Being the sticky beak type that I am, I thought I’d ask them a few questions and share their answers in the pages of NZ Fishing News.
The three blokes are Charles Smith (CS), Ben Booth (BB) and Dylan Booth (DB). All three are well versed in canal fishing and its various styles and techniques.
AR – Out of all the fishing techniques used on the canals, do you consider soft-baiting to be the most effective?
CS - Yes I believe so. Soft plastics are new to the freshwater scene here. The technique is so versatile, working in so many situations thanks to the vast selection of baits, sizes, colours, actions and jig heads. It’s also opened up more possibilities with the advent of weights down to 1/50th of an ounce. I can practise techniques I would normally have used my fly fishing gear for.
AR– What makes the canal fishery so good?
CS – It’s got a lot to do with the unknown potential of the area. The miles and miles of canals in the Mackenzie Basin are a sanctuary for native fish like smelt, snails, other small invertebrates and what might be the major food source, bullies! An abundance of food gives the canal fishery such a jump on other waterways. Stable water flows and pristine alpine water is probably the catalyst for it all.
AR – How much fishing experience do you need to catch fish in the canals?
BB – It takes very little experience to fish the canals and catch the odd fish but it takes a lot of experience and skill to consistently catch them. Being on the mark and working out where the fish are is key. I guide here almost every week, so I really have my finger on the pulse.
AR – What’s your ‘go to’ technique when fishing the canals?
BB - When the water is flowing I roll eggs [drift rig] and when the flow is slow I like to fish with soft plastics. Standard soft baiting techniques with a jighead and a 3-inch soft bait is one of the deadliest ways to fish all year round.
AR – Do you use any special tackle when you fish here?
DB – The tackle I use here for trout is different to other countries. For example, soft plastics for trout in America is literally unheard of. Here in New Zealand I like to fish braided line with soft plastics to maximise my chances of feeling those ultra-soft bites. Braid doesn’t stretch compared to nylon monofilament line so you’re always in better contact with your lure. I always make sure I’m running a long fluorocarbon leader so the fish don’t see the braid and the lure presents more naturally to the fish.
AR – What did your biggest fish weigh and how was it caught?
DB – The biggest fish I’ve caught was a 37lb (16.8kg) brown trout from the canals, but to be honest my biggest river fish is a 11lb (5kg) sea run brown trout from a local river. But fight-wise, it definitely goes to my 28lb (12.7kg) rainbow from the Tekapo Canal last winter.
AR – How do you rate the fishery and what do you see in its future?
CS – I rate this fishery as world class! You can find world record brown and rainbow trout in their hundreds in the canals. There are other big trout locations around the word, yes, but this area is very accessible for everyone to enjoy. The Mackenzie Basin is a paradise for sports anglers and hunters. I feel we are only scratching the surface of what's possible down there. As our fishing techniques evolve, I see a bright future and I'm glad to be a part of it.
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