Wherever you go in New Zealand, north or south, inland or near the coast, you are likely to be close by to some pretty good trout fishing. Rivers and lakes, even the small streams that meander through meadow and woodland are all likely to hold trout, usually good ones. Keen trout fishers rarely travel without a rod and reel packed in the car, there are so many opportunities to fish for trout.
New Zealand is generally accepted top offer the best trout fishing in the world, so what does that mean? Bigger fish? harder fighting fish?, better conditioned fish?, great rivers? Beautiful lakes? Well yes, all of the above, in fact. New Zealand also offers the best value for money trout fishing as well. An annual licence costs under $100. To fish a river like the Test in England would cost you up to $12,000 for a single day. In New Zealand we have over 30 rivers either the equal of or better than the Test. If you were paying to fish the Test, your money would go into the pocket of the landowner. In New Zealand it goes to Fish and Game NZ, who spend it protecting and developing our natural resources. For that $100 you can fish magnificent waters the length and breadth of the country, for 365 days!
So yes, New Zealand is a trout fishers’ paradise.
Tackle for trout fishing is identical to sea fishing – it can be as cheap or expensive, simple or complicate as you want it to be. The specialist might known 10 rods, the enthusiastic amateur just 1 or 2, but both will have time of their lives when waist deep in a river fighting a silver bullet 9 pound rainbow trout held on only by 4 pound nylon, feeling the amazing surging strength of the fish as it begins its many runs up and down river, often towing you several hundred metres in the process!
Trout fishing is a skill that you never stop learning; reading water, watching insect life to see what the fish might be eating, where the good lies might be. It’s easy to see why so many people become first addicted and then obsessive about it!
You can stand idly on the river back, wade deep into the fast flowing river or lake by the stream mouth, or you fish atop the lake, trolling from you boat of perched amidst a float tube, pontoon boat or kayak. The weather conditions rarely matter either – in fact rain is often believed to get the fish moving and feeding.
Trout make a great feed as well. Smoked trout is awesome, or for simple cooking just stuff them with a bit of bacon and sliced onions, a few drops of lemon juice and some herbs, wrap them up in silver foil and put them on the barbeque for 20 minutes, turning once. If the skin falls away from the flesh when you unwrap them, then just get eating straightaway!
So yes, trout fishing is very accessible, inexpensive and productive.
But the best thing of all is a feeling you will only understand when you have your first trout of the end of the line and you are fighting for dear life to keep them there, that heart stopping judder, that amazement at the strength and determination of such a comparatively small fish, and the relief when your catch is banked. It never goes away as long as you keep fishing and it is without doubt the very very best experience you can get in the most natural environment available!
There’s something very wild and honest about fishing for trout. In the clear waters of rivers and lake edges the fish is far more likely to see you than you are to see it, so it requires stealth, guile and patience. It is a battle of wits, a war of attrition, of hunter against quarry at it’s most basic and natural, and it is not always easy, but it is worth the effort.
When I first came to New Zealand, I told my wife I was going for a days fishing. When I returned home that night she asked me how my day had been. “Simply fantastic”, I replied. “So where is your catch”, she asked. “Oh, I didn’t catch anything”, I replied.
She made a face, clearly thinking me mad. The next time I went, I took her with me. This time it was her turn to catch nothing.
“So how was your day”, I asked as we were packing our gear away. Her eyes shone as she replied: “just the best”. And that is how it is with trout fishing. We live in a great country, and trout fishing is a brilliant way of spending quality time in it, amongst the woods and fields, rivers and lakes. Catching the trout is a bonus!
Editor, Reel Life