Opening Day for trout fishing saw us have a taste of westerly winds, with bags well up on previous years.
I fished Waituna Lagoon along with three friends. There were ten vehicles, all with trailers at the top of the lagoon car park, with another ten boats out of the water as well. It was good to see that the water is getting back to its old self, with the fish being in the best condition we've seen for many a year. A few more openings to the sea will help even more.
Whitebait catches have been slow in most rivers. We were told of one 40kg catch out to the west. Trout are chasing the 'bait and smelt on the incoming tide. Silver smelt imitations by the likes of Rapala and Cobra are worth trying. Gold-black is working for spin fishermen upstream. Most waters still have a little colour, so fly-fishing has been hard. The weather change just prior to the opening saw most lakes rise quickly, flooding dry margins. However, trout have quickly moved back into these margins, and it is well worth ambushing and flicking a fly out to cruising fish. Light tackle spinning also works in these areas.
Flounder are starting to come back in along the beaches. While a few fishermen have been sighted during daylight, we have had more success with the tide around 2.00am. Commercial fishermen had their quota raised for a few species from October 1, but the public did not get a corresponding bag increase. Blue cod still have plenty of body fat, which is unusual at this time; maybe the mild winter has helped.
Large shoals of 'bait and krill have started to appear around the outer Islands. Hopefully the Chilean mackerel will put in an appearance this year. Fly fishermen should try small pearl-flash flies tied on stainless circle hooks. For trumpeter, try a hook one or two sizes up from the mackerel hooks, fitted with more flash.
Groper will start to move back out deeper as summer approaches. Last year we had to keep on the move, as the sharks kept taxing us if we stayed too long in one spot.
Southland by Dave Craze
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