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North Canterbury Fish & Game News and Reports

The fishing reports on this page are from North Canterbury Fish & Game. See the previous years reports
  North Canterbury Fish & Game News and Reports

Latest fishing news: May 2014

Fish & Game New Zealand

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 24 April 2014

Steve Terry: Fish and Game Officer

The fishing season is all but finished now and with most rivers high and dirty at present and likely to remain that way for a few days, last minute prospects for the long weekend ahead don’t look great. Salmon spawning surveys and angler salmon harvest phone surveys are about to begin, and reasonable returns to hatcheries so far have given us an early indication that there should be reasonable spawning numbers in the high country spring creeks.

Angler catch data from the lower Waimakariri River also indicates that approximately one in seven salmon caught in the river this season were of hatchery origin and adipose fin-clipped, so this bodes well for the wild fishery also. Most anglers have packed their fishing gear away until next season (many of whom are eagerly awaiting opening day of the gamebird season on Saturday 3rd May), however for those keen anglers that cannot wait until next season, there are a number of rivers open all year in the Eastern Zone. Following a short closure in May to allow salmon uninterrupted spawning, there are also a number of lakes opening again in June. Please check your regulation booklet, or the North Canterbury Fish & Game website for regulations on these waters.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 17 April 2014

Steve Terry: Fish and Game Officer

As the salmon season draws to an end, there are mixed reports around how the season fared ranging from "one of the best for many years" to "one of the worst they have had". Most anglers have packed their fishing gear away until next season, however there are still reasonable numbers of salmon in the main rivers and one or two spots still worth a look this late in the season. With a long awaited, albeit small fresh coming down the main rivers yesterday, salmon will be on the move and any late running salmon still entering the mouths will be making the most of this.

The Rakaia Mouth has still been yielding a few salmon each day and this fresh is likely to trigger the last of the salmon to enter the river. There are still quite a few salmon in the mid reaches of the Rakaia, particularly between the SH1 and Gorge Bridge. There have also been a few salmon caught each day in the lower reaches of the Waimakariri, with Macintosh’s Rocks and the Banana Hole all yielding fish and no doubt the mid reaches below the gorge will still be holding good numbers. However, with southerly rain forecast for the next few days followed by nor-west rain in the alps, it is likely to be the other side of the long weekend before rivers are fishable again. The upside to this is of course is that this allows salmon the chance head upstream to spawn and keep the cycle going.

Fin Clipping Day at Silverstream, Saturday 26th April 2014
The final day of the annual chinook salmon smolt fin clipping program will take place at the Silverstream hatchery at 8.30am, Saturday the 26th of April. This important task of marking Chinook salmon for the purpose of identification within the fishery is one of the most essential fisheries management tools we have. North Canterbury Fish & Game are inviting volunteers to assist with the task of adipose fin clipping approximately 30,000 salmon smolt at the site. These smolt stocks are destined for release from Silverstream in June. Fish and Game will also be providing a barbeque lunch on the day.

A car pool meeting point will be at the Peg Hotel car park, Main North Road, Belfast at 8am Saturday. Volunteers whom have not been to the Silverstream hatchery before are advised to meet at the Peg Hotel as the hatchery is not easy to find. The Silver Stream Hatchery or The NZ Salmon Smolt Company is located at Heywards Road Clarkville. Heading north, and just over the Waimakariri River, take the first motorway exit on the left onto Tram Road. Heading west for approximately 6kms, turn left onto Heywards Road. The hatchery entrance is on the left about 100 meters from this intersection and just before the Silverstream bridge.

All volunteers will be required to disinfect footwear and attend an induction from the site Manager before entering the work area. Warm clothes and wet weather gear is advised. Gumboots or waders are also advised. Thanks in advance for your help.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 11 April 2014

Tony Hawker: Fish and Game Officer

There has been only limited angling over the last week and as such, reports of success are slim. As the salmon season tapers off, many anglers have packed their fishing gear away until next season, however there are still reports of a few being caught in the lower Waimakariri River and the mid reaches of the other salmon rivers, particularly between the SH1 and Gorge Bridges. With the recent rain and slight lift in flows in recent days, salmon will be on the move heading for their spawning streams and the main rivers are all well worth a look before 8am each day.

In the Waimakariri, the mouth, Macintosh’s Rocks and the Banana Hole all still yielding a few salmon but the bulk of the fish have moved upstream now. Fishing in both the Rakaia and Waimakariri Gorges has been yielding a few salmon for keen anglers in recent weeks, although these two gorges are really only accessible by jet boat and the salmon are becoming increasingly harder to catch as the season comes to an end. Please remember that fishing for both trout and salmon is now closed in the Western Zone of the Rakaia with Waimakariri anglers having until the end of April to fish for trout in the western zone.

The weather for the weekend looks very average with a southerly tomorrow and more rain, and the long range forecast is predicting rain on and off for the next week. This will limit opportunities for lake and back country fly fishing.
Anglers wishing to head into the high country might like to try Lake Coleridge, as salmon are starting to think about spawning and are often caught either near the mouth of the Ryton River or trolling around Ryton Bay. Anglers only have until the end of April to take advantage of this as the lake closes for spawning in May.

Salmon fishing in the Groynes fishing lakes continues to be a success in the three main fishing lakes, especially the one closest to the Clearwater golf course. The best bet for parents wishing to take their kids for a fish is at first and last light using any of the authorised methods, with worms and shrimps working well.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 4 April 2014

Tony Hawker: Fish and Game Officer

Hello and welcome to the North Canterbury region fishing report. The weather is a bit of a mixed bag this weekend. Although there will be little wind in the high country it looks like there is a chance of showers or drizzle on both the plains and near the main divide.

All of the rivers are low clear and fishable this weekend. The main salmon rivers are particularly low. The bulk of the salmon run has gone through the river mouths now with angler catch starting to die off in those areas. The Waimakariri is still the best bet for the salmon. There are still salmon in the river system below State Highway One. For the other rivers there will be salmon in the mid to upper reaches but they won’t be easy as the rivers are low and clear and the salmon are moving fast to their spawning grounds.

On that note there are a few regulations that kick in this month to protect salmon spawning. They are:
No fishing for salmon in the Kaiapoi River above the Williams Street bridge and the following rivers and streams are now closed for both salmon and trout fishing:
    • Cass Hill Stream
    • Coleridge Tailrace
    • Cora Lynn Stream
    • Double Hill Stream
    • Goat Hill Stream
    • Glenariffe Stream
    • Hydra Waters
    • Manuka Point Stream
    • Lake Stream
    • Rakaia River above Coleridge Tailrace
    • Winding Creek

For trout anglers there is still some good opportunities out there. Backcountry rivers are low and clear and contain good numbers of well conditioned fish. Although the days are shorter and are not as warm, trout will still respond to large dry flies. The mid reaches of the Hurunui and Waiau are well worth exploring this time of year, as there has been a long stable period without floods. The current low flows also allow anglers access along these rivers.

The highcountry lakes are still fishing well. Surface activity is starting to fade away this month but there has been some settled weather lately which has still produced some great lake fishing. I fished the Hurunui Lakes recently and although there were hardly any fish rising most were still caught with a dry fly. On calm conditions cruising trout can be ambushed with either a dry or a nymph. Simply cast well ahead of the trout’s known beat and twitch the fly as the trout swims by.
Spin anglers will find it challenging this time of year as the trout have seen it all before and the rivers are so clear. My advice would be to go to ultra light gear with fluro-carbon tippets and use small sized lures such as rapalas and veltics.

The groynes fishing lakes were stocked with salmon again this week so will be fishing well this weekend. The cloudy drizzly days this weekend will actually improve the fishing there as bright sunny days tend to drive the fish into the deeper part of the ponds.

If you don’t want to go fishing this weekend but have some spare time on Saturday, Fish & Game is asking for volunteers for fin clipping at the Montrose hatchery.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 28 March 2014

Tony Hawker: Fish and Game Officer

This weekend's fishing prospects look very good with a settled weather pattern for the next few days. Light winds and sunny forecast over the weekend will suit trout anglers in the high and low country. Salmon anglers will also find a cool start, but calm conditions in the mornings and clear river conditions to fish. So plenty of options for all this weekend.

As the Autumn weather arrives it signifies we are approaching the end of the traditional fishing season, but it’s not over yet! Field staff have just completed the drift dive season in the high country this week, and despite the cold mornings the days warmed up to the point where insect life was still very active in the afternoons. Cicadas were still chirping in the afternoon sun and light winds made perfect conditions for the handful of anglers in the area whilst we were there.

The area of the last drift dive trout count was the upper Waiau River. Staff braved the cold waters of this catchment on Wednesday after a frost in the morning to count a 1.2 kilometer stretch of this river which is traditionally counted in the exact location annually. Brown trout numbers counted in this area were the highest since the count began with 55 large trout being observed. Large is the term used by staff for trout that exceed 600mm in length or around 3.2 kilograms or 7 pounds plus. No fish under this size were counted on this dive, with many of them exceeding the 12 pound mark. This is a fishery which is in a very healthy state and shows what can happen if the habitat is left in it’s natural pristine state.

Trout anglers will find that as we move into April fish become less active on the surface. Nymphs or wet streamer style lures will be the most productive at this time of year, although some afternoon dry fly action may still be had on a sunny day. Spin anglers will often be more successful at this time of year. Trout are not getting the same surface food intake as what they have been used to in the warmer months, and are they looking for more sub surface.

Salmon angling prospects are very good this weekend, especially in the lower reaches of the Waimakariri. The main run is now in the river awaiting the next fresh to make their run home. There is still some good up river fishing prospects to come as the traditional late running Waimakariri salmon head for the spawning grounds. Reasonable numbers of salmon have entered the low country spawning streams during the past week with the peak due in around the third week in April. All of the salmon that return to Silver Stream and the Otukaikino River traps will be used to enhance the Waimakariri river fishery, providing salmon anglers with more success opportunities in the future.

The Rakaia river mouth area is also fishing consistently for this time of the season with the last of the run moving through the system. Most Rakaia river salmon will now be well up the catchment awaiting maturity before entering the mountain spring fed streams. Despite a slow start to the fishing this season it seems that reasonable numbers have been in the rivers and many anglers have had very successful season. Annual spawn counts will be undertaken by staff in April and hopefully this will also confirm a successful return.

