February – A Fly Fishing Season in New Zealand

This is part 5 in a blog series exploring the NZ fishing season, month-by-month to help you get a better understanding of what to expect and help you plan your trip accordingly, I hope they have been helpful to date, you can find previous posts on the main blog page above.

February is one of my busiest months of the year, the majority of the crowds are gone but there are still plenty of tourist anglers about hoping to get into those special spots and make the most of some pleasant weather and spectacular terrestrial dry fly action.

This is usually now the hottest month of the year in NZ and this can mean great days and settled weather. However in some rivers, particularly in the low land, water levels begin to drop dangerously low and water temps can get very high in the middle of the day. When this occurs fish will tend to stop feeding, conserving energy and some almost go into a paralytic type state. The trout will do whatever they can to stay cool so start looking in those places that provide colder and more oxygenated water. This can be found at most confluences or where small streams pour into the main river and if all else fails the riffles are the place to look as here the water will more oxygenated.

Last season I spent most of February guiding, however I did manage to get out on a couple of trips myself to explore some new waters and fish almost entirely with terrestrial flies such as cicadas and blowflies, boy did we have some fun.

One very special trip was actually a guiding one with Matt from Colorado. Matt came to NZ to spend a couple of months travelling and fishing and wanted to spend a few days with me to learn our methods before heading out on his own.

Matt had been practicing his casting before arriving and it showed, as on his first cast in NZ, he rose a nice brown to a dry fly before we lost it at the net! No worries though as another came just 2 casts later. There were a couple of stunning fish landed in this trip, around 7-8lb these two browns both took cicadas off the surface and put up one hell of a fight!

It was really a perfect trip, hence the video is named Summertime Heaven, check it out:

As mentioned in my January post, the cicada hatch is something very special in NZ. It is one of the few times you can literally move a trout several meters, or even across the whole river to take a fly! So therefore I thought I would go a bit more in detail and show a few imitations I like to use.

Style: I like to mix it up between naturals and stimulators, depending on how receptive the fish are. Most stimulator patterns I now use have rubber legs, however is the fish are a bit touchy I sometimes snip them off. Most my patterns will be in size #8, however I sometimes go down to #12

Colour: We have many different species of Cicadas in NZ however I like to focus on 2 main groups, bush cicadas and tussock/grass cicadas. The former are normally green and black creatures that are sometimes large enough to look like small birds flying about. The second are usually much smaller and are a lighter green/brown colour and I like to imitate these more with naturals where waters are lower and trout are more spooky.

See a few of my go to patterns below, the couple on the right are from Manic Tackle and you should be able to find them local fishing store in New Zealand


Next up is a video from another trip to the same water as the first, however this time I’m on the rod and my mate Jakub is on the camera, he put togeather this nice little peaceful number which is well worth the watch:


Tips for Fishing in February

  • Book early! This is the busiest month of the year for most guides so make sure you get in to avoid missing out.
  • Hunt down those pieces of water that provide a nice cool supply of water such as incoming streams, spring creeks or just nice fast running an boisterous waters. Backcountry rivers can be a great option for this.
  • Don’t neglect the lakes. Finding edge cruising browns and targeting them with cicadas can be great fun!
  • I know its all I’ve been talking about, but get out those Cicadas! I don’t think there is anything more pleasing than seeing a big fish move a mile to smash/inhale a size 8 dry!

If you are interested in fishing with me this upcoming season or just  have any questions about a trip to NZ get in touch below;

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