Although we have had a large amount of rain over the past few weeks, temperatures have been very mild, so mild in fact that the water temperature of the shallower lakes has started to rise already. Lake Rotorua has risen one degree over the past week or so. Over the next couple of months there may be a fluctuation in water temperatures but there will be a small but steady increase as we head towards summer.
This increase doesn’t mean an end to this winter’s great fishing any time soon, rather a slowing up of available spawning fish over much of the area. Notable exceptions will be the lower Ngongotaha and Waiteti streams, where rainbows tend to run up to spawn all year round. The one stand-out stream at the moment is the Utuhina where large numbers of fish can be seen spawning downstream of the Devon Road Bridge.
Some anglers were disappointed by the lower than expected numbers of fish in the Ngongotaha Stream after the heavy rain of last week. I suspect that most of the fish moving upstream would have continued to move upstream due to the huge volume and speed of the water coming down the Ngongotaha. Severe damage, by way of slumping banks, can be seen from Ngongotaha Village right up past the Agrodome and this could cause this stream to become discoloured very quickly after any future rain event. A sinking line and large dark coloured fly is best used when these conditions prevail.
The Waiteti Stream has suffered similarly but tends to clear quickly enough not to affect the fishing in the lower reaches. With settled weather over the past couple of days this stream is back to its normal clarity and the fish have become spooky. More rain is forecast however and that should bring fresh rainbows in. The main challenge at the moment is the high number of spent fish returning to the lake to recover.
Reasonable numbers of fish are still being caught off what is left of the beach at Lake Okataina as well as the one remaining jetty. A floating line, long trace and a woolly bugger accounted for a few fish over the weekend, when anglers put long casts diagonally from the shore. Large rainbows have been seen cruising around the jetty as well as within the weed cordon during the day and have been caught using the heave and leave method. The heave and leave method is not restricted to those fly fishing either and can be successfully used by those who prefer spin fishing.
The challenge is not to have one’s sinker drop too far into the weed so that the floating egg pattern is not visible. Last week one angler landed two fish within an hour. The first, a hen, weighed in at 10.5lb and the second, a jack, weighed in at 11.5lb. Both were caught on by the heave and leave method.
With Lake Rotorua being fairly full, access to the area outside of the Ohau Channel is very restricted for those without a boat of some kind. There are a lot of fish holding outside of the closed area, in fact up to at least 100 metres out into the lake, so it is worthwhile anchoring up and casting a grey ghost or woolly bugger across the current and allowing it to swing. A slow retrieve upstream should bring some excitement if fish aren’t caught on the swing.
Apparently there are quite a few fish up at the spring so there must be fish moving in from the mouth. It may be worth a fish out in the lake after dark if the wind direction is suitable. Doll patterns in any colour should work prior to the moon coming up later in the evening. After moon rise use woolly buggers that have a little tinsel tied in at the tail and a floating line.
Rainbows are still coming into the Wai iti, Transformer and Café streams as well as parts of the Dump, casting a line on change of light or after dark will be more successful than during the day. Most days the wind has been from the Nor-west and reasonably strong at that end of the lake so there is the chance of a lot of floating weed coming in to shore.
Thankfully Lake Rerewhakaaitu is one lake where spawning runs later than many of the other lakes. With the high lake levels most of the traditional access points are restricted to a few metres in width, with some not accessible at all. School Arm is one area that still has a significant amount of access to the water and good quality rainbows can be caught there almost any time of the day.
The black woolly bugger still reigns supreme as the main fish catcher, though other flies catch there as well. After dark almost any lumo fly seems to catch well. The other are that is fishing well most of the time is the boat ramp at Homestead Arm. Heave and leave booby or egg patterns as well as slow to medium sinking lines when coupled with a black woolly bugger, work there.