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All of a sudden line was being pulled from the reel at a great rate of knots with the fish tearing downstream and the angler in tow. After a number of very tense moments where the monster trout got close to breaking off on some large rocks. The fish was a massive Brown Trout which pulled the scales down to 31lb, a canal trophy. This is just one of many events like this where it leaves you wanting to come back for more...
Welcome to Twizel, The home of world class trophy trout fishing. There’s absolutely nothing like it on this planet that comes close to the size and quality of the fish that you can catch in the Ohau and Tekapo canal system. The world record Brown Trout was captured from the Ohau Canal in recent times and I reckon it’s only a matter of time before the all tackle world record rainbow trout comes from the same location.
The reason for the massive growth of these trout is because of their diet and the very cold oxygenated water that they live in. Their diet consists of snails, bullies, non-migratory galaxids, small trout/salmon and excess salmon feed that falls through the pens from the salmon farms located in the canal system.
Recently a client of mine caught a top conditioned 18lb brown trout with a tag on it. This tagged fish was part of a tagging program run by Central South Island Fish and Game. It was tagged 13 months prior at just 3 pounds. That is nothing short of phenomenal as this fish was released many kilometers above the Tekapo salmon farm and still grew this big in such a short time.
If you are looking for a location to target these massive fish just look for some structure e.g. dam walls, big boulders, salmon farm cages etc. I tend not to bother with fishing in big open sections of the canals as there’s nothing to hold them there. You might find the odd big fish in these sections but without a regular food source and some structure most of the big fish simply won’t be there. There are a number of small fish in these big open sections e.g. fish up to 9lb or 10lb but you don’t come to Twizel for small fish because if they admit it or not almost everybody comes to Twizel wanting to catch a 20lb+ Brown or Rainbow Trout.
There are a number of ways you can fish for these massive trout in the canals. The most popular ways are soft baiting with a dull coloured soft bait or “egg rolling”. Soft baiting is best when the flows are slow and the fish come up off the bottom and sit mid water where they are more accessible to soft baiting anglers. When I have cast my portable fish finder out during slow flows the fish would routinely be 2.9m to 4.5m down from the surface. When the canals are flowing fast the fish will all be on the bottom where they are best targeted with what’s very similar to a Carolina rig with an egg pattern or glo bug attached. This is then drifted along the bottom of the canal and it is hopefully intercepted by a big fish.
There is also a large population of salmon in the Ohau and Tekapo canal system that is topped up but the not too uncommon escape of salmon from the salmon farms. Most of the escapees range from 3lb to 10lb and put up a fantastic fight on light tackle. The salmon that are present in the canals are best targeted with small soft baits fished using a very slow retrieve on a light jig head or targeted with a small silver/blue or pink spinner.
The best time of year to catch these fish is all year as it’s a very productive year round fishery. The water temperatures fluctuate very little during the year so there is readily available cold oxygenated water for the fish to thrive in. Contrary to popular belief this fishery is not just a winter fishery but is a fantastic summer fishery also. The fish take egg patterns all year round so the techniques you use change very little. We have caught fish of egg patterns every month of the year and have landed trout that are dropping eggs every month of the year also.
My favourite rod and reel setup to use when targeting this fish with clients and on my own is a Daiwa Gekkabijin 8’6” rod paired with a Daiwa Exist 2500D or a Daiwa Certate 2500D loaded with Daiwa Morethan Sensor 12 braid in PE 1. This setup allows you to cast very long distances with light weights which are often required in the canals. This rod is the most sensitive rod I have found in the New Zealand market and is ideally suited to this fishery. It is also a very good soft baiting rod where you can cast very light jig heads with soft baits attached a very long way.
Boothy’s Fishing School Ltd
One of the best things you can do for yourself if you are new to the Ohau and Tekapo Canal fishery is to hire a tutor to teach you the tips, tricks and techniques that you will need to know to ensure you have the best possible chance of landing a monster fish or three.
On a day out with Boothy’s Fishing School you will learn how to
- Roll Egg’s the right way
- Drift soft baits effectively
- Spin fish for trout and salmon
Most of the techniques used in the canals are specific to the canals only and are not used anywhere else in the world. Mastering the finer points of each technique is absolutely critical if you are to experience a successful canal fishing expedition.
NZPFGA Registered Fishing Guide