New Zealand Fishing Seasons
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The increased warmth
brings the onset of cicadas, always a good thing!
Terrestrials such as
grasshoppers are also prone to drop into the rivers and streams once the weather
heats up. The dry/nymph combo of an orange Stimulator and a Hare’s Ear along the
overhanging banks is a good choice.
Along the lake margins,
trout are aggressively cruising for spawning minnows such as Bullies
and Smelt (like anchovies) in shallow water.
Often, they can be seen in 3-4 inches of water, dorsal fins above the surface as
they hunt their prey. Use a small bully, smelt or koura imitation – and a
floating line is often a better choice than a sinking, for fast lifts and
re-casts. Best time is mid-morning, once sun reaches above the trees and gives
the best angle of penetration for superb visibility. Some fish will also take a
close look at a dry fly/nymph combo. Try a small horned caddis, water boatman,
or snail on the dropper, and cicada, or big black gnat above.
Water temperatures climb
as levels drop. Fish may become lethargic, and many will seek respite in cooler
river and creek mouths, where higher oxygen levels combine to make life more bearable. At
times, trout will congregate in large numbers in the first 200-300 yards of
water upstream from river/stream mouths.
Stealth is a prerequisite
for success in all waters. Fish have been disturbed by trolling boats, swimmers,
water skiers, jet skis and other anglers, and are often easily spooked.
Coastal River mouths are also
frequented by kahawai (aka Australian salmon) throughout summer, and a session of saltwater fly fishing
for these is an experience no one will forget in a hurry! For the uninitiated, a
kahawai is a silver torpedo with the highest power to weight ratio of any fish
in New Zealand waters! Weighing 4-8lbs, they are fast, acrobatic and savage
fighters. On light tackle, they are a handful, and make wonderful sashimi!
March, April, May
March may be the best
month of the year…. Weather is usually good,, insect numbers at their peak,
and trout are in superb condition. The fishing is more difficult, due to the
abundance of food sources, and the low, clear waters levels. However, this is a
great time to explore the back country rivers, and "being there" is
often more important than how many fish are actually caught. A good opportunity
to hone stalking skills, and presentation and equipment must be meticulous for
consistent success. Small flies, long leaders and fluorocarbon tippets all
become more important!
brings the end of the main season, and all spawning rivers and streams close.
Most local anglers pack their rods and tackle away, and oil up the shotgun –
duck season starts on the first Saturday in May! Depending on location/weather
the trout migrate upstream to spawn, and numbers do drop noticeably along the
lake margins. However, the observant duck hunter might note with interest that
there are still trout jumping all around the duck blind or mai-mai.
The pleasures of
autumn/winter fishing are shared with few others. In fact, it is most unusual to
meet another angler on the riverbanks!
Cold and wet as it can be, the
fishing can be excellent despite being constrained to a narrower range of
waters. Actually, we often have long periods of settled weather with frost
followed by brilliant fine days. Those who brave the frosts, or the winter
rains, can have unexpectedly good results. Lots of fleecy clothes, chest waders
and warm jackets can make this time of year one of the best. On
one wet and windy day in August 2001 a lady guest caught & released 10 fine
trout, and another 5 the following day!
I personally think winter fishing
on the West Coast offers hugely underestimated opportunities! The same guest
referred to above had been pleased enough with her 1-2 rainbow per day on the
Tongariro, prior to arrival at Lake Brunner. She was ecstatic after a couple of
days of West Coast winter fishing.
Spring: September, October, November
Spring usually delivers
the wettest weather of the year, but the fishing action heats up throughout the
region. Spawning trout have returned to lakes and rivers, and are hungry. Lack
of riverbank activity for several months has lowered alertness levels, and this
combination can make for great spring fishing. Raincoats, chest waders, and a
broad-brimmed hat are effective antidotes to the erratic spring weather.
September can produce
great results for those trolling the lake. Use a Tasmanian Devil a yard or so
behind a lure e.g. Hamill’s Killer etc. The Tasmanian Devil should include
red/gold/black, or try a black Toby. Traditionally, those lures which are
predominantly gold, with red on the head, and with either black stripes or
spots, seem to catch more fish…. As observed over 40 years of fishing the
The annual whitebait
season commences locally at the beginning of September. These anchovy-like fish
run into the coastal rivers and streams from the ocean, bringing with them lots
of opportunist sea-run brown trout. Fishing for these sea-run browns is great
fun, as they are feisty, fat and fun on the fly! A sinking line fished down and
across at 45 degrees, with a Grey Ghost, Doll Fly, Taupo Tiger, Silicon Smelt
etc is the best method.
October 1st is the
opening day of the new fishing season!!! After 5 months of zero angling
pressure, all the smaller rivers, streams and lakes re-open. Fish are much more
approachable, less wary, and are in great condition, feeding avidly. The weather
can be a challenge, in many years the worst storms and heaviest rainfalls can be
in the springtime.
Zealand Fishing Seasons
"Guide to NZ