Looks like we finally have a good window of fishable opportunity, after many weekends of poor conditions to date. The weekends forecast is pretty good, especially for anglers looking to target the main snow fed rivers. At the time of writing the Rakaia River is marginal at present and flowing at around 200 cumics and dropping fast.
This river has been fishable at around 180 cumics this season which is higher than usual due to consistently good rainfalls in the Alps. The Waimakariri River is fishable now at 85 cumics. A flow less than 100 seems to be the fishable mark this season. The forecast in the main divide is mostly West to South/West this weekend. Light rain may be possible but no moderate rain is forecast until Monday.
This forecast should provide great opportunity for all anglers high and low country, so get the lawns done now and make the most of this window.
Some great reports are still coming in of very nice fish being caught in the high country lakes. Trout up to 7 pounds are not uncommon this season, and some anglers have been beaten by supposedly bigger. It is prime time for dry fly action. Patterns such as the Black Gnat, Green Beetle, and Humpies are a good choice for the lakes. These are often used as a strike indicator, with a small nymph tied on to the shank hanging about 500mm below. This way the trout have 2 options to choose from.
Spin anglers may find that the trout are becoming more selective at this stage of the season. Lighter line of around 4 pound test, and smaller lures than you prefer to cast will be more successful with selective fish. Long distance casting is not easy with light lures but that is often not important as the fish are usually cruising not far out. Small veltic type blade spinners sizes 1# and 2#, or rapalas and soft baits will probably be the best option.
Searun trout options should be very good this weekend. On dusk will be the best time. Use feathered lures with a lead weight attached to the main line about 1.5 meters above. Silvery, or smelt type patterns are the best option. Hopes Silvery, Parsons Glory, Taupo Tigers in sizes 2# or 4#. The size of lead weight will vary depending on river current and depth but typically a range of weights between quarter ounce, and 1 ounce will cover most conditions. Barrel shaped weights are best as they are streamlined and create less line drag.
Tagged Brown Trout
Keep an eye out for the 1,800 tagged trout that have been released into the Rakaia river. Many of these trout have been caught by anglers to date and they have started to venture a lot further than their original release site. The tag numbers are very important, and a landing net is recommended so that the trout can be secured without harm whilst the number is recorded.
Please record the tag details, tag colour, number, and location of capture. Release the trout if possible and provide the information to (email@example.com) This information will be very valuable in regards to implementing future trout enhancement programs. All anglers providing this information will go into a special prize draw at the end of this season.
Junior Fishery at the Groynes
There are still some good opportunities for the kids of catching a fish at the Groynes. The best time for success is the last hour before dark. Soft baits and bait fishing with worms or shrimps should work well. Spinners such as veltics can also work around dusk. Remember a fishing licence is required for all children regardless of age and it is a 100% Junior Fishery. Licences are available at most major tackle stores, or North Canterbury Fish and Game, 32 River Road Rangiora. Phone 03 313 5728
80 nice conditioned salmon weighing about 3 pounds were released into the top pond nearest Clearwater and the large middle pond also 2 days before xmas. Fish and Game intend releasing more salmon later next week at the Groynes. Watch this report for notice of salmon release information.
Whiskey Creek Chinook Salmon Enhancement Program: Progress Report - 5th January 2017
The Whiskey Creek Chinook salmon enhancement program is now a reality. This concept began some years ago when a hatchery model was presented to council showing a detailed over all site plan, with 3 stages included, and an estimate of costs for stage 1 and 2. Subsequent to this, discussions were then held with the site location land owners ( Trust Power ) where Fish and Game explained the concept of what could be done with the 30 year old abandoned raceway site. This site had been left derelict, and the creek had been diverted away from it, after a failed commercial salmon farming venture in the 80s, and had become an over grown mess to say the least.
Trust Power were very receptive to Fish and Game plans, and positive partnership was forged, with a commitment and determination to make this happen.