The junior fishery at the Groynes ponds is still providing our junior anglers with a great introduction to fishing. Releases of catchable sized salmon are taking place every week now with the last release forecast for mid April. This release program is proving invaluable to the next generation of anglers with many kids getting their first experiences of salmon and trout fishing at the Groynes and then moving on to the wild fishery.

Tight lines all for the weekend, and if you are free on Saturday 5th of April to help out with fin clipping at Montrose it would appreciated greatly.
Fin Clipping Day at Montrose - 5th April 2014
The Annual Chinook Salmon Smolt fin clipping program will continue at Montrose Station on Saturday 5th April.
This important task of marking Chinook salmon for the purpose of identification within the fishery is one of the most essential fisheries management tools we have.

North Canterbury Fish and Game are inviting members of the New Zealand Salmon Anglers Association and the Canterbury Lurefishing Association and members of the public to assist with the task of adipose fin clipping approximately 30.000 Salmon Smolt at Montrose Station. These smolt stocks are destined for 3 release sites including Whiskey Creek, Montrose Stream and the Otukaikino River.

Numbers of members advised to complete this task on this weekend are 60 in total. Members of the public are also welcome but they must be adopted by the clubs and be included on the daily registration list. So invite your friends and children to enjoy the comradery of anglers on this social and educational event. Fish and Game Rangers and Council members are also invited to take part over the weekend. Fish and Game will also be providing a barbeque lunch on the day. A car pool meeting point will be at the Yaldhurst Hotel car park at 8am if required.

Montrose Station is located around 6 kilometers up the Blackford Road which is the first turn right on the South side of the Rakaia Gorge bridge. An angler access sign will mark the driveway which leads to the Fish and Game Hatchery. Please note that this is a locked gate and vehicles will be let through between 9am and 9.30am on both mornings, and names will be registered at this point. Warm clothes and wet weather gear is advised. Gumboots or waders are also advised.

An indication of numbers from the clubs prior to the weekend would be appreciated.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 21 March 2014

Tony Hawker: Fish and Game Officer

I am pleased to report that the weather looks very good this weekend especially if you plan to go to the high-country. A large high is bringing settled weather inland with some light north east winds around the coast.

This would be an ideal weekend to fish high-country lakes as there should be still conditions. If the sun is out there should be some dry fly action around the edges. Backcountry rivers are also looking good as they have all recovered from some recent freshes. March is a good month for exploratory dry flies. If there is a bit of heat in the days there would also be some cicadas around.

The salmon rivers will all be fishable this weekend. The Rakaia has dropped very quickly after a reasonable fresh this week. Hopefully this has moved some fish up the river.  There are some fish in the river but conditions have been challenging with low clear water. The Waimakariri is still producing good numbers of fish caught in the lower reaches.

The Rangers competition was a great success at the Waimakariri River Mouth on Wednesday. Over 100 anglers registered for the competition which saw 10 salmon weighed in. The biggest being 6.8kgs.

Remember that the Waimakariri Salmon Fishing Competition is on tomorrow. Entries will close at 9am tomorrow morning. The competition starts at first light and closes at 4pm with prize giving to follow at 5pm at the Kairaki Beach Camp Hall. There are $4000 dollars worth of prizes and a good number of fish in the river, so it should make for a good day out.

For those with young kids new to fishing there are still good sized releases going into the Groynes every week. There are also still heaps of rainbows in Lake Lyndon due to the releases earlier in the season. Lyndon is only 45 minutes from Christchurch and should be sheltered from the easterly, so would make a fantastic family day out.

The lower Ashley may well be worth a look as well as the river drops after a decent fresh earlier this week. There should be some sea run trout in the lower reaches.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 14 March 2014

Tony Hawker: Fish and Game Officer

North Canterbury Rivers have not seen a significant fresh for some time now with all rivers very low and the salmon fishing has been limited to the tidal reaches and gorges of the main rivers. There have been a few good days in the lower Waimakariri River, with around 20 salmon taken on both Tuesday and Wednesday. The Rakaia and Hurunui river mouths have also seen six to ten taken most days and I am sure the same is true for the Waiau River

With all the warm weather we have had, trout fishing has been productive on cicadas in the rivers and lakes. It looks like we are in for some heavy rain over all of Canterbury this Sunday which may limit opportunities. A good site to keep an eye on upcoming weather events is Metvuw http://www.metvuw.com/forecast/ and click on the 7-day Thumbnails for rainfall predictions over the South Island.

Next week we have the annual Waimakariri River Rangers Competition which will be held at 8.30am until 1.30pm on Wednesday 19th March at Kairaki Beach. All anglers are welcome to take part in this social event. The fishing area is restricted to from the north side of the mouth up to the Yacht Club. There is no entry fee, some great prizes and Fish & Game will have a BBQ on from 11am.

Following this event will be the annual Waimakariri Salmon Fishing Competition be held on Saturday
the 22nd March. This event is organised by the NZ Salmon Anglers Association and details of entry are in the official booklets which are available at most Christchurch tackle stores. The fishing area for this event is between the mouth and SH1. 

Fin Clipping Weekend at Montrose
15th & 16th March 2014

The start of the Annual Chinook Salmon Smolt fin clipping program will take place at Montrose Station on the 15th and 16th of March.

This important task of marking Chinook salmon for the purpose of identification within the fishery is one of the most essential fisheries management tools we have. 

North Canterbury Fish & Game are inviting members of the public to assist members of the New Zealand Salmon Anglers Association and the Canterbury Lurefishing Association, with the task of adipose fin clipping approximately 90,000 salmon smolt at Montrose Station. These smolt stocks are destined for three release sites including Whiskey Creek, Montrose Stream and the Otukaikino River.

Numbers of volunteers required to complete this task this weekend are 60 in total. Members of the public are welcome and will be adopted by the clubs and be included on the daily registration list required by the landowners at Montrose. Please invite your friends and their children to come and enjoy this social and educational event. Fish and Game will also be providing a BBQ lunch on both days. The car pool meeting point will be at the Yaldhurst Hotel car park at 8am each day.

Montrose Station is located 6km up Blackford Road which is the first turn right heading south from the Rakaia Gorge Bridge. An angler access sign will mark the driveway which leads to the Fish & Game Hatchery. Please note that this is a locked gate and vehicles will only be let through between 9am and 9.30am on both mornings. Volunteer names will also be registered at this point prior to heading down to the hatchery area.

Warm clothes and wet weather gear is advised. Gumboots or waders are also advised.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 7 March 2014

Tony Hawker: Fish and Game Officer

Angling prospects for the weekend look exceptional for both trout and salmon anglers. The heavy rain during the week mostly fell in low country areas however some of the streams affected did manage to top up the main snow fed rivers a bit. The Rakaia river did not receive much relief from its current low flow and only rose slightly before dropping back to around 112 cumics. The Wamakariri river however received a much needed rise peaking around 120 cumics and at the time of writing is dirty and not fishable. I suspect that it will not be fishable for a couple of days as the southerly rain affected tributaries can take a long time to clear.

The Ashley river also rose substantially to around 140 cumics. This river will clear quickly but should hold a good flow now for the rest of the season. Thankfully it has also put an end to the on going trout salvages which have been taking place on a weekly basis on this river. The High Counrty rivers and lakes were mostly unaffected by the latest weather pattern and should provide good trout fishing prospects for the weekend. As the days warm up over the weekend the cicadas will start chirping again providing the fly angler with some exciting sport. All High country streams and lakes should provide some great terrestrial style fly fishing opportunities during the month of March.

The weather forecast for the weekend is showing North West winds preceding a Southerly change Saturday morning. Rain is forecast to be minimal from both directions. NW winds will be moderate inland until the Southerly change. Best High country day will be Sunday. Low country should be fair both days.

The increased flows in the Wamakariri river should see the start of the main salmon run over the next few days. This river has been tragically low without any freshes for over a month. The current dirty water should have excited and encouraged salmon to make their run. Anglers should find salmon throughout the entire system within the next week. This river would be my pick for anglers looking for some salmon sport this weekend or through into next week.

The Rakaia river will not have changed in conditions compared with last weekend. It will still be low and clear this weekend. Last weekend marked the annual calendar event of the Rakaia River Salmon Fishing Competition. Around 670 senior anglers entered and caught around 54 salmon over three days. Not great odds, however that is to be expected during low flows. Despite the few salmon caught the event went very well and was a great success. A positive aspect of an event like this is the way it brings anglers together in a social environment. Anglers entered in this competition are also supporting the Rakaia River salmon fishery as all profits from their entry fees are set aside for salmon enhancement programs on the river.

Up coming events on the Waimakariri river are firstly the annual Rangers Competition which will be held at 8.30am until 1.30pm Wednesday 19th  March at Kairaki Beach. All anglers are welcome to take part in this social event. The fishing area is restricted to from the North side of the mouth to the Yacht club. There is no entry fee, great prizes, and Fish and Game will have the BBQ on from 11am.

Following this event will be the annual Waimakariri Salmon Fishing Competition. This event is organsied by the NZ Salmon Anglers Association and will be held on Saturday the 22nd March. Details of entry are in the official booklets which are available at most CHCH tackle stores. The fishing area for this event is from SH1 to the sea.  

Wanted ! Lake Lyndon Lucky Tagged Trout

Fish and Game staff  tagged 26 rainbow Trout and released them into the Lake for the Junior Angler Fishing Day earlier this month. Two of these lucky trout were caught on the day. The tag is located near the dorsal fin and is bright yellow in colour. Each of these tags has a number on it. If you catch one of these fish and want to release it, that’s great, in this case we ask that you simply cut the plastic tag off with scissors or line clippers, and release the fish. All you have to do then is present the tag to North Canterbury Fish and Game at 32 River Road Rangiora to collect a spot prize.

Anglers are currently getting some great fishing opportunities out of the continued release program for the Groynes Ponds. Around 200 salmon and trout are being released into these ponds every 2 weeks. Many of these juniors are now branching out to our High Country Lakes and rivers, and they are taking their friends. These junior anglers our not only our anglers of the future, they are our future protectors of rivers and our environment.

