Reel Life December 2023

  • Central South Island
  • 21/12/2023

Reel Life December 2023

Sea-run salmon update

The first (known) sea-run salmon of the season caught at the Rangitata / Rakitata River was landed on November 30th.

The angler who (along with his lucky lure) wished to remain anonymous, said that he would be targeting sea-run trout for a while so that he didn’t end his salmon season too early by harvesting his second fish.

The Central South Island Salmon Run Report from last season is now published. Click Here to read it online.

The estimated total runs are calculated by adding the estimated angler harvest to the total number of spawning fish. For the 2022/23 season the Rangitata River run was 713 salmon, the Waitaki 1,316 and the Ōpihi no more than 250 sea run salmon.

Above Right: Dwi Svensson tries her luck at near the mouth of the Rangitata River-Photo by Nikki Dellaway 

Catch and Release

Catch and release is becoming popular at all our fisheries. How anglers handle their fish has an impact on their recovery and survival.

Here are our ‘Quick 5’ tips for handling fish with care: 

  • Cool your hands and landing net by wetting them before touching the fish.
  • Keep the fish in the water while removing the hook.
  • Do not squeeze the fish and never touch the gills.
  • Photograph the fish in or over the water and make it quick - the fish should not be out of the water for more than 5 seconds.
  • Revive the fish facing into the current long enough for it to regain its swimming strength.

In the unfortunate instance that a fish you intended to release does end up bleeding from the gills, so long as you can legally take that fish, you should keep it as part of your bag limit and utilise it.

For any visual learners, or anyone curious, we recommend checking out this video to see a good example of a fish handled with care

Finding a fishing spot is as easy as…

If you are new to fishing in Canterbury and North Otago or just looking to fish a bit further afield then we have some super valuable online resources for you!

Click here for fishing tips, fishery information and downloadable brochures covering our popular fisheries.

Click here for our brand-new online access map website detailing over 300 access spots throughout the region.

Know the regulations

Whether you’ve fished somewhere a thousand times or if trying somewhere new, it pays to check up on the current sports fishing regulations.

You can find a copy of our regulation guide here available 24/7.

Waterways in our region start on page 37.

Check, Clean and Dry

Invasive aquatic organisms are scattered around New Zealand’s waterways, let’s do our bit to stop them spreading any further.

For example, lakes Benmore and Aviemore have an infestation of the aquatic weed Lagarosiphon major (oxygen weed) and there is a huge cost to keep it at suppressed levels.

Let’s do our bit to make sure Lagarosiphon doesn’t get transferred to our other iconic lakes like Ōhau, Pūkaki and Takapō/ Tekapo.

There are other nasties out there too, and the only way to ensure none are spread around is to always check your gear, clean it off and dry it before going to a new waterway.

This helpful Check Clean Dry pocket guide gives you great information on how to clean all types of equipment.

Message from Meridian

Fences and barriers are erected near power stations to keep you safe from emergency discharges like this pictured

Summer is nearly here and there are a few things to remember when you’re out and about near our canals and hydro assets. 

  • Remember to park safely, well clear of the roadway and in designated parking areas.
  • The rocks on the edge of the canal are super slippery and the canals quickly reach a 10M depth. Please be careful.
  • Don’t climb fences around our structures – the fences are there to keep you safe.    
  • Take it easy when walking down the side of the canals - it’s easy to slip, fall and break something. 
  • Our hydro station’s water intake and discharge areas have fast flowing aerated water, undercurrents and unpredictable water releases. Please follow the safety information on our safety signs. 

Enjoy the canals and hydro assets safely over the summer!

Happy fishing!

The Meridian team

Summer fishing ideas

Morgan Bathgate trying his luck on a stunning summer’s day at Loch Cameron-Photo by Nikki Dellaway

If you’re new to the sport or taking someone out who’s new, you don’t have to get too caught up in the technical aspects of fishing.

Spin fishing is a great active option for learners and Southland Fish & Game have put together a helpful series on getting started in spinning.

Here’s a video of spin lures that work, and basic spin fishing tips.

Spinning drop-offs in lakes and around river mouths is the general advice, try a soft bait resembling a juvenile trout or sockeye.

Some things to try this summer:

  • Try night fishing – scout out the area and research the water levels, snags, and hazards during the daytime and then return at night. For rainbows and salmon try luminescent lures, for brown trout try dark lures.
  • Try trolling for sockeye salmon on Lake Benmore – here is a video showing you how-to. You could even try it on a kayak.
  • Give Perch a go – Perch are active in warmer waters and easier to catch than trout or salmon so they are a great family fishing option in summer. West Coast Fish & Game put together this helpful video on how to target perch.

Perch can be found in CSI at Lake Hood near Ashburton; lakes Clearwater, Camp and Emma at the Ōtūwharekai area; Saltwater Creek in Timaru; Waihao River Lagoon near Waimate; and Island Stream near Maheno in North Otago.  

  • Try some advanced spin fishing techniques on fussy brown trout as detailed in this how-to guide.

Flies to try in late December-January:

  • Mayfly emergers in stony-bottomed waters.
  • Damselfly nymph pattern in still waters and ponds near weed beds.
  • Green beetles are out in force at this time getting blown off shrubs and bushes and trout will take these during the day as this is when green beetles are at their most active.
  • The willow grub are a trout favourite this time of year also. This article suggests that it’s less about the pattern and more about achieving a realistic movement on the water film. Long-light leaders achieve the most realistic ‘touchdown’.

If your Christmas shopping is not quite complete, why not gift someone a fishing licence and take them fishing!

Click here to buy your licence online and learn about your options.

Alternatively, pop down to your local fishing shop and buy one while you are picking up some new tackle.

Bird nesting season

Our native ground-nesting birds are particularly vulnerable during nesting season which is on now until about February.

Examples of local nesting colonies include the tern colony currently nesting at the Rangitata mouth southside and Tern Island in the Upper Ōhau River.

Because nesting birds are camouflaged and small, we encourage you to be vigilant and stick to formed tracks and access ways when out and about.

Tight Lines and Merry Christmas,

Nikki Dellaway, Central South Island Fish & Game Officer

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