This article is written by Dylan Booth – a young and experienced canal fisherman based in Southland, New Zealand.
In this guide, our pro-staff angler and canal fishing guru Dylan Booth covers a variety of techniques he uses to target trophy trout in the McKenzie Country Hydro Canal System. Dylan is a young and ambitious angler who has featured on Matt Watson’s ITM Fishing Show, Adam Clancey’s Fishy Business show and is growing a following on his own Youtube channel ‘FishingForeverFilms’. He has come within arm’s reach of the All Tackle World Record for heaviest brown trout, when he caught a 37lb 13oz brown two years ago and has been chasing the world title ever since. If there is anyone who can share a few tips and tricks on how to fish this world-renowned monster trout haven, then it is Dylan Booth. These are his words…
In this article, I will aim to teach you where to concentrate your efforts in the canals. It will then be over to you to put my tips into practice and see what you can learn through experience. Practice makes perfect, so read these tips and then get out there and give it a go!
A lot of people seem to think that the Twizel Canal trout and salmon solely live off the pellets that fall through the salmon farm cages and drift downstream. I can confidently tell you that this is wrong. Yes, they do eat the pellets but their main food source is freshwater snails commonly known as nymphs. A lot of the fish hover across the large weed beds that inhabit the canals, and it is here that the snail population is through the roof. Also, the canals hold some of the largest freshwater bullies I’ve ever seen, these grow to a size that resembles a small trout fry, so the big guys, being the cannibals that they are, gobble these bullies down very quickly.
Where To Find The Fish
I find bends on the canals provide excellent fishing. The bends create a current line which can result in a buildup of weed, snails and bullies. A buildup of food is an obvious place to target trout and this has provided great results for me. I also target along the cages as that’s where you’ll find your “big fat trout” and also lazy salmon who love eating the salmon pellets that fall through from the salmon farms. My favourite spot though is around the dam walls, these areas hold a lot of spawning fish as trout and salmon naturally travel upstream to spawn and the dam walls are as far as they can go.
Fishing Soft Plastics In The Canal
Soft plastic fishing in the canal can be hit and miss but when you finally figure out how to successfully drift fish with soft plastics you can have some of the most exciting fishing you’ll ever have in your life. Picking your colours plays a big part in your days catch rate. I find dark natural colours like black or green are excellent choices. However, sometimes the bright colours will get fish on the bite also, colours like yellow and white are worth a try.
How To Match The Flow Of The Canal To The Jighead Weight
As most people know, fishing the canals is all about natural presentation, because these fish are so spoilt for choice when it comes to food, so why would they chase something that looks suspiciously unnatural? Matching the jig head weight to the flow of the canal is a huge factor to help achieve natural lure presentation. If the flow is slow you want to go as light as you can. When there is no flow, I fish a 1/40th or 1/50th jig head to get the best natural flutter as possible, whereas if there is a strong flow and you cannot get down near the bottom you’ll need to change to a heavier jig head. If I’m fishing a dam with a raging current I’ll put on a 1/6th jighead to get down in the white water where the bigger fish are.
Different Tactics Rather Than Soft Plastics?
There is a really effective way of fishing the canals without even touching a soft plastic. It’s called globug fishing. Now, what is a globug you may ask? A globug is basically a small yarn fly that represents a small fish egg. You can also get soft egg patterns in small packs at multiple fishing shops around the country. I use a mixture of brands but I find the best in the yarn style is definitely the Black Magic size 14 range, they are tied on a super strong Japanese made hook, which you will be thanking yourself for using when you hook up to a 20lb+ trout.
I definitely find longer rods are a lot easier to fish with as sometimes you’ll be using super light lures such as soft plastics and spoons. Something with a good flick to it can help get a longer cast. Another reason why I like longer rods is you can have more control over a fish when fighting it. You will also get more feel for those ultra-light bites from the fish as they only play with your lures at times.
The most important factor to consider when choosing a light spinning reel is finding one with a good drag system. This is because you need to fish with very light line to catch fish, and therefore to avoid your line breaking you need to be patient and bring your fish in slowly, allowing them to run when they decide to. I’ve played fish for as long as 1 hour and 45 minutes to tire them out slowly before bringing them in. Playing a fish smoothly is simply not possible if you don’t have a smooth and consistent drag system. I know first-hand that trout can and will run like there is no tomorrow and they will definitely use the current to their advantage, so having a reel with a quality drag system gives you a huge advantage during fight time.
I run Black Magic SSP Fibre Glide line in the 4kg as it is the strongest, smoothest and most sensitive line I have ever used. Give it a go and see for yourself how much further you can cast light jig heads due to its single strand manufacture. You may find you need to put a few extra winds on your knots though as otherwise they might pull through. Try 3 extra winds and you will be fine, plus the knot will still pull up as small, if not smaller, than the same knot done with braid. Another advantage with the SSP Fibre Glide is it’s ultra-sensitive which will help with feeling those really light bites. You will start to learn the difference between the feeling of bottom bouncing and tiny bites with this line, which is critical.
I use Black Magic 6lb Fluorocarbon leader as I find this fluorocarbon has the best knot strength which is highly effective on monster canal trout. It is also simply invisible in the water to fish, which is another clear advantage. You need a strong, reliable leader that will hold knots to your lure, as if given half the chance, trout will snap you off in the blink of an eye. I can confidently recommend the Black Magic Fluorocarbon leaders in the range of 4lb to 10lb for the Twizel Canals.
What Seasons Fish Best At The Twizel Canals?
I find that there are a bunch of times in the year which fishes well at the canals, but my personal favourite would have to be in the winter. In the winter you have the excitement of fishing combined with the natural beauty of seeing a back-drop of mountains covered in fresh snow and it gives me a real sense of pride. But, looks aren’t everything are they… Winter is also the most effective fishing time for me in the canals because you have colder water which is more oxygenated and therefore the fish become more active. They also spawn and congregate around the dam entrances in winter, so there are a very large number of fish to try catch in a small combined area. Summer is also good fishing because that means you can do a lot of night fishing which will get you a lot of your big brown trout. Try walking along the canal edges with a torch and you will be amazed by all the 10-30+lb fish you see cruising the edges. I advise you try fishing the edges at night in the dark with a black lure – this method has caught me a lot of good fish.
That’s it for now… I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read my ‘Ultimate Canal Guide’ and invite you to my Youtube channel where I have a lot of videos showing the fish I catch. I hope these tips improve your fish catching abilities and encourage you to give the canals a go sometime. Don’t be shy, there’s a first time for everything and if we never give anything a go we would miss out on so much that life has to offer. If you see me when you’re at the canals, come and say hello!
Tight lines from your fisherman Dylan Booth.