Lake Sarah and Lake Grasmere
This the first trout fishing lake 2km along the Craigieburn Road headed south-east from the small township of Cass. The lake is easy to spot being next to the shingle road. This is grand alpine country and one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand.
Lake Sarah is one of the smallest lakes in the Pearson Group at just 20 hectares. It has been set aside as a fly fishing only water. Although small in size it has a deserved reputation for producing the odd fish over 3kg although most would be little over 1kg.
There are both browns and rainbows in the lake. This water is surprisingly deeper than the landscape suggests. There are patches of Raupo around the shoreline blocking access here and there but there are plenty of good casting spots.
Given the water depth anglers fishing a sunken lure or nymph might consider allowing extra time for their line to sink before retrieving. Recommended lures include; Olive or Brown Woolly Buggar, Mrs Simpson, and Hamill’s Killer. Small wet flies are also worth trying. Interestingly in New Zealand Fishing Flies by the late Robert K. Bragg the author makes reference to Canterbury lure patterns being used to fish the Canterbury high country lakes. Patterns like Hopes Silvery, Orange Witch, and Brunton No.1 can all be used to good effect when fishing the high country lakes though you might want to tie them in smaller sizes!
Popular and effective dry flies for Lake Sarah include: Coch-y-bondhu, Black Gnat, Peveril-o-the-Peak, Red Tipped Governor, beetle and cicada imitations around January and February have also proven very effective.
Regulation Change In September 2011 North Canterbury Fish & Game announced that the use of non mechanically propelled vessels is now permitted at Lake Sarah. It means you can now fish in Lake Sarah from a float tube, dinghy or kayak provided you use oars or paddles only. Motors are not permitted.
The fishing season runs from the first Saturday in November to 30 April. There is no winter fishing extension. The bag limit is 2 trout per day.
Video: Lake Sarah…Exploring New Water in 2016 by Kevin O’Hanlon. All tackle in this video supplied by the Fisherman’s Loft, Christchurch.
Lake Grasmere is a smallish 65-hectare lake with easy access from SH73. It is about 1.5km long by 500m across at its widest point. It is approximately 3 km further up the road from Lake Pearson. Turn at the Wildlife Refuge sign into the paddock and walk down a gentle slope some 600 to the lake. It used to be possible to drive down the track but not anymore! This is an attractive trout fishing lake with thick bush on the very steep hillside opposite the access track. The shoreline is quite swampy in places.
Unfortunately water quality can be poor at times probably due to the high numbers of visiting birds on the lake. The fishing is good and the lake is recommended both as a dry fly and spin fishing water.
Lake Grasmere contains both rainbow and brown trout with most fish averaging between 1 – 2 kg. Though there are certainly heavier fish taken. As is the case with other Canterbury high country lakes, the food supply for trout is not plentiful and consequently, trout do not grow quickly or to a large size. Strange as it might seem I am reliably informed that several decades ago a brown trout weighing 14 lbs was taken from Lake Grasmere on a Tasmanian Devil spinning lure!
Lake Grasmere is a top Canterbury dry fly water. Popular and recommended dries include: Adams, Kakahi Queen. Various Manuka Beetle imitations are effective around Christmas and throughout January when, as with most Canterbury high country lakes, these insects fall on the water in huge numbers. First light is the best time to fish beetles before the trout have had their fill. When the lake is calm a very small size 12 or 14 Cock-y-Bondhu can bring about the desired result otherwise the fishing gets harder in the middle of the day.
Damselfly patterns are particularly effective from January to early March when they will be willingly taken from the surface by rising rainbows.
Favoured lures include: Mrs Simpson and Hamill’s Killer fished on a sink tip line. Try a small Muddler Minnow or Black Pete fished close to the bottom as the sun sets.
Recommended spinning lures include: green, brown or gold Tassie Devils. A No.10 green Johnson’s Kobra fished slowly over the weed is also a top producer. Though not as popular as they once were a black and gold Toby retrieved in a quick-slow motion over weed-beds is a sure-fire winner for both browns and rainbows. Also effective are blade spinners such as Mepps and Veltics. These can be cast out over the drop-offs and allowed to sink well down before beginning a slow retrieve. Both are proven fish takers at Lake Grasmere.
Regulation Change In September 2011 North Canterbury Fish & Game announced that the use of non-mechanically propelled vessels is now permitted at Lake Grasmere. It means you can now fish in Lake Grasmere from a float tube, dinghy or kayak provided you use oars or paddles only. Motors are not permitted.
The fishing season for Lake Grasmere is from the first Saturday in November to 30 April. There is no winter fishing extension. The bag limit is 2 trout per day. Both fly and spin fishing are permitted.