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North Canterbury Fish & Game News and Reports

The fishing reports on this page are from North Canterbury Fish & Game. See also previous years reports
  North Canterbury Fish & Game news

Latest fishing news

Fish & Game New Zealand
North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report: 13 Jan 2017

Angling conditions are proving a little trying with all these strong nor-westers we have had in recent weeks and these fishing reports are starting to become a bit repetitive ...northwest rain in the alps has once again brought the rivers down in a fresh and the main salmon fishing rivers will not be fishable again until sometime next week, hopefully! I must apologise for getting the flows wrong in my last report, as I wrote the report on the Wednesday night, checking the rain forecast for the alps and underestimated the amount that resulted, making the rivers unfishable, the opposite of my reported forecast river conditions for the weekend!

This is the fifth fresh in the last four weeks, and with another north-westerly airflow forecast for the South Island this weekend, there is likely to be another fresh to follow. Between freshes, in the small window of opportunity, usually in the lower reaches of the main rivers, salmon fishing has started to improve with a small flurry earlier this week in the lower Rakaia.

Best reports are coming from the Hurunui River where they have been catching between 4 and 8 salmon each day from the gut and surf, with a few salmon also reported from the Waiau River, which is a good sign, as obtaining such information from locals is rare!

The Waimakariri has still been relatively quiet, with reports of only the odd salmon caught each day from the lower reaches, although there have been good numbers of kahawai about which has kept up many anglers interest. These are often regarded as a poor quality eating fish, but with a bit of care and preparation, they make great eating. Once caught, bleed them and place them on ice. Once home take time to remove all the dark red flesh when filleting these fish and cook them that day fresh, you will be pleasantly surprised.

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A typical Rakaia River fresh showing a plume of discoloured water extending well out to sea.

Hopefully over the coming weeks the weather settles down and when it does, make the most of the early mornings and the evenings, especially while you are on a break from work through the remainder of the season. We still hope to see reasonable numbers of salmon show up in all the rivers sometime over the next month, with the Waimakariri generally fishing well in the later half of the season.

Anglers often talk amongst themselves about the reasons why salmon are either abundant or scarce, and while no-one has any definitive answers that correlate from one season to another or for each generation of salmon, Fish & Game are trying to eliminate some of the variables that may reduce salmon survival chances in freshwater.

In conjunction with ECan, we have just completed a three year study looking at the differences in stream bed composition, invertebrates, algae and water quality, between various salmon spawning streams in the Waimakariri, Rakaia & Rangitata rivers, investigating whether there are any adverse effects from farm intensification in the Canterbury high country.

Many of the streams monitored, are likely to show near pristine habitats, however this data provides an essential baseline for reference in future years. Monitoring these streams has also provided staff with a valuable opportunity to liaise with and involve the landowners when gathering data, enabling long term data sets to be collected for greater understanding of the issues, ensuring that changes may be implemented if and when required.

Further research is about to commence on the Ashley and Selwyn catchments to monitor the health of these valuable trout fisheries, and we will keep anglers posted as to results of these investigations. Staff are also working with ECan to ensure fish screens are working effectively and this will be ongoing to ensure minimal fish are diverted away from our rivers.
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On the trout fishing front, there have been a few sea-run trout caught in the lower Waimakariri, but few elsewhere.  Lake Coleridge is still the lake of choice, with some nice trout and salmon taken, when winds allow.

A friendly reminder to anglers, please remember, there is no salmon fishing in the Western Zone of our rivers, above the white posts, as we get reports each year in the later part of each season of this occurring. Rangers have been actively patrolling waterways this season and will continue to do so in coming weeks, so please remember to carry your licence with you at all times. A long walk back to the vehicle to retrieve your licence when the fishing action is hot, does not help anyone, let alone receive a criminal prosecution for flouting the regulations, as it is an offence not to produce a licence when requested by a ranger, let alone fish without one!

