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Weekly Fishing Report– Central South Island Region-2017

Published on Friday, March 17, 2017 - 11:00

Each Friday Central South Island Fish & Game Officer Rhys Adams files the fishing report, If you would like to receive the Weekly Fishing Report direct to you inbox, click here to subscribe.

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Weekly Fishing Report – CSI- 24-03-2017

A bit of rain and a bit of sun will be the theme of the last weekend of the sea run salmon season in the Central South Island Fish & Game Region.

Next Friday, the 31st of March is the last day of the season. 

The rest of the summer season continues through to the last day in April, and then year round fisheries and winter seasons will see us through to the next October the 1st.

So plenty of fishing options ahead.

If you are a one-eyed salmon angler then by next weekend it will be time to turn your attention inland to the canals and lakes of the Mackenzie Basin where year round salmon fishing is on offer.

Before winter kicks in though, remember the last two public holidays before winter are just around the corner.

Easter and ANZAC weekend offer enough time to plan a decent trip to finish the summer season.

Many will head to the canals, last year while we were conducting an angler use survey at the canals we recorded the Sunday of ANZAC weekend (ANZAC day fell on a Monday) as the busiest day of the season.

Around 500 anglers fished throughout the canal system that day, which is more than on Boxing Day etc.

If big fish are your buzz, then the canals are the go-to place in the Mackenzie.

After the Canals I’d be looking to fish either the Ahuriri River or Lake Alexandrina.

Although fishing the Ahuriri could be a bit frustrating currently.

Fish & Game Officer Hamish Stevens was there last Wednesday conducting an angler satisfaction survey and said that spawning sockeye salmon were schooled up in numbers and swimming around erratically throughout the pools and spooking easily.

He said the trout couldn’t but be disturbed by these. If you have fished the Ahuriri lately please fill in our online angler satisfaction survey, we’d love to get some info from you. Here’s the link.

Our spawning surveys reveal that the sockeye spawn has peaked and they are dying off at a rate of knots, as they do. If you want to see sockeye spawning you better go look quick.

The Twizel River is the most easily accessible spot to do so.

Brown trout in the 6-9 pound class are common up at Lake Alexandrina, but a few even bigger get caught there each year.

This past week Fish & Game staff were up at the lake undertaking annual maintenance on the two spawning creeks at the lake, Scotts Creek and Outlet Creek.

Plenty of work has gone into these two creeks by the Lake Alexandrina Conservation Trust in recent times to modify the creeks to improve spawning habitat.

The fishery is considered to be limited by spawning habitat rather than food availability.

One part of the enhancement was the introduction of tons of ideal size spawning gravels.

So, each year Fish & Game head up to the creeks and mechanically ‘reset’ the gravel spawning beds by pushing the back upstream with a small digger.

While there, we got talking to trust member Alister Clarke, who informed us that some big fish had been caught this summer including a rainbow over 10 pound.

The biggest he had heard of was a 14.5 pound brown.

He’s been fishing a lot to and caught a fair few, most being rainbows in the 2-3 pound range and he reckons the enhancement works have meant more of these are around than there used to be.

Alister and the Conservation Trust will be at the lake undertaking more enhancement works of the creeks this weekend and he said anyone interested can come and lend a hand.

They are meeting at 9:30 am on Saturday the 25th of March at the top end huts.

First job is to install rock block weirs that increase the velocity of Scotts Creek around the gravel beds.

Second job is back down at Outlet Creek placing rocks on the banks of the creek to narrow the stream.

There will be a BBQ for lunch. Apart from Fish & Game and the trust, Genesis Energy make this ongoing maintenance possible by funding the efforts.

The efforts to enhance Outlet creek have gone downstream this week.

Massive diggers and a loader have skilfully enhanced the final enhance-able section down the bottom end of Outlet Creek near Lake MacGregor.

Huge boulders now line the banks, and they are filled with graded spawning gravels.

This season trout will have even more area to spawn.

Good news for the future of the fishery.

Alister said the conservation trust couldn’t have achieved the expensive enhancement without the help of Pub Charities and the Mackenzie District Council who assisted with funding.

I wanted to share pics of the work with you all but a power at the office means my photos are trapped on the work computer and I’m writing the report at home.

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Weekly Fishing Report– Central South Island Region – 17-03-2017

The weather should be pretty good this weekend and our rivers will be flowing clear and fishable.

A short and sharp southerly front is set to blast through Canterbury in the wee hours of Saturday morning and some cloud should hang around following it.

I’d guess the front is not wet enough to be a problem for river levels.

Last weekend and earlier in the week we had a good long period of light rain in the low country and a few rivers like the Pareora and Te Ngawai which had been threatening to dry in places got a nice top up.

This rain also made it to the Hakataramea valley which often misses out.

The timing of the rain was great as we (F&G staff) had been awaiting an opportunity in late summer/early autumn to get in the Haka and measure flows in relation to salmon migration.

Historically the Haka attracted a significant proportion of the Waitaki River salmon spawning run but in recent years the flows have been so low that for significant periods of the spawning season, salmon have been unable access the river.

Sometime between now and 2024 Environment Canterbury will review the allocation of water for irrigation and other uses in the Lower Waitaki catchment.

This will be an opportunity for Fish & Game to advocate for higher minimum flows in the Hakataramea that actually allow salmon to migrate into the river and spawn without the needs for significant rain events.

The flow data we collected in the river recently will bolster our case.

In the meantime we are advocating that the review of the water allocation should be prioritised and brought forward as the passage of sports fish into the Haka is critical to the quality of the Lower Waitaki River sports fishery.

Above Right: Fish & Game Staff assess flows in the Hakataramea River after a recent rain event.

We have had plenty of reports coming into the office regarding sightings of spawning sockeye salmon, thanks for that.

