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Updated by Ontario OUT OF DOORS on Oct 16, 2015
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A Kiwi quicklist for freshwater fishing

Click through the list below to see what freshwater anglers can learn from their saltwater counterparts.


Tap into local know-how

Picking up a bit of local fishing knowledge is always good. This was true for me during a trip to Vanuatu. The resort owner offered me a few tips on retrieving spoons (they call them slices), that helped me hook a reef-living bluefin trevally from a kayak. From short day trips to long getaways, talking to tackle shops, hiring a guide, and researching the best lakes ups your odds of a positive fishing adventure.


Go lighter

A reoccurring theme in my travels was locals using light line and leaders. It’s a balance of not overpowering your set-ups, while still being sufficiently rigged to play fish quickly and respectfully. Since returning I’ve stepped down superline on my spinning reels, eliminating 30-pound-test and more frequently using 12-, 15-, and 20-pound-test. Lighter line delivers long casts and fast sink rates, and I haven’t experienced one break-off.


Get loopy

I can count on one hand the number of times I saw a southern-hemisphere angler tie a clinch or Palomar knot when fishing a hard-bait or a jig. A loop knot is better for maximum range of motion in a presentation — food for thought.


Saltwater slant

There’s a plethora of saltwater tackle available, some of which are gems for freshwater. I purchased 3-inch soft-bait shrimp overseas for red snapper, but the leftovers are great for drop-shotting and jigging smallmouth. Saltwater jig heads featuring black nickel, wide-gap hooks are the strongest ones in my tackle box and perfect for presenting swimbaits and other big plastics for pike and walleye.


For the birds

Bird activity, which includes diving into the water, is a sign a feeding frenzy may lurk beneath the surface. While kayak fishing in New Zealand, a flock of gulls led me to some incredible action. Back home this strategy has revealed the direction of shad-smashing smallmouth.


Buy before you fly

Buy whatever you can before a fishing vacation. Stocking up in advance eliminates the risk of baits being unavailable at your destination. When travelling overseas tackle may also be more expensive than at home.


Apex predators in community holes

Top-of-the-food-chain eaters, like sharks or barracuda, are attracted to a struggling fish hooked on a line. Same goes for freshwater and I’ve had many walleye and smallmouth t-boned by big pike and muskie. The lesson: when targeting apex hunters, be sure to wet a line in community fishing spots for smaller species, as big predators will prowl the area, waiting to pounce on fatigued fish.


Depth Control

Using multi-coloured superline is a tip I picked up from jigging kingfish off the coast of New Zealand. It works well when vertically fishing salmon and lake trout in deep water. The line features 25-foot coloured sections and five-foot hash marks that make it easy to sink a bait to the specific depth where fish appear on the sonar.


Show me, don't tell me

When learning a new tactic with a guide, I prefer to be shown the method. This shortens the initial learning curve and gets me fishing the best way the fastest. Some guides are leery of fishing with clients, but asking politely (we’re Canadian, after all) for an example is all it takes.


Changing tides

Tides stimulate saltwater fish feeding. Our freshwaters don’t respond like oceans, but many undervalue wind-induced and river currents as hunting grounds for various species. Learn to work eddies, current seams, and wave-pounded structure and you’ll catch more fish.


Be sun savvy

The southern hemisphere’s sun is intense. I use sunscreen religiously, but upon arrival I quickly purchased some lightweight, UV-resistant clothing to protect my skin. Since returning to Canada I’ve seen this trend growing as more anglers wear fabric sun protection, UV gloves, and other protective clothing. Remember to reapply sunscreen and stay hydrated.