Mackenzie Country Canals Mid-Winter Fishing. I recently spent several weeks fishing the Twizel Canals during the latter part of May. At that time of year in the Mackenzie Country, the days are short and the air temperatures hover around zero for most of the day. During one afternoon, whilst fishing at the Ohau A intake, it actually started snowing. I don’t mind so much fishing when it is very cold but I draw the line when it starts snowing.
To stay warm you can’t beat a pair of thick neoprene waders; together with numerous layers of warm clothing. What really makes a difference is keeping your extremities from freezing. Neoprene gloves help a lot. I also wore a balaclava, which keeps the biting cold wind from your neck and face, especially with a beanie over the top. Notwithstanding the freezing conditions, the fishing went very well and I managed to catch and release several very large rainbow trout.
In recent years, the Twizel Canals have become a mecca for thousands of anglers. There are few places in New Zealand, or probably anywhere in the world for that matter, where you can go to catch large trout, of twenty pounds plus, with such a high likelihood of success.
It was interesting to meet up with anglers from all around New Zealand who had travelled to the canals including several from the North Island. I have it on good authority that anglers are also travelling over from Australia too! The chance to fish with the odds stacked in the angler’s favour is understandably a magnet for many; myself included. However, it does take a bit of knowledge to catch these fish consistently.
I have read many ill-informed comments on the internet that the canals are over-exploited. This is utter nonsense. If too many fish are being caught, which I don’t believe is the case, then it is Central South Island Fish & Game’s responsibility to monitor the situation and lower the bag limits, and improve compliance with the current fishing regulations. If the trout and salmon fishery in the canals was seriously under threat then angler catch rates would have collapsed. News of such a decline would get out immediately. This, in turn, would lead to fewer anglers bothering to fish there.
As with any sort of bonanza activity, there are going to be those who are greedy and unwilling to play by the rules. There will always be those who deliberately take more fish than they are permitted, dump their rubbish on the roadside, and totally disregard the rights of others.
On the other hand, I know there are many outstanding anglers who return again and again to the canals without keeping a single fish. There are still others who return all trout and only keep a few salmon. There are four salmon farms between the Ohau and Tekapo Canals that are raising hundreds of thousands of salmon for market. The canals are most unlikely to run out of salmon, or trout either for that matter, regardless of how many are being caught by the throng of fishermen and woman lining the banks. If you want to take your fish home to eat that’s perfectly alright too! A couple of years back I climbed up a slope near the fish farm in Ohau A to take a few photographs. I counted 450 rods from that one position alone! There were plenty of salmon around 4lbs being caught so I’m assuming there must have been a big escape from one of the pens.
Enjoy your fishing in the canals. They are a wonderful fishing resource set amongst some of the most beautiful scenery found anywhere in New Zealand.
Mackenzie Country Canals Mid-Winter Fishing. Let’s look at a few dos and don’t along with some canal fishing etiquette.
Video: Fishing the Ohau A Canal in the snow.
Photo gallery of very big fish from the Twizel Canals. Most were caught and released. Special thanks to all who have contributed.
Double tap on pics to enlarge.
This post was last modified on 01/10/2020 3:41 pm
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