Travelling to the Best Fishing Spots
It has been a very interesting couple of months for me recently. I’ve been fishing all over the South Island. One week I’m trout and salmon fishing in the Twizel Canals and the following week surfcasting at Kaikoura. Then, it is off to the mouth of the Rakaia River followed soon after with a bit of surfcasting and kayak fishing around Nelson. One thing I can say is that the South Island has more than enough great fishing to keep any keen angler occupied.
I have also noticed when travelling around that lessons learnt in one place can often be applied somewhere else, and even to different types and styles of fishing. A change of outlook makes a big difference to the numbers and species of fish you can catch. Angling knowledge tends to build up over your lifetime! There is always something new to learn; even if it is just learning about what doesn’t work!
One message I would like to pass on is that successfully catching fish in these diverse places is all about learning from the locals; and being prepared to try new methods, tackle and techniques, rather than just doing the same old things and using the same old gear. Nowadays there are plenty of new things to try to improve your fishing experience. Gear like soft-plastics, braided lines, and sit-on-top kayaks open up a world of new fishing opportunities that you may not have considered in the past.
The sit-on-top kayak isn’t exactly a new idea. However, if you have always been shore-bound the relatively modest investment in one of these kayaks opens up so much water that would otherwise have been impossible to fish. In many cases, this could be water that you have frequently driven right past.
At Kaikoura or Banks Peninsula fishing access is difficult without a boat. The coastline is rocky and often has kelp close-in making rock fishing and surfcasting difficult. Being able to paddle out just a couple of hundred metres, or even much less, changes the whole dynamic. At Kaikoura’s Goose Bay, in particular, the water is very deep just offshore. If you can get out there you can catch species like sea perch that you can’t catch off the beach or rocks.
Safety is a very important consideration with kayaks and you should start out by only going out fishing with other experienced fishing kayakers. This is not only safer but you also get the chance to learn from them first hand about the best ways to fish, which species to target, when and where.
Kayaks are also very useful for lake fishing. The kayak, especially if you have a modest sounder, makes it possible to find and target trout and landlocked salmon, in deeper water. You can also access lake edges that have the bush to the shoreline. On the South Island’s West Coast dense bush makes fishing from shore almost impossible in most places.
A kayak on the roof of your 4×4, car, or van, makes it possible to fish areas you wouldn’t even consider if fishing the shoreline on foot. Often the best fishing is difficult to access even when it isn’t that far to travel.
Fishing around the South Island is quite diverse. In Canterbury, most of the really good fishing is for trout and salmon. Close to Christchurch, this means sea-run trout and Chinook salmon at the river-mouths from spring through into summer. However, if you are prepared to travel a bit further there are other sorts of really good fishing to be had. Head to the Marlborough Sounds and Nelson and there is the chance to catch snapper and kingfish.
Over summer it is possible to target albacore tuna off the coast of Kaikoura. This coastline is excellent for boat fishing over summer for a wide variety of species. Many anglers spend their Christmas holidays at Kaikoura targeting blue cod and groper, not to mention perch or the vast schools of kahawai and other species. The sea fishing at Kaikoura is vastly superior to that off Canterbury.
Over recent years fishing for trout, and salmon in the Twizel Canals has become very popular. There are four salmon farms operating on the Mackenzie Country Hydo Canals. Huge numbers of very well-conditioned Chinook salmon are trapped in these canals. They represent some of the best freshwater fishing in the South Island. Even though the Twizel Canals are a long way from anywhere else in New Zealand the exciting fishing is worth the effort to get there.
If all this travelling around isn’t your thing when it comes to fishing; it is at least worth considering if you haven’t tried it before. My advice is to allow at least three or four days to try out the fishing in a new area. It takes time to find your feet. The best idea is to try a bit of camping without being in a big hurry. It also pays to study up on the fishing in different places before you go so that you have the right gear when you get there and also have a good idea of where to start and the best methods to fish.
Think a bit about going fishing somewhere new, or perhaps try fishing for trout with soft-plastics, or if you are really adventurous get a fishing kayak. If you are in a fishing “rut” why not try a different fishing angle this summer and head further afield to the best fishing spots!