Gone fishing: New waters need extra thought

PETER SCHUTT
Last updated 10:17 13/01/2014
Mia Raikes
Don Scott

STARTING YOUNG: Mia Raikes, 4, of Rangiora helps her dad catch fish at the mouth of the Waimakariri.

Daniel Ager
Cate Broughton
GOTCHA: Daniel Ager with his catch during the NZ Salmon Anglers Association fishing competition at the Waimakariri River.

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The fishing water you are holidaying beside might be quite different from your normal fishing spots, but basic fishing principles remain.

Check your tackle before you go near the water. You can usually assemble the rod and reel at your campsite or at the car, but leave your terminal tackle selection until you inspect the stream bed or edgewater conditions.

There is no point in tying on weighted nymphs if you are going to be fishing over a shallow weed bed. And neither is there any point in tying on a 7g Zed spinner if you are going to be fishing a deep pool that features fast flowing water. Your lightweight tackle won't get down to the fish.

The trick is to match your terminal tackle to the flow and water depth so that it works in a realistic manner in the bottom 20 per cent of fishable water.

If that sounds complex, think about it this way - unless you see trout regularly rising to the surface, assume your fish are near the bottom.

There is good reason for this. Trout spend endless hours feeding. Most of the feed originates among the stones or the weed attached to the stream or lake bed. Skimming spinning tackle through the surface water will more than likely frighten feeding trout and they will probably seek stone fly or mayfly nymphs on the stream bed instead.

There are exceptions , but generally you will catch more fish by fishing the bottom 20 per cent of the water.

If you are fishing over a lake weed bed, choose nymphs that have enough buoyancy to remain just above the weed, otherwise you will spend all day clearing the tackle.

If you are not familiar with the river or lake you are about to fish, approach it slowly to avoid spooking unseen fish. Do what the guides do, and stand quietly back while watching for shadows in the bed of the water. Often it's the moving shadow that gives away the position of the fish.

Your shadow will spook trout too, so consider your casting position carefully.

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On February 8 the annual Lake Mapourika fishing competition is held over three days. The contest is run by the South Westland Lions Club. This is a great social competition to take part in.

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Take your under 18 year-olds for a day's fishing at Lake Lyndon and providing they have the appropriate licence (free for under 12 years and $24 for under 18 years) they have the chance to win a prize if they catch a tagged fish. The tagged fish were released into the lake for the December Take a Kid Fishing event. Present the yellow spaghetti-shaped tag to North Canterbury Fish and Game to get a prize.

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As always, salmon fishing has been subject to river conditions, but right now some anglers are remembering that the 2012/13 season runs died away in January.

Obviously that's something nobody wants, but it's a good enough excuse to encourage you to get out with the salmon gear, now.

Trout anglers have not seen such a good season for years. At one stage pre-Christmas there were upward of about 2000 prime trout in the lower reaches of the Selwyn River. Was that because the lake had been open for quite some time?

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Who knows, but suffice to say it has resulted in magnificent fishing opportunities.

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Pre-Christmas, cray pots off Kaikoura often included 40 or 50 crays. It has been a good indication that the quota system is working well.

For many, crays are ultimate in piscatorial pleasure, but looking forward there is another delicacy to come.

The recent establishment of the Kaikoura Salmon Enhancement programme will see 15,000 50-gram fry released into the stream just 200 metres from the main street.

According to Kevin Duncan, a spokesman for the group initiating this new freshwater resource, the fry will be a year old when released in May.

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The only outdoor recreational activity with greater participation than fishing is gardening, and when you look around the South Island's rivers and lakes it is obvious there's plenty of room for more anglers. We particularly need young anglers who have been guided by experienced anglers to observe the ethics and etiquette of the sport.

North Canterbury Fish and Game is focusing on encouraging young anglers and as general manager Rod Cullinane says, in today's society many children are missing out on the opportunities to discover the joys of angling and game bird hunting.

The organisation has developed a youth programme as a pilot study for other regions and the facilitator is North Canterbury Fish and Game councillor and chairman of the New Zealand Fish and Game council Peter Robinson.

He's a former Canterbury primary school principal and says five key pillars will provide a solid foundation for young anglers to enjoy the sport.

The five pillars are: Fish in Schools; Take a Kid Fishing; Teach a Kid Fishing; role models and mentors; creating greater awareness.

Robinson says two youth ambassadors are already involved in endorsing freshwater fishing as a "cool", exciting, healthy and rewarding, and Sticky TV has programmes planned. (see facebook.com/FishandGameNZ).

- The Press

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