Like last year they have been found in the thousands, spread out through the upper Waitaki Catchment.

They are clearly visible in places like the Twizel River near the township where hundreds can be found in a short walk of the river bank.

The most notable finding this year is that they have turned up in tributaries of the Lower Waitaki River.

The most likely reason for this is that they spilt over the dams through the summer months when there was an excess of water for power generation.

Unfortunately, a sea-run sockeye salmon has never established and the last time we found sockeye in the Lower Waitaki it also coincided with the dams spilling. 

Our sockeye are not a great sporting fish in New Zealand and are rarely caught.

Their main value for anglers is the large food resource they produce in the form of juvenile fish.

Chinook salmon and trout gobble these up.

We are confident that this food resource helps to maintain the high quality and huge popularity of the Lake Benmore sports fishery.

Left: Sockeye salmon in spawning mode, Lower Ohau River.

Continuing with the salmon theme, (sorry trout nuts) I caught up with Opihi River regular Richard ‘Davo’ Davidson to see how the salmon season has panned out down there.

Richard reckoned about 20-25 salmon have been caught in the river mouth gut, mainly by the local enthusiasts, with last Wednesday accounting for 5 of those.

He said the surf and upriver has only produced a few fish but a number of fish have run the river.

Richard is optimistic the last couple of weeks will produce a few more salmon as long as the mouth remains open.

He reckons February and March are traditionally the best months at the Opihi for salmon.

On the trout front he reckons the river is fishing well and there are good numbers about.

If you want to know how the Opihi mouth looks currently, here is a photo.

We were in a plane counting mallard ducks on Thursday.

If you look close you can see two anglers with the water to themselves at 9:15am.

Right: The Opihi River mouth 16-3-2017.

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Weekly Fishing Report– Central South Island Region – 10-03-2017

A wet front is threatening to hit the region in the weekend, it’s a hard job figuring out the best area to fish based on the ever changing forecasts.

In any case take a raincoat on your fishing trip.

If you are a sea-run salmon angler then best to take an optimistic view of the weather and chance your arm; after all there is only three more weekends of the salmon season left before Friday the 31st of March, the last day of the season.

Will there be enough rain to bring the flow up in the Rangitata River? Hard to say, it’s pretty low at the moment around 45 cumecs at Klondyke.

The Rangitata has been flowing low and clear for about 3 weeks straight.

In this time there has been a steady daily catch of 1-4 salmon at the mouth, although word from the river mouth was that none were caught there on Thursday morning.

21 fish have been caught so far this March (as of Thursday noon) near the south side mouth, as recorded on the South Camp weigh in board.

This doesn’t account for what was caught half a cast length across the gut on the north side.

Fish have been caught there too, I was down the river last Friday morning and witnessed one caught on each side, but there was also one caught on each side at the crack of dawn before I got there.

Above Right: Ashburton local Chris Tew, Rangitata River mouth 03-03-17.

I gave Fish & Game Councillor and Waitaki River salmon angler Linn Koevoet a call to see how the fishing was down his way.

Linn accesses the river with his jet boat and generally covers the water between the SH1 Bridge and Bells Pond.

Linn said a small run went through last Sunday but other than that it has been a poor salmon season.

He reckoned maybe 5-7 fish got caught on Sunday.

With low numbers of salmon around more interest has been given to trout and Linn says there are surprising numbers of trout around.

He has observed that many trout caught are 1.5-2lb rainbows with the occasional 4lb fish caught.

Linn reckons a decent run of sea-run browns must have come into the river recently and he caught a large one of these, a solid 8lb hen, and he’s heard of others caught too.

Linn said he’s catching the trout on classic salmon lures: zeddy’s and Colorado spoons.  

The Waitaki River flows have been fluctuating a lot lately and this is an issue for anglers as it causes large amount of didymo to float down the river and it gets hooked on lures easily.

Linn targets river flows between 300 and 400 cumecs and during spells where the flows havn’t fluctuated much.  

Fish & Game Officer Hamish Stevens was in the high country on Wednesday and while ranging checked 30 anglers on the Ohau B and Ohau C canals. 

Hamish checked the angler’s licences and compliance with bait fishing rules.

All anglers were licenced but one was using bait not defined as legal.

In this case the angler was using a strip of salmon flesh.

If anglers wish to use fish for bait the fish must be whole and fully intact, as “natural fish” is legal bait but that excludes any portion of a fish.

Find this definition yourself on page 7 of the regulation guide by clicking here.

On the morning the fishing was tough, with very little action observed by Hamish.

One angler did have an encounter with a canal monster.

When hooked the fish raced across the canal.

When the angler realised he was about to be spooled he tightened the drag and ‘ping’, the line broke, game over.

A Fish & Game Officer’s work load is varied and Hamish and I were on the banks of the Temuka River on Monday educating the Temuka Scouts about the ecology of the river.

We showed the kids some invertebrate samples and electric fished out some fish that eat them.

The highlight of the day for the kids was the big old longfin eel, but for us Fish & Game officers it was the swarms of mayfly nymphs that were clogging up our sampling nets.

I’d say there is plenty of tucker in the river for the resident trout.

Left: Fish & Game Office Hamish Stevens shows the Temuka Scouts a juvenile brown trout.  

Sockeye salmon are in spawning mode now and we have observed or heard reports of them in the following waters; Ahuriri River, Omarama Stream, Twizel and Fraser rivers, Lower Ohau River, Mary Burn , Forks River, Tekapo River and Otematata River.

Please email Fish & Game Jayde Couper (jcouper@csifgc.org.nz) if you observe them in any other waterways.

The season is currently closed for sockeye fishing in rivers and streams.

If you want to catch one then Lake Benmore would be your best option.