Finally, thanks for the information feed back regarding rainbow trout being caught in the Rakaia River, especially the mouth area. We are very interested in this information so please call me if you catch one. Dirk, 021 221 8378

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 28 Feb 2014

Tony Hawker: Fish and Game Officer

Over the last month or so river levels have been very low, with the exception of a couple of small freshes in the Rakaia over the last fortnight which should have attracted a few salmon into the river. The Rakaia Fishing competition starts today and there should be reasonable numbers of salmon in the river. The have been a few salmon caught between the SH1 and Gorge bridges over the last week or so, around eight caught at the mouth yesterday and hopefully this is a good sign of some improved catches as the season has been relatively slow so far.

We are still seeing a handful of salmon caught in the lower Waimakariri each day and good numbers of salmon have been seen near the mouth and tidal reaches waiting to run the river on the next fresh, which is long overdue in the Waimakariri, as it also is in the Hurunui and Waiau rivers. The Hurunui is seeing up to ten salmon caught in the surf some as they too wait for a fresh and I am sure there will be a similar trend in the lower Waiau although boat access to the lower river is now a challenge with the low flows.

Anglers in the Rakaia competition please remember, there is no salmon fishing in the Western Zone of our rivers above the white posts. For those anglers not involved in the competition, please exercise tolerance to the increased numbers of anglers out on the river. Please be generous with your allowances of minor fishing etiquette infractions that are bound to occur from time to time. Also a reminder to jet-boaters that boating through the Rakaia lagoon from the north side is also restricted to around high tide only.

On the trout fishing scene, the high country lakes are continuing to fish well with warmer weather encouraging insect activity and a good option for anglers wishing to venture out, would be Lake Pearson or Grassmere, around the vegetative margins with a large dry fly or small veltec spinner using a light trace. There are still good numbers of Rainbow trout being caught in lakes Georgina and Lyndon following significant releases by Fish & Game recently. Fish and Game have also been releasing large numbers of salmon into the Groynes Fishing Lakes in recent weeks and yesterday, staff observed good numbers of these which will provide good fishing for junior anglers over the weekend. As usual, early morning and evenings are the best times to target these fish.
North Canterbury CSI weekly report
Fish & Game staff drift diving the Hope River

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 21 Feb 2014

Tony Hawker: Fish and Game Officer

The weather this weekend looks to be more of the same unsettled weather. Saturday is going to have some high temperatures with gusty North Westerly's in the high country while Sunday is a lot cooler with a south west change. The forecast at the moment is for heavy rain about the divide on Saturday which would be great as our rivers need some decent rainfall.

For those going into the high country it doesn't sound like the best conditions. Sunday is the better day for inland places. Anglers just need to check flows after the North West rain on Saturday to make sure rivers are not going to be dirty. Up until now back country rivers have become very low and clear offering fantastic conditions for fly fishing, but the fish tend to get a little spooky. Hopefully this rain on Saturday will produce a fresh which should encourage the trout to feed a little more.
I have started to hear cicadas in the back country. These are the one insect that can send large docile trout into a feeding frenzy. The thing I like about imitating cicadas with large flies is you don't have to be very precise with the casting. You can land the fly quite heavily on the water as this is what the natural does. I have had many occasions when the trout are ignoring the best presentations of subtle looking flies, only to move several metres to take a cicada imitation that has been clumsily flicked upstream. Exciting stuff.

Low flows in some of our larger rivers can produce some rare opportunities as well. For example the lower gorges on the Hurunui and Waiau Rivers offer some excellent water with reasonable fish numbers. Usually the amount of water flowing through these areas precludes angler access. However at the moment you will find the rivers a lot more negotiable and easier to wade. These areas do not get fished as much as the back country tributaries.

The low flows have meant that some rivers are suffering. The Ashley especially is not in good shape. Fish & Game now have the salvaging effort under control and it should only require one visit a week from now on. However we still encourage anglers to contact us if they see stranded fish in the Ashley or any other river for that matter.

Some of you may have noticed that the ECan website for flows now has temperature readings on most of the rivers. On quite a few occasions the temperature in the lower Waimakariri as been above 20oC. In my opinion, fishing in these conditions would be a waste of time as both salmon and trout tend to just go into survival mode. The Ashley Gorge has been getting high temperatures as well. I remember fishing the Ashley Gorge two years ago when the water temperature was around 21oC. I still saw plenty of fish but they were behaving like they were stressed and were jumping out of the water a lot. They were not interested in feeding at all. So when you check the flows just also take note of the water temperature as well.

All of the lowland spring creeks are still worth some effort at this time of year. The water temperature remains cool in these streams while the height of summer produces an abundance of terrestrial insects such as dragon flies or willow grubs. Trout are often easy to spot because they sit high in the water column to make the most of the increased food source on the surface.

Fish & Game are continuing to release salmon into the Groynes. This weekend should be good fishing there as long as young anglers get there early as the fish tend to go off the feed during these really hot days.

On the salmon front it is still fairly quiet. There is a reasonable amount of fish in the lower reaches of the Waimakariri, while only the odd salmon is being caught in the Rakaia, Hurunui and Waiau. These rivers are very low and clear making upriver salmon fishing difficult. Let's hope that a decent fresh gets some salmon moving up the rivers soon.

Fish & Game would also like to remind those anglers on the lower Waimakariri that we have an obligation to be considerate and co-operative toward all other user groups, and after some anglers raised concerns over the actions of some rowing clubs, we have contacted the CRA asking that their users do the same.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 14 Feb 2014

Tony Hawker: Fish and Game Officer

Angling prospects for the weekend look fine for both trout and salmon anglers. We are in a reasonably settled weather pattern for the next few days with no rain forecast in the Alps until about Tuesday next week. The coastal forecast also looks pretty good. A good chance to take advantage of a rare occurrence in Canterbury, light winds! Fish and Game staff have had a busy week with the first of the trout salvages starting. 

The Lake Lyndon pond area at the North West end of the lake dropped dramatically last  weekend and left over 100 adult rainbow trout stranded in very little water. There is a fine line between having too much water for staff to effectively salvage, or not enough to the point of the trout perishing before we can get in there and save them. This is because the bed of this pond is very level for a few hundred meters. When receding levels reach this flat bed area trout are in danger very quickly, and in this latest case we wished we were there the day before. Staff were able to save 42 nice rainbow trout, unfortunately 65 had perished over night. Thank you to the unknown angler whom also bucketed a number of trout to safety the night before.

The Ashley River has also dropped to the point that it now has disconnected pools below the Rangiora Bridge. Staff are watching this river on a daily basis waiting for low enough flows to use the electric fishing machine effectively. Once again this is a fine line between too much and not enough water. As one area dries in the middle reaches of this river, other areas up stream and down are also receding to critical levels. Staff had successful salvages there during the week and are ready to go on this one, at any time.

If you are out and about in areas of low flows over the next few weeks and notice any waterways in our region that are looking like drying up please call Fish and Game as soon as possible. Dirk Barr, 021 221 8378. Tony Hawker, 021 221 8325. Steve Terry, 021 221 8327.

All our High Country Lakes are worth a look this weekend. The dry fly indicatior nymph method is the most effective for fly anglers. I like to use a Humpy pattern or Black Gnat as the indicator, with a small Hare and Copper or Black and Peacock nymph about 700mm below, the length of trace will depend on the depth of water.

Terrestrial style patterns will also come into their own at this time of the season. Much larger patterns are used to imitate blowflies and the infamous cicada. This is undoubtedly an exciting time of the season for the dry fly angler. I like to refer to it as “Chirp an Slurp time”  In the warm temperatures of February/ March the loud chirping of the cicadas can be heard throughout the Canterbury High Country. Some are green in colour and some are black. The perfect case scenario for cicada fishing is warm and sunny, with a light to medium breeze. These heavy and sometimes cumbersome flying creatures will often crash land on the water, and it is this splat that the trout are waiting for. They will often rise freely to a roughly presented cast, as a splatting good cicada is way too irresistible for a snack. River beds and lakes are both cicada habitat.

The searun trout in the lower reaches of our snow fed rivers are difficult to catch at present. The main rivers  are now very low and clear and searun trout activity will only be at night unless there is a fresh in the rivers. Fish with lighter line and smaller lures, even in the dark it makes a difference to angling success.

The salmon season to date is starting to build. There have been some great catches, for this time of year, in the past few weeks in the lower reaches of the Waimakariri River. Many of these salmon have been fin clipped which indicates that hatchery smolt releases 2 years ago have been successful. The hatchery stocks that are in the river at present, and are not caught by anglers, will return to the trap at Silver Stream and the Otukaikino river. Fish & Game staff will then manually strip these fish of their ova and milt and use the ova and smolt to further enhance the Waimakariri fishery. These salmon are not only successfully providing anglers with increased opportunities, they are also providing salmon enhancement programmes with an important tool for future fisheries.

Salmon returns have in general terms been low to date this season. The Waimakariri has been an exception to this so far. Around 70 salmon have been caught in the MacKintosh’s Rocks area alone in the past 3 weeks. Anglers there are eagerly awaiting the peak of the season which is due in March.

Rakaia and Hurunui anglers are having some success however it seems that all rivers are now in much need of rain in the Alps to get the fish moving. Low clear river conditions make salmon very hard to catch up river. The best salmon prospects for this weekend will be in the tidal areas of the rivers.  

Wanted ! Lake Lyndon Lucky Tagged Trout
Fish and Game staff  tagged 26 Rainbow Trout and released them into the Lake for the Junior Angler Fishing Day earlier this month. Two of these lucky trout were caught on the day. The tag is located near the dorsal fin and is bright yellow in colour. Each of these tags has a number on it.. If you catch one of these fish and want to release it, that’s great, in this case we ask that you simply cut the plastic tag off with scissors or line clippers, and release the fish. All you have to do then is present the tag to North Canterbury Fish and Game at 32 River Road Rangiora to collect a spot prize.

Fire Hazards
Much of our region is of extreme fire risk at present. Anglers are advised not to light camp fires anywhere around access tracks to waterways especially as these areas often have tinder dry grass and forestry around them. There are some very concerned farmers around these access points that know that it would not take much for a breeze to send a spark into a volatile area. North Canterbury Fish and Game are asking all anglers to be extremely responsible in these areas!

