Lake Pearson, Canterbury High Country Trout Fishing
Lake Pearson is one of the upper Waimakariri River lakes. It is situated some 125 km west of Christchurch in the Southern Alps. State Highway 73, the main road to the West Coast, runs past the western shoreline. The lake is named after Joseph Pearson, who was the first European to explore the Upper Waimakariri River area. At 195 hectares it is the largest of the Pearson, or Waimakariri, trout fishing lakes. Lake Pearson is 28 km past Lake Lyndon which is the first lake in the group on the way from Christchurch.
Lake Pearson is shaped like an hourglass. It provides easy access from the nearby highway and easy walking around most of its shoreline. There is the odd bit of scrub and prickly matagouri around the shoreline but is mostly barren tussock country broken by a few willow trees. It should be possible to find a good spot somewhere around the shoreline to avoid the worst of the howling nor ‘westerly wind which so often can be an annoyance when fly casting on Canterbury’s high country lakes.
The fishing season for Lake Pearson is from the first Saturday in November to 30 April. The winter fishing season extension is from 1 June to 30 September. The bag limit for Lake Pearson is two trout and two salmon. The two permitted fishing methods are spin and fly fishing.
The lake contains brown trout, rainbow trout, and mackinaw (lake trout or North American Char). The latter are difficult to catch and are quite small in size weighing less than a kilogramme. In North America, mackinaw grows to over 10 kg but unfortunately, conditions for them in Lake Pearson are not ideal. There isn’t enough food for them to grow to a large size and the lake water heats up too much in summer and is too shallow.
As with all of Canterbury’s high country mountain lakes it can get very cold in winter with many of the lakes freezing over partially or completely.
Fishing from a dinghy or kayak, that is not being mechanically propelled, is permitted on Lake Pearson. Harling or casting from a small craft of this type is very relaxing and is sure to improve your catch rate.
There is a very basic Department of Conservation Camping Ground at Lake Pearson (Moana Rua). Camping there is free of charge. The only facilities are toilets and a place to pitch a tent.
Fishing from late evening and into the night with dark-coloured lures can be very effective for taking cruising brown trout which come right into the shallows after sunset. The best lures for this are Black Rabbits, Black Pete, or a Black Woolly Buggar.
For spinning tackle, I suggest you try a black and gold Toby, Glimmy, or small Zed Spinner, a No.10 Johnson’s Kobra or similar.
Flies: Coch-y-bondhu, Love’s Lure, along with green beetles and cicadas in summer. If lure fishing, try a Muddler Minnow, Black Pete, Olive Woolly Buggar, Hamills Killer or Mrs Simpson in the smaller sizes. The lake is also a good spot to try a luminescent lure at night if you are so inclined.
Check Your Fish & Game Booklet
Lake Pearson with Peter Langlands
Stalking. Stalking the edges of Lake Pearson early season is an exciting way to catch fish. The Flock Hill bank and the northern end of the lake are very open areas, so a careful approach is critical.
The crack of dawn is the best time, as Flock Hill Bank is a popular spot for stalking trout. The shoreline next to where the Craigieburn stream trickles into the lake is worth checking out by blind fishing with a small Hare and Copper nymph. You should carefully fish the edge, then wade out to waist level to allow you to place your nymph over the emerald green weed beds. The trout often cruise the edge between the shallow stony lake bed and weed bed.
When the Norwest breeze blows over the lake, the beetles and other flotsam will be concentrated in a distinctive lane. Fishing at dusk over the shallows along the lake’s northern shoreline with a marabou lure is also effective. Pearson is suited to a variety of fishing methods.
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