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Queenstown Fishing

Nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, overlooked by the majestic Southern Alps, the town was named because “…it was fit for Queen Victoria.” Queenstown is today recognised internationally as New Zealand’s premier visitor destination. Queenstown has more than just breathtaking scenery and a diverse range of attractions, it’s the people visitors find enchanting. In fact in 1998, Queenstown was again voted Friendliest Foreign City in a poll of 37,000 readers of Conde Nast Traveler, a top US Travel Publication. Queenstown first won the award in 1996.
New Zealand has long been the worlds most desirable trout fishing destination, and where better to sample this than on the pristine rivers, lakes and streams of Central Otago. Queenstown is in the south west of the South Island. If you are planning a fishing trip to Queenstown, it is a good idea to fly to Christchurch and then either fly to Queenstown or take a rental car. Christchurch to Queenstown is approximately a 5 hour drive and is through some of the most beautiful country in the world. If you have your equipment with you, it is possible to have a fish on the way.

Lake Wakatipu has 124 miles of coast and is approximately 52 miles long. It is the second deepest lake in New Zealand at 1,340 feet, at its deepest point. There are six major rivers running into the lake.. To gain access to the high country streams it is sometimes necessary to use a helicopter. This increases the available area and speeds up the amount of time spent actually fishing.Four wheel drive can be used to access some excellent spots also.

Try boat fishing on Lake Wakatipu, there are some excellent fishing opportunities on this lake, cast flies using the Wakatipu Drift fishing technique, where we often sight the cruising trout and have the pleasure of watching the trout approach and take the dry fly before the struggle of a wild trout begins. Other fishing methods include: dapping, jigging, spinning with lightweight tackle, or trolling around Lake Wakatipu margins for lake dwelling rainbow and brown trout or landlocked Chinook Salmon. This is not just another boat ride – This is Reel fishing!

Fish and Game surveys show that Lake Wakatipu has the highest catch rate of all the southern lakes.

Nestled inbetween the world renound fisheries of Otago and Southland, one day may see us sight fishing in a pristine wilderness river, where footprints are rare, whereas the next may find us ‘matching the hatch’ to selectivly rising browns upon the much revered, Mataura River, perhaps New Zealands most prolific brown trout fishery.

Our freshwater fishing season opens on October 1st, and runs through until the 30th of April. There is a belated season upon our high county waters to protect the later spawning of our lake run rainbows. For these locations, the season runs from November 1st, through to the 31st of May.

Trout feed extensivly on a range of macroinvertibretes, with mayfly and caddis being the majority populations. Stoneflies, chironomids and damsels supplement the food supply, along with a number of seasonal morsals, available at various times throughout the year .
However, it is the mid summer cicada hatch which characterises the waters of Otago, and brings the ‘big boys’ to the surface.

Explosive rises and exhilerating takes are what keep our anglers returning year after year, and our summertime browns are known to reach astounding proportions. Our rainbows arent to be laughed at either!

Tackle requirements
All tackle and equiptment can be provided by your guide, but the following is a guideline for those who prefer their own. A New Zealand freshwater fishing license is a requirement for anyone who intends to fish for trout in New Zealand. Categories available are in 24 hour blocks, or full season.

9′ 5 and 6 weight rods are the norm, and suit our local river conditions in the majority of situations. Fast actioned graphite is preferred, to both handle the wind, and make short work of our hard fighting brown and rainbow trout.

Weight Forward floating fly lines in dull, earth tones are essential when fishing our gin clear waters. A minimum of 50 yards backing is prefered, to counter the often explosive runs of a fish seeking freedom.

Monofilament leaders tapering to 5x are required, and when used in conjunction with a selection of 3x to 6x tippet may total up to 15′ in length.

Ploarised glasses are essential when sight fishing our rivers, in amber, or yellow colored lenses to utilize the maximum available light. Without these, spotting our trout can prove near impossible. A wide brimmed, or good peaked cap is eessential to shade the lenses and block out annoying, peripheral light.

Lightweight, breathable chest waders used in conjunction with sturdy, felt soled boots are a popular combination for visiting anglers. But let me introduce you to the ‘kiwi concept’ of wet – wading. A pair of lightweight polypropylene’s worn beneath shorts, or lightweright overtrousers can prove a very warm, and comfortable option. Allowing better mobility than waders, ‘wet wading’ often becomes more comfortable at the days end.

Comfortable, warm clothing in dull, subtle coloration (ie; browns, greens and khaki) up your odds of remaining concealed from the ever watchful eye of our wild, brown and rainbow trout. A warm, fleece type jacket is essential for those cooler days, and good rainwear ensures the trout remains the only thing wet.

Local Flies
Many of your general patterns will account for our trout, so feel free to bring your own flies.
Wulffs, Humphy’s, Adams and ‘Cripple’ patterns will all rise Kiwi fish, whilst Phesant Tails, Hare and Coppers and Beadheads of varying nature will account for trout below.
Location specific patterns such as Dad’s Favourite’s, Kakahi Queens and Mahogany Spent Spinners are all essential to success on some waters, as are a range of parachute, and flush floating emerger patterns.

The experience
Whilst New Zealand streams are held in high, international regard, our waters hold only a fraction of your american trout populations. The defining factor of the NZ fishery is the sheer average size, and condition of our trout, and the specialist sight fishing techniques we employ in these gin clear waters. Whilst blind fishing does prove productive in some locations, the number of trout in our rivers decide what methods we employ.

We will first locate likly holding areas and then focus intently on these, trying to observe a flicker of a fin, or flashof white, as the trout moves to feed. After watching the fish feed for a while, we then decide on the best presentation… Does he look inclined to a rise, or does he prefer to feed deep. Each trout is an individual, and what worked on the last one will not necessarily decieve the next.

It is now that localised knowledge come into play, and having an experienced, professional guide by your side can make all the difference!