The new fishing season began last Tuesday and already three offenders have been caught by rangers fishing without a license.
Otago Fish & Game officer Cliff Halford spent Sunday out on Lake Wānaka collecting data for a creel survey and part of this work involved interviewing anglers about their fishing habits.
While conducting interviews, Halford was also checking for valid fishing licences.
The anglers caught had their fishing gear seized and now face prosecution action.
Fishing without a license can often result in fines of over $800.
“It was hugely disappointing to find three anglers fishing without a valid licence,” said Halford. “All three gave the excuse that they didn’t realise the new season had started and had been using last season’s licence”.
Despite the breach of licenses, Otago Fish & Game Nigel Pacey commented that rivers remain in good condition despite recent rainfall and images of successful anglers with their catches are all over Facebook.
“One angler reported seeing nine other anglers on the stretch of water he was on but that didn’t stop him reeling in three trout all over five pounds (2.4 kg).” said Otago Fish & Game communications officer Nigel Pacey.
That being said, some lakes, rivers and streams—mainly upstream from Clyde Dam—do not open for fishing until November 1 in order to protect rainbow trout from spawning.
These delayed openings will result in some anglers experiencing a second opening and “the thrill of a first for the season” all over again.
Pacey said, “The Southern lakes hold good stocks of browns and rainbows and should fish well throughout the season. The lowland rivers have had a mild, relatively flood-free winter and are looking superb”.
Pacey added, “Exploring small dams, reservoirs and irrigation ponds are a great way to keep the family busy for a few hours. Licenses are free for under 12-year-olds and junior licences for kids up to 18 are reasonably priced. The family licence is the best value though and all can be obtained or purchased online through the Fish & Game website”.
Otago Fish & Game would like to emphasise that anyone intending to fish this season will require a valid license and that regulations can be found online—plus rangers will be patrolling Otago waterways in the run up to Christmas and throughout the holiday period.