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The fishing year


The fishing season: October to April

The majority of fishing waters are open and most trout fishing occurs during the warmer months from October to April.

Winter fishing: May to September

To find winter fishing waters:

Climate and weather

October 1st is the beginning if the fishing season when many waters open again for trout and salmon fishing. In October the weather can still be cool, particularly in the evenings and nights. Fish are starting to become more active however and are beginning to feed voraciously as they attempt to put on weight after the winter months and spawning. Rivers may be high at this time and carry some colour from rain or snow melt. Spin fishing is often the best method. If using flies it is best to try larger sizes at this time of the year. After the closed season fish are often much less wary than late in the season.
November sees the real beginning of the warm weather and insect life proliferates with a corresponding increase in feeding activity by the fish. This month can see some great rises throughout the day and particularly on warm evenings as trout seem ready to grab at anything that resembles a food source. The evening rises particularly for caddis can be exceptional throughout the country.

December has the longest day and long twilight hours. Fish may go deeper during the hot and brightest times of the day but will emerge when the cooler evenings come. This is the time for smaller flies and a more stealthy approach as the water tends to be clearer and with the abundant insect life around the fish can afford to be choosy. Fish will often move into the faster water to feed as it is better oxygenated and cooler. Dry fly fishing tarts to come into its own and in the North Island there can be good fishing when the green and brown beetles start flying.

January is a hot month and the main holiday time for New Zealanders. During the hottest parts of the days, fish will often retreat to deep water or under vegetation such as overhanging trees. They can be hard to catch during the day but will feed voraciously as the evening approaches. Small flies and lures are generally recommended. The fish will also be found in the faster flowing water where the water is more oxygenated and cooler. Drifting a big bushy fly down faster sections can produce a good rise and take.
February is also a warm month and often provides the time of the most settled weather. As with January, trout tend to be less active during hot bright days but will make up for this as the sun starts to descend giving the angler several hours great fishing before dark. A great time with the dry fly as trout feed on the large terrestrial insects that fall on the water. It is also the time when the cicada is about and these become a prime target for big fish as they bumble their way onto the water.
March is a great fishing month. The weather is cooling down and is generally very settled. The trout are starting to get ready for the leaner winter months and will feed throughout the day. Another great dry fly month but any method will work well on the feeding fish.
April sees the beginning of the cool autumnal weather though fishing can be great throughout the day. Lake fishing starts to pick up as fish begin to move in from the deeper water in preparation for spawning. The weather tends to be settled providing excellent fishing conditions. April 30th sees the end of the fishing season for many waters. The South Island can be slower in April but the North Island has great fishing in the settled weather.
May sees the start of the cold season with many rivers and lakes closed to anglers. Throughout the country however there are many places that remain open. Trout in New Zealand spawn during the winter months and this is the beginning of the large runs of fish up the rivers to spawn. To many anglers this is the beginning of the prime fishing time as large fish are targeted as they enter the rivers from the lakes. Two top areas to fish are around Taupo and Rotorua though all districts have some open waters throughout the year. The very northern section of the country north of Auckland sees the best fishing conditions in these cooler months.
June can be cold and wet, but after a good fall of rain trout tend to enter the spawning rivers in large numbers. On some of the large rivers, anglers line the pools and can catch good numbers of fish as they race upstream to the spawning beds. Good fishing can also be had when fishing the lakes as trout tend to rise closer to the surface in the cooler weather. Taupo rivers and the shoreline around many lakes in the central North Island are at their peak for big well conditioned fish.
July is one of the coldest months with limited fishing in the south of the country but excellent fishing in and around the lakes in the central North Island. As in previous months, fish move up the rivers to spawn after a good fresh (fall of rain) and the lakes themselves offer excellent fishing for the shoreline angler and those in boats.
August sees the first warming of the weather though as with previous months, fishing is restricted to a number of rivers and lakes. The same methods apply.
September is warmer though still provides challenging fishing conditions. Usually the large spawning runs are over though there is still very good boat and shoreline fishing on the lakes. As trout finish spawning and return to the lakes they are often "spent" and in poor condition. They are also very hungry and easier to catch however.


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