Reel Life February 2023

  • Central South Island
  • 18/02/2023

Reel Life February 2023

Outlook for March

Fishing in March can be characterised by summer-style fishing but with cold mornings — sometimes even frosty.

Water temperatures start to cool off but still offer enjoyable boots-and-short fishing — but it pays to carry a warm jacket too.

High-country rivers usually flow low and clear and often provide afternoon mayfly hatches that bring the river ‘alive’ with rising trout.

In March the sea-run salmon season is in full swing at the Rangitata and Opihi rivers.

Rangitata River anglers are reminded that the sea-run salmon season closed above Turn Again Point on 28 February (see page 42 of the 2022/23 regulations guide).

The ‘peak’ of the sea-run salmon season is just kicking into gear for the Waitaki River.

Please be reminded that from April 1st the upper part of the Waitaki River (above Bortons Pond/ Stonewall powerlines) and tributaries close for sea run salmon fishing – get into it in March.

If you’re new to the Waitaki River, we recommend checking out our Waitaki Access Guide here for access points and advice for working around river flows.

Above Right:High-country fishing in March can be spectacular-Photo by Rhys Adams

2021/22 Central South Island Region Salmon Season Summary Report

CSI Fish & Game monitors sea run salmon catch, and hatchery returns and surveys spawning populations to estimate the annual run size.

Last year was unique as we introduced the season bag limit with the goal of allowing a higher proportion of the run to spawn.

If you are keen to review last season’s salmon surveying and monitoring and get an understanding of how the season bag limit is set – please view or download the summary report at our CSI Council downloads webpage here.

Sockeye spawning regulations start on 1st March

WFR1921.53 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

It’s that time of year again when tens of thousands of sockeye salmon make their spawning run into tributary streams of the Waitaki Lakes, notably lakes Benmore, Ōhau and Pūkaki.

From 1 March to 30 April, it is an offence to fish for sockeye salmon in any stream and river where they are present.

See Note 1.10, page 36 of the sports fishing regulation guide.

An open season remains in place until 30 April for trout fishing in these same waters where spawning sockeye are present.

Sockeye salmon runs usually peak between the 10th to 15th of March and provide quite the spectacle – the SH8 Bridge over the Twizel River is a spot to go and observe the phenomenon.

Environment Canterbury (ECAN) – riverbed weed spraying and machinery operations

ECAN is currently undertaking riverbed operations that may impact on your fishing.

ECan’s Current Works website provides maps and further information.

Rivers to be weed sprayed include Upper Ōhau, Tekapo/Takapō, Lower Waitaki (Kurow to Duntroon & at the SH1 Bridge), Opihi, Tengawai and Rangitata.

Riverbed Machinery operations include the South Opuha River and Bowyers Stream.

Weekly Fishing Reports

If you enjoy reading this Reel Life newsletter, guess what, it gets better.

We join forces with North Canterbury Fish & Game to produce the ‘weekly fishing report’ every Thursday afternoon from October till April.

To sign-up visit our website here.

Recent editions of the weekly report can be viewed here.

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

RLcsiJAN2 Sea run salmon fishing requires you to carry your licence season bag card and a pen Credit Rhys Adams2

Sea run salmon fishing requires you to carry your licence, season bag card and a pen-Credit Rhys Adams

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

The poor state of our sea-run salmon fishery has led to the introduction of a season bag limit, a sea-run salmon endorsement and a season bag limit card; there are several new rules you need to abide by.

The season bag limit card and a pen must be carried with you while fishing sea-run salmon waters if you have any intention to catch a sea-run salmon or keep one incidentally caught while targeting other species like trout or kahawai.

If you keep a sea-run salmon, you must fill in the catch details immediately on the card – hence the need to carry a pen. Immediately means on the riverbank without delay.

All the information you need to know can be found at our website here including how to obtain your sea run salmon endorsement and season bag limit card, for a $5 charge.

The list of sea-run salmon waters can be found in the first question of our FAQs for sea-run salmon anglers.

Be sure to familiarise yourself with the 2022/23 sea run salmon regulations for the Central South Island and North Canterbury Fish & Game Regions.

Tagged Trout

If you have caught a tagged trout, please get in touch and let us know the unique four-digit tag number, location caught, date caught, whether it was kept or released and an estimate of size.

If you caught your tagged trout a while back (last year etc.) and forgot to report it to us, no worries just get in touch we’d appreciate the information.

Contact options – email, phone 036158400, or via the online form here.

Currently, tagged trout may be present in these and adjoining waterways: Tekapo Canal, upper Ōhau River, Lake Ruataniwha, Ōhau A, B and C Canals, Pūkaki Canal, Waitaki River and Hakataramea River.

Tight lines

Rhys Adams, Fish & Game Officer

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