Tips & Resources
An outline of the ponds structure and regulations
The youth ponds are managed and stocked by the Sport Fishing for Youth Charitable Trust which is supported by a number of sponsors and organisations such as the Nelson trout fishing club.
A recent question to our Facebook page has drawn our attention to the possibility that there may be a number of new users of the ponds who have not had the opportunity to attend fish out days. As such they may be uncertain of what equipment to use at the ponds and what restrictions may apply. We try to keep information up-to-date on our website youthfishing.org.nz and also on our Facebook page but not everyone is aware of these.
The following details are provided to assist families who may be considering using the ponds.
The location and access
The ponds are located in the Waimea River berm park. Access is via Challies road with the turnoff from Waimea West Road. At the end of Challies road there is a parking area and also a gate which provides vehicle access to the ponds most of the time. On occasions this gate may be closed when the farmer is carrying out stock movement work in the area. If the gate is open you can drive through and follow the track to the left for approximately 1 km and you will see a sign pointing left to the youth ponds. If you come to very large pond at the end of the track you have missed the turnoff to the youth ponds.
The ponds configuration
The ponds were formed following the extraction of gravel for roadworks and the remaining hole being reconfigured to provide a range of fishing opportunities for youth. The ponds are fed by ground water flowing through the gravel below the surface and generally pond water level moves up and down with the river levels.
There are three ponds generally referred to as the small pond, middle pond, and big pond, for obvious reasons. There are fishing platforms for the disabled and others are located at the northern and southern end of the big pond and the northern end of the middle pond. There are walking tracks around all sides of the ponds but be aware these tracks have a stony gravel base, are uneven and can be unstable after heavy rain.
Spinners, soft baits and any other trolled bait can be used only in the big pond. The two smaller ponds are restricted to the use of flies, bait, and artificial bait such as Jimmy’s pellets and no type of trolled bait can be used.
There are usually a number of larger resident fish in the big pond as well is the more recent stocked fish. Be aware there are two fish refuges in this pond. These can be a hazard to softbaits, spinners etc which can become hooked on these if they are trolled too close. These refuges are marked with red buoys and it is prudent to keep reasonably clear of these unless you have a large supply of casting material. All methods of fishing can be used in the big pond.
The middle pond has been a very successful fishery in past years and has held a good number of fish. However, in the summer of 2022 it has experienced an filament algae growth which is making fishing more difficult. Hopefully this algal growth will dissipate over the next few months. This pond has relatively easy access to the fish for youngsters to cast their own bait or a bubble or to try with a fly rod if they are strong enough to handle one.
The small pond is a little shallower than the other ponds and can become warm at the peak of summer. Being shallower means that the fish are relatively easy to spot but it also means they can spot the fisher and can be very cautious about taking a fly or bait. This pond can be fun but frustrating for the kids to fish.
Tips for using the ponds
There is a very good tips section on our website. The following is a summary of some of the information.
- Rods to use. A spinning rod somewhere between 5’6” and 7 foot is probably the most suitable. for learner fishers. The reel needs capable of handling 100 to 150 metres 6 to 8 pound nylon (sorry for the use of imperial measurements but most fishing tackle is sold in these measurements. ) This does not need to be an expensive rig. For example, we were donated spinning 20 outfits by Kilwel 10 years ago. These have been used by many children over the years and have had a relatively hard life. Of the original 20 reels, 17 are still working fine and only a couple of the rods have been broken usually in handling around our storage facility. These outfits were $40 to $50 at that time. I have seen a number of quite suitable outfits in sports shops like Hunting and Fishing and places like the Warehouse for between $50 and $70. Do not be tempted to use your snapper fishing equipment, generally the rods will be too stiff and the line too heavy and they will not catch fish.
- You will need to use quite small hooks, generally trout hooks in sizes 10 to 14.
- For our fish out days we mainly use a rig with a bubble float weighted with water and a trace up to 2 metres long, it may be easier to use a shorter trace while kids are getting used to casting. The weight of water in the bubble makes it easier for kids to cast and the smallest size bubble is usually sufficient. The setup for this rig is shown on the tips section of our webpage. This rig can be used with various sorts of bait such as worms, insects, small fish such as cockabullies, pellets etc and can be very effective in all three ponds. A fully made up rig, together with some Jimmy’s pellets ,can be bought from Hunting and Fishing.
