Reel Life March 2022

  • Central South Island
  • 22/02/2022

Central South Island Region

Outlook for March

RL CSI 1 A wet and cold summer has provided some fantastic fishing and exceptional fish as flows have receded in lowland rivers Credit Rhys Adams

A wet and cold summer has provided some fantastic fishing and exceptional fish as flows have receded in lowland rivers – Credit Rhys Adams

Great lowland river conditions and sea run salmon catches are some of the highlights to look forward to this March.

We have had such an unlucky run of cold and wet weather this summer that we must be due for a settled and mild March.

Fortunately, all that summer rain has left our waterways in excellent condition and some fantastic trout fishing has been enjoyed on receding flows in lowland rivers.

Improved sea run salmon catches have been encouraging to see this season at the Rangitata River and high flows for most of February will have offered plenty of opportunity for salmon to run and spread throughout the river.

Rangitata river anglers are reminded that the sea run salmon season closes above Turn Again Point on 28 February (see page 42 of the 2021/22regulation guide).

The Waitaki River most often fishes best in March for sea run salmon and although little news has come from the Waitaki this season we can only hope to see improved fishing there this season like we have for the Rangitata.

The Waitaki River flows have been really high and difficult this year, often over under 500 cumecs, as massive amounts of water have been managed through the greater Waitaki Hydro Scheme.

The Waitaki fishes best under flows of 350 cumecs for jet boating, with many shoreline anglers preferring flows under 280 cumecs.

If you’re new to the Waitaki River we recommend checking out ourWaitaki Access Guide here.

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

Be sure to familiarise yourself with the2021/22 sea run salmon regulationsfor the Central South Island and North Canterbury Fish & Game Regions.

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

The season bag limit card 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 trout fishing.

All the information you need to know can be found at ourwebsite hereincluding 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 ourFAQ’s for sea run salmon anglers.

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

Spawning sockeye salmon here, there and everywhere

From late February to late March anglers fishing inflowing streams of our large hydro lakes of the Mackenzie Basin are likely to encounter hundreds, if not thousands of spawning sockeye salmon.

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

Lake Benmore tributaries have the most prolific runs of sockeye but they are also found in tributaries of Lake Ōhau and Pukaki. Occasionally, sockeye will spawn in tributaries of lakes Ruataniwha, Aviemore and Waitaki and the lