Reel Life February 2020

  • Central South Island
  • 4/02/2020

Reel Life February 2020

Outlook for March

Weather-wise March can be a brilliant month with mild and settled weather.

The message here is to get active and go fishing while there is still heaps of opportunity for boots ‘n’ shorts style back country dry fly fishing and camping out in the high country.

Before too long, the autumn temperatures will really start to cool down.

Right:Get out and enjoy spectacular backcountry fishing in March.

March is the last month of the sea-run salmon season and is often the best month to try your luck.

Salmon catches have been sporadic this season with the Rangitata River providing the best fishing.

If you do strike gold and catch a few we are asking you to voluntarily restrict your total season harvest to four sea-run salmon or less.

Before heading out fishing, make sure to read up on all the regulations, even if you think you know them well.

Here is the link to the online version of the 2019-2020 regulation guide.

Waitaki trout tagging project

Thank you to those anglers who reported catching tagged trout over the last two fishing seasons.

In total, anglers have now reported catching 56 tagged trout from the Waitaki and Hakataramea rivers, a couple of those fish have been caught twice.

RL CSI FEB 2 A tagged rainbow trout with the yellow tag shown in the red circle

A tagged rainbow trout with the yellow tag shown in the red circle

If you have a tag to report, please contact our office with the tag number, capture location, and tell us if you kept or released it. Phone 03 6158400 or email

Some of the bright yellow tags have been covered in a thin film of algae making them hard to see.

If you do fish the “Haka” or anywhere in the lower Waitaki River Catchment this season, please keep an eye out for these tagged trout.

Tags are a strip of yellow plastic that are positioned near the dorsal fin.

Here’s a video of our tagging project.

Sockeye salmon soon to appear

WFR1920.53 A pair of coloured up sockeye salmon preparing to spawn in the Twizel River Credit Jayde Couper

A pair of coloured-up sockeye salmon preparing to spawn in the Twizel River-Credit Jayde Couper

The sockeye salmon population of the Waitaki lakes is the only self-sustaining population in the southern hemisphere.

In recent years they have thrived, and the spawning runs are now commonly encountered by trout anglers fishing throughout the Mackenzie Basin.

At times they can make trout fishing difficult as they can spook and disturb large stretches of river.

The sockeye spawning run is soon to peak in mid-March and once again become a popular spectacle for anyone visiting a stream in the area.

If you haven’t seen sockeye spawning before this video may give you an appreciation of the event.

For the last two years we have stepped-up our monitoring of the spawning runs by utilising a helicopter to better understand the size and distribution of the spawning run.

Meridian Energy have supported this initiative with funding for the helicopter surveys.

In 2018 we estimated that nearly 39,000 sockeye salmon spawned with 32,000 of those being within Lake Benmore tributaries.

In 2019 the numbers jumped significantly to approximately 71,000 with 37,000 of those being in the Lake Benmore tributaries.

The big difference last year was an astonishing increase in the number of sockeye spawning in the Lake Ohau Tributaries, estimated to be approximately 28,000.

While on their spawning run sockeye are protected by regulation Note 1, 1.9, on page 34-35 of your 2019-2020 sports fishing regulation guide.

In summary no licence holder shall fish for sockeye salmon in any river or stream between 1 March and 30 April.

So, stick to the lakes if you want to target sockeye during that period.

Keep up to date

Join 12,000 subscribers and sign-up to receive the most up-to-date fishing reports from the team at Central South Island Fish & Game via our ‘Weekly Fishing Report’ email newsletter.

Click here to sign-up or find the latest edition here on the CSI homepage of the Fish & Game NZ website.

Tight lines!

Rhys Adams, Central South Island Fish and Game Officer

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