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Go Chase the Big Ones this Weekend, says Fish & Game

Thursday 20 October 2011, 1:41PM

By Fish and Game NZ

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Trout fishers have been urged to make the most of the holiday weekend – to target more of the top-condition fish caught in a great start to the new season.

With some good weather forecast we expect a good turnout of anglers on most of the Eastern Region lakes, says Fish & Game Officer Matt Osborne, “chasing more of the big fish in fine shape we’ve already seen.”

The new fishing season began on the first weekend of October with Fish & Game officers measuring over 1000 fish caught on the three big Rotorua region lakes (Tarawera, Rotoiti and Okataina) – up to four kilos (8.8 lbs) in size.

The opening produced some of the best fish in years, and Fish & Game is confident that healthy catches will continue. “Since then we’ve seen a continued flow of good fish from across the lakes, so we hope the best fishing is yet to come.”

The biggest from opening was a four kilo fish from Rotoiti but there have also been several around the 3.3kg mark from Tarawera, and fish of 3.5kg from Okataina. The largest so far has been a meaty 4.5kg brown trout hauled from the Ohau Channel.

Matt Osborne says Lake Tarawera has been producing fish in very good condition – in contrast to the state of the fish caught at the start of, and in the early part of last season.

“Tarawera has long been regarded as a trophy fishery due to the large fish caught there, and with its scenic qualities an added bonus. But the lake has recently gone through an up and down period, that we believe is due to changes in lake productivity.”

We also expect plenty of large fish to be caught on Rotoiti and Okataina over the summer period, Matt says. “They are lakes which really fire when the thermocline (‘feeding zone’ between layers of warm and cold water) forms in summer.”

Spring is also a great time for anglers wanting to try some of the other lakes in the region. “Lakes like Rotoma, Rotoehu and Rerewhakaaitu also fish very well in the early part of the season, and with spring smelt spawning, and increasing insect life, there are some great opportunities to be had around the region.”

At this time of year there are reports of fish being seen or caught closer to the surface. If fish are rising, try harling (shallow trolling). “ Fishing where the fish are congregating will obviously give a better chance of good catches,” Matt advises.

“Some fish caught will be thin, darker-coloured recovering fish which have spawned recently, over winter, and are still packing on condition. The better eating fish can be identified by their silver colour and rounded shape”

Fish & Game’s recent surveys have turned up plenty of satisfied anglers. On the weekend of October 15th and 16th Fish & Game Officer Nigel Simpson checked 13 boats on Lake Tarawera, weighing and measuring catches.

Only two boats had no fish on board and others had up to five per boat – the largest a 3.3 kg rainbow – but a number of others ranged from two to three kilos and were in good condition, Nigel says, and were caught mainly using lead lines with up to ten colours out or jigging.

“Fishers were generally happy – observing that the fish were better than last year, in condition and size-wise.”

On Rotoiti catches from another 13 boats were checked and most had fish on board. “Everyone was catching something – but no one was catching a lot.”

The biggest fish weighed in was 2.8 kgs with most fishers either harling or trolling lead lines, with jigging not working quite as well.

Reports of good fishing have also come in from the East Coast. Eastern Region Fish & Game Councillor Murray Ferris says he was “extremely nervous” about the state of the fishery earlier, but happy to be proved wrong.

One angler in his sixties who’d just fished Lake Waikaremoana reported it was “as good as he can remember – back to when he was a kid,” says Murray.

Positive feedback had also come from anglers fishing rivers on the East Coast, he says. Lots of fishers turning out had caught a good number of fish.

Fish & Game Officers will be out checking catches and fishing licences this weekend, and they urge anglers to check with them on any regulations they’re unsure of.