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North Canterbury Fish & Game News and Reports

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

Latest fishing news

Fish & Game New Zealand
North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report: 27 October 2017

The weekends forecast is looking good in the high country for weekend with only isolated showers on Saturday clearing on Sunday. Coastal weather conditions are forecast to be north easterly breezes which is better than the 4 different wind directions in one day we have been having all season. A stable environment is good for trout residing in certain reaches of rivers and can provide good consistent fishing opportunities. A bit of colour on the back of small floods and freshes, in the rivers can make for good sea run trout fishing, and prospects may well be good for that at some stage over the weekend.

Some reports are starting to come in, of a few nice sea run trout being caught from the Rakaia and Waimak rivers now. White bait and smelt runs are encouraging the trout into the river deltas. A good way to be sure of fishability is to get familiar with the ECAN river flows website, and learn at what level or cumic reading the river is fishable at. Fishable flows may not be the same as they were last season! Flows relating to fishability will vary dependent on seasonal snow falls, and ground water abundance.
Anglers, please be advised that river flows and weather conditions should always be researched before planning a fishing trip.

Good flows to date in our Lowland streams and rivers are great to see this season. However the time will come that streams carrying good flows now, will fade. This season we are going to have to be very vigilant when flows drop. This is because trout will have ventured into, and re populated areas that during the past 3 years, would not have been possible. We are asking for anglers whom are out on these waterways to phone in if you have any concerns for the wellbeing of trout in these areas. If you notice any waterways that have non connected flows, or you suspect that it will be imminent, please contact the Fish and Game office 0800 347 426.

Depending on fishability, the best options for fly or spin anglers this weekend will be the lower reaches of all the North Canterbury main catchments for sea run trout, and the mid or upper reaches for resident brown trout. Some very respectable fish are there to be caught in the headwaters of our larger rivers. Be advised that river flows, and weather conditions always need to be researched before planning a fishing trip, especially inland.
For Anglers looking to stretch a fly line or spin fish in larger low country streams this weekend, rivers such as the Ashley or the upper Selwyn will be worth a look. Lake Ellesmere has been open to the sea for sometime now so prospects are looking good for trout entering the streams flowing into the Lake. Don't forget about some of our Christchurch local streams. There is some great sport to be had in streams such as the Otukaikino, Styx, Silver Stream and the Cust main drain.

Junior Fishery at the Groynes
There are still some good opportunities for juniors anglers under the age of 17 as of the 1st October for catching fish at the Groynes. The Groynes junior fishery ponds are a great place to teach your children how to cast and there is a very realistic chance that they may catch one.
Soft baits and bait fishing with shrimps or worms are favoured. 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, 595 Johns Road Belfast. Phone 0800 347 426.

Snake Creek Restoration Project – potential effect on the Selwyn/Waikirikiri River
The Water & Wildlife Habitat Trust will be working during the month of November on a project at Snake Creek (a tributary of the Silverstream which flows into the Selwyn/Waikirikiri River just above Coes Ford). The project is aimed at restoring brown trout spawning and rearing habitat so as to improve angling opportunities in the Selwyn. It also aims to help address water quality issues in the lower Selwyn. Works include: reforming the banks to reduce erosion, create a gentler slope to plant on and reduce the number of pathways for pollution to flow directly into the stream. It also includes digging sediment traps and installing river features such as boulders, wood and narrowings. All of the works have been assessed by a qualified engineer and will not reduce the flood carrying capacity of the stream. During the construction phase there could be times when sediment ends up in the waterway and is carried downstream into the Selwyn/Waikirikiri River. We ask for your patience while we develop these techniques that will ultimately improve the waterway. If you have any questions please contact Emily Arthur-Moore on 021 221 8332 or emoore@fishandgame.org.nz.
Any Salmon Around?
The only salmon around at present are mostly in anglers dreams from what I can make out. However there are often reports of salmon at this stage of the season in previous years, and someone has to be first to catch one! Watch this space...

Tagged Brown Trout Research Program.
Just a reminder that many of the Rakaia released tagged Brown Trout will have lost their double tags. Please inspect the adipose fin of any Brown Trout you catch for evidence of a partial fin clip being made. Due to the larger than average size of the trout when tagged it was only possible to cut a straight line snip at the back end of the fin. Information relating to these fish is very important to the research program so please provide that to northcanterbury@fishandgame.org.nz or phone Dirk, 021 221 8378.

Family Fishing Day at Lake Lyndon
North Canterbury Fish and Game are inviting new to angling families to an educational fishing day at Lake Lyndon on Sunday the 10th of December. The social junior fishing event will finish at 12pm with the prize giving to follow at 12.30pm. This event is the next step for all of those junior anglers who have started learning to fish at the Groynes Lakes in Christchurch. This next step is all about the High Country fishing experience, and learning how to catch trout in their wild environment. Lake Lyndon is the closest high country lake to Christchurch with a travel time of around 1 hours drive from the city.

Lake Lyndon is regarded by many North Canterbury anglers as a favorite place to fish and provides some great rainbow trout angling. The lake regulations also allow fishing from boats ie, trolling, and bait fishing for "junior anglers only” is also permitted. On the day many local fishing clubs, volunteers and Fish and Game staff will be available to help out with techniques, and advise to help junior anglers learn about the secrets to becoming a successful angler. 500 rainbow trout will also be released into the lake on the day for the event. Some of them will have lucky tags in them, and if caught by a junior angler they will receive a special prize. More details of this event will be published closer to the time.

