The polar blast failed to dampen the enthusiasm of tens of thousands of anglers headed out on New Zealand’s rivers and lakes to kick off the start of the 2020 fishing season.
“Each year thousands of Kiwis unlock the experience of a lifetime when they buy their fishing license,” said Fish & Game New Zealand chief executive Martin Taylor.
“It can take you endless places and is only limited by your imagination with so many options of where you can fish in New Zealand.”
Fish & Game added that Kiwis stuck in New Zealand due to COVID-19 have leapt in behind the government’s call for domestic tourism and Fish & Game pitched in to help out by creating the ‘Park & Cast’ website.
This gives anglers a quick and easy resource that will put them onto locations across the country where anglers can have easy access to sustainable populations of fish for harvest.
Many of New Zealand’s premier backcountry fisheries are also open and will not be receiving the angling pressure from visiting anglers this year, so it is a prime opportunity for Kiwi anglers to get back into the outdoors and enjoy these special fisheries, Fish & Game said.
There are also some new backcountry fisheries this year around Hanmer Springs and Lake Te Anau, read to be explored by Kiwis. To fish a designated backcountry fishery, licence holders only require a licence endorsement, which they can get from the Fish & Game website.
On Lake Opuha in South Canterbury, Fish & Game met angler Neil Marett, who was taking his grandchildren Blake and Holly fishing. Blake had early opening morning success with a lovely brown trout, but Holly was still persevering when visited by Fish & Game.
Meanwhile, in the Ohau Channel in the North Island, angler Gary Coker was happy with a couple of trout for the smoker and also the camaraderie of Opening Day with being out with mates and giving each other a bit of stick.
Fish & Game Eastern Region’s rangers were also stationed at the many boat ramps and on the lakes in boats to check on the days fishing.
“Boat ramp surveys let us weight and measure catches, talk with anglers about their day and check that everyone has a current fishing licence,” said Fish & Game’s Matt Osborne.
Fish & Game reported the trout from lakes Rotoiti and Okataina were in great shape with size and condition at least matching the 2019 opening day. Lake Rotoiti’s two-year-old hatchery released rainbows averaged 2.23kg, which was almost exactly the same as this time last year. Lake Tarawera’s fish hadn’t grown as well.
“Anglers were happy to be out on the region’s lakes, and despite it being a bit chilly, the weather was fine for the day. I think lots of fishers were just happy to be out there fishing with friends and families, the catch was a bonus,” said Osborne.
The opening’s biggest recorded fish was an impressive brown trout weighing 4.6kg caught in the Ohau Channel by Auckland angler Mr Fikret Chinassi. Lake Rotoiti produced a rainbow tipping the scales at 3.75kg and Lake Tarawera a rainbow of 3.6kg.
Anglers are also reminded to take their camera with them, as Fish & Game will be running their annual fishing licence photo competition starting in January.
With $4000 in prizes up for grabs and the winning photo going on next season’s fishing licence, it is one of New Zealand’s most lucrative photo competition prizes.