Winter fishing can be a daunting prospect for some anglers. Getting out of the warm bed in the morning, standing in sub-zero temperature and freezing cold water certainly is not everyone’s cup of tea. But for some anglers, that get’s their heart’s pumping. It’s a little bit like skiing on fresh powder snow morning, the fever sets in, and the sense of excitement get you going.
During winter months smaller water ways in southern New Zealand are closed for fishing for the spawning protection, which leaves us large rivers, lakes and lower reaches of costal rivers (with some exceptions) that we can fish. Fish often are on the move in large numbers, wether they are heading up the waterways for spawning, coming back down from spawning, or maiden fish simply enjoying the domination of feeding grounds on the bigger fish’s absence. Due to the nature of fish moving in numbers, fishing this time of the year has an element of jackpot, fishing can either be red hot or no event, but if you can find the school of fish, it often gives you a blinder of a day fishing.
Ok… sound good so far, but the common question I get asked a lot is “how to find them in the vast water mass? “ For me, having fished a lot in winter, it kind of is a second nature to how it works, however looking back in time, I spent a great amount of time trying to figure the same question out. So in order to help you get a good fishing. I thought to share some pointers with you. Now you need to follow the lists below, you have to think like a fish and here we go…
- How far can I wade out, and what’s my casting reach?
(Don’t worry about the areas you can’t reach)
- What is dictating the fish’s movement?
(Current breaks, Corner, Rock, Weeds, Stream mouth, etc…)
- Which way are fish likely to be looking?
- How deep are they?
- How do I fish for them in if I can see them? (Upstream, Downstream, Cast across etc…)
- What are the fish eating now? and what method will I use? (Fly, Spin, Bait)
- Try the best way you think of for a while.
- If not successful, keep changing depth and methods.
- Move spot and do it again from the top.
Following these steps will eliminate the unnecessary options, and optimise your chance of catching fish. Of cause there are million ways to catch fish, you just have to develop your own style or just have to be lucky on the day. And annoyingly enough despite all your good effort you get the days fish just don’t bite, but that’s just fishing. You have to be patient enough to deal with the days like that.
Other common question is “Does fish bite as well in winter as summer months?” Let me explain this in a simple term “We don’t stop eating in winter !” Same goes for fish, they don’t hibernate like some species do, and have few key agendas in their life in which eating takes a majority of it. So they are eating 24/7, all year long, if you can’t get them to bite, sometime they just are not hungry, or looking for a different flavour to what you are offering them. I am sure we all can relate to how that part of the mystery works.
So if this winter fishing is foreign to you, give it a go and see if you can charm a few fish along the way, I am sure skills you pick up over the winter months will benefit your summer fishing as well.
Hope these steps help you catch few more fish, and if you have any more questions, I am only a phone call away.