Notice to Anglers.
Lake Coleridge, Camping Conditions at Ryton Bay, on Glenthorne Station Land.
Thanks to the generosity of the Land Owner and Managers, the paddock on the right hand side of the lane to Ryton Bay is available to be used as a base for the 2017 Annual Lake Coleridge Fishing Competition. Camping will also be permitted during the first 2 weekends in November, details below.
The paddock gate will be unlocked for opening weekend from Friday 3rd - 5th November, and again for the following weekend of the 10th – 12th November. Anglers will need to take everything with them between the 2 weekends as the paddock will be locked during the week in between.
Just a reminder that there are to be no dogs, we have ewes lambing in the area, there is no access to any other paddocks, no fires, and all rubbish is to be taken away please.

Salmon Symposium
On the weekend of November 11-12, the Central South Island & North Canterbury regions will be hosting a Salmon Symposium at Hotel Ashburton for anglers and other interested parties to review the state of our sea-run salmon fishery and the disappointing runs of recent years. We will have a range of topics and experts to talk to them during the two day symposium. If you are keen find out more about the event and register to attend please click here to link to the Fish & Game website.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report: 20 October 2017

Hello and welcome to the first North Canterbury region fishing report. The wet weather has continued this week with a couple of southerlies flicking through and keeping the temperature down. This weekend sees a return to a more westerly pattern in the backcountry and possibly a small southerly for the coast and plains on Saturday. There is some rain forecast for the main divide on Saturday but it is not meant to be heavy, so the rivers should continue to drop into the weekend.

The main alpine rivers are continuing to run quite high due to snow melt. They should be fishable for sea run trout by the weekend. They have been running quite cold this year due to the extra snow and rain. This has meant things are a bit slow for whitebait and sea run trout alike. It is early in the season though and we shouldn't complain about having cold rivers with lots of flow in them as that will change in the warmer months.

Foot hill streams such as the Ashley and Selwyn are still quite high but are clearing for the weekend. Lake Ellesmere tributaries are running clear and the lake is still open to the sea. Fish are starting to turn up in the lower Selwyn and they are the usual large fish feeding on bullies and smelt. Lowland streams such as the Otukaikino and Cam will also be high but clear. Back country rivers should remain clear during the weekend. The main issue will be the wind which is forecast to be gale force in exposed places on both days.

Take a Kid Fishing took place at the Groynes last Sunday. There is still a lot of fish left over in the ponds that were not caught during the event. There is some weed present in the ponds so fishing with light spinning gear or bubble floats with short traces is best. Fish are taking well this week. Remember this is for juniors only.

Looking ahead to the high-country opening, Glenthorne Station will be allowing us to use the paddocks at Ryton Bay, Lake Coleridge, for camping during the Fish & Game competition on the 4th of November. They will lock this paddock up again after the second weekend in November. This is private property so please treat it with respect during your stay.

Next week registrations will open for Turning the Tide, Fish & Game's salmon symposium that is being held at the Hotel Ashburton on November 11 & 12. We have some fantastic speakers coming and we need anglers to come so that together we can plan a way forward for the salmon. Keep a watch on the Fish & Game website for updates.
Tight lines.

Tony Hawker
North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report: 6 October 2017

The weather forecast is looking mainly good over the first part of the weekend in the High Country. Although there are many high-country rivers and streams which are currently closed for fishing until the first Saturday in November, and in some cases when rivers flow into high country lakes the 1st of December, there are still some areas that are open from October 1st.

These are typically snow fed larger rivers that do not flow into high country lakes. For example the Waiau, Hurunui below Lake Sumner, Ashley and Waimakariri, (not the Broken River system and its tributaries ) Poulter, Rakaia, and all of its tributaries, including the Wilberforce river are open. No rivers that flow into any high country Lakes, such as Lakes Sumner and Coleridge are open until the 1st December. All high country Lakes open the first Saturday in November ( 4th Nov ).

The open for fishing locations at present are numerous in our region. Anglers are reminded that a thorough read of the regulations booklet is important before choosing a destination to fish! The point of the information above is that firstly anglers need to be aware that many of the above locations are subject to high country weather conditions and predicting wind and rain fall in the Alps is very important when heading to these locations. We will do our best to study weather forecasts for our region in these weekly fishing reports, but we also advise you to do the same as we are by no means meteorologists!

The current forecast for the high country this weekend is for light NW developing Saturday afternoon, with a front delivering moderate rain in the divide by Sunday afternoon, winds may also be strong NW by Sunday inland. River flows are dropping away now after the last big freshes and prospects may well be good for fishability in the main rivers this weekend.

Check the ECAN River Flows, and the Met Service Websites for the latest information on flow changes and rainfall before heading out for a fish.

The second point to the above mentioned closed waters is that at this time of year Fish and Game often receive calls regarding anglers fishing them! Please if you do witness any of this going on contact us immediately. We will have rangers there asap!

Fish and Game Staff, contacts. Dirk, 021 221 8378, Steve, 021 221 8327, Tony 021 221 8325.
It is still quite early days for Sea Run trout fishing, although prospects are good for catching resident trout. All the low land streams will offer opportunities, especially in the evenings, and into the dark in the Ellesmere tributaries. Lake Ellesmere was opened to the sea on Sunday 1st October. The timing of this should be perfect for Sea run trout to make their way into the lake and follow the bait fish up the inflowing streams.