We anticipate the peak of spawning activity will occur in the next week or two so there is still a chance to catch an aggressive pre-spawning fish in the lake before it runs a river or stream to spawn.     

Finally in this report, a reminder for a game bird hunters, applications to ballot for our opening weekend hunting stands will only be received up to 5pm on the 13th of March. For details on how to apply visit our website at this link.     

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Weekly Fishing Report– Central South Island Region – 03-03-2017

Caught a Tench lately? Ever heard of coarse fishing waters? If you are wondering what I am getting at, it’s the fact that unique fishing opportunities exist in the Central South Island Region (CSI) that are available to sports fishing licenceholders but are rarely utilised.

In CSI we have four designated coarse water fisheries.

Two are tributaries of the Kakanui River: Waiareka Creek and Island Stream and the other two are Centennial Park Lake and Saltwater Creek in Timaru.

Above Right: Ken Baker's best bag of Tench from Island Stream, Maheno.   

Tench and Perch are classed as both sports fish and coarse fish.

Anglers who target them in designated coarse waters can legally use different methods from trout and salmon fishing.

The main difference in methods is that you can ground bait/berley in coarse fishing waters, you can use any type of bait and you can use a rod that doesn’t have a reel.

There are other rules that differ too.

The coarse fishing regulations are in the first schedule of the regulation guide, and the regional named/designated coarse fishing waters are listed in the regional rules.

In many regions there are no coarse fishing waters listed. Click here to link to an online version of the regulation guide.

I am one of the majority of licenceholders who have never used coarse fishing methods or targeted Tench so to find out a bit more about our local options I called Waimate angler Ken Baker and asked him to share some of his knowledge.

Ken has targeted Tench in Island Stream, near Maheno a few times and has had some luck.

He says it’s not unusual to have fishless days and landing fish can be a challenge too, as they fight “like bulldogs” and will seek any cover available like logs, undercut banks or over hanging willows.

Ken reckons the Tench in Island Stream are a healthy size, and he kindly shared a photo of his best ‘bag’ from there, five fish between 5 and 6 pound which he caught a couple of season ago.

Ken couldn’t tell me what Tench tasted like, catch and release is standard practice.

Another traditional aspect is that fish are kept live in a ‘bag’ and at the end of the fishing session the bag is weighed and all the fish are released.

‘Bagging’ live fish is another option only available to the coarse fish angler (refer to page 8, sports fishing regulation guide).

Like many coarse water anglers Ken prefers using sweet corn kernels as bait for Tench and if time allows he ground baits the day before fishing and clears some of the weed away and trims any willows that impede him casting a 12ft rod.    

Island stream like other Tench waters is a slow flowing, tannin stained and weedy, lowland rural creek with big still pools.

Tench are only active in warm water so the height of summer is the best time to fish.

Ken reckons by March the water temp is probably too cold already.

You will struggle to sight fish Tench but when they feed a trail of fine bubbles gives away their position.

To spot feeding bubbles and to maintain your float position you will want a windless day.

I asked Ken if it was worth just having a go for Tench with trout gear.

He reckoned you’d probably struggle.

It’s best to use 12ft rods, which are helpful to steer Tench away from cover.

He reckons a 12ft surfcaster would be better used than your standard 6ft trout spin set.

He also said they are fussy and so you will need a light float, 5lb line, and have to fish precisely on the stream bottom.

Coarse anglers often measure the depth of their position to the millimetre.  

Aside from Tench, Ken said there are a few perch, brown trout and eels in the stream and that he’s always been granted access by landowners on request.

The Stream flows almost entirely through private land.

As for the other designated coarse fishing waters in CSI: Historically speaking, Waireka Creek, Centennial Park Lake and Saltwater Creek hold Perch and Tench populations.

What are the stocks like today? We’d like to know from you! Please give me an email if you have any first-hand knowledge of Perch and Tench numbers in these waterways from the past few seasons (radams@fishandgame.org.nz).

Perch and Tench are found in other waters of the CSI that are not named coarse waters.

In these locations sports fishing regulation must be adhered to.

If your keen to get started and learn the trade and purchase purpose fit gear there are no local coarse water/ float fishing clubs in CSI but there are options in Christchurch.

I’d advise searching the internet for clubs, how-to info and tackle.

     

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Weekly Fishing Report– Central South Island Region – 24-2-2017

By this time next week it will be March and officially autumn.

If you need an excuse to head out fishing then I’d say “go for it” while the weather is still mild, the days are long, and the fish are in good conditions after a summer of feeding-up.  

The weather forecast for the weekend is looking pretty good.

Maybe a bit of rain on Saturday evening and Sunday morning but all in all nothing to put off the casual angler, let alone the hardened.

For the salmon surf anglers there will be some small to medium size waves to deal with and generally onshore winds from the south and east, so based on the Metservice surf forecast for Jacks Point in Timaru I’d say it’s worth an optimistic look, but plan ahead to fish the river as it could be a bit rough.

If you intend to fish the Opihi River mouth, you might be out of luck, it appears to be blocked.

I can tell this by looking at the ECan river flow website at this link.

On the graph there should be a daily fluctuation of flow, which resembles the effect of the rising and falling tide.

When there is no daily fluctuation and the river height just rises you can guess that the mouth is blocked and the river water is building up in the lagoon.

ECan mechanically opens the mouth when the lagoon gets too full and floods the surrounding farms and hut.

This is usually when the lagoon height gets to around 2.7 metres.

In terms of rainfall and river flows we are in the most settled spell of the summer and small streams are flowing low and clear, and algae growth is a feature in many places.

Rivers like the Temuka become sluggish in these conditions and the pools need to be fished with still water tactics.

Fish & Game Officer Jayde Couper fished the Temuka recently and spotted about 10 brownies in a 1km stretch.

