North Canterbury Reel Life January 2019

  • North Canterbury
  • 30/01/2019

North Canterbury Reel Life January 2019

Bright prospects for February

There's always lots going on in February for the North Canterbury angler, including on the salmon front, as the main alpine rivers should have the fish all through them.

The Waimakriri River is some time later in March; anglers should try and target first and last light during this warm month.

River temperatures have been pretty good this summer due to constant freshes coming down the river.

Above right: Any salmon about? Yes for this angler:-)

This can change in February though, as more settled weather becomes prevalent.

A basic way to test the water temperature if you don’t carry a thermometer (I recommend that you do) is just to dip your fingers in the water.

It should feel cool to the touch and be a similar temperature to the water coming out of your kitchen tap.

If the water feels similar to the air temperature, than it's getting too warm for trout and salmon to be feeding or taking a lure.

It's often better to wait at these times until conditions improve.

A cloudier day or some rain will keep the water temperature down.

Trout fishing in the back country can be really good in February.

Fly fishing tips

Often the weather is more settled which produces better conditions for fly anglers.

Large terrestrial dry flies can work really well at this time of year.

Often on hot days you'll see cicadas flying around.

Although trout at times will respond well to big bushy dry flies, they can also be incredibly spooky this time of year.

Our rivers receive a lot of angling pressure over the holiday period, so anglers' long spells on clear rivers can make them hard to catch.

Trout must be spotted early and cast to from a hidden position.

Trout can almost sense your presence at this time of year so don’t muck around too much once you see one.

They have a habit of slinking off sometimes while you're mucking around on the bank.

First cast presentation is crucial, if your cast is a bit off and the trout has a look but does not take the fly, change your fly immediately.

Often you only have one chance at a fly change.

Do this sooner rather than later, avoid bombarding the fish with the same fly as you will eventually put it down.

Sounds easy but a lot of anglers can’t be bothered changing flies.

My view is that two minutes to change the fly to entice another take is certainly worth it.

A spotted trout in front of you is worth pursuing (as long as it hasn't been spooked), especially if numbers are low which they often are in the back country.

Spin anglers can find conditions a bit harder in February.

River mouths are certainly well worth a go as there's usually plenty of sea run trout around.

Spin anglers targeting upstream areas and smaller water should go light with gear.

Use 4lb fluorocarbon tippets and small realistic-looking lures.

Try and imitate a natural fish rather than enticing a strike with big bright colours.

Lake fishing will depend on the water temperature; in most years lakes in February will warm to the point where trout will seek out deeper water.

This means that using a boat has definite advantages; target deeper lakes around the 30 metre mark and use lead lines and diving Rapalas.

Salmon heads

Now that some some salmon are being caught, we'd like to remind you that we're collecting salmon heads this year and the bigger our sample size the better the information will be.

Mellish Stream and Lake Heron, are currently at risk of being over-harvested, so it is essential to determine where the fish were born.

This can be done using chemical analysis of water samples and salmon otoliths (ear bones).

Otolith Otago RL

Otoliths are tiny.

Fish & Game would like anglers to keep any salmon heads they catch in the Rakaia River, recording the date and location caught, weight, length and sex of the salmon.

Please let us know and we'll collect these heads and the information from you.

Contact Steve Terry on 021-221 8325 or

From analysing the otoliths, we should be able to determine where the salmon were born (natal origin), at what size they entered the ocean (life history type), and determine if their size (length or weight) and sex differs significantly from later-run fish.

This helps us to sustainably manage this much anticipated run of salmon.

Silverstream update

Emily Arthur – Moore, the Fish & Game Officer, in charge of the Silverstream Restoration Project, was delighted to return from holiday to see that her project had raised the most of any of the Million Metres Streams projects through the Christmas ‘give a tree’ campaign.

“This has bought us one step closer to our goal of restoring the waterway for trout to spawn in.

"Thanks to the anglers who gave the gift of trees this Christmas!” said Emily.

“I’m looking forward to using the initial money we have raised to plant out some of the site.”

Anglers can find out more about the project and donate by clicking here

Waitangi Day whoppers!


North Canterbury Fish & Game's Ryton Barr show off Jill's tag

On Waitangi Day, as a special focus for all anglers, North Canterbury Fish & Game will be releasing two massive rainbow trout.

Anglers who catch these lucky tagged trout will win amazing prizes sponsored by Hunting and Fishing NZ, Tower Junction.

There is a prize for each trout tag handed in.

The prize pool has a minimum value of over $500.

All you have to do is go fishing and try your luck!

Take the kids, as they have just as much chance of catching them, and hooking such big fish is something they'll never forget.

The whoppers should readily take either nymph, dry fly, or spinning lure. Spin fishing will be an especially good method for junior anglers.

For juniors, small diameter 8 – 10lb breaking strain line is recommended, using as lures Veltics, Tasi Devils, toby’s or soft baits.

Mums and dads, make sure the reel drag is not set too firm to avoid a fish breaking the line.

The drag should be firm, but still easy to pull out by hand. A good-sized landing net is needed.

Anglers can choose to let the fish go, or keep it.

That is totally up to you; if you want to release it, simply cut the tag off with scissors and bring it to the North Canterbury office, 595 Johns Road, to collect your prize.

Don’t forget to get a photo holding the fish. It is best to keep the fish in the net, in the water.

Lift the fish out of the net with one hand underneath the belly near the head to support its weight, with your other hand around its tail.

A quick photo, and then supporting the fish up right, let it regain its strength before releasing.

The trout have been named. Walter is the jack (male) rainbow trout, and Jill is the hen (female) rainbow trout.

Jill is big! But we're not releasing all the details yet...

To add to the suspense, the high country lake chosen for the release will be named just prior to Waitangi Day!

Tony Hawker, North Canterbury Fish & Game Officer

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