I was chatting with a friend recently about the spawning season in NZ. After giving it a little thought we realised that taking both browns and rainbows into account the spawning season is at least 6 months long. I have certainly witnessed brown trout making redds in April and I have seen rainbows still in spawning mode when their season opens in November. This is good for us winter anglers! All fish don’t spawn at the same time so throughout the winter months we can target fish which are not in spawning mode. I have heard the question posed about the ethics of winter fishing. The answer is, as long as you’re an ethical angler it’s no problem. Personally, I avoid fish which are showing the signs of imminent spawning. To clarify; fish tightly paired up, fish on redds or fish making redds.
Winter is an exciting time to indulge in your sport. Fish congregate around river mouths providing some great opportunities for the winter angler. Sinking lines and streamers are usually the best bet here. Some rivers are open year round, on these rivers you can intercept fish on their spawning run. It’s possible to have summer quality sight fishing with nymphs in the dead of winter. Most lakes are open year round and because all fish don’t spawn together there are always fish to be caught. Benmore is a prime example of this, Dunstan too; both blind and sight fishing. Winter will test you and push you as a fisherman. To be very successful, you need to be able to cast a lot of weight from time to time. Fish are often sitting in deep runs and the only way to get down to them is with weighted flies, sometimes as much weight as you can manage! I have recently added Loon soft weight to my fly-vest on Chris Dore’s advise. This stuff is great! Even if you don’t have bombs in your fly box you can add some soft weight to virtually any fly and make it go down. It has often been the difference between catching and not catching for me this winter. Casting fast sinking fly-lines is another skill that winter fishing will teach you. Sometimes the only way to effectively fish a large river like the Clutha or a deep river mouth is with a di5 or even a di7. A stripping basket is important. I like to use 7 or 8 weight fly-rods for a lot of my winter fishing which keeps my finger on the pulse for when I need to fish with heavier gear abroad. Generally speaking, there is little need for sinking likes during the warmer 6 months of the year so winter provides a great training ground. Winter fishing in NZ, as long as you push yourself a bit, will make you a well rounded, better angler.
It’s been a great few weeks fishing with friends! I’ve had plenty days on the water; river and lake from boat and bank. The photo’s and their captions tell the stories. I hope you enjoy them..
I have plenty days available for guiding this July, please feel free to enquire about winter rates or if you have any questions about bookings for next season.