The Rangitata River flows have finally subdued and have been under 100 cumecs since the 16th of February.

The salmon catch-rate has picked-up a bit in February but is still not as good as we all hoped for.

I spoke with Linda Whipp this morning (24th) morning and she said there has been 28 salmon weighed in on the south side for the month, three on those were yesterday.

A quick reminder that the last day to fish of open season for salmon fishing in the headwaters (above Turn Again Point) of the Rangitata is the 28th of February.

Hamish Stevens was ranging at the upper Ahuriri River on Wednesday and said the river was clear and great for sight fishing.

The flow on the day was recorded at around 18 cumecs on the ECan river flow website.

During our surveying efforts up there this season we usually bump into about 5 anglers, but this has been when the water was hazy from a silt laden inflow.

Now that the river has cleared up the anglers have cottoned-on, Hamish caught up with 12 anglers.

He said some were having a great time catching brownies on dry fly.

Most of the access points had a vehicle or two, and he mentioned there was more free water in the upper section above Birchwood.   

So, again a reminder for anglers that over this season Fish & Game are undertaking a survey to find out how satisfied anglers are with their upper Ahuriri River and lagoon fishing experience.

Have you fished there recently? If so, an online version of the survey, can be found on our website by clicking here.

We plan to use this information to maintain the experience anglers have always cherished.

On a side note for those angler/game bird hunters.

We are now accepting ballot applications for hunting stands administered by Central South Island Fish & Game.

Click here to link to our website for more details. 

Catch you next week

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Weekly Fishing Report– Central South Island Region – 17-2-2017

This season I have shared with you some photos of activities Fish & Game staff are involved in, for example releasing salmon smolt into an Ashburton River tributary, or brook trout into Lake Emily.

In all fairness though, not so photogenic staff activities make up the bulk of staff time.

So, I haven’t taken any photos of the staff sitting behind computer screens, sending emails, writing reports or meeting with landowners, government agencies and recreational groups to ensure our sports fish and game bird resources are protected and accessible.

This type of work goes on every week without fail so I thought I’d share just one aspects of behind the scenes work we have been involved with in the last six months.

Fish & Game staff are involved with the tenure review process.

My simplified explanation of Tenure review is that it is a process that gives farmers who are leasing government owned land opportunity to buy some of that land and own it freehold.

The rest of the lease area returns to the Crown and can be utilised for recreational public uses, such as DOC managed conservation area, and angler access.

When the farmers and government agencies are discussing their options Fish & Game staff get involved and advocate for ongoing maintenance or enhancement of the existing resources in the area and for enduring legalised access to fish and hunt.  

As an example, often the purchase of land then leads to intensification of farming practices in flat areas around waterways.

In that case we advocate for fences to be installed to prevent stock from trampling spawning ground and damaging riparian areas.

We always look to ensure reasonable access and this may involve us advocating that a farm road be converted and formalised to a legal public road or registered public access easement.

In any case the process can takes years and involved significant amounts of legal work and land surveying. During which time Fish & Game staff need to keep involved to ensure our requests are met.

In the last 6 months we have been involved with three tenure reviews and have advocated for; continued foot and vehicle access to Lake Stream at Glenfalloch Station, formalisation of a new registered public easement to Grays River at Grampian Station and fencing of trout spawning areas in Little Omarama Stream at Twin Peaks station. 

Above Right: David Shefford his Thursday morning salmon.

The Mackenzie Basin high country is photogenic and so are salmon so I’ll share a photo of David Shefford’s salmon he caught in the Pukaki-Ohau Canal on Thursday.

I was up there ranging and focussed on checking anglers fishing the area between the salmon farm on Oahu A Canal and the Ohau A power station Dam wall.

We got the heads-up on Monday that a heap of salmon had escaped from the farm and by Thursday it appeared that the bulk of the fish had been caught, one angler I talked to reckon the fish got out on Friday and that there were plenty of bag limits caught over the weekend. On Thursday there was still a decent catch-rate.

I witnessed five salmon landed in the hour or so that I was there.

It should be busy there this weekend as the remaining fish get snaffled up.

In terms of ranging, these salmon ‘break-outs’ from the farms are of high interest.

Bag limits are achievable in short time when the going is good and we certainly get lots of complaints from angler that they have witnessed anglers exceeding their limit.

Most of these complaints come days after the observation so are little use for rangers.

Left:The upper Ahuriri River near Birchwood, note the milky water colour.

So a message for those concerned that angler aren’t sticking to the rules when the fishing is easy up the canals; give us a call when you hear of a break-out and if you witness an offence give us a call immediately.

Our Temuka office phone number is 03, 61558400.

Ultimately we need to know; the exact offence committed, the physical features of the alleged offender, and car registration, and we may need to get a written statement from you.

We will follow up if possible, we often have staff and honorary rangers about in the high country.

Even if you don’t see an offence we would like to know about the break-outs from the farms so we can have rangers in the area in plain clothes keeping an eye out for anglers breaching the bag limit.

On Thursday I only encountered happy anglers compliant with the rules and I enjoyed interacting with them and clarifying some regulation queries for them.

In saying that a couple didn’t carry their licences with them.

I did however find an angler fishing without a licence at Lake Poaka, so I have some paper work to do and our seized gear cupboard gets fuller.

Last Thursday I was ranging at the upper Ahuriri River, arguably the most scenic valley we have in our region.

I bumped into to small number of anglers, who all presented their non-resident licences.

The water was still cloudy from the slip near Canyon Creek.

This cloudy water from the slip seems to have put a dampener on angler numbers in the valley this year.

If you have fished in the area this season would love to hear from you.

So, Once again a reminder for anglers that over this season Fish & Game are undertaking a survey to find out how satisfied anglers are with their upper Ahuriri River and lagoon fishing experience.