- Spinners, soft baits and any form of lure can only be used in the big pond. The spinning rod mentioned above is usually pretty good for most spin fishing although some people prefer a slightly longer but light rod when fishing with light weight lures. Most of the standard spinners and lures work to some extent as do soft baits. The trout are said to have a preference for pink toned soft baits but that still has to be proven.
- Where to fish? Generally, it is best to move around a pond or ponds. Ideally you should explore around the ponds to try and spot some fish and then fish in that location. Polaroid glasses are very useful in trying to spot fish. We are mainly stocking with rainbow trout at the moment and these trout tend to move around a pond rather than hang in one location. The exception to this may be a peak summer when the water becomes warm and the trout will seek a location close to the bottom where cool groundwater is entering the pond. Rainbow trout in the big pond will tend to have a circuit which they will travel around looking for food. In the smaller ponds there is less opportunity to have a circuit but the trout will move up and down the ponds. Trout also get wary if there is too much fishing activity around them and may go off the bite. If this happens it is often a good idea to move to another location, ideally one that has not been fished for a while, and then maybe come back to the first location after letting it rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Be aware of safety around water and the uneven stony surface. Also be aware of safety when fish hooks being used. For our fishout days we provide glasses to all fishers to protect their eyes.
- Important. It can get very hot around the ponds on sunny days so be sure to take water/drinks.
- Amenities. There is a toilet located next to the container on the southern end of the ponds.
Restrictions on use
There are a number of restrictions or requirements relating to the youth ponds.
- The age of fishers. Fishers must be between the ages of five and 17. The definition of a fisher is the person holding the rod. We tend to be a little more forgiving if we have a parent/caregiver teaching a five- or six-year-old to cast a rod and the parent/caregiver may assist the youngster to cast. However, adults should merely advise the fisher in relation to playing the fish and landing it. The adult cannot be casting and winding in lures or fish.
- All fishers must have a licence. The license is free for those 12 and under and can be obtained over the Internet by going to the Fish and Game website and following the links through to license. If the fishers are over 12 they will need a junior licence which will cost $20 for the season.
- The restrictions on the technique for fishing separate ponds are mentioned earlier. The main restriction is that spinners, soft baits and any other form of lure can only be used in the biggest pond.
- Fishers cannot catch more than one fish in the day. There has been some uncertainty regarding the definition of catching one fish and whether catching and releasing a fish is included as that one fish caught that day. Although we encourage concept of catch and release we do not believe it is appropriate for the youth fishing pond. For a fish to be released and have a good chance of survival it needs to be played carefully, netted in a smooth net without knots, not taken out of the water, handled with wet hands and released very gently. We think it is unlikely that these requirements will be able to be met by most young fishers. As such we do not encourage catch and release by fishers in the youth ponds and believe that once a fisher has brought a fish to the edge of the pond the fisher should stop fishing for the day.
The adult fishing pond.
There is a large new fishing pond located to the North of our ponds. This adult pond is managed by Nelson Marlborough Fish and Game and all users must have a licence to fish in this pond. Youth can fish in this adult pond using the licence obtained for the youth ponds but adults must have an adult licence or a family licence.
This adult pond is regularly stocked and provides a great opportunity for family fishing days.
Sport Fishing for Youth Charitable Trust.
Some general tips based on our experience of fishing at the ponds over the last five years
- spinning rigs around 5’6″ to 7 foot in length with a reasonable reel are well suited for younger children. They can use them with a float located 1 to 2 m above the hook in all three ponds and also with a spinner/lure in the large pond. The Trust has used a Killwell kids spinning rig , Black Shadow rod and BS 330 reel , for the last five years and these have proven to be ideal. Spinners and lures including soft baits are not permitted in the two smaller ponds as they tend to frighten the fish and put them off the bite making them harder for everyone to catch.
- Fly rods can be used although children need to be able to handle the larger rod and the casting motion.
- If fishing with a float and a hook suspended below you can use a variety of baits, see the section below for details on the rig. We mainly use a commercial pellet called Jimmy’s baits which we find works well. you could also use worms , small insects , or a nymph style fly such as a “pheasant tail” or a “hare and copper”.
- Rainbow trout tend to move around the ponds rather then stay in one location. That said they do have preferred locations so it pays to have a good look around the ponds and try to find where the fish might be.
- Salmon tend to stay together in shoals so when the ponds are stocked with salmon it becomes important to find out where the shoals are located .
- Polaroid glasses are of great assistance when trying to locate fish.