The Groynes Junior Fishery
Junior Anglers are currently getting some great fishing opportunities out of the continued release program for the Groynes Ponds. Around 200 salmon and trout are being released into these ponds every 2 weeks. Many of these juniors are now branching out to our High Country Lakes and rivers, and they are taking their friends. These junior anglers our not only our anglers of the future, they are our future protectors of rivers and our environment.

Finally, thanks for the information feed back regarding rainbow trout being caught in the Rakaia River, especially the mouth area. We are very interested in this information so please call me if you catch one. Dirk, 021 221 8378.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 31 Jan 2014

Tony Hawker: Fish and Game Officer

Hello and welcome to the North Canterbury region fishing report. This weekend looks like a stunner. There is going to be a big high sitting over the South Island producing fine weather.

This would be an excellent weekend to go on a camping/fishing trip into the backcountry, especially to the lakes. The still mornings should produce some surface activity as there are plenty of dragon flies on our high country lakes at the moment. Some of the lakes such as Georgina get pretty warm this time of year which reduces the brown trout feeding to morning or evenings. Rainbows in these lakes tend to go out deeper in the cooler water.

The backcountry rivers should be superb this weekend. All should be clear and fishable. Fish & Game carried out a drift dive survey in the Lewis Pass area this week. Although some of the fish were large specimens, a lot of them were not on station feeding due to the large angler presence. This can be challenging at times. Don’t expect to get easy fish near any main road as there are a lot of anglers and tourists about at the moment. The fish are still there but become increasingly hard to catch. If you do find one and it appears to be feeding your cast will have to be perfect fist time and your flies and presentation will have to be realistic.

Another method is to target the heavier faster water with big dry flies. Often fish will move into this type of water as anglers spook fish from the edges of the river. Often these fish feel more secure in the heavier water and are more willing to take a fly. Spin fishing in these clear rivers at this time of year is more suited to early morning or evening at change of light.
If it is salmon you are after I am pleased to report there are reasonable numbers being caught this week. The best bet at the moment would be the Waimakariri below State Highway One. The mouth of the Hurunui and Rakaia would also be worth a look as would upriver in the middle reaches of the Rakaia. All these rivers are dropping fast and will be quite low over the weekend.

Fish & Game has released some more fish into the Groynes this week for the last week of the school holidays. Shrimp and softbaits are the most effective methods here. Fishing is best before 9am. The fish seem less likely to take during the middle of the day.

We are now entering the time of year when some of our rivers such as the Ashley risk running dry in some reaches. Fish & Game monitor these rivers the best we can but we cannot be everywhere at once. So if you notice a stream running dry and fish are getting stranded please give us a call. We have the equipment to be able to rescue these fish and return them to permanently flowing water.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 17 Jan 2014

Tony Hawker: Fish and Game Officer

The main alpine rivers at the time of writing (Thursday) look ideal for salmon fishing. However there is rain forecast later today in the alps which could bring down another fresh remember to check the following link before heading out just to check the flows are fishable.

Other streams such as the Selwyn or Ashley have a good healthy flow at the moment. Once again just check the link above before fishing these streams in case the southerly rain make them dirty. The Selwyn is still producing large fish in the lower reaches, but they are getting increasingly harder to catch. Bait fishing at night is still the most productive method.
The high country lakes are starting to get warmer now requiring some different techniques from anglers. Rainbow trout will be heading deep during the day.

If it is a windless day there should be plenty of surface activity to give away the position of cruising browns as they break the surface to take insects. The lakes will be fishing best in the warm evenings as trout move closer to the edge to feed. The best option is to camp the night and fish the evening and early morning as these are the most productive times.
One option that is worth serious consideration is Lake Georgina. This week we released 277 adult rainbows averaging 1.2kg in weight into the lake. These are hatchery reared fish that have become too large for the intended purpose. They are responding well to spinners as they tend to hang out a bit deeper than browns. Once again the evening should see a lot of activity on this lake with the additional fish being added.

The release of catchable fish into high country lakes is a rare occurrence so anglers should make the most of this opportunity. This is a particularly good lake for fishing and camping with kids as shoreline access is so easy. Remember also that Lake Lyndon has a high population of rainbows due to the release of 1300 catchable sized rainbows in December for a fishing event.

Backcountry rivers should clear quick enough for the weekend to produce some good fishing. This is a good time of year for exploratory fishing with big bushy dry flies. If you spot a fish and it doesn’t respond to these big flies. Immediately change to something more subtle such as a small dry fly (adams, grey dun) or a small nymph (pheasant tail, hare and copper).

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 24 Dec 2013

The season so far has been a consistent one for trout anglers with some great sport had in the North Canterbury region. There have been some very impressive searun trout caught, especially in the Ellesmere tributaries, with some weighing in the 12 - 16 pound bracket. The lower Selwyn River has a particularly large number of trout shoaled up around the huts area, and although hard to catch, they do have bite times during the night that can provide some real action.

The Ashley River is also producing some nice fish in the upper reaches so that will certainly be worth a look especially with the low flows at present.

All our High Country Lakes are worth a look over the xmas period. The dry fly indicatior nymph method is the most effective for fly anglers. I like to use a Humpy pattern or Manuka Beetle as the indicator, with a small Hare and Copper or Black and Peacock nymph about 700mm below, the length of trace will depend on the depth of water. On a good day the trout will be on the dry fly. Another tip worth remembering is when the trout are being selective try something unusually big. A large Black Gnat or Cicada pattern, size 10# or even 8# can induce a take.

For anglers looking to fly fish for challenging trout, in one of the regions most beautiful river valleys, the Hope and Boyle rivers have some very large Browns to try your luck with. On a day with a light wind they may be fooled with a large Black Gnat or something outrageously big crash landing on the water.

The searun trout are on in the lower reaches of our snow fed rivers. Both the Waimakariri and Rakaia River mouths are fishing well at present. One or two days after a fresh, and in the evening or night is the best time to catch them. Streamer Style patterns are the best. Try Parsons Glory, Black Prince, or Hopes Silvery. The Black Prince is often a forgotten lure these days, but I wouldn’t be with out it. Simple pattern but very effective.

The weather forecast for the next few days is a bit patchy. Some of the previous forecasts of rain in the Alps have not been flooding the Rivers for long, and they have been clearing quickly. It is these windows on the back of a fresh that entice and excite trout to feed and salmon to run. Make the most of these windows for the best sport.

The salmon season to date has not been great. There have been a few caught in the past few days in both the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers,  but they are few and far between. In comparison with last season at the same time, the Rakaia River especially was all go. However Salmon runs are impossible to predict. They could turn up tomorrow? In the old days it was not even worth going out until February with the bulk of the run occurring in March. Unfortunately, environmental factors at sea that may effect Salmon smolt survival is something that we can not monitor, but must have an effect on our fisheries.

Wanted ! Lake Lyndon Lucky Tagged Trout
Fish and Game staff  tagged 26 rainbow trout and released them into the Lake for the Junior Angler Fishing Day earlier this month. Two of these lucky trout were caught on the day. The tag is located near the dorsal fin and is bright yellow in colour. Each of these tags has a number on it. If you catch one of these fish and want to release it, that’s great, in this case we ask that you simply cut the plastic tag off with scissors or line clippers, and release the fish. All you have to do then is present the tag to North Canterbury Fish and Game at 32 River Road Rangiora to collect a spot prize.

Out of Region Angling
Remember that if you are on holiday and fishing outside the North Canterbury Region over the summer that regulations do differ from region to region. Limit bags, methods etc may not be the same! Consult your regulation guide before you go fishing to be sure.

Finally, thanks for the information feed back regarding rainbow trout being caught in the Rakaia River, especially the mouth area. We are very interested in this information so please call me if you catch one. Dirk, 021 221 8378.

The Groynes Junior Fishery
A Junior Anglers Xmas present of 100 Rainbow Trout have been released into the Groynes ponds today. The Junior fishery is working very well with many children getting their first angling experience there and then moving on to the High Country Lakes and Rivers. Make sure your  children do have the required junior licence whist fishing, even the Groynes they must have it on them. A reminder also that you may only assist your children with casting! The Groynes ponds are a junior only fisherey. Consult our regulation guide if in doubt.

Tight Lines, and Merry Xmas!
North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 29 Nov 2013

Prospects for the weekend don’t look that great for North Canterbury anglers, with strong nor-west winds and heavy rain forecast for the alps on Friday night and Saturday morning, which is likely to dis-colour the larger rivers until well into next week. This is followed by a change to a southerly which may well dis-colour the foot-hill rivers and lowland streams. Either way, fishing options don’t look great for the weekend. The larger East Coast rivers have not seen a decent fresh for a few weeks so this should be just what salmon anglers have been waiting for to bring the salmon in. there have been a few landed this season, although things have been relatively quiet over the last week. Anglers should make the most of the next drop in flows before the next Nor-wester brings the rivers down again, a common occurrence at this time of year, and it is not un-common for the rivers to be unfishable for upwards of two to three weeks.

Sea-run trout fishing has been very good recently, especially in the Waimakariri River around the two bridges. Leading up to Christmas, the main rivers should fish well for these fish and the rivers are fishable for these sea-run trout a day or two before they are salmon fishable on the tail end of a fresh.

Lake Ellesmere tributaries are continuing to fish well at night with plenty of good size trout about. The cooler weather over the last week is likely to have slowed terrestrial activity and I have heard very little from the high country lakes, and with the weather forecast not favorable for the alps this weekend, will likely remain that way for the next week.