From this initial meeting with Trust Power a 100 year lease was drawn up for the 30 acre area with conditions. One of the main conditions was that if Trust Power decide in the future to extend their power generation, and double their pen stocks, Fish and Game would need to move from the existing raceways area further out towards the river. There is no forecast of when or if that may happen at present, but all monetary input to the site is considered with that in mind.
Plans for the project were decided in 3 stages. Stage 1 of the project being the restoration and kit out of 2 of the old abandoned races. The construction of a utility building to be used as an office/feed store/workshop, and smoko room providing, shelter for staff and volunteers working on site. Resource consent for the re diversion of the creek was also required, and after a lengthy process was secured in March 2016.
The granting of resource consent from ECAN in March 2016 triggered the long awaited go button. After 3 years of planning it was finally time for action!
The Primary Objective
To have 30,000 salmon smolt being imprinted in the raceways in December 2016, grown to 50 grams, and ready for release directly from the site in July 2017.
One of the initial working bees, assessing how to reinvent the quake damaged headrace. Where to begin?
The Priority Plan
- Working bees, hand clearing scrub and debris in raceways, barrowing years of accumulation.
- Digger clearance of the entire surrounding site. Forming a new inflowing creek bed, and channelling an outflow with a trap area for returning adult brood stock. Levelling a site pile area for the construction of a relocate able office/workshop. Build vehicle access tracks.
- Construct a new headrace with bypasses and silt collection areas. Poly line the headrace. Build stairs to feeders. Out flow boards. Pour concrete pads for trap and headrace inflow areas. Create a native fish bypass as required.
- Construct 8 feeders, motors, timer box, solar panel etc. Netting for bird proofing races. Build 6 aluminium framed screens, clad with stainless mesh. Epoxy mortar gaps in raceway walls.
- Create a diversion for existing creek to divert. Reinstate a bridge over the new stream. Salvage any fish from the old creek bed at diversion time.
Progress to Date:
Thanks to an extremely dedicated salmon enhancement team all of the priorities listed above have been completed with one exception. The returning adult brood stock trap pad is in place, but the trap itself will be completed in March 2017.
There will in no doubt be constant adjustments being made to improve the basic infrastructure of the raceway kit out, and no doubt some unforeseen problems initially also.
With the priority plan being mainly complete the team will now focus on the completion of Stage 1, organising the construction of the utility building. This is something that will be of huge benefit to the team up there, especially in the winter months when so much of the work occurs.
We are Ready!
As 1st December 2016 we can finally announce with confidence the official opening day at Whiskey Creek is Saturday 17th December. Trust Power, Local Landowners and Lake Coleridge residents have been invited to attend and share with Fish and Game and the dedicated volunteers, the celebration of the first arrivals of Chinook salmon at the site at 11am that day.
For the first time in 30 years, these raceways now inhabit Chinook Salmon. This time the purpose will be, the enhancement of not only the Rakaia river Chinook salmon fishery, but other North Canterbury salmon rivers as well.
After years of planning, and months of hard labour by staff and volunteers, we have now officially welcomed 30,000 Chinook salmon smolt back to this site.
These smolt will be ready for release into the Rakaia river, directly from the site, in July 2017. This will be a huge boost to salmon stocks in the Rakaia river.
It is hoped that the returning adult brood stocks from these initial releases, will ensure the harvest of ova, for the enhancement of future runs of Chinook salmon in our region for years to come.
North Canterbury Fish and Game would especially like to thank all volunteers for their dedicated support with this project.
Any Salmon Around?
Yes they are moving now! There are more and more salmon stories being told daily now. It seems the Waiau and Hurunui rivers are producing some fish when fishable, and the Rakaia is also revealing a few. The Waimakariri has had a handful of salmon taken to date but the former 3 are the pick at present. It seems that they are mostly not very big at this stage with the average fish weighing around 10 pounds. This up coming period of fishability should prove the best to date for accessing just how many are about, keeping in mind that rivers have not been fishable very often so far.
This 10 pound salmon was 1 of 3 caught by angler Scott Turner in the Rakaia river late December before the last fresh.
Get out there this weekend while conditions are on the anglers side for a change!