Sea Run trout prospects in the main snow fed rivers are best when the river is slightly discoloured. As the river clears they tend to be more active feeders on dusk, and into the night. This can offer very exciting fishing. They will be especially active if there are smelt present.

Trout prospects this weekend maybe pretty good. Anglers will be spoilt for choice in regard to destinations, and most areas should be fishable. Some good catches were reported from the first day of the season from the Ellesmere tribs. Lake Forsyth also produced good bags of trout and perch.

The Ashley and the Selwyn can provide good sport, but don't forget about some of our local Christchurch streams too. There is some great action to be had in streams such as the Otukaikino, Styx, Silver Stream and Cust etc.

Notice to Anglers
The Groynes Junior Fishery Take a Kid Fishing Day is Sunday 15th October.
The fishery will be closed from Thursday 12th Oct until the event starts at 9am Sunday.
There is a blanket fishing licence for all juniors on the TAKF day. 800 salmon and some massive rainbow trout will be in the ponds for juniors to catch on the day. Remember that after the day a fishing licence is required for all children regardless of age and it is a 100% Junior Fishery. Junior Licences are available at major tackle stores, or North Canterbury Fish and Game, 595 Johns Road Belfast.
The Lowland Brown Trout, and Searun Brown Trout Enhancement and Research Program update.
Fish'Trout redds in Bully Creek South Rakaia. The clean shingle areas indicate that trout have dug a nest ( Redd ) in order to cover their eggs safely to incubate and hatch under a mound of shingle. From spawn date to hatch time is around 52 days.'

In September 2016, 1,800 Brown trout weighing 600 grams were released into the low land spring creeks on both sides of the lower Rakaia area. Although the releases were well publicised at the time, many anglers will still be unaware. These fish are part of an important fisheries research and restoration program.

Signs with tagged trout information are now being erected at other river mouths away from the Rakaia to alert anglers that these research trout maybe present. NC Fish and Game started this research program on Brown Trout in an effort to enhance the critically low numbers in our region. 600 Brown trout were double tagged (green tags) and fin clipped, and released into the North Rakaia Lagoon. These were followed by 1200 ( blue tags ) into Bully Creek on the South side. They adapted very quickly and learned that bait fish were their new food source!

It is important to note that in many cases the adipose fin was not fully removed. This was due to the large size of the trout when they were clipped and tagged. In many cases the adipose fin will look like a pointed sharks fin. There will be a straight line cut edge at the bottom end of the fin.
Fish'Note, the adipose fin in the picture above has a straight cut edge at the end.'

As to where these trout will end up is what we are trying to find out. Will some venture upstream and reside in the head waters? Will they inhabit the low land streams? Will they venture out to sea, and move up and down the coast line, and turn up in other catchments? Will they do all of the above? The stocks are the progeny of the Otukaikino River which has a mix of Searun, and resident spawning adults, so anything could happen!

Anglers were asked during the past season to collect the following information if they caught tagged, or adipose marked trout. Many did! 35 anglers provided tag information and went into the lucky prize draws. However, there were also reports that some anglers did not notify us, therefore we don't know how many were really caught? This information becomes more important this season for many reasons. Some of the main ones are, are they still in the Rakaia? Have any gone out to sea and migrated up another catchment? How big are they now?

The information collected by anglers this season is very important. Tag numbers and colour, date caught, size, location caught, and comments relating to the condition of the trout are also valuable. We would like anglers to record this data and release these trout if possible. The longer these fish are alive the more valuable the information becomes as to how, and where to focus our efforts on enhancing our fishery.

One of the most positive results from the releases to date was the massive influx of spawning pairs that turned up in the release site spring creeks to spawn. These trout returned to the creeks after spending most of last season in the main stem of the Rakaia.

This was not anticipated! Staff conducted 2 spawn counts after reported sightings came in. The peak count in Bully Creek was 64 redds. It takes 2 to make a redd. Many other pairs of trout spawned in Boat creek on the North side, which was also counted by staff. Tagged trout were also spotted in the very inaccessible Cold Stream on the North side. It is thought that many fish may have used Cold Stream to spawn, however no official count can be done on it due to the tiger country it flows through.

The result of the spawning in Bully Creek alone, is that more than 120,000 brown trout ova was deposited in the gravels by the research brown trout stocks released. Local stream guardians have onlt seen a hanful of trout spawn in these streams over the past decade! Who knows where else they ventured to? For staff and volunteers involved with the research program it was very exciting, and enheartening to see such positive results.

Fish and Game will again be offering lucky prize draws, from the database of anglers providing information to the program this 2017/18 season. For the ease of recording tag details, the use of a landing net is recommended. It is possible that some of these fish may have lost their tags by now. That means anglers will have to keep an eye out for the missing or cut adipose fin also! Photographs, approximate weights and lengths, and the condition of the trout is also valuable information. Anglers can report tagged or adipose fin missing information to North Canterbury Fish and Game at northcanterbury@fishandgame.org.nz or 0800 347 7426.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report: 29 Sept 2017

Hello and welcome to the first North Canterbury region fishing report for the 2017/18 fishing season.

It has been a long wet winter which has changed the character of some of our rivers compared to the last couple of years. The weather for Sunday looks like it maybe cool with showers and South Westerlies. Snow is forecast down to 1200 metres in the high country. At this stage the wind doesn't look too bad in the morning. This forecast could change though as we are having typical spring weather at the moment.