Have you fished there recently? If so, an online version of the survey, can be found on our website by clicking here.

We plan to use this information to maintain the experience anglers have always cherished.

Catch you next week

 

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Weekly Fishing Report– Central South Island Region – 10-2-2017

I hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend and got out for a fish.

There were a few salmon anglers about with reasonable river conditions on offer.

I have had first hand reports that salmon were caught at the Rangitata and Orari mouths over the holiday weekend.

Bill Whipp rang the office to mention that there were 6 salmon weighed in at the Rangitata south side weigh-in over the weekend.

You can assume that if Bill weighed them in there they are caught near the mouth on the south side, so what got caught on the north side or upriver over the weekend I couldn’t tell you.

I fished the Orari River mouth on Saturday afternoon.

It sure was pleasant sending my ticer out over the waves on a hot summer’s day, but nothing was caught by the small crowd of 4-6 anglers.

A mate of mine Jeremy had some luck there on Sunday though, catching a 9 pounder.

He watched another one landed that day too.

Above Right: Jeremy and his salmon at the Orari River mouth.

A couple weeks ago I asked for angler feedback regarding sea-run rainbows being caught in the Opihi River or anywhere else in the region.

This question came about as angler Rodger Findlay sent in a photo of his 5lb Opihi River rainbow.

The fish had hard scales falling off to the touch which led him to identify it as a sea-run fish.

He posed the question to readers of this report; have anglers encountered sea-run rainbows in the Opihi before?

Within the Opihi catchment Lake Opuha and its tributaries offer good rainbow fishing but outside of this catching a rainbow is a very rare event.

The few anglers that got in touch with me shared that they have caught or seen one or two rainbows in these parts of the catchment; Opihi upper reaches, Opihi near Raincliff, Te Ngawai River, Opuha River and Opihi lower reaches in summer and in the winter season.

The only angler who thought the rainbow they caught was sea-run, was from the lower reaches in the winter season.

So thanks to Rodger Findlay for sending in his photo of his 5lb Opihi rainbow and sparking the interest of the report readers. It’s fair to say Rodger’s rainbow was a very rare catch.

It has been a wet summer locally, and my mates from the West Coast confirm that the West Coast deserves its reputation of late as the rain has been relentless.

The West Coast rain spills over into the headwater of our rivers and this would explain why the Rangitata River has often been high, discoloured and unfishable this summer.

This also leads to our big hydro lakes like Tekapo, Pukaki and Ohau filling up with water.

When the lakes fill up the hopes of Tekapo River anglers rise.

If the lakes get high enough, and the power stations cannot process anymore water, then excess lake water must be spilled down the Tekapo and Pukaki River beds.

The benefit for anglers when this happens is that annoying clumps of didymo get knocked off the rocks in the Tekapo River with the dramatic increase in flows.

For anglers this results in a more pleasant fishing experience and for trout, an increase in available habitat for favoured prey food species.

Last week a Tekapo River angler got in touch with us to see if Genesis Energy had any plans to spill down the river, considering that Lake Tekapo levels were getting quite high.

We got in touch with Genesis and the answer to that question is that as of last Friday the lake would need to rise 1.1 metres before Genesis would spill water down the Tekapo River.

In terms of rain, the Genesis Energy Hydrologist reckoned we would need some significant rainfall events in the headwaters in the near future to achieve that sort of lake level increase.

Genesis will notify Fish & Game if they are planning to spill down the Tekapo River.

In the meantime however The Pukaki River and lower Tekapo River have received spilling water from Lake Pukaki so let’s hope the lower Tekapo River has had plenty of didymo knocked out of it recently.      

Finally in this report, on Thursday the 16th of February the Central South Island Fish & Game Council is holding its bi-monthly Council meeting at 7pm.

Licence holders and members of the public are welcome to attend.

For full details click here.

 

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Weekly Fishing Report– Central South Island Region – 3-2-2017

On Monday and Wednesday this week Hamish Stevens and I took to the skies in a Cessna airplane to monitor populations of game birds, in particular paradise shelduck and black swan.

We covered a fair chunk of the CSI region.

It was pretty evident from the sky that the recent rainfall has affected the condition of some waterways so I can pass on a few point to consider for the coming holiday weekend.

On Monday the Waitaki River was discoloured and high, the mouth positioning hasn’t changed much however.

Let’s hope some of the didymo has been blasted out to sea.

Moving further upstream Lake Waitaki was also discoloured and the lower half of Lake Aviemore was discoloured and both the Aviemore and Waitaki dams were spilling.    

The Otematata River was flowing clear after the recent flood, if anyone fishes the river we would like to hear how the trout have fared after the recent flood event.

The exposed slip near Canyon Creek continues to spill silt into the Ahuriri River affecting water clarity. On Monday I would have said it was just sight fishable in the shallow margins. Above this point the river was clear. We spotted a few fish in the lagoons. 

Lake Pukaki was spilling, resulting in the Lower Tekapo River being high and discoloured. This water then flowed out into Lake Benmore discolouring a large area around the mouth. Let’s hope the high flows knock some of the Didymo out of the lower Tekapo River. Feedback from anglers is that the didymo in the Tekapo River is a nuisance this season.

We didn’t see any schools of Sockeye salmon near the Tekapo mouth but if you ever wanted to catch one their spawning run is about to happen and the aggression that they show at this time of year holds the key to getting one to bite your lure.

February is the only month you have a realistic (and legal) chance to catch one in a river or stream.

Your best chance to catch one in the lakes would be from February to April.

Around the mouths and lower sections of Lake Benmore tributaries are the best place to target them.

Please check your regulation guide to make sure you understand the sockeye salmon regulations correctly.

Click here to link to the online version of the 2016-2017 season regulation book.

The Hakataramea River was still flowing as one stream.

