Reel Life February 2022

  • Central South Island
  • 12/01/2022

Reel Life February 2022

February is the month for summer fishing!

February is the month of many classic summertime fishing options.

This includes willow grubbing browns on our low country streams; cicada action in the high country; scenic sunrises chasing sea run salmon; night-time soft baiting for super-trout in the canals - the list goes on!

High-country dry fly time!

February is the month to head to the high country and try a bit of dry fly fishing.

Cicada, hoppers, blowfly – you name it – trout are looking for them and ready to bite.

Here are some fly patterns worth having on stand-by – click the linked names for images: cicada, blowfly, black gnat, royal wulff, hopper and flying ant.

Where to try? Any waters of the Mackenzie Basin are worthwhile and also the Ashburton Lakes.

Don’t have fly fishing gear? Spin fishing with a float and dry fly is worth a try – click here to view our advanced spin fishing brochure that shows you how to set up.

Lake Benmore sockeye salmon

Right now there is a short window of opportunity to target Lake Benmore’s sockeye salmon prior to the spawning run.

Top image: 'Glenn Faust and Jim Tritschler with their Lake Benmore sockeye salmon' - pic by Howard Lewis

In mid-January we had had reports of great catches of sockeye salmon up to 2.5-pounds from the Benmore Dam area.

Sockeye salmon are currently at their biggest size, just before the start their spawning runs into rivers and streams from Late February to Late March.

This offers a small window of opportunity to catch trolling them before they stop feeding and develop their spawning colouration and vacate the lake.

If you want to know more about Lake Benmore sockeye fishing methods then watch this YouTube video made to help you catch sockeye.

Please note the regulations have changed since we made the video.

The current bag limit at Lake Benmore is 4 sports fish and the minimum size for salmon is 250mm. These regulations were updated to encourage anglers to target and harvest sockeye salmon.

Sea Run Salmon Season Bag Limit Card required for Central South Island and North Canterbury Regions

Be sure to familiarise yourself with the 2021/22 sea run salmon regulations for the Central South Island and North Canterbury Fish & Game Regions.

RLcsiJAN3 Carry your season bag limit card a pen and your sports fishing licence when fishing sea run salmon waters

For sea run salmon waters, it’s not just a case of grabbing your licence and rod and heading down to the river anymore.

You now also need to take your season bag limit card and a pen so you can immediately (on the riverbank) fill in the catch record of any sea run salmon kept.

All the information you need to know can be found on our website here including how to obtain your sea run salmon endorsement and season bag limit card, free of charge.

The list of sea run salmon waters can be found in the first question of our FAQ’s for sea run salmon anglers.

If you need any clarification of the new regulations, please contact our Temuka Office: phone 03 6158400, email

Care for your catch

No matter where you fish or what you catch, these days, there seems to be a growing trend towards practising catch and release.

RLcsiJAN2 laying your fish in the water makes for a nice photo and means you dont have to remove the fish from the water a great option for summertime catch and release photo R Adams

laying your fish in the water makes for a nice photo and means you don’t have to remove the fish from the water – a great option for summertime catch and release - photo R Adams

All anglers – from newbies to life-long fishers – need to be aware, though, that how they handle the fish is critical to its survival after being released.

This is especially true in summer as warmer water temperatures and lower oxygen levels make recovery harder for released fish.

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 or cannot maintain itself upright, so long as you can legally take that fish, we recommend you should keep it as part of your bag limit and utilise it.

Here’s a video that shows good catch and release techniques.

Fishing locations and access

If you are new to the Central South Island Fish & Game Region (CSI) or just looking to fish a bit further afield then you may find our “Fishing locations and access” webpage valuable.

RL dec CSI 2 These CSI angler access guides can be found online4

The information covers Ashburton Catchment, Rangitata River, Waitaki River, popular river fisheries, popular lake fisheries and the hydro canals.

For some of these fisheries, a downloadable pdf brochure is available including a map to aid access.

Click here to visit the CSI fishing locations and access page.

Rules and Regulations

What is the bag limit again… can I bait fish here…?

The regulation guide is available online 24-7

Click here to link to the 2021-2022 sports fishing regulations guide – South Island edition.

Please contact our office directly if you need further clarification of the regulations.

Email –, phone – 03 6158400

Bi-monthly Meeting of the Central South Island Fish and Game Council

When: Thursday 3 February 2022. Time 7:00 pm

Where: 32 Richard Pearse Drive, Temuka.

Licence holders are welcome to attend. Please be advised thatmasks must be worn in Council’s building and 1-metre distancing rule will apply. CSI Council will be adhering to the rules stipulated under the Orange Covid Traffic Light system.

Tight Lines,

Rhys Adams

Central South Island Fish & Game Officer

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