Chances are, if you decide to keep a trout at the end of the season, if it’s a hen fish, it will have eggs in its abdominal cavity.

Have you ever tried eating these eggs?

If not, you should because internationally trout caviar is considered a delicacy.

Trout caviar on crackers – a delicious snack.

Trout caviar is also super healthy because it is loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids.

To prepare trout caviar, all you need to do is remove the membrane that surrounds the eggs and put about a teaspoon onto a cracker either plain, or with cream cheese – yum!

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