Family Fishing Day at Lake Lyndon
North Canterbury Fish and Game are inviting families new to angling to an educational fishing day at Lake Lyndon on the 8th of December. Fish & Game will be releasing around 1,000 x 700g Rainbow trout into the lake on the day of this event so anglers will have a great chance of success. Around 20 of these will be tagged and if any of these trout are caught by anglers and presented at the weigh station located at the lodge at the south end of the lake, they will be given a prize. This event is the next step for all of those junior anglers who have started learning to fish at the Groynes Lakes in Christchurch. The lake regulations allow trolling from boats, and bait fishing for “junior anglers only”. On the day, volunteers and Fish and Game staff will be available to help out with techniques, and give advice to help junior anglers learn more about becoming a successful angler. Please download the promotional flyer here

NOTICE OF ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
When: 18 December 2013
Time: 6.30 pm
Where: Canterbury Horticultural Society Hall
57 Riccarton Avenue
Christchurch

For those that want a copy of the Annual Report when it becomes available, please email northcanterbury@fishandgame.org.nz with your name and address.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 25 Nov 013

Hello and welcome to the North Canterbury region fishing report. Thankfully the wild spring weather seems to have settled down and the rivers are showing some sings of normality lately. This weekend looks superb has another big high parks itself over the South Island.

Anglers targeting the high country lakes should have ideal conditions. Trout in both lakes and rivers should start reacting to dry flies as increasing daytime temperatures mean more terrestrial insects flying around the surface of the water. Lately I have observed dragon flies on the surface of the lakes. These definitely encourage the trout to look up. Sometimes the trout become aerial in pursuit of these insects. An exact imitation isn’t necessary when the trout are in this mood. Any bushy dry fly will do. If there is not much surface activity than try and ambush cruising trout with a nymph. Cast the nymph well ahead of the trout while it is cruising the beat and just twitch the nymph slightly when the trout is in the near vicinity.
Back country rivers are also in ideal condition this weekend. All of the rivers should be in low clear condition as there hasn’t been any rain for a while. A recent drift dive in a back country river revealed that despite there has been some obvious flooding and scouring the trout numbers are similar to last year, although some of the trout were a bit under conditioned.
There are reports now of the odd salmon being caught on the lower Waimakariri and the Rakaia. These rivers are dropping fast and are an ideal colour at the moment for salmon fishing. The next fresh should bring in the first significant run of salmon.

Hill fed streams such as the Selwyn and Ashley are now flowing low and clear. The lower Selwyn and other Lake Ellesmere tributaries continue to fish well with lots of large fish seen at these river mouths. These fish are going to get progressively harder as the season progresses. November is my favourite months for the Lake Ellesmere tributaries as the hatch of brown beetles gives me a slight chance of luring these big fish to the surface.

For those of you with young kids, check out the Groynes fishing lakes. Salmon are regularly released into these lakes throughout the summer. Please remember that is a junior fishery only. Families should also pencil in the 8 of December for the Lake Lyndon fishing day hosted by Fish & Game. The day aims at encouraging families out to our country lakes as a stepping stone form the Groynes fishing ponds. Keep tuned in to these reports for more details of this event.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 25 Oct 013

Prospects for the weekend don’t look that great for North Canterbury anglers, with strong winds and heavy rain forecast for the alps and the rivers will continue to be high and discolored until well into next week. The larger East Coast rivers have seen four good freshes in the last two weeks, which is not unusual for this time of year and leading up to Christmas, anglers should make the most of any drop in flows before the next Nor-wester brings the rivers down. These rivers should fish well when flows drop off, especially for sea-run trout in the lower reaches and salmon anglers are also gearing up for the season, as it won’t be long before we hear a report of the first salmon caught for the season.

A good prospect for anglers this weekend would be the lower Ashley River, as the flow here has been receding all week and should be good around the lower reaches. Good numbers of sea-run brown trout should also have entered Lake Ellesmere as it has been open to the sea for the last few weeks and as usual, the lake tributaries will fish better in the evening and at night over the next month or so.

The opening of the High Country lakes is just over a week away on Saturday the 2nd November, which will be celebrated again this year with a fishing competition at Lake Coleridge, with a prize pool valued at over $10,000. The focus of the competition is on participation, and every angler who shows their licence at the weight in will be given a ticket for spot prizes. The competition will be based at Ryton Bay where there will be a Fish & Game tent and weigh station. Weigh-in is from 9am – 3pm, with the prize draw at 4pm. Please ensure you arrive at the weigh-in before 3pm to avoid missing out.  

Lake Coleridge is the most popular lake in the region for fishing and this event is a great way for anglers to celebrate the traditional high country opening. Fish & Game have been stocking the lakes in the area for a number of years now and over the last twelve months, have released around 80,000 salmon smolt and fry and 7,500 yearling rainbow trout into Lake Coleridge and its tributaries, with an additional 5,000 odd rainbows released into the surrounding lakes.
Good luck if you are heading out for a fish over the long weekend

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 11 Oct 013

Hello and welcome to the North Canterbury region fishing report. Hopefully you have managed to get out for fish already this season, because this weekend is not looking the like the best conditions. Most of the hill fed streams such as the Selwyn and Ashley are running high and dirty after the rain this week. Some of the spring fed streams such as Harts Creek or the Otukaikino may be clear enough by the weekend.

The main alpine rivers are still worth a look around the river mouths, especially the Rakaia. The very top of these catchments will be starting to clear, but it is going to be another windy couple of days in the high-country.
For those desperate to get out there are some lakes open such as Lake Forsyth or Loch Katrine and Lake Sumner in North Canterbury. There has been anglers spotted fishing Lake Lyndon recently which is closed until November 2nd. If you are out and about this weekend and see anglers fishing where they are not supposed to, please let Fish and Game know. It is also very helpful if you take down details like car registration numbers. Otherwise there is little that we can do without this information.

Lake Ellesmere is currently open to the sea so there should be some sea runners entering the lake. Anglers can either try to target these fish coming into the lake near Taumutu or wait until the congregate at stream mouths chasing bullies and smelt. The Selwyn is too high at the moment but there should be some good fishing there as it recedes so it could be an option late next week.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 4 Oct 2013

Hello and welcome to the North Canterbury region fishing report. It’s been a challenging start to the season already with dirty rivers and high winds. I spent a couple of days around the Hanmer region for opening. Clear fishable water was limited with lots of anglers driving around trying to find some clear running rivers. I did manage to find some water to fish that contained some nice trout. One thing that was pleasing was at least 50% of the trout I caught were willing to rise to a dry fly. In general the fish seemed to be feeding more actively than usual at this time of year.

For this weekend the weather looks a bit windy in the highcountry but at least it looks like it might not rain for a while. This will give the rivers a chance to clear. If you are heading for the highcountry than target the upper tributaries and bush fed streams as these will be the first to clear.

The best option is probably the low country streams this weekend. Any of the tributaries that flow into Lake Ellesmere would be worth a look. The Selwyn and LII both have large clear healthy flows at the moment. ECan is also working on an opening for Lake Ellesmere which will help with fish migration into the catchment. Fishing at night in these streams is popular. If, like me, night fishing is not your thing I have had reasonable success casting to fish in the late evening on caddis imitations. The odd one in the Selwyn is even caught during the day at this time of year.

Closer to Christchurch on the Otukaikino or Styx could also be worth a look as these are stable streams that remain clear. The Otukaikino in particular has been holding good numbers of fish in the last couple of years. The Ashley is still too high to fish at the gorge but the lower reaches will be worth a look for sea run trout. The colour should be just right for the weekend. The other larger rivers are probably going to be too dirty to fish. The Rakaia might clear enough by Sunday for a fish at the mouth for sea run trout or even a very early salmon!

Most of the highcountry lakes are now closed until November 2nd. There are a few exceptions with Loch Katrine, Lake Sumner and Lake Forsyth being open all year round. Lake Forsyth is well worth a look at this time of year as it contains large sea run trout. Some sort of smelt imitation fished in the evening would be the best method.
North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 26 April 2013 (Note Final Report until the new season in October)

Welcome to the final report of the 2012-13 freshwater fishing season. Fishing has been fairly slow over the last week with the spell of unbelievable weather having come to its inevitable end. Anglers are still catching the odd salmon in the middle reaches of the Rakaia and Waimakariri but as spawning approaches, the condition of the fish is starting to fade. If you do want to catch a late season salmon to take home for the freezer, you are better to fish in the lower reaches in the hope of finding one which has just come in from the sea.

Prospects for the weekend are likely to be affected by the weather. A fairly nasty north west front is predicted to hit Canterbury on Friday afternoon, settle down a bit on Saturday and come back with a vengeance on Sunday afternoon. Sunday morning looks to be the best bet for reasonably calm conditions.

In terms of fish, as mentioned above most of the salmon run has now either passed and the fish that are still around are in spawning condition and probably best left alone. Brown trout are also starting to get ready for spawning and can be difficult to catch. Rainbow trout should still be feeding vigorously so my advice is to fish a high country lake which has some rainbows present.

Although many North Canterbury rivers and lakes close to fishing at the end of April, all year round fishing is available in a number of waters. Check your regulation guide for details. Please note that the gamebird hunting season opens on May 4 and runs for three months. It is probably best to stay off the river on opening day, and after that to be careful when moving around places where people may be hunting. While the onus for firearms safety completely lies with the hunter, non hunters can disturb birds and make them difficult to hunt.

Fish and Game will continue to send out email notices about current issues and coming events during the winter, but these weekly reports will now take a break until the start of the new season in October.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 19 April 2013

Welcome to the North Canterbury weekly fishing report. As the traditional fishing season draws to an end most of us find ourselves reflecting on the season that’s been. Stories of beautiful conditioned salmon, windless stunning dry fly days in the high country, and big sea runs in the tidal reaches. Yes it would be fair to say that there have been plenty of opportunities for the anglers. But how is it all stacking up from a fisheries management point of view.

The North Canterbury region have recently decided to take a different tact on the methods used for counting spawning salmon this season. This is because it is the consensus now that the “area under the curve” model and “salmon residential time” in spawning streams, or SRT, is proving inconsistent. This does not mean that the data collected to date is not valid or valuable, it simply means that the new approach of a “one of peak total count” maybe more accurate. Peak times in individual streams and catchments have already been consistently determined by the previous method. Staff and council are confident in this new approach, and it also means a lot less expensive helicopter time, compared to area under the curve counts, which require fortnightly counts x 4.

