Winter is highly overrated … roll on October 1st and the upcoming New Zealand trout fishing season.
Water, water everywhere …
In my 2017 newsletter I suggested that good river levels and a benevolent 2017 winter would probably mean a great start to the 2017-18 trout fishing season in our patch of New Zealand. So it proved to be. When asked how things were progressing up to the New Year, I replied unequivocally that, “it was our best trout fishing season in years”. Rivers were holding plenty of well conditioned trout and turning on some great catches. A long spell of beautiful weather from late-October saw water levels dropping steadily. By early-January the rivers around the Top-of-the-South Island were running at more like ‘mid-summer-low-flows’. We actually started praying for a decent rain.
That all changed on January 12th when we got way more water than we’d asked for. The first of a series of cyclones arrived and played havoc with our weather … and our rivers. From mid-January through until late-February we were battered by three different cyclones and several other significant flood events. Around the region rivers flowed full for the rest of the season, at times making for super challenging fishing conditions. The climate-change soothsayers absolutely got my attention!
When the going gets tough, the tough get going …
However, ‘Trout Fishing’ is what we do and I truly admired the spirit my anglers brought on occasions when the prospects for the day appeared far from perfect. Despite the horrible weather, they fronted with resolve and mostly we caught fish in spite of some testing conditions. It’d be fair to say we didn’t always ‘knock ’em dead’. In-truth we experienced more blank days in the latter half of this past fishing season, than I’d expect from a couple of full seasons.
However, even with all the high water, we found some surprisingly excellent dry fly fishing and regularly caught our share of very fine trout. Compared to most years, double-digit trout were few and far between around these parts. However, while we didn’t quite crack the magic ten-pound mark, we still managed to land some big, healthy and beautiful trophy fish.
… all’s well that ends well
As the weather settled in late March and April, the plentiful flows and cooler temperatures prompted a lot of late season fish movement, particularly in the Nelson rivers. Fishing mostly dry flies and nymphs we managed to put together plenty of fun days with a regular flow of feisty trout to the net. We often had the water completely to ourselves, which was a bonus.
The latter half of the 2017-18 trout fishing season won’t go down as my favourite, for sure! Ultimately it rated as probably the toughest fishing season I’ve guided in 38 years. However, even with the terrible weather and challenging river conditions, this tough season proved to me that our area can still provide plenty of fishing opportunities and a pretty damn good angling experience, whatever nature throws at us. The key to catching some stunning trout was in the angler’s attitude and determination … always has been … always will be.
“A trout is a moment of beauty known only to those who seek it.” – Arnold Gingrich
Booking Opportunities for the 2018-19 Trout Fishing Season
So, how’s it all looking here for the new season commencing in only a few weeks? It’s been a wet winter in the upper South Island and while many rivers are all still running high, the weather in the last few weeks has finally started to settle. Thankfully there have been no truly serious floods and the high water will have helped the recent spawning season. Trout are now returning from their spawning activities and some nice fish are being caught in the lower reaches of the likes of the Motueka and Pelorus rivers, which are open to angling all year. There’s still a good snow pack on our mountains which will ensure reasonable flows well into November. Once again I’m hopeful for a positive start to next season. I can’t wait to get back into some of our more remote and beautiful backcountry streams.
My guiding calendar of Available Dates is looking pretty full through until the end of January. However, there is one really good pre-Christmas time-slot still available from November 25 – December 5. Get in quick if you are interested … this is prime time for the Coloburiscus mayfly hatch. Throughout February and March I still have heaps of good space and I’m really looking forward to filling most of that over the next couple of months. Give me a call (+64 274 732483) if you want to come and fish during what many anglers consider the ‘peak of the season’.
“The solution to any problem … work, love, money, whatever … is to go fishing, and the worse the problem, the longer the trip should be.” – John Gierach
Important Licence Information for Non-Resident Anglers
The Non-Resident Licence (NRL) category is now a well established requirement for anglers visiting from overseas. A Non-Resident is defined as a person who is neither a New Zealand citizen nor a permanent resident (more details here). The cost of a NRL Adult Full Season Licence for the coming trout fishing season will be NZD$169.00. This is the best option for visiting anglers who intend to fish for five or more days.
Anglers anticipating fishing any of the following rivers; Travers Rv, Goulter Rv, Upper Wairau Rv, Upper Matakitaki Rv or the Karamea or Mokihinui River Catchments, will also need to apply online for the Backcountry Licence Endorsement. This costs nothing, but is in addition to your Full Season fishing licence before we can fish in these areas.
This coming 2018-19 trout fishing season sees the introduction of Non-Resident One Day Licences. The cost for an Adult has been set at NZD$34.00 per day . This is a good option for anyone who anticipates fishing for less than five days during their visit to New Zealand. Day licences are valid for a specified 24 hour period only and are not transferable to other dates.
Non-Resident Licences are available for Adult, Junior and Child categories and Fish and Game Licences cover all of New Zealand except the Taupo Region.
Outstanding Motueka River
The Motueka River is our most important local fishery, providing easy access from Nelson to productive waters along most of its fishable length. Recognised as one of New Zealand’s premier brown trout fisheries, Fish and Game drift-dive surveys this last summer showed that trout populations in the ‘Mot’ have rebounded to levels not seen since the early 1990s. This bodes well for anglers visiting this upcoming trout fishing season.
The following is an excerpt from the Nelson-Marlborough Fish and Game Councils Annual Fisheries Report for the 2017-18 season:
” The Motueka fishery was outstanding this season, which didn’t surprise Fish & Game staff, but certainly did some of the anglers who fished there on a good day. It was commonplace to hear of anglers attaining highly respectable, and in some cases exceptional, tallies of fish – particularly in the medium sized cohort. The hype was verified in our annual drift dive count, which, despite the ravages of Cyclone Gita on the lower river, saw the best counts since the halcyon days of the mid 90’s when some say the Mot was last in its prime.”
A Significant ‘Milestone’ … Cheers
It’s hard to keep a good Toyota down. The 6th March 2018, marked a significant ‘milestone’ (… well kilometres actually) for my faithful Toyota Landcruiser. The old campaigner ticked over 500,000 kms. Fittingly my angler on the day, Andrew Tillard from the UK, was a good mate of old friend and past customer Philip Farrer, who originally sold me the ‘cruiser. Benchmarks like these call for a small celebration in recognition of many respectable trout fishing kms and a ‘job well-done’. A host of good memories … and the odd occasion when we got stuck trying!
Cheers to the next 150,000 kms at least … that might even see the both of us out!
“It is impossible to grow weary of a sport that is never the same on any two days of the year.” – Theodore Gordon