Good luck if you are heading out for a fish over the weekend.
Tight lines!
Steve Terry
North Canterbury Fish & Game Officer

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report: 8 Jan 2017

Looks like we finally have a good window of fishable opportunity, after many weekends of poor conditions to date. The weekends forecast is pretty good, especially for anglers looking to target the main snow fed rivers. At the time of writing the Rakaia River is marginal at present and flowing at around 200 cumics and dropping fast.

This river has been fishable at around 180 cumics this season which is higher than usual due to consistently good rainfalls in the Alps. The Waimakariri River is fishable now at 85 cumics. A flow less than 100 seems to be the fishable mark this season. The forecast in the main divide is mostly West to South/West this weekend. Light rain may be possible but no moderate rain is forecast until Monday.
This forecast should provide great opportunity for all anglers high and low country, so get the lawns done now and make the most of this window.

Some great reports are still coming in of very nice fish being caught in the high country lakes. Trout up to 7 pounds are not uncommon this season, and some anglers have been beaten by supposedly bigger. It is prime time for dry fly action. Patterns such as the Black Gnat, Green Beetle, and Humpies are a good choice for the lakes. These are often used as a strike indicator, with a small nymph tied on to the shank hanging about 500mm below. This way the trout have 2 options to choose from.

Spin anglers may find that the trout are becoming more selective at this stage of the season. Lighter line of around 4 pound test, and smaller lures than you prefer to cast will be more successful with selective fish. Long distance casting is not easy with light lures but that is often not important as the fish are usually cruising not far out. Small veltic type blade spinners sizes 1# and 2#, or rapalas and soft baits will probably be the best option.

Searun trout options should be very good this weekend. On dusk will be the best time. Use feathered lures with a lead weight attached to the main line about 1.5 meters above. Silvery, or smelt type patterns are the best option. Hopes Silvery, Parsons Glory, Taupo Tigers in sizes 2# or 4#. The size of lead weight will vary depending on river current and depth but typically a range of weights between quarter ounce, and 1 ounce will cover most conditions. Barrel shaped weights are best as they are streamlined and create less line drag.

Tagged Brown Trout

Keep an eye out for the 1,800 tagged trout that have been released into the Rakaia river. Many of these trout have been caught by anglers to date and they have started to venture a lot further than their original release site. The tag numbers are very important, and a landing net is recommended so that the trout can be secured without harm whilst the number is recorded.

Please record the tag details, tag colour, number, and location of capture. Release the trout if possible and provide the information to (northcanterbury@fishandgame.org.nz) This information will be very valuable in regards to implementing future trout enhancement programs. All anglers providing this information will go into a special prize draw at the end of this season.

Junior Fishery at the Groynes

There are still some good opportunities for the kids of catching a fish at the Groynes. The best time for success is the last hour before dark. Soft baits and bait fishing with worms or shrimps should work well. Spinners such as veltics can also work around dusk. Remember a fishing licence is required for all children regardless of age and it is a 100% Junior Fishery. Licences are available at most major tackle stores, or North Canterbury Fish and Game, 32 River Road Rangiora. Phone 03 313 5728

80 nice conditioned salmon weighing about  3 pounds were released into the top pond nearest Clearwater and the large middle pond also 2 days before xmas. Fish and Game intend releasing more salmon later next week at the Groynes. Watch this report for notice of salmon release information.

Whiskey Creek Chinook Salmon Enhancement Program: Progress Report - 5th January 2017

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The History

The Whiskey Creek Chinook salmon enhancement program is now a reality. This concept began some years ago when a hatchery model was presented to council showing a detailed over all site plan, with 3 stages included, and an estimate of costs for stage 1 and 2. Subsequent to this, discussions were then held with the site location land owners ( Trust Power ) where Fish and Game explained the concept of what could be done with the 30 year old abandoned raceway site. This site had been left derelict, and the creek had been diverted away from it, after a failed commercial salmon farming venture in the 80s, and had become an over grown mess to say the least.

Trust Power were very receptive to Fish and Game plans, and positive partnership was forged, with a commitment and determination to make this happen.