As for the rivers, all of the alpine fed rivers are flowing high and dirty at the moment. They are dropping but will be marginal by Sunday. Hill fed streams such as the Ashley and Selwyn are also running high and will be marginal by Sunday. The Selwyn at he huts will be fishable. The river down there is running deep wide and clean. There are some fish around at the huts but not in great numbers. Lake Ellesmere will be opened next week which may boost fish numbers there.

A good option might be to stay closer to home. Rivers such as the Styx, Otukaikino, Avon, and Cust all have large clear flows at the moment and will continue to do so right into early summer. The weather also looks to be calmer on the coastal plains.

This week Fish & Game staff carried out a survey of the Lake Coleridge rainbow trout spawning run. There have been good reports of fishing in Coleridge over the winter season with some large rainbow being caught. We didn't see any huge fish, most of them were in the typical three to five pound range. Our counts were severely hampered by high dirty water. Rivers such as the Ryton were high and dirty. Any mainstem spawning this year is pretty doubtful given the silty flows that we witnessed. This places huge importance on some of the smaller springfed creeks in the catchment.

Some of the larger spawning streams were unsuitable this year with the main river cutting into them with dirty water. It got me thinking about the current management regimes by our regional councils where farms in the high country are allowed to be intensified and only the significant streams seem to be fenced off.

The spawning survey this year showed the importance of all the smaller spring creeks that get overlooked most years because they are either a trickle or can be dry. This year some of them had up to half a dozen redds. It is these smaller "less significant” streams that will provide habitat for our fisheries in tough years such as this one when all the larger streams are wiped out by floods.
Brown trout'A spawning tributary of the Harper River'

This highlights how complicated our fisheries are at the need for all of the land to be considered as part of the ecosystem rather than the ecosystem being classed as the bit that is fenced off while the rest in developed and intensified. Sadly the key players such as regional councils, LINZ and MPI don't think this way.

My apologies if this seems like a bit of a rant. I promise that once the rivers settle down a bit and the weather improves I'll get back into fishing information. I just think there is a lot of misinformation put out there at the moment by the authorities that are meant to be protecting our waterways.
Please remember to carry your licences out there. There will be rangers out and about. Also remember that most of our high country lakes and some of our rivers are closed until the first Saturday of November. Please check the regulations to make sure you are not fishing in a closed area.
Have fun and tightlines.
Tony Hawker
Fish and Game Officer, North Canterbury Fish & Game Council

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report: 13 April 2017

Well we certainly got some water in the lowland and high country streams over the last couple of weeks! Unfortunately most of the regions rivers and streams will still be flowing high, and some dirty from the last heavy falls, at least for the first half of this long weekend. Keep an eye on the Ecan website this weekend for up to date river flow levels. The main snow fed rivers were have also been effected by rain this week, and there is more forecast as I write. The time to watch for possible heavy falls as cyclone Cook tracks South, will be from 6pm tonight till 6am Friday. The Rakaia river is flowing at around 257 cumics and the Waimakariri river around 198 cumics. (These flows are at 7.30am Thursday)
There maybe fishable conditions late in the weekend, depending on how much rain falls inland later today, crossed fingers!  The main rivers may clear quickly from the last peak as they are not too high at this stage, but how much more will they rise over the next 24 hours, is crystal ball gazing. The best way of assessing fishability this weekend will be to go and have a look the night before.
As far as the forecast weather goes, it looks pretty good from Saturday on, only light rain is predicted, with reasonable weather to look forward to.
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South Rakaia Huts angler Murray Holland.
Very happy with his first salmon of the season caught in early March.

Groynes Junior Fishery, Salmon Releases.
The Groynes ponds have been fishing well the past few weeks. There will be one more release of salmon before the end of the month. Keep an eye on next weeks report for details.
Please remember that the Groynes fishing area is a junior fishery only. It is acceptable for an adult to assist junior anglers, but it is not acceptable for adults to fish. Rangers do frequent the area. There has already been confiscated gear and an offence notice issued over the past week.
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Ryan Ashby with his first salmon of the season, a long wait and well deserved.
Compliance issues
Most weekends we receive a report from the public or anglers regarding perceived regulation breaches. We always attempt to get to the scene as quick as possible, and if we can't get there, we contact our Honorary ranger team in order to find the closest ranger to the location. Unfortunately many times we are too late and the alleged offender has departed. This happened again recently, even though we had a ranger on site with in 15 minutes the offenders had left. It is a good idea if you do witness an alleged offence, to keep it low key, in other words don't alert the person to your concern to the point that they decide to depart. A better option is to casually go back to your tackle box and make a discrete phone call to the numbers below. Don't use the 0800 number on the weekend, or after hours, contact the names below. We want these cheats caught as much as you do! Adults without children fishing and taking fish at the Junior fishery at the Groynes! ….. That is simply stealing from children.   
If you see any illegal activities please Call Fish and Game on 0800 327426, or Dirk Barr, 021 221 8378, Steve Terry, 021 221 8327, Tony Hawker, 021 221 8325. We will try and get a ranger there asap
Fish and Game Field News.
Staff started the first of the aerial salmon spawn counts this week. Early indications are as suspected, there are not many there. Details will be available after the peak counts are determined and completed over the next 4 weeks.
A few salmon have just started entering the Fish and Game traps at Montrose and Silver Stream over the past few days. It is still too early to assess these runs also.
All salmon smolt release stocks from our hatcheries stocks are doing well and reaching their predetermined target growth weights. These stocks are all released in July at 1 year of age and at 50 grams. This formula has historically proven the optimum  return rates. Other stocks destined for the West Coast regions salmon enhancement program are being transported to their catchments next week. Some great reports are coming in from that side of the Alps about the increase of fin clipped salmon being caught from the rivers enhanced.
Rainbow and Brown trout yearlings are also being grown for release into many of our lakes and rivers in November 2017.
Any Salmon Around?
The Waimakariri river has been the best producer lately. Most of them are small fish, as they have been throughout all our rivers this season. There has been the occasional good one around 18 pounds this season, but they are certainly few and far between. There are still a few fish being caught most days in the lower reaches, at all of the common angling points at the Waimak. Reports from the Rakaia are very few of late, and it seems that this salmon run peaked ( if you can call it that) some time ago. The Hurunui river is still producing the odd fish, mid reaches. The Waimak middle to upper reaches (Eastern Zone only) are probably the best options for a salmon when the river is fishable next.

