New fishing season looms for 'freshwater nirvana'

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BIG FISH: 6-year-old Lucas Corson (and Dad Pete) with his hefty trout from Lake Rotorua. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
BIG FISH: 6-year-old Lucas Corson (and Dad Pete) with his hefty trout from Lake Rotorua. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

With the new trout fishing season drawing near on October 1, Fish & Game is reminding Kiwis and visitors to New Zealand to start getting ready now to enjoy the country's reputation as "freshwater fishing nirvana".

New Zealand offers world class fishing, in our lakes, rivers and streams - from the shoreline, riverbank or boats, said Fish & Game New Zealand Communications Manager Don Rood.

"In the year ending 31 August, 2016, Fish & Game sold more than 5,600 licences to non-residents - up around 20 per cent from the previous year," he said.

"The fact that thousands of anglers travel to New Zealand for all over the world is a reminder to local anglers of just what terrific salmon and trout fishing their backyard has on offer."

Mr Rood said the latest reports from around the organisation's 12 regions hint at some great sports fishing on the way as we move from spring into summer.

He urged anglers to sample the legendary Rotorua lakes if they hadn't done so - 13 no less - packed with fishing opportunities.

More than a thousand anglers are expected to turn out for the start of the new fishing season on the region's lakes, with the season start falling on the weekend this year.

It is the first time in five years the opening of the trout fishing season has fallen on a Saturday, and being in the middle of school holidays, provides lots of opportunities for families to get on the water, said Rotorua-based Fish & Game Officer Matt Osborne.

He said that adding to the fun and excitement, Eastern Region was again running a Fish for Gold promotion that gives licensed anglers who register in time the chance to catch a specially tagged fish worth $10,000.

"This sparked a real buzz last year and we're sure it will again. We'll be announcing details of the promotion and how to enter in a few days time."

Lakes Rotoiti, Tarawera and Okataina, which have been closed to fishing from boats over winter to rest the fishery, will open to anglers from 5am on Saturday, October 1.

Mr Osborne said there were encouraging indicators for the new season, including a total of 1112 fish recorded through Fish & Game's trap on a stream flowing into Lake Tarawera. The trap monitors the spawning season and provides brood stock for the Ngongotaha hatchery production.

"That's 100 fish up on the previous season and showed a ratio of 70 percent hatchery fish compared to 30 percent wild ones.

"That ratio is a good result which supports our breeding strategies and fish releases," Mr Osborne said. "It shows the need for hatchery fish to meet the pressure that anglers put on the lake."

Winter fishing on the Rotorua lakes had been steady but not exceptional, he said.

Lake Tarawera saw some big night runs of spawning fish (70-80 on some nights), and while anglers on Lake Rotoiti had not caught fish in huge numbers, some good "double figure" trout had been landed.

Several nice 4kg plus fish had also been caught from Lake Okataina.

"Open year round, trolling on Lake Rotorua has been highly productive in late winter and early spring. One visitor reported multiple double hook-ups trolling and harling in shallow water. "

Lakes Okataina and Rotoiti are again tipped to produce the biggest fish, Mr Osborne said.

Out east, Lake Waikaremoana fishing has reportedly been "quite exceptional" this winter for anglers who've found the right trolling speed.

For those anglers preferring the solitude provided by river fishing, it is also an exciting time of year. Many rivers and streams in the Rotorua district that closed at the end of June, also reopen to trout fishing.

Anglers and "wannabe fishers" are urged to go online at www.fishandgame.org.nz and start reading up their region.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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