From this initial meeting with Trust Power a 100 year lease was drawn up for the 30 acre area with conditions. One of the main conditions was that if Trust Power decide in the future to extend their power generation, and double their pen stocks, Fish and Game would need to move from the existing raceways area further out towards the river. There is no forecast of when or if that may happen at present, but all monetary input to the site is considered with that in mind.

Plans for the project were decided in 3 stages.  Stage 1 of the project being the restoration and kit out of 2 of the old abandoned races. The construction of a utility building to be used as an office/feed store/workshop, and smoko room providing, shelter for staff and volunteers working on site. Resource consent for the re diversion of the creek was also required, and after a lengthy process was secured in March 2016.

The granting of resource consent from ECAN in March 2016 triggered the long awaited go button. After 3 years of planning it was finally time for action!

The Primary Objective

To have 30,000 salmon smolt being imprinted in the raceways in December 2016, grown to 50 grams, and ready for release directly from the site in July 2017.

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One of the initial working bees, assessing how to reinvent the quake damaged headrace. Where to begin?

The Priority Plan

  • Working bees, hand clearing scrub and debris in raceways, barrowing years of accumulation.
  • Digger clearance of the entire surrounding site. Forming a new inflowing creek bed, and channelling an outflow with a trap area for returning adult brood stock. Levelling a site pile area for the construction of a relocate able office/workshop. Build vehicle access tracks.
  • Construct a new headrace with bypasses and silt collection areas. Poly line the headrace. Build stairs to feeders. Out flow boards. Pour concrete pads for trap and headrace inflow areas. Create a native fish bypass as required.
  • Construct 8 feeders, motors, timer box, solar panel etc. Netting for bird proofing races. Build 6 aluminium framed screens, clad with stainless mesh. Epoxy mortar gaps in raceway walls.
  • Create a diversion for existing creek to divert. Reinstate a bridge over the new stream. Salvage any fish from the old creek bed at diversion time.

Progress to Date:
Thanks to an extremely dedicated salmon enhancement team all of the priorities listed above have been completed with one exception. The returning adult brood stock trap pad is in place, but the trap itself will be completed in March 2017. 
There will in no doubt be constant adjustments being made to improve the basic infrastructure of the raceway kit out, and no doubt some unforeseen problems initially also.
With the priority plan being mainly complete the team will now focus on the completion of Stage 1, organising the construction of the utility building. This is something that will be of huge benefit to the team up there, especially in the winter months when so much of the work occurs.
We are Ready!
As 1st December 2016 we can finally announce with confidence the official opening day at Whiskey Creek is Saturday 17th December. Trust Power, Local Landowners and Lake Coleridge residents have been invited to attend and share with Fish and Game and the dedicated volunteers, the celebration of the first arrivals of Chinook salmon at the site at 11am that day.
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For the first time in 30 years, these raceways now inhabit Chinook Salmon. This time the purpose will be, the enhancement of not only the Rakaia river Chinook salmon fishery, but other North Canterbury salmon rivers as well.
In Conclusion:
After years of planning, and months of hard labour by staff and volunteers, we have now officially welcomed 30,000 Chinook salmon smolt back to this site.
These smolt will be ready for release into the Rakaia river, directly from the site, in July 2017. This will be a huge boost to salmon stocks in the Rakaia river.
It is hoped that the returning adult brood stocks from these initial releases, will ensure the harvest of ova, for the enhancement of future runs of Chinook salmon in our region for years to come.
North Canterbury Fish and Game would especially like to thank all volunteers for their dedicated support with this project. 
Any Salmon Around?
Yes they are moving now! There are more and more salmon stories being told daily now. It seems the Waiau and Hurunui rivers are producing some fish when fishable, and the Rakaia is also revealing a few. The Waimakariri has had a handful of salmon taken to date but the former 3 are the pick at present. It seems that they are mostly not very big at this stage with the average fish weighing around 10 pounds. This up coming period of fishability should prove the best to date for accessing just how many are about, keeping in mind that rivers have not been fishable very often so far.
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This 10 pound salmon was 1 of 3 caught by angler Scott Turner in the Rakaia river late December before the last fresh.
Get out there this weekend while conditions are on the anglers side for a change! 

For 2016 reports click here>>>

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