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report: 24 March 2017

This weekend's weather is looking quite dull in the low land band with drizzle from the SE on Saturday, and the same from the NE on Sunday. These conditions maybe favourable for those trying to catch a salmon, as the rivers are very low and clear at present. Those looking to fish inland will find Saturday the best for fishing conditions. Sunday's high country forecast is predicting strong NW winds with the chance of rain spreading to the East.

Currently the Waimakariri river is flowing at 37 cumics and the Rakaia river is fluctuating, with the Lake Coleridge power station generation, between about 100 and 118 cumics. Although heavy rain is not forecast until Sunday in the headwaters, anglers are advised to be aware that there maybe rising rivers during the day. Check the ECAN river flow and rainfall sites for current information.

The Waimakariri, Hurunui, Waiau and Rakaia rivers all have salmon throughout them now. The Waimakariri is showing the best angling results at present due to good numbers of fin clipped Hatchery salmon congregating in the lower reaches and getting ready to make their run home.

Salmon are often reluctant to run in low clear river conditions, and often come into the river on each run off tide, and then go back out to sea when they decide conditions are not ideal for them. Many of these have been caught over the past 10 days.

Salmon are nearing spawn time now, and the time will come soon that they will need to make their run home regardless of river conditions. All of the main four salmon rivers are well worth fishing this weekend. Encouraging numbers have been evident in the lower reaches of the Rakaia and Waimakariri rivers over the past 2 weeks which is very pleasing to see after the slow start to the season.

For anglers looking to stretch a fly line or spin fish in low country streams this weekend, rivers such as the upper Ashley, or the upper Selwyn still offer some good sport.  High country conditions are not ideal this weekend but we have certainly seen worse this season. Saturday is worthy a look for sure. Sunday will be affected by Nor West winds. Lake fishing usually provides some wind sheltered areas which will be a good option.
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A first salmon ever for this angler on the Rakaia river in March.
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Dave Lee with a limit bag from the Rakaia this season. 2 very nice fish with the largest weighing 15 pound.


What's on the Agenda for Fish & Game at present.


Staff are getting ready for salmon spawn counts, and waiting for the hatchery salmon to enter the traps. This is always a busy time for staff, and the dedicated army of volunteers. No salmon have turned up in the traps at this point of time. This is normal for Montrose as they arrive very late in the season, but it is not normal for Silver Stream.

Hopefully the low clear river conditions are the reason for this, and there will be a late migration the next time the rivers rise. Last seasons salmon smolt are doing well and are due for release in July. Thanks to the huge support shown by volunteers fin clipping this season, all of the stocks have been fin clipped. It is important to note that only half of the releases have been fin clipped the past 2 seasons due to forced early releases as a result of low oxygen levels at the Montrose hatchery.

This means that in relation to this seasons returns, for every fin clipped salmon caught, there is another one caught that is not marked. Currently 150,000 smolt are being grown at Montrose for releases at various NC rivers including the Hurunui, Waimakariri, and Rakaia rivers, in July.

There are also another 50,000 smolt being grown at the new Whiskey Creek site and a further 30,000 smolt down at Bully Creek in the lower Rakaia. This is a huge increase of smolt releases for the salmon enhancement program. All of these stocks will be released around July 2017.  It is very important to recognise that this increase of production at the Hatchery has only been made possible by the massive personal input, of hundreds of volunteers, whom have helped out in someway at the hatchery this season. Thanks to all of you whom have given so much time to the enhancement of our salmon and trout fishery this season! 

The month of April is an exceptionally busy one as angling related topics are still very high on staff priorities lists, and at the same time the Gamebird season is also near.

North Canterbury Fish and Game are getting very close now to a move in date at our new base at 595 Johns Road. Building stages are progressing well and the word is that we may be in the new headquarters around mid May.
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A very happy angler, Paul Sumner from the North Island had a great Southern salmon fishing trip landing 2 salmon from the Rakaia in February.


Note the adipoise fin has been clipped as a smolt about 2 years prior. This method of marking fish not only helps Fish and Game staff to monitor fisheries population abundance, but also provides anglers with additional harvest opportunities as 50% of the adults are caught annually.