Food for thought.
As anglers we all have an invested interest in the fishery, and there are many and varied opinions out there on how it should be maintained and enhanced. At this time of year the most frequently asked question is, how many salmon are spawning? But is this the most important question? Data collected by North Canterbury Fish and Game staff over the past 20 years does not show any correlation between a large number of spawning adults, producing an equally abundant season 3 years later. Or a poor return of spawning adults producing a bad season 3 years later. In fact the data collected has often suggested the opposite result. So the question of how many fish are spawning may not be that important!

Maybe the question should be how many salmon do we need spawning in this stream? and how many do we need in that one?

An example of what I am getting at here is this. If I were to take a group of salmon anglers to the Montrose stream, and show them 400 salmon spawning in it, they would all say wow! That is so amazing! what a great season it will be in three years time! The reality is yes! a lot of eggs will hatch out in those 200 redds and grow into little salmon. But do the anglers realise that almost all of these salmon will die?

The reason for this is that when the, “approximately 600.000 little salmon fry” have absorbed all the food they carry in their egg sacks and wiggle out of their redds. They will need the spring fed Montrose stream, as their nursery, to provide them with their new food source. Here is the problem, there are not enough micro invertebrates, or insects, in the Montrose stream to support 600,000 salmon fry.

So they will be hungry! Yes, but not only that, they will be weak. As we know salmon are not stupid, and as all species of animals do, they will go looking for food. Unfortunately however, if they leave the Montrose nursery stream prematurely they are then instantly met by the mighty snow fed Rakaia, which offers even less than where they came from!

Salmon stock returns.
Wild origin counts will not be available until next month, but early indications are that a good number of salmon have returned to spawn. Hatchery returns are evident earlier due to the mainly low country location of them. At this point of time approximate figures for the Silver Stream trap Waimak are about 100, Montrose trap Rakaia 100. At the Otukaikino we have observed at least 25 adults at the out flow of the race ways at Isaacs, non trapped. This is looking very encouraging due to the recent release program there which is in it’s third year now. A trap was installed on this stream this week to gather more data.

Harvest time will start with the hatcheries stock over the next week, and another generation of salmon will be nurtured for the 2014 enhancement release program.

Fin clipping weekends proved very successful the past two weeks and are over now for another season. Thanks to the amazing dedication of over 100 volunteers from the NZ Salmon Anglers Association and The Canterbury Lurefishing Association, and members of the public, 155.000 smolt were fin clipped, and are now ready for release in July this year.

Salmon and Trout Scene
Prospects for a salmon are looking tough again for this weekend with the rivers being so clear, again! There is a bit of rain forecast though which will at least keep conditions dull which may help. There was a report from last week of a Rakaia angler landing a 12 and a 32 pound salmon on a wet miserable morning in the mid reaches. So there is still the odd one there. The lower reaches on the Waimak and Rakaia are quiet now and it seems like that will be it for this season.
Best options for a fish will be in the upper reaches this weekend. It is important to remember that there is no salmon fishing permitted in the western zone. The white posts defining the East/West boundary zones are clearly marked and listed in your regulation book. This also includes , no salmon fishing permitted in Lake Sumner which is also in the Western zone.
For trout anglers, the low country streams can be good fun at this time of year as mayfly hatches can be abundant on dusk, especially on cloudy days. Lake Coleridge often fishes well this month for rainbow trout, which will be in nice condition. Spinning or fly fishing around the lake edge near inflows is the best bet. Trolling with a dark coloured toby or rapala is also a good option this month.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 12 April 2013

As the salmon season tapers off in some rivers, many anglers have packed their fishing gear away until next season, however there are still reports of good numbers of salmon in both the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers. The mid reaches of the Rakaia, particularly between the SH1 and Gorge Bridge are worth a look before 8am each day. In the Waimakariri, the mouth, Macintosh’s Rocks and the Banana Hole all still yielding fish. Reports I have heard indicate that there are also still reasonable numbers of salmon in the upper reaches of the rivers below the white posts and fishing in both the Rakaia and Waimakariri Gorges has been yielding a few salmon for keen anglers in recent weeks, although these two gorges are really only accessible by jet boat, and are becoming increasingly harder to catch as the season comes to an end. The Waiau and Hurunui Rivers have quietened right off now with only the odd salmon caught in recent weeks.

The weather forecast for the weekend looks great with light winds until Sunday evening. With low and clear rivers at present, trout fishing upriver can be quite rewarding and both the upper Rakaia and Waimakariri rivers have been producing some nice trout in the side braids and holes in recent weeks. Please remember that fishing for both trout and salmon is now closed in the Western Zone of the Rakaia with Waimakariri anglers having until the end of April to fish for trout in the western zone.

Anglers wishing to head into the high country might like to try Lake Coleridge, as salmon are starting to think about spawning and are often caught either near the mouth of the Ryton River or trolling around Ryton Bay in April. Remember fishing is closed within 100m of any inflowing stream during the winter season so you only have until the end of April to take advantage of this salmon fishing near the Ryton Mouth.

Salmon fishing in the Groynes fishing lakes has slowed off but anglers are still catching the odd salmon in the three main fishing lakes, especially the one closest to the Clearwater golf course. The best bet for parents wishing to take their kids for a fish is at first and last light using any of the authorised methods, worms and shrimps working well. Around 300 more salmon are due to be released into the Groynes fishing lakes late next week.

Volunteers are required to help fin-clip salmon at the Montrose Hatchery this Sunday. A free BBQ lunch will be provided. This is an ideal opportunity to take the whole family out for the day with a variety of different fish to have a look at. To get to the hatchery, head South approximately 2 km from the Rakaia Gorge, take the first turn to your right up Blackford Road and head up approximately 6 km where you will see a Fish & Game sign on a fence. Please meet here at 8:45 as the gates will be locked after this. Alternatively you can meet at the Yaldhurst Pub car park at 8am car pool.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 5 April 2013

The salmon season is over and so too is the run of warm, dry and wind free days. Historically the salmon migration reaches its peak in mid March with fish numbers tapering off as the fishing season comes to an end. As in previous years, to increase the number of successful spawning salmon, the season has been shortened by a month. In the Waitaki River the salmon catch in the lower river has been affected with spilling of excess water through hydro dams in January, high flows experienced throughout the remainder of the season and a river mouth configuration which provided limited salmon angling opportunities. Conversely, fishing up river where the flows carried less sediment, the catch rate was much better and in my opinion the harvest was up on previous seasons. The number of jet boats using the Kurow boat ramp a sure indication that some success has been experienced. High flows certainly impeded pedestrian anglers access and those owning jet boats had an advantage.

The Rangitata River suffered through a period of low, clear flows in a protracted “norwest” free period later in the season however angler diarists on the south mouth recorded the best catch since the 2009-2010 season landing 548 fish. Colleague Hamish Stevens has just completed the first of 5 upper Rangitata aerial spawning counts and reports a count of 1169 spawning salmon, the highest number for at least a decade. Spawning counts provide Fish&Game with escapement populations (numbers of fish that are not caught by anglers) and redd counts, however much of what happens post spawning is beyond our management. The high count provides cautious optimism for the remaining counts, and that the salmon numbers in the Waitaki will mirror those of the Rangitata River. Waitaki River salmon spawning surveys are scheduled for mid May. Unfortunately unless there is significant rainfall in the Hakataramea River catchment in the next week or so the salmon count in this important spawning tributary will not be good. The present low flow of 960 litres per second will do little to encourage a spawning migration.

As part of CSI’s salmon conservation effort, two staff members decided to do a ranging run on the Waitaki River on Easter Monday, April 1st. They reported that there were no “April fools”, no salmon fishing was detected which was pleasing.
Sockeye salmon have been well distributed throughout the Waitaki catchment a result of the high flows and spilling of excess storage water in January. Fish & Game have received several reports of dying fish, which in all cases have been spent sockeye salmon. Unable to reach their natal spawning beds because of impassable hydro dams, they have sought out alternative spawning gravels in most Waitaki Valley lake tributaries. As with all Pacific salmon the sockeye dies soon after spawning. A species not well known, their involuntary downstream journeys has certainly raised sockeye salmon awareness amongst anglers.

The long, dry and windless period has favoured the many lake and river users. Caddis and mayfly hatches are still occurring with many specimens of the former collecting on the lighted windows of home at night.
Now that my summer projects are completed fishing is back on the agenda perhaps a bit late but if the settled weather resumes the possibilities are numerous. Slow glides under overhanging willows is a good place for the sawfly larvae to be on top of the menu. Commonly called the willow grub, it is a small but a most sought after delicacy for brown trout, and I think I know just the place to find some.

All waters have receded after recent rain however levels are slightly elevated compared with flows of one month ago.


'Sockeye salmon in spawning colours guard their buried eggs after spawning in the gravels of the lower Ohau River.” G.Hughes.

"Sockeye salmon in spawning colours guard their buried eggs after spawning in the gravels of the lower Ohau River.” G.Hughes.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 22 March 2013

Earlier this week the regions rivers had a brief reprieve from the low flows with a small fresh following the rain we received. This triggered a few salmon to head further upriver, however with river flows again low and clear, fishing has gone relatively quiet in mid-water reaches. The salmon will be sitting in deep holes again and upriver fishing is likely to only produce fish at first and last light. Over the last few weeks, the lower Waimakariri has been the place to be with reasonable numbers coming out of the tidal reaches every day.

The Waimakariri salmon run is traditionally later than other east coast rivers, and we should see good fishing continue into April, a time when most anglers have usually packed up their gear for the season! There is nor-west rain forecast for later this weekend and into next week, which hopefully brings a decent fresh to the rivers and gets the salmon moving.

Over the last two months staff and volunteers have been busy rescuing fish from a number of streams in the Lake Ellesmere catchment, along with many from the Ashley River where the flows dropped daily, stranding fish in every pool.
Some of the pools only held water for a few days before drying and the race was on to salvage as many as possible.
Thankfully the rain we had earlier this week has remedied this problem and there is now a healthy flow in the previously dry reaches of the Ashley, so let’s hope this is the end of the salvaging for the season.

Anglers please note in your enthusiasm to chase the salmon, that salmon fishing above the white posts in the western zones of these rivers is not permitted - in an effort to increase spawning numbers for future years.

On the trout fishing scene, things have gone a little quiet with trout going deep to avoid warm water and as the cool weather slows down insect activity, however it seems that Lake Coleridge has started to pick up again which it often does in the later stages of the season.

