By Ben Boothy
The canal system is now officially the most popular freshwater fishery in New Zealand with over 120,000 anglers per year, it sure is popular. As we are getting closer and closer to the coldest months and other fisheries shut for the winter we will see a large number of anglers flocking to the canal system to target these gigantic rainbow and brown trout.
In recent times fishing with egg patterns has become very popular and has accounted for many trout over the 30lb mark. Fish are taken on other methods but they are not as successful as fishing with egg patterns as it's a natural reaction for a trout to take an egg.
Another food source for these fish is obviously salmon pellets which helps the fish grow at an extreme rate and I think that is part of the reason I have seen the average size of the fish grow larger and larger. The main contributing factor I see that is contributing to the massive growth of these fish is the lack of salmon escapes due to better farm management practices. This will allow the trout to access more and more food as the same amount of pellets are falling through the pens but there is a lot less competition for food resulting in the extreme growth rates.
Personally, I think that it is only a matter of time before all the world records will be caught in the canal system as everything is in their favour. The canals are healthy, they have constant food and there is certainly more area for them to live in than actually gets pressure from anglers.
Most trips that I have had with clients over the last 6 months has resulted in fish
over 20lb with many epic battles taking place. Most of the fish we have landed have been on light tackle as you always get more takes using light gear the only issue is the landing of the fish so they have to be played very carefully. Targeting these fish on fly is getting very popular with some notable catches of fish over 20lb taking place in recent times. Because these fish sit rather deep it requires a high level of skill to cast an 18ft-22ft leader of straight 6lb to 8lb fluoro with a few different patterns on the end. It's certainly tough to cast but the results are well worth it.