As only 50% of smolt releases in 2014 and 15 were fin clipped, for every 1 fin clipped salmon caught in the Rakaia and Waimakariri this season, there is another caught which is non clipped, or marked. These figures are taken into account when the annual angler harvest phone survey is undertaken in May. 1100 anglers are randomly selected for this survey annually. and this data is correlated with headwater spawn counts, and hatchery trap returns, which provides Fish and Game with valuable populations data.


Junior Fishery at the Groynes


A significant release of 600 2kg salmon took place at the Groynes 2 weeks ago. Some great fishing has been had by our junior anglers but we haven't finished yet! Just prior to next weekend the final release of the season will see around 220 salmon released into the the  No 1 pond nearest Clearwater. Watch for details in next weeks fishing report. Soft baits and bait fishing with worms should work well. Remember the Groynes ponds are strictly reserved as Junior Fishery. Adult licence holders may not fish there under any circumstances.

An Important Notice to Anglers

If you are driving a vehicle into areas like riverbed environments which have long dry grass around them, it is a real possibility that the heat for your exhaust pipe may cause a fire to start. Spark arresters are a simple addition to vehicles and they basically just slip over the end and are attached by a hose clamp. This is something that all off road drivers should consider. 4x4 kit out, and accessories retailers will be able to advise you of what's needed.  

Tight Lines for the weekend!

Dirk Barr
North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report: 17 March 2017

The Canterbury plains averaged around 60mm of rain this week.  Bringing some much needed relief for drought stricken areas.  It also boosted flows for our foothill streams such as the Ashley which had become disconnected below Rangiora.

This weekend there is a weak front travelling up the country on Saturday.  This will bring cooler temperatures and a strong Southerly for Saturday morning.  But the wind eases throughout the day leaving some settled weather for the afternoon.  Sunday is fine with some North West winds picking up later in the day. 

All the salmon rivers will be fishable this weekend.  The rain we had earlier this week put a little colour in the Waiau and the Hurunui which are now at ideal flows.  The Rakaia and Waimakariri received less rainfall so will be low and clear this weekend.  The Ashley is a healthy four cumecs at the Gorge which peaked at 17 cumecs earlier this week, providing a much needed fresh.  Other foothill streams would have had a similar event.  All these streams will be clear and fishable now.

The lower Waimakariri is producing reasonable catches of salmon in the lower reaches.  The Rakaia also has some salmon throughout the river.  The low water will make it challenging, so first and last light is a must for the Rakaia. 

The cooler southerly changes tomorrow will also provide better fishing conditions.

For the high country there looks to be a reasonable window of weather Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.  These periods of calm weather would be a good time to target the lakes.  The lakes have been fishing well for fly anglers lately. 

Sometimes at this time of year it doesn't look like there is much activity in the lakes, especially on a cold morning when there is not much surface feeding going on.  I find this is quite deceiving though.  The trout (especially browns) are still there cruising around.  A dry fly cast out blind just on the shelf will often be sucked down in seconds.  In fact I find March to be the best month for dry fly fishing on both lakes and rivers as this seems to be when fish are most responsive to them.  There are still some cicadas around if the afternoons are hot enough. 

Rainbow trout tend to go a bit deeper at this time of year as the lakes are quite warm.  Trolling deep is often the best method.  On calm days though rainbows will still respond to dry flies with a good 20m cast.
Backcountry rivers will be fishable this weekend.  In the northern part of the region the flows will be clear but will still be quite heavy. 

We have managed to drift dive a couple of backcountry rivers now and numbers appear to be down about a third from last year and have returned to similar numbers that we saw before the mouse plague a couple of years ago.  I am in no doubt that the continuous floods for the first half of the summer are the reason for this.  Especially in more braided rivers such as the upper Rakaia or Waimakariri where fish have been harder to find.

Earlier this week we held our annual Rangers Salmon Fishing Competition at the North side of the Waimakariri mouth.  Despite the cold wet conditions we had 112 participants.  Only two salmon were caught on the North side of the mouth that day. 

Angler Peter Lee caught the winning fish with a well condition 12lb salmon.  Fish & Game staff have never seen so many sausages eaten at one of these events.  No doubt the cold weather played a part in this.  Entry is free to this event and it is held every year usually around mid March so keep an eye out for this next year.

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North Canterbury Rangers Fishing Competition
Tight lines!

Tony Hawker

 

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report: 10 March 2017

This Sunday 12th March at 9am, Fresh Waters, in conjunction with North Canterbury Fish & Game will be holding a day for junior anglers at the Groynes Fishing Lakes. Bring all the family and enjoy a fun kids fishing day. It's free for all children, including the fishing licence for kids under 17 years old for the day.

500 fantastic looking salmon weighing up to 2kgs, with an average of around 1.5kgs will be released into three of the lakes on Saturday evening prior to the event Sunday morning. Fish for this event have been sponsored by GVI Logistics and our Fresh Waters programme is proudly supported by Dux Dine, John Jones Steel, Team Hutchison Ford and Protranz Earthworks.

The Groynes fishery will be closed for fishing from 6pm Saturday evening, with rangers patrolling the area at night. Staff and volunteers will be at the event on Sunday to give advice, show kids what to do and help them land fish etc. Good luck to those families attending this event.