Over the past week, Fish & Game have released over 300 salmon into the Groynes Fishing Lakes. This would be well worth a look this weekend for families with children under 17 years old.

Volunteers sought for salmon fin-clipping day at Peacock Springs Hatchery

What:

Fish & Game have 60,000 eight month old salmon to fin-clip before they are released – so we need your help! The process of fin-clipping involves placing salmon in a fish bin containing an anesthetising agent where they are temporarily knocked out so volunteers can fin-clip them using scissors. They are then placed back into the raceway where they immediately recover in the fresh water.

When:

Volunteer fin-clipping days will be held the weekends of the 6th & 7th April and 13th & 14th April at 8.30am. The fin clipping will be finished by 3pm on each of these days. You are welcome to come for just one of the days.

Where:

Volunteers are to meet at the gate to the Isaac Quarry on Mcleans Island Road (Christchurch) at 8.30am. To get there turn off Johns Road into Mcleans Island Road (this intersection has major road works at present and may be closed so best to head up Sawyers Arms Road, through the Johns Road roundabout and turn left onto Logistics Road which will take you back to Mcleans Island Road). Drive past the Isaac Construction Main Office entry until you see the second entrance about 2km later on your right. At 8.30 am volunteers will be escorted to the rearing facility.

What to bring:

Gumboots, a wet weather jacket and warm clothes. Fish & Game will supply volunteers with a BBQ lunch and drinks. Kids welcome.

Why do we do it:

Fin-clipping helps Fish & Game monitor the effectiveness of their hatchery operations. Past phone surveys have indicated that around 10% of salmon caught come from hatchery releases; however at certain times of the year it can be up to 50%. Fish from the hatchery are released into the Waimakariri and Rakaia catchments, and also into Lake Coleridge.
For more information contact: Dirk Barr, Hatchery Manager
North Canterbury Fish & Game
Phone: 021 221 8378 or Office 03 366 9191

Review of regulations

North Canterbury Fish & Game are reviewing angling regulations this year. Anglers that would like any changes made to the regulations please put your request by email to northcanterbury@fishandgame.org.nz or post to North Canterbury Fish & Game, c/o The Department of Conservation, PO Box 50, Woodend 7641, by Friday 19th April. A meeting for submitters to discuss the submissions will be held at the Department of Conservation office, 32 River Road, Rangiora on the 15th May from 7 – 10pm.
North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 14 March 2013

Although it has been a fantastic summer for BBQs and camping holidays, the long dry spell is taking its toll on our lowland fisheries. The Ashley, Selwyn, Hororata, Hawkins and various Lake Ellesmere tributaries need some significant rain before they are worth fishing again. F&G staff have now salvaged over 800 trout from the lower reaches of the Ashley.
The low flows in our main alpine rivers have also made it challenging for salmon anglers. It is really only the river mouths and the lower reaches of the Waimakariri that is producing regular catches.

Although weather conditions have been great for high country fishing, the reports are that this has been tough going as well. Warm lake temperatures have meant that trout have gone deep, meaning less opportunity for shoreline anglers hoping to target cruising fish.

There is one advantage to low river levels though. It opens up opportunities to fish water that is usually too big to negotiate. Both the Hurunui and Waiau Rivers have excellent gorgy water throughout there catchments that are only negotiable in these low flows. I remember one day in March 2010 I managed to negotiate a gorge in the middle reaches of the Hurunui that is usually inaccessible. There were numerous trout in clear water feeding near the surface. They were also not as fussy as their more angler experienced upriver cousins. Apparently we are meant to receive rain on Sunday and Monday. So Saturday might be the best day to get out and explore these low river opportunities.

The lower reaches of the Waimakariri River have seen the appearance of a seal over the last week or so. At least one unlucky angler has had his potential catch taken from his line. DoC is looking at moving him on next week. The Waimakariri salmon fishing competition is being held on Saturday, and you can register at the weigh in station near the mouth until 0900.


Lindsay Black with a 20lb Salmon caught at ‘Spot X’ on the waimak this morning.

Lindsay Black with a 20lb Salmon caught at ‘Spot X’ on the waimak this morning.

For those of you wanting to take the kids out this weekend we will be releasing another lot of salmon into the Groynes fishing lakes. The salmon will be feeding by the weekend. Although bait usually works the best, this is a good area to get the kids practicing other techniques such as casting a fly or a spinner.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 7 March 2013

The drought continues with another dry week and low river flows. The small braided rivers such as the Hurunui and Waimakariri are suffering the most with flows of only 20 and 30 cumecs respectively. The Rakaia is holding out a little better with flows remaining above 100 cumecs. There is some light at the end of the tunnel however with a small amount of north west rain is predicted to fall in the Alps and across the plains on Saturday afternoon. While not likely to cause the rivers to dirty, the rain should add a few cumecs to the dwindling flows.

Salmon catches have reflected the unfavourable conditions. Most of the action has been at the mouths of the rivers where fish are congregating waiting for the next fresh. The Rakaia hosted some 800 anglers last weekend for the running of the annual salmon competition, and catches were modest; -about one fish for every fifteen anglers! Since then most of the action has been at the mouth, particularly during the top half of the incoming tide. The Waimakariri Mouth has been reasonably quiet with 4 to 8 salmon per day.

A dozen salmon were caught each day in the Hurunui surf last weekend, with around half a dozen per day since. Fishing is slightly better on the south side but be careful of the waves breaking over the low spit. Some sort of dinghy is needed to get to the north side or you will be in for a long walk. Speaking of water safety I hosted a very experienced North Island boatie-fisherman at the Rakaia Huts a couple of weeks ago. While he loved the experience he admitted to being horrified at seeing the risks taken by anglers at the rivermouth, who were standing in the waves next to the river and not wearing life jackets.

The Waiau mouth has been fishing well in recent weeks although the low flows mean getting to the rivermouth by jet boat (the only option unless you have a helicopter) is a real challenge. Not for the inexperienced or faint-hearted apparently!
Prospects for the weekend are good. We should get some rain or drizzle across the plains on Saturday which should spark a bit of salmon activity on the rivers.

The Rakaia is the best bet for upriver anglers, and should now be nicely rested after the hurly-burly of competition weekend. The Rakaia Mouth is also a good option with the 8am high tide being the perfect combination of an incoming tide at dawn. Sea run trout fishing may also pick-up at the Rakaia Lagoon now that nearby Lake Ellesmere is finally closed and no longer attracting trout in from the sea. The very clear conditions mean that sea run trout fishing at the Rakaia is strictly an “in the dark” activity but worthwhile all the same.

The weekend tide is less favourable for Waimakariri mouth anglers who like to fish the top half of the outgoing tide at dawn. McIntosh’s Rocks is less tide-affected so it might be the best bet for a dawn raid.

The Hurunui and Waiau Rivers should continue to produce salmon, perhaps at a slightly better rate if the rain and drizzle eventuates.

Finally junior anglers will be pleased to know that another tanker-load of salmon were released into the Groynes Fishing Lakes on Thursday. Once again junior anglers are advised to make use of the drizzle predicted for Saturday which should see the salmon active and feeding.
North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 22 Feb 2013

Over the last few weeks, flows in the main salmon fishing rivers have dropped to low levels and success for salmon anglers has slowed. I have heard reports of only a few salmon caught each day from the lower Rakaia and Waimakariri rivers, with the Hurunui and Waiau River yielding a few more each day.

The Waiau River fished well last weekend and although access is limited on this river with jet-boats the preferred method to access the lower reaches, those anglers that put in the effort are usually rewarded with less anglers chasing the available salmon.

We expect to see reasonable numbers of salmon show up in all the rivers sometime over the next few weeks, with the Waimakariri generally fishing well in the later half of the season a few weeks behind the other salmon rivers.
Given that the Rakaia, Hurunui and Waiau Rivers had good runs of salmon a few weeks back, this is an indication that there should be reasonable numbers of salmon show up in the Waimakariri over the next month. The Rakaia Salmon Fishing Competition is on this weekend and I am sure we will hear good reports following the weekend.

Fish & Game would like anglers to check to see if the salmon they catch are adipose fin-clipped so we can evaluate the effectiveness of our hatchery release programs. Currently 60,000 fin-clipped salmon are released into both the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers annually. We will be conducting a phone survey in May to determine the number of salmon caught in each river and this year we will be asking anglers how many of these were fin-clipped.

On the trout fishing scene, the high country lakes continue to fish well with good reports coming from Lake Grassmere and Lyndon with a large dry fly or small veltec spinner using a light trace. Fishing seems to have gone quiet at Lake Coleridge and best action has been seen at first and last light as usual, and in close to the shore. Lake Ellesmere tributaries are also still yielding a few big trout.

Fish & Game occasionally receive complaints regarding commercial trawl boat operating close to the main salmon fishing river mouths. Trawling is not permitted within one nautical mile of a river mouth from 1 January until 30 April. If you see trawl boats operating within these areas, please record the location, date, time, name and size of the vessel and call the Ministry for Primary Industries with the details.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 15 Feb 2013

Hello and welcome to the North Canterbury region fishing report. A large high looks set to move over the South Island on Saturday and hang around right through next week. So the weather looks to be good this weekend. All the rivers should be clear and fishable. The southerly changes that we have had this week should cool the main rivers down which have been running at warm temperatures. Hopefully, this will encourage some more salmon to enter the rivers. When I went to the Rakaia mouth last weekend I noticed it had three mouths and looked rather messy. The Hurunui and Waimakariri mouths looked great with loads of anglers lining the banks.


“Fish on!” – Angler Neil Hartland hooked up a 19lb salmon at the waimak mouth

“Fish on!” – Angler Neil Hartland hooked up a 19lb salmon at the waimak mouth

The Waiau is running dirtier than normal due to a clay bank collapsing in the upper reaches. However, I have been informed that the Waiau is still salmon fishable. Spotting trout however won’t be possible from the Hope downstream at Windy Point, or on the Waiau from the Stanley Vale downstream to the mouth.