- Vary the depth of our lure or bait. In mid-summer the fish may be deeper seeking cooler water.
Waimea Fishing Ponds – Essential Equipment
- sunglasses (polarised if possible)
- sunscreen (summer)
- chilly bin / ice pack
- camera / phone
- hard shoes / boots
- water and lunch
- fishing gear
Waimea Fishing Ponds – Tips And Hints
Hands should be washed thoroughly before touching Lures / Nymphs or bait. The smell is a negative to most fish.
- SPOT YOUR FISH
Spend some time locating your fish schools, polarised glasses help. You can’t catch fish if they’re not in the area you are fishing! However rainbow trout tend to move around the ponds rather than stay in one location. That said, they have some preferred locations so it pays to have a good look around the ponds and try and find where the fish might be. Salmon tend to stay together in shoals so when the ponds are stocked with salmon it becomes more important to find out whether shoals are located. Polaroid glasses are of great assistance when trying to locate the fish.
- ACTIVE FISHING TIMES
The first three hours after day break and last three hours of Sunset in general provide more active fishing over the summer. However in winter early afternoon may be more productive.
- FISHING GEAR
Trout have great eyesight, light trace of 6lb – 8lb and small hooks from size 16 to No.2 ( fly hooks 10, 12 , 14 and 16 ) are best for regular hook-ups.
- MOVE AROUND
Try fishing an area for 15 -30 minutes, if the fish are ignoring your baits / lures move to another area of the pond that holds fish and try again.
- PATIENCE IS IMPORTANT
You may need to wait for fish to come on the bite, enjoy your surroundings while you wait.
Being a good fisherperson can take time so ask questions, practice knots, watch videos and keep trying.
Tips for taking kids fishing
A child’s first fishing trip is exciting for both parent and child. A fun outing can lead to future years of fishing enjoyment. Here are some tips to make it a fun and memorable experience.
- Pack plenty of drinks and snacks.
- Mornings may be best – the fish bite better and kids have more energy.
- Pick a sunny day with moderate temperatures, but pack a warm layer for the kids in case the weather turns.
- Leave YOUR fishing rod at home. Remember you are taking the kids, they aren’t taking you.
- Go somewhere where the kids feel safe, and are safe.
- Keep the trip short – a couple of hours max.
- Target areas with a high likelihood of success, such as places where bait fishing is permitted.
- Emphasise that fishing is FUN, catching is a bonus. Use the time to foster an appreciation for the outdoors.
- Be patient, take pictures and have FUN!
Fishing rigs for standard spin rods
5 foot to 7 foot rod with reel capable of carrying over 100 meters of 6 – 10 lb nylon.
Spinning rigs around 5’6” to 7 foot in length with a reasonable reel are well suited for younger children. They can use them with a float located 1 to 2m above the hook in all three ponds and also with a spinner in the large pond. The Trust have used a Killwell kids spinning rig, Black Shadow rod and BS330 reel, for the last ten years and they have proved to be ideal. Spinners and lures such as soft baits are not allowed in the two smaller ponds as they tend to frighten the fish and put them off the bite making them hard for everyone to catch.
If fishing with a float and a hook suspended below you can use a variety of baits, see the gear section for details on the rig. We mainly use a commercial pellet called Jimmy’s baits which we find work well. You could use worms, small insects, or a nymph style fly such as a “pheasant tail” or a ” hare and copper”.
Bait rig with float
1 X Bobble float (water fillable), 1 x Trace line (6lb – 10lb) , 1 x Bare hook (Size No.2 or smaller or trout fly hook size 10, 12,14,16 )
Bait – Jimmys Bait Pellets, Worms, Maggots, corn.
Nymph rig with float
1 X Bobble float (water fillable),
1 x Trace line (6lb – 10lb), 1 x Hares Ear, Pheasant Tail, bead head Prince, Grey Darter, Hair and Copper, or similar Nymphs : size 12, 14, 16.
Optional – use Jimmys Bait 3mm Nymph Baits for extra scent!
Bait rig with no float (experienced fishers only)
1 x Trace line (6lb – 10lb), 2 x split shot sinkers, 1 x Bare Hook No.2 or smaller.
Bait – Jimmys Bait Pellets , Worms, Maggots, Corn
Links to useful resources on the web
- Getting started (Fish & Game)
Learn how to get started with freshwater fishing in New Zealand. Information on equipment, where to fish, spin fishing, fly fishing and much more.