Often by February the river dries up in near Wrights Crossing and the upper and lower reaches become disconnected.

The Waihao Box was open.

Above Right: silty water enters the Ahuriri River near the Canyon Creek confluence.

Our second day in the air was Wednesday and here’s a few more observations.

The Rangitata River mouth was just fishable, clarity-wise, but by the time we flew to the headwaters a 300 cumec fresh of grey silty water was heading towards the Pacific.

With a little rain predicted in the headwaters on Saturday the river will be marginal for fishing this weekend.

The mouth has only changed in shape but not position from the last decent rain event.

The mouth now exits mainly to the north.

The Opihi River mouth was open and has swung to the south, the surf was dirty but at both the Opihi and Rangitata a few anglers fished around the gut.

The Orari mouth looked same old.

Upriver on the Opihi and Opuha around Raincliff and pleasant point the summer algal cover has taken a hold, the fish are still there in reasonable numbers however, but they will be harder to spot on the dark algae.

Lake Emma was windswept and some sediment was stirred up.

Meanwhile the shallows of Lake Heron and Clearwater looked tempting for some sight fishing between gusts.

All in all there was a good amount of water around and we glanced over a life-times worth of fishing adventures in just several hours of flying around.

I kept my lunch in too which is a highlight for me every time we make it back to the airfield.

Left: The Rangitata mouth @ 10am on February 1, 2017.

Feedback from readers has been great over the week regarding Lake Poaka and rainbow trout in the Opihi River. I’ll touch on this at a later stage.

I will however share a photo from Allan Brown of a salmon he caught.

Allan Brown caught a beautiful 12 pound salmon down the Opihi mouth on the 27th of December. Allan said “It put up a good fight”.

I asked Allan if he had had any luck lately, he said he hadn’t and neither had the other he’d been fishing near.

Right: Allan Brown's beautiful 12lb Opihi Salmon.

Have a great Waitangi weekend.

After flying around the region I can reinforce that there is huge amount of options that locals have at their doorsteps.

It might just pay to check the forecast and river flows before you go.

Good luck to those game bird hunters heading out over the next two weekends of the summer special season.

Paradise shelduck numbers look good, and although we don’t count the mallards on these flights there was a nice scattering of them everywhere we flew.

Here’s a link to the game bird hunting regulation guide for those interested in summer season dates and regulations.

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Weekly Fishing Report– Central South Island Region – 27-1-2017

Last weekend most of the region received a nice dousing of rain.

Although we would have hoped for a bit more in places like the upper Opihi, altogether it helped to maintain river flows and provide trout with varied habitat.

Summer fishing conditions will resume shortly.

Two rivers had a good dung out though; according to the Environment Canterbury website the Otematata got as high as 500 cumecs while nearby the Maerewhenua got to 203 cumecs.

My Colleague Hamish was down in the area on Tuesday the 24th.

He said both these rivers have been beat-up by the flood flows with gravel beds turned over, and riparian vegetation smash around.

Chances are a few trout would have perished.

The Otematata River burst its banks and cut into the Boat Harbour Campsite near the Lake.

This resulted in gravel and debris being strewn through the area and caravans being inundated with water.

The Aviemore dam was spilling on Tuesday and both Lake Aviemore and Waitaki were discoloured in parts due to the flood waters.

The Lower Waitaki River was also high and discoloured.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes until the water of the rivers and lakes clears up.

The Waitaki River has been up to 540 cumecs and the Rangitata River had almost 900 cumecs flowing down it too.

Not huge flows for rivers of this size but don’t be surprised if this results in a shift in their mouth locations/orientations.

Above Right: Flood debris stuck on the fence and piles of gravel washed around at the Boat harbour campsite, Otematata.

Last week I told a story about my fishing trip to Lake Poaka which received a bit of interest in the media.

That was the first time I had fished the lake so I’m no local.

If you do fish the lake on a regular basis I would like to hear from you.

In particular can you tell me; how do the surrounding trees which hug the lake shoreline affect your fishing?

I’ve got my opinion on the trees but I’d like to hear yours.

Please email your response to radams@fishandgame.org.nz

Left: An angler fishes Lake Poaka on opening day 2016-2017 season.

Feedback and stories from report readers has been great this season, it certainly helps me to compile interesting newsletters on a regular basis.

It also helps me to get to know the region a bit better.

After all this is only my second fishing season based in CSI.

This week’s story to share comes from Rodger Finlay.

Rodger caught a rainbow trout in the lower Opihi River recently.

Although a rare catch, it is consistent with angling reports from over the years; a small number of rainbow trout get caught there each year.

There are of course rainbows in the catchment, Lake Opuha being the hotspot.

What’s is captivating though is that Rodger reckoned “He was definitely sea-run as hard scales easily fell off his torso to the touch”.

Now many of us will know that no sea-run rainbow fisheries have established in NZ, but to my knowledge there is no definitive reason why they couldn’t as they are physiologically capable of doing so.

Sea-run rainbow are called steelheads in North America and are highly prized by anglers.  

Right: Roger Finlay with his Opihi river rainbow.

I ran the info past my colleague Mark Webb. Mark recalled that historically there is some evidence of some rainbow trout becoming sea-run in New Zealand.

He tagged a rainbow in the lower Waitaki River back in the 1980’s that was later caught in the Kahutara River near Kaikoura, quiet the sea-going journey.

I also talked to a few ‘stalwart’ salmon anglers down the Opihi mouth, none of which had caught a sea-run rainbow in there many years of swinging shiny lures.

So my conclusion; there is a good chance it is a sea-run fish, but there are so few in existence there is no real point setting a goal of catching one.

Hard scales easily falling off in my knowledge doesn’t happen often with rainbow trout. I’ve personally seen it with sea-run brownies though.