It has been almost a month since the last fresh in the main rivers and they are now low and clear. The Waimakariri River has been the standout salmon fishery with around ten taken each day from the mouth over the last week or so, and improving numbers right up to the Old SH1 Bridge. Other rivers have gone a little quiet with reports of only the odd salmon being caught recently. Having spent the first half of the season reporting fresh after fresh and unfishable rivers, I now find myself looking forward to the next fresh to bring a few more salmon into the rivers!

The weather forecast for this weekend is for rain everywhere in the region as the cyclone that hit the North Island slowly moves down the South Island. This may provide some relief for farmers and give a welcome boost to river flows, hopefully along with a bit of colour to the salmon rivers.
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Anglers fishing at McIntosh's Rocks in the lower Waimakariri River

We still hope to see reasonable numbers of salmon show up in all the rivers sometime over the next month, with the Waimakariri generally fishing well in the latter half of the season. While the rivers are low and clear we expect to see salmon numbers build up around the mouths and tidal reaches, with salmon coming into the gut and lagoon areas at high tide and retreating back to the ocean as the tide recedes. This can result in some great fishing in these areas and prime spots in these lower reaches are likely to be well contested! Anglers wanting to target salmon upriver would be best to be on the water at first light and use light tackle as there will be little activity throughout the day.

The annual Waimakariri River Rangers Competition is to be held next Monday, 13th March from 7am – 1:30pm. All anglers are welcome to take part in this social event with registration on the beach. The fishing area is 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 running.

Good luck if you are heading out for a fish this weekend.
Steve Terry,
North Canterbury Fish & Game Officer

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report: 3 March 2017

No doubt many of you have plans to go away this long weekend. The weather once again is dominated by North West winds.  It doesn't look to be raining in the main divide until Monday, but it is going to be windy inland and in high country areas while further towards the coast it will be calmer and very hot.

All of the Alpine rivers are running high and coloured at the moment. It will be marginal as to whether or not they will be fishable for salmon by the end of the weekend.  I'm guessing they probably won't be as the base levels of the rivers seem quite high this year due to the amount of saturation and rain in the high country.  There maybe some opportunities for catching salmon in the surf.

Backcountry rivers are also running high at the moment and may become fishable during the weekend but they will have big flows. This will present challenging conditions for fly anglers. Spin anglers should make the most of higher flows as the fish are more active. 

Usually at this time of year the fish tend to go docile with lower water conditions and high temperatures. This year seems to be completely different as the regular floods are keeping the water temperature down to around 14 degrees which is great for trout.  They are also hungry and active at the moment due to the constant freshes. 

Bear in mind that the high country will be windy this weekend but there might be the odd window of calmer conditions especially in the evenings of early morning.

Foot hill streams are in really good condition at the moment.  The Ashley has a nice healthy flow for this time of year as does the upper Selwyn.  The condition of fish this year in these rivers continues to be excellent.  Lowland streams such as the Cam, Silverstream and Otukaikino will be good options this weekend with the warm conditions and good flows. 
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Waimakariri River
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Rakaia River

Tony Hawker
North Canterbury Island Fish & Game Officer

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report: 27 Jan 2017

Not looking that good for fishable conditions in the main rivers this weekend. At the time of writing (8am Friday) the Rakaia river is flowing at 409 cumics, the Waimak is 242 at Otarama and the Hurunui is at 74. The best chance of fishability will be in the Hurunui this weekend. The forecast for the Canterbury high country and Arthurs Pass is relatively good for Saturday and most of Sunday, however the wind direction will still be mostly Nor West. Another active front threatens heavy rain in the Alps by Sunday evening. This may be brief but snow fed rivers could rise yet again. Trout angling conditions will be better than salmon angling it seems, with the exception of surf casting possibilities at the Northern river mouths especially. Wind levels in the high country will be moderate over the weekend with Saturday looking like the better day.

t looks like it is one of those seasons that we are going to be plagued by poor, if not marginal river and weather conditions. That being the case we going to have to advise our families that when its good we are gone. I mean how much gardening can one actually do? In the past I recall a season like this that the main snow fed rivers only provided 16 fishable days for the season, and most of them were during the week. One positive from this is that salmon get a free passage, lets hope they are in there now and bolting for it.

All our High Country Lakes are worth a look this weekend. The dry fly indicator nymph method is the most effective for fly anglers. A Humpy pattern or Black Gnat used as the indicator, with a small Hare and Copper or Black and Peacock nymph about 700mm below can well. The length of trace used will depend on the depth of water. Terrestrial style patterns will also come into their own over the next few weeks. Larger patterns are used to imitate blowflies and cicada and sometimes it is the heavy splat of your fly that attracts excitement from trout. However make sure the cast is some distance from the fish as not to spook it. It often helps to spot the trout and let it cruise by while you are low and concealed, then cast out a few meters out to the side whilst it is swimming away from you. 

There are still some very nice fish being caught in the high country lakes, but they are getting difficult. It is a great time to try and sharpen up on your skills. Less casting is often a good tactic. However there are always periods of trout madness, especially when there is a new food source abundant, due to weather conditions. Anything can happen on these days! 

Sea Run trout options may be ok if river levels drop enough over the weekend. The rivers are usually trout fishable a day or two before they are termed salmon fishable. Trout seem to have the ability to see feed in very discoloured water, or maybe they can sense the movement. Silvery's often run in these discoloured conditions, and the Sea Runs are usually not far behind them. So it maybe worth a look.