For those of you looking to head into the high county, the conditions look superb. Although some trout can be tricky this time of year as they have been well fished over, there are days in February where trout rise readily to large attractor dry flies. Try some exploratory fishing with large Royal Wulffs or Black Gnats. If there are plenty of cicadas around, tie on a cicada imitation and smack it on to the water. This can be some of the most exciting fishing as the trout don’t seem to care about presentation and they nail the cicadas very aggressively. This method works equally as well on lakes or rivers at this time of year.

If you are looking to take the kids out for a fish this weekend, 200 salmon were released into the Groynes on Wednesday. These will be feeding well by the weekend and will respond to bait or spinners. Early morning is best before the heat of the day.
North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 1 Feb 2013

After a month of dirty rivers, the last week has seen settled weather and the rivers have been running clear. However a week of scorching weather has warmed the salmon rivers and caused the fish to go quiet. A paper I was reading during the week suggested that salmon migration temporarily stops when the water temperature rises above sixteen degrees which probably explains the slow river fishing in recent days.

Prospects for the weekend could be affected a little by the weather. A north west front is forecast to move up the South Island on Sunday. This front will probably not be enough to dirty the rivers during the weekend but might create a bit of breeze in the high country on Sunday.

Upriver salmon fishing is likely to be steady rather than spectacular due to the warm water. Early morning should see the coolest river temperatures and the most productive fishing in rivers such as the Rakaia and Rangitata. However the best salmon fishing over the weekend is likely to be at the rivermouths where salmon may be congregating waiting for cooler water . The Rakaia mouth remains difficult as the effects of the massive floods in early January take a while to dissipate. However the surf alongside the mouth is a hot prospect after a week of hot weather, particularly on the south side.

The Waimakariri has yet to fire for the season which is completely normal for this late running river. However it should start to pick up any day and will be worth a look. High tide is due around 10am so plan to fish the last couple of hours of the incoming and first couple of hours of the outgoing tide. The Hurunui is also a good option. Most of the action has been on the surf on the south side. Be careful of waves breaking over the spit towards high tide.

Back country anglers might get knocked about a bit by the wind on Sunday so a day trip on Saturday might be the best bet. The smaller high country lakes should be at their best about now.

Fish and Game hatchery staff are due to release more fish into the junior fishing lakes at the Christchurch Groynes on Friday which should give the fishing a lift. However the warm water conditions mean that junior anglers should get to the Groynes Friday evening or even better, as soon as the gates open on Saturday morning before the fish become difficult to catch.

Fish and Game Rangers have been busy over recent weeks. They had a big day on the Rakaia on Saturday encountering some 80 anglers. Sadly around 20 of these were not carrying their licences and one had no licence at all. Court fines for fishing without a licence are averaging $500-$700 these days, plus court costs and often the forfeiture of any fishing gear seized. There appear to be more fishing without licence offences being detected this season; -three people were prosecuted in the Christchurch District Court just yesterday! Rangers will continue to be active over coming months so please ensure you buy a licence and that you carry it with you.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 25 Jan 2013

Hello and welcome to the North Canterbury region fishing report. The weather looks to be settling down this weekend with a large high dominating the South Island. Therefore the high-country should produce a stunning couple of days. High country lakes would be well worth a look as conditions should be reasonably calm. Stalking around edges slowly and waiting for rises is probably best as there should be plenty of terrestrial insects on the water. As we get closer to February there will also be more cicada activity which can make for exciting fly fishing.

All of the main rivers should be at optimal flows for salmon angling this weekend. There should be plenty of salmon around as good catches were reported in the surf while the rivers were dirty. These rivers have had some major flooding (especially the Rakaia), so be careful if you are driving around trying to find some salmon water. A lot of the access tracks have been badly affected and there are patches of soft shingle out in the riverbed.

The Rakaia is still a little dirty from the big flood. It looks as if it may be cutting into some banks further up the catchment making it dirtier than it should. There are still plenty of fish being seen on the river, it is just a matter of finding some suitable water. The Waimakariri is reporting good catches from the lower reaches. The colour of the Waimakariri is clearing more quickly than the Rakaia as well.

Lake Ellesmere tributaries are continuing to fish well. Lots of large fish can be spotted in the Selwyn during the day. However, you are unlikely to fool these fish during daylight hours. Improve your chances by fishing the evening rise or at night when they gorge themselves on bullies.

Remember that for the kids there were fish released into the Groynes last Friday. There will still be fish to catch from that release. Or you could take the kids further afield to Lake Lyndon. Lake Lyndon is full of small rainbows and can be great fishing on a calm day. Remember that junior licence holders can fish with bait there but adult licence holders can only user article spinner or fly.

Lastly, please be aware that NIWA are currently carrying out surveys on Lakes Grasmere, Sarah, Hawdon and Pearson. We hope that doesn’t get in the way of weekends angling plans.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 18 Jan 2013

North Canterbury reportFor yet another week anglers have been limited to the smaller rivers in the region as all of the larger rivers in the have been high and dirty making them unfishable due to heavy rain in the alps. Things are not likely to change in a hurry with heavy rain forecast for the Southern Alps again this weekend which will lead to another week of unfishable rivers.

Although the main rivers have been unfishable for some time now, some of the spring fed streams in the high country have cleared between freshes, creating opportunities for anglers. Often these spring creeks act as a refuse for main stem fish as they seek shelter from the floods. On a positive note, Sunday saw around 30 salmon taken from the Rakaia surf and given the number of salmon about before this spell of large floods, there should be plenty more waiting around the mouth for the river to clear.

Sea run trout fishing has also been relatively quiet recently, however with a bit of luck this weekend should see the lower reaches lure fishable before the next fresh comes down the river.

When the wind has allowed, high country lake anglers have seen some great fishing with good insect activity and fly fishing the standout method in most lakes. Fish & Game will be releasing another 200 salmon into the Groynes Fishing Lakes again tomorrow and remember this is for juniors only as we have had a number of adults fishing these lakes illegally.

Please note; Rangers have been actively patrolling the high country lakes recently and will continue to do so in coming weeks, so anglers please remember to carry your licence with you at all times, as a walk back to the vehicle to retrieve your licence for a ranger when the fishing action is hot, does not help anyone!
Good luck if you are heading out for a fish this weekend
North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 3 Jan 2013

The last week has seen some very volatile weather and fishing conditions in Canterbury. The braided rivers came down dirty just before New Year, dropped a little over the next couple of days and then came down in huge floods on Wednesday. I was at the Rakaia Mouth and the site of nearly six thousand cumecs thundering out to sea was something to behold. This flow equates to roughly thirty times the mean flow of the Rakaia, which is considered a big river to start with.


The huge rainfall that preceded the flood put constraints on fishing in the region. The backcountry has been a write off for most of the holiday break with strong winds and rain forcing people off the water. However during the odd occasion where the wind has waned the fishing has been good. The warm weather means that the annual lifecycle of terrestrial insects is well advanced and trout have come into the shallows to chase them. One angler reported excellent fishing at Lake Hawdon and I am sure that the other smaller lakes are fishing equally well.

Despite the floods the salmon fishery continues to produce the goods in what is turning out to be one of the best seasons for around 15 years. The dirty rivers mean that most of the fishing has been confined to the surf areas on the south sides of the rivermouths. The predominant current on the east coast of the South Island is northerly which means the dirty river water tends to be carried in that direction leaving the south side clear. However as soon as the dreaded Canterbury north easterly wind kicks in, the south side becomes dirty also.

The Rakaia saw reasonable surf fishing on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday when a strong north wester was keeping the surf clear on the south side. While not as productive in the surf as the Rangitata, catches of eight or nine fish per day represented some of the best surf fishing seen at the Rakaia in a number of years. The Hurunui produced between two and six salmon per day before the flood. For some reason the Hurunui has been producing particularly big fish this year with a number of salmon between 20 and 25 pound having been caught.

Prospects for the coming weekend are again influenced by the weather. The recent flood will keep the braided rivers dirty for the next five to seven days , and with more north westers predicted for the middle of next week, it might be a while before we see clear rivers. Salmon fishing will be confined to the surf of the south sides of the Rakaia and Hurunui rivers, and is worth a look any time the wind is blowing from the north west or south west. The Waimakariri mouth is less suited to surf fishing so its anglers will have to be more patient or fish elsewhere.

The Ellesmere stream mouths are likely to fish well over the coming weeks. The lake has been open to the sea for some time now which should bring in fresh stocks of sea run trout. The warming of the lake should cause the trout to congregate around the cooler stream mouths where they are often caught by anglers fishing with streamer flies after dark. The lower Selwyn River and Harts Creek are the most consistent of the Ellesmere stream mouths given their larger flows and presumably cooler water.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report : 28 Dec 2012

The main salmon rivers were unfishable for much of the last week, however they are all now fishable and will be in great condition for the next few days. Although the Rangitata River is out of the North Canterbury region, it is being fished by many Christchurch anglers, and is still the standout river for salmon anglers with continued reports of great success. Some experienced anglers even going as far as to say that this is the best season they have ever experienced salmon fishing.

Over the last month the Rakaia and Waimakariri rivers have also produced good numbers of salmon and in great condition. The Rakaia mouth however has not been ideal this season for salmon and most have been taken up-river. The Hurunui River has also started to see a few salmon taken at the mouth and I am sure the Waiau will have also. However the locals there keep any news of success pretty quiet, and I have yet to hear how this river is fishing. Although I am sure salmon will also be entering the mouth as all the East Coast rivers tend to follow similar trends. Sea-run trout fishing continues to be successful in the tidal reaches of all the main rivers with trout in great condition.

River and lake trout fishing in the region has been reasonably productive in recent weeks, especially early morning as the warmer weather is producing good insect hatches in the high country. I have heard good reports coming from Lake Pearson and Lake Grassmere. These lakes should fish well using either a green or brown beetle imitation in the evenings.
The Ellesmere tributaries continue to fish well with good reports coming from the lower Selwyn River, with a 19lb trout taken last week. I have not heard reports from Harts Creek or the LII, but I am sure they too will be fishing well. These rivers are also best fished late evening and into the night.

Although not a species managed by Fish & Game, kahawai fishing has been exceptional this year around river mouths for surf anglers and this is a great way to get juniors excited as the kahawai put up a great fight.

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