‘Biggest fish’ pulled from Lake Okataina as new season opens

Press Release – Fish and Game New Zealand

Lake Okataina produced the biggest fish on the first day of the new fishing season, a 3.7kg rainbow trout, but Lake Rotoiti offered the best conditioned fish, according to Fish & Game.12/10/2017
Immediate release

‘Biggest fish’ pulled from Lake Okataina as new fishing season opens

Lake Okataina produced the biggest fish on the first day of the new fishing season, a 3.7kg rainbow trout, but Lake Rotoiti offered the “best conditioned” fish, according to Fish & Game.

Fish & Game officers, helped by honorary rangers and other volunteers, stake out boat ramps to quiz anglers and measure their catches as Rotorua’s three lakes, Tarawera, Rotoiti and Okataina all re-open on October 1.

Fish & Game Officer Matt Osborne has released a “snapshot” of anglers’ fortunes on Opening Day, from an initial analysis of some of the data gathered.

More than 600 anglers were surveyed at the three lakes with anglers’ catches weighed and measured as they returned to boat ramps.

Mr Osborne says that Lake Okataina provided the best fishing but the catch rate was better in Lake Rotoiti and the fish were longer. “Weather on the day made Rotoiti hard to fish,” he says.

“Anglers who put safety first couldn’t fish where they wanted in comfort.”

However Lake Rotoiti normally comes into its own in November, he added.

On Lake Tarawera, while anglers on the lake early caught some good fish harling, a high number of fish were returned to the water by fishers who considered them too skinny to keep.

“We know the lake is going through tough times but steps are being taken to investigate the reasons behind this, and see if we can turn things around,” Mr Osborne says.

But he says they have limited tools for the job, notably making changes to bag limits and seasons, or their fish release programme, and the state of the fishery reflects complex environmental factors.

“Anglers sometimes say things like ‘there’s no smelt around’ ” but we are dealing with complex ecostystems that go through cycles and available food is only one factor among many in determining fish survival and growth,” Mr Osborne says.

“There are plenty of people still out fishing and lots of opportunities are still on the way; pick your days and get out there!”
Notes on the lakes

On Lake Tarawera, the fish were smaller than last opening, with two-year old trout (the age most commonly caught on opening) averaging 481mm and 1.20kg. This was down from last year on average by 10mm in length and 160g in weight. A high number of legal-size fish were returned to the lake by anglers. The largest fish tipped the scales at 3kg.
Lake Rotoiti produced the best conditioned two-year olds (just ahead of Okataina) measuring 494mm in length and weighing 1.43kg. Weather had an impact with a westerly powering down the length of the lake. The largest fish caught weighed 3.6kg.

Lake Okataina two-year old fish were slightly larger than Rotoiti at 496mm but not in quite as good condition at 1.42kg on average. The biggest fish caught on the day was 3.7kg.

Dissapointingly, and perhaps a reflection of the challenging weather conditions, no pink tagged Fish for Gold trout were caught on the day, Mr Osborne says, but there are still some small “second chances” prizes on offer (subject to conditions).

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