This observation doesn’t rule out the possibility that Rodgers fish was a resident river fish that lost scales.        

This fish was released, but if it was killed we could have extracted bones out of its head called otolith.

If we spent a bit of money and payed a scientist, they could burn the otolith with a laser, capture the gas that comes off and measure the levels of certain chemical elements within the gas.

If the gas contains certain ratios of particular elements we know it has lived in sea water for a period.

A closer look at the otolith can even reveal at what age it was when it lived at sea.

This method is commonly used for fish life history research.

I did a bit of this work looking at salmon life history while employed by the West Coast Fish & Game Region.

If you have any stories of sea-run rainbows to share, Opihi or otherwise, Rodger and I would love to hear them.

Flick them to me in an email.

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Weekly Fishing Report– Central South Island Region – 20-1-2017

Young angler Max Rogers got in touch with us to share his awesome fishing story.

The story begins back in the September school holidays when Max and his big brother Johnny helped the Lake Alexandrina Conservation Trust and Fish & Game staff with the trout tagging programme at outlet Creek.

Outlet Creek is close to Tekapo, it runs between Lake MacGregor and Lake Alexandrina.

Above Right: Max Rogers and his first fish.

We filmed a You Tube video on the tagging project and angler diary scheme back in October. To see the project in action Click here

Max was so stoked on the tagging day and thought it was about time he caught a trout himself.

He started saving his money and by the summer holidays he reached his goal of $29.95 and had purchased his first fishing rod.

So, where better to head in the summer but Lake Macgregor, to test out the new rod…

His mum Debbie wasn’t too confident a 6 year old first time angler would be successful straight out of the gates, but she got a nice surprise when Max returned from a trip out in the dinghy with his first fish, a 1.8 pound rainbow trout.

Left: Max Roger helping out at the September 2016 outlet creek tagging day

If that wasn’t special enough, guess what, the fish was tagged!   

A check of the tagging records showed that Max’s fish was tagged in September too, and was one of only 305 fished tagged over the 2016 winter from Lake MacGregor and Alexandrina, what are the chances…

Well done Max, great story, great to hear it tasted yummy too with a drizzle of lemon juice.

A quick reminder to the tagging programme angling diary holders; keep filling in you diaries they are critical to the programme.

Now I have been trout fishing for a bit longer than Max, but I had a ‘first’ of my own the other day, and this one was too good not to share with you.

If you have a light stomach tough luck.

Now you may recall a few weeks back I recommended that if you fished the Twizel River a good idea would be to imitate a juvenile trout as they are abundant and a common food source for big trout…

Well I don’t think you will have a fly that can accurately imitate the prey items that the trout are eating in Lake Poaka, the lake that the Twizel River flows in and out of.

And, if you do, you will have to be a good caster.

Remember, Lake Poaka is restricted to fly fishing only. 

Anyway the story go’s; I was up there recently fishing the lake for the first time.

I spotted a trout looking ‘doggo’ i.e. sitting there spooked/resting.

With dry fly – nymph dropper rigged up, I thought why not have a cast, doubting I could catch it.

However, couple of cast later and the fish sprung to life and devoured my #14 parachute Adams.

I was a bit surprised that my offering had been accepted, but, you never look a gift horse in the mouth, right.

What was more surprising though was what happened next.

While the trout was thrashing around trying to get rid of my fly, a long orangey-pink object was ejected from its mouth.

Now, this was weird, so I had to investigate immediately.

One handed I played the fish and with the other I collected the unidentified object.

The fish gave up after a half decent battle and I was able to reunite the trout with its breakfast and get a photo.

Now the fish wasn’t small, un-weighed, but comfortably 6 pound.

The trout’s breakfast was a half-digested brown trout, head missing along with its skin and guts.

A small amount of skin and the tail were intact which lead me to identify it as a brownie.

The undigested tail end must have been protruding from its mouth.

The fillets were fully intact and of size suitable for a one person meal.

The trout eater was released but a pretty good guess would be that this 60cm battle-axe brownie had eaten a 30cm brownie the day/night before.

Now a few questions have since ran across my mind; why did he take my #14 parachute Adams, could I cast a 30cm long fly on a 6wt rod, and what size trout or salmon does a 40 pound canal resident brown trout eat for a midnight snack?           

Right: My Lake Poaka cannibal brown and his regurgitated breakfast.

If you are heading out fishing this weekend go on Saturday.

Sunday is looking pretty rough and hopefully wet.

We could do with a decent rain to freshen up the rivers.

The rain forecasts can be fickle in this part of the world.

We were expecting a small deluge on Wednesday night this week but it turned out to be pretty minor and only bumped up flow in River like the Te Ngawai River and Bowyers Stream a little bit.

Finally if you want to get in touch with me with any fishing stories or feedback from the CSI region, please send emails to radams@fishandgame.org.nz

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Weekly Fishing Report– Central South Island Region – 13-1-2017

As always, I appreciate feedback and fishy stories via email, from weekly report readers who fish the CSI region.

Lance wrote to me last week with news from Lake Ruataniwha.

I’m guessing this was after great fishing reports were presented from nearby Lakes Aviemore and Benmore.

This is what Lance had to say and the photo he shared with us, thanks Lance.

“Camping with the kids at Ruataniwha. While many travel up and down the canals, and some distance, I've blooded the grandkids on fly fishing with 5 browns the last few days no more than 3 mins from camp.

Best at 6.5lb on a small hare and copper in no more than 150mm water.” 

Above Right: Henry, Harry and Lance with a golden Lake Ruataniwha brown trout.

From first-hand experience I can say that the Opihi River near Temuka is fishing well currently.

I had a couple of evening hours up my sleeve last week so popped down to the river.

I fly fished three pools, focussing on only the best water and the parts where the glare wasn’t preventing me from spotting.

