Although a rainy year has been a pain for some, it has created the right environmental mix for high quality trout in
the Rotorua lakes. Eastern Fish and Game say that in many ways conditions in the past 12 months have made prospects for the central North Island as good as they've ever been.
Manager Rob Pitkethley says having more rain than usual discouraged people from going outdoors. However, it produced the right mix of environmental factors.
''In lakes across the region there have been great food supplies and the cooler summer and warmer autumn temperatures have promoted good, vigorous trout growth. In the stocked lakes of Tarawera, Okataina and Rotoiti in particular, the many thousands of fish we released last year will be the majority of what anglers catch this season and will have had the benefit of these great conditions.''
Fish and Game officer Mark Osborne says fish from Lake Tarawera measured in June indicated they would be about 2.5cm longer than the year before, with an average weight of 1.8kg.
''Some of these rising 2-year-old fish do get caught in June around the end of the season, but in general we haven't seen this age group since then, when the lakes close to boat fishing.''
Officers would check anglers' fishing licences. They and usually found an excellent rate of compliance. ''Most anglers don't mind spending a few minutes chatting about their angling as they know well that we usually pass on some tips
about flies, lures or where to fish. Fish and Game aims to get through the checks as quickly as possible.''
Pitkethley says spring is a good time to be a little adventurous and visit a few places off the beaten trout trails away from the r ''big fish'' lakes such as Tarawera.
Fish and Game has taken steps to create more fishing opportunities in Rotorua lakes over summer.
Shoreline fishing areas on Lake Tarawera that were traditionally fly-fishing-only all season will now be open to spin fishing until the main autumn fishing pressure builds.
They will become fly-fishing-only areas from April 1.
''This brings Tarawera into line with the rules for Rotoiti and Okataina and will promote opportunity for kids and summer holidaymakers to spin-fish.'' Pitkethely says. I On Tarawera, the Waitangi and Otumutu Lagoon stream mouths will be open year-round.
Anglers are advised to check their regulation guide for other changes that will apply during the season or call Fish and Game for clarification.
''The changes are good news for both veteran anglers and newcomers to the sport, providing more opportunities for anglers - especially for spin fishing over the summer months,'' Pitkethley says.
The organisation has put together a booklet that contains how-to advice on spinning - a simple, effective way to catch trout with inexpensive gear - in the hope of encouraging more people to take part in the sport.
Fish and Game communications adviser Grant Dyson says the new brochure is overdue for those who had always wanted to give trout fishing a go but were convinced, incorrectly, that it was a bit ''high tech and complicated''.
■ See your local Fish and Game Office for copies of the new brochure or download one from www.fishandgame.org.nz.
- Visit lesser-known or smaller lakes like Okaro, Ngapouri and Rerewhakaaitu.
- Insect activity is on the increase and the first smelt are spawning, so hungry trout can be found patrolling off weed beds and dropoffs.
- Spin or fly fishing from the shore, or casting back into the shore from a small boat are good methods.
- Water temperatures are still cold so trout can be found near the surface.
- Stream mouths are always a good place to find fish, although at this time of year some will be recovering ''post spawners''.