Tagged Brown Trout
Keep an eye out for the 1,800 tagged trout that have been released into the Rakaia river. Many of these trout have been caught by anglers to date and they have started to venture a lot further than their original release site. The tag numbers are very important, and a landing net is recommended so that the trout can be secured without harm whilst the number is recorded. Please record the tag details, tag colour, number, and location of capture. Release the trout if possible and provide the information to (northcanterbury@fishandgame.org.nz) This information will be very valuable in regards to implementing future trout enhancement programs. All anglers providing this information will go into a special prize draw at the end of this season.

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Someone got lucky with a Rakaia Mouth Salmon last week.

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 last week. Some great fishing was had by juniors last Saturday according to reports. Watch this report for notice of salmon release information.
Fin Clipping Weekend at Montrose
 Club Funds Raising Event, 2 days.
Saturday 11th  and Sunday 12th   February 2017
Volunteer Assistance Needed!
Hatchery staff are attempting to hold oxygen levels in an effort to avoid releasing  non marked smolt earlier and smaller than recommended.

Part 1 of the annual fin clipping program was held in early December with volunteers clipping 78,000 smolt weighing 6 grams. This was an especially fine effort due to the difficult handling size of the smolt. This second session in February should allow much higher numbers to be clipped with the smolt weighing around 20 grams.

Part 2 of the Annual Chinook Salmon Smolt fin clipping program will take place at the Montrose hatchery at 8.30am  Saturday the 11th of February and will involve 2 days with a good team finishing on Sunday. On both days the target will be to finish by 2.30pm.

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 190.000 Salmon Smolt at the site. These smolt stocks are destined for release into Silver Stream, Otukaikino, Rakaia, Coleridge, Kaikoura,, Clarence, and the West Coast in July when they are 50grams in weight and 1 year old.

Numbers of members advised to complete this task on this weekend are 40 volunteers on both days.. Members of the public are also invited and they will 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 outing.

Fish and Game Rangers and Council members are also invited to take part over the weekend. 
The car pool meeting point will be at the Yaldhurst Hotel car park, at 7.30am Saturday. Volunteers whom have not been to the Montrose hatchery before are advised to meet at Blackford Road which is the first Road on the right after crossing the Rakaia Gorge bridge , on the South side of the river. The entrance to the property is 6 kms up the road from the turn off.

Fish and Game will also be providing a barbeque lunch on the day. Warm clothes and wet weather gear is advised incase of bad weather. Gumboots or waders are also advised.

An indication of numbers from the clubs prior to the weekend would be appreciated. Look forward to seeing you all up there at this great family day out.

Members of the public please contact below Thanks all,
Dirk Barr,
Fish and Game Hatcheries Manager, 021 221 8378. or email dbarr@fishandgame.org.nz
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Rakaia River mouth (one of three) Dirty river and messy sea, 20th Jan 2017

Any Salmon Around?
The Hurunui river seems to be leading the way to date with a mixed bag of small to medium sized salmon. A fish of around 18 pounds seems to be the largest at this stage of the season, but that is still a very respectable fish. The Waimakariri has only had a handful of salmon taken to date, and the Rakaia river has also been quiet. The rivers have been unfishable for over a week now, maybe when it clears there will be more evidence of fish in the rivers.
Tight Lines All!

Dirk Barr
North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report: 20 Jan 2017

Over the last few weeks there have been only limited opportunities for Canterbury anglers due to the frequent nor-westers and resulting heavy rain in the alps. The east coast rivers in Canterbury had a large flood peaking yesterday, with flows higher than seen for some time. New river mouths will have formed and the river braids will all be different. Although frustrating in terms of getting out on the river fishing this weekend, for many anglers this is a welcome natural event, which will freshen up the rivers and renew the challenge of finding good fishing water. Hopefully once flows recede, salmon and fishable waters are plentiful.

Before this flood, anglers were catching the odd salmon in the Rakaia and Waimakariri rivers, with 2-3 each day from the Hurunui Mouth, which had quietened off from the previous week. This recent period of prolonged freshes should entice salmon into the rivers, so hopefully we get a break from the nor-westers for a while and we get a flurry of salmon activity in the near future. As with salmon fishing, the rivers have provided limited opportunities for sea-run trout anglers recently.

The best bet for anglers wanting to head into the high country to fish the lakes this weekend looks like tomorrow morning, with winds increasing later in the day and rain spreading across much of the South Island into Sunday. Anglers that have put the effort in at the right time have reported good fishing in most of the lakes in the region, with good reports continuing to come from anglers trolling on Lake Coleridge, especially early morning.

Fish & Game released another 50 salmon into the junior fishing lakes at Groynes this week, so there will be some great fishing for the kids in the last week of the school holidays.

Good luck if you are heading out for a fish over the weekend.
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Photo above taken at the Rakaia Mouth yesterday morning by Dirk Barr showing a new mouth about to break through.
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Same location five minutes later showing the new mouth breaking through and forming.
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Photo below taken in the Rakaia Gorge yesterday morning by Dirk Barr
Tight lines

Steve Terry
North Canterbury Fish & Game Officer
North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report: 13 Jan 2017

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Canterbury Fish & Game weekly report: 8 Jan 2017

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

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

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

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

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


Tagged Brown Trout

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

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

Junior Fishery at the Groynes

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

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

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

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The History

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

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

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

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

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

The Primary Objective


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


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


The Priority Plan

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

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

For 2016 reports click here>>>

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