If I had a full sunny day I’d probably spend an hour or two on each pool.

In the first pool I spotted 4 large brown trout, the first, which I thought I had spooked mooched from the edge to the main current.

I plopped a #18 pheasant tail a metre in front of him fishing downstream on a 45 degree angle.

I wasn’t fishing with an indicator so when I guessed he might of taken it I struck and connected.

5 jumps and a tussle later and I had him in the net.

I thought I could catch a fish in better condition so released it.

The next three fish in the pool were feeding actively but they refused my offerings and eventually spooked.

In the next pool I spotted only one fish but the glare was so bad I walked past the best water.

A different story in the next pool however as I spotted at least 6 large brown trout actively feeding, one on the surface the rest grazing the bottom or chasing down prey.

A fat 4 pounder gobbled my #18 pheasant tail and my family and I gobbled a fat 4 pounder over 3 nights.

The image below show; the fly, my fish and the excellent colour flesh.

A gut inspection revealed that the trout had been grazing on snails in large quantities.

It was a great, short, action packed outing.

The river was in good nick where I fished.

I was expecting algal growth to be annoying being summer, with low flows and warm water, but no such issue for me near Temuka.    

Left: fly, fish, flesh.

On the salmon front, we are still awaiting the first decent size run of fish this season in all our popular fisheries.

As of yesterday afternoon the has been 4 salmon weighed-in for January at the Salmon Anglers weigh station at Bill Whipp’s hut on the South side of the Rangitata River.

However, I am unsure how many have been caught on the north side and upriver.

The river was looking great yesterday but a 200 cumec freshe came through late last night (Thursday) so it may be discoloured for the weekend.

We have had first hand reports from a keen eyed angler who works occasionally at the Waitaki Dam; that at least 3 salmon have run the Waitaki River and made it to the dam.

We have also heard a report that a salmon was caught near Duntroon about 10 days ago.

I have heard little news from salmon anglers regarding the Opihi River.

The mouth was blocked for some time but opened up again on Wednesday.   

The weather for the weekend will be affected by a westerly front hitting the main divide.

I reckon it will be mostly sunny with gusty winds in the low country but near the main divide in the backcountry expect rough weather.

Keep this in mind if you are heading to the Ahuriri River as this may result in a high and discoloured river.

Once again a reminder for anglers that over this season Fish & Game are undertaking a survey to find out how satisfied anglers are with their upper Ahuriri River and lagoon fishing experience.

Right: The main lagoon in the upper Ahuriri River valley.

Have you fished there recently?

If so, an online version of the survey, can be found on our website by clicking here. We plan to use this information to maintain the experience anglers have always cherished.

Catch you next week

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Weekly Fishing Report– Central South Island Region – 6-1-2017

If you’re still on holiday, lucky you, have fun.

If you’re back at work, this report may just instil a little jealousy as there is some pretty good fishing on offer currently that I can fill you in on.

It may just bring out the weekend warrior in you.

Last Friday (30 Dec) I was ranging down at Lakes Benmore and Aviemore.

It was Deja vu at for me at Pumpkin Point on Benmore when an anglers’ wife asked me if there were any fish around.

“Of course” was my knee-jerk answer, and then I spotted two cruising through the shade of the overhanging tree about 3 metres in front of us.

A bit of impromptu guiding by me and the angler had his lure running past the fish, but not even a follow.

I consoled the angler mentioning that they were brownies, the most cunning of trout.         

A pair of Temuka anglers were encountered up at the Otamatapaio Station access point.

They were all smiles, reckoning that the fishing at the Ahuriri Arm was better than last year, and the best fish of the of the trip (so far) was a 3.3lb brown.

While ranging around the canals yesterday (4 Jan) I bumped into another angler who had fished the Ahuriri Arm on the 3rd of January.

He had been having a blast on the rainbows but said the browns were a bit fussy.

He landed about 18 and lost about 15.

He said the browns were in the shallows but the rainbow were a bit deeper and harder to spot.

In fact, the best method was to spot a rainbow hitting the surface and then cast about a metre or two in front.

Above Right: Ahuriri Arm fishing at Lake Benmore - it is shallow so small boat or wading access is preferred.  

Lake Aviemore is fishing great too!

The anglers I checked there last Friday hadn’t had any luck and two of them didn’t have a licence either!

Now their rods are locked up in our office as we process the offence.

Left: Great fishing and plump rainbows at Lake Aviemore.

Evidence of the great fishing was emailed to me by an anonymous angler with the subject line “Aviemore fishing well”.

The anonymous angler wouldn’t say where on the lake he caught his rainbow trout but it looks like it was from a boat and he says the fish he caught were between 4 and 6 pound.

The photo here shows the quality of the fish, maybe a cut above Benmore currently.

The canals have been fishing well over the x-mas period, I’d say better than last year.

Yesterday I saw brown, rainbow and salmon in chilly bins.

Some of the rainbows were massive.

One conservative angler at the Ohau B caravan park-up showed me his 15lb rainbow jack, I suggested he ask around to borrow some scales as he’s probably got an 18 pounder, possibly even 20.

Across the canal I caught up with fellow Taranakian Jeff Collins.

The day prior, he had caught a 21 pound rainbow and 5 legal size salmon of which he kept one.

When I checked his licence he agreed to share his mornings catch with us so I took a pic.

Jeff fishes with bait, puts in long days and gets rewarded for his effort.

Right: Jeff Collins with a plump rainbow and salmon.

Still in the Waitaki but on a different note; we have received a report of sea-run salmon catches.

Our third hand info is that four sea-run salmon were caught in the Waitaki River below the SH1 Bridge.

Great news, and If someone wants to back this report up please me with details, how big? How delicious? How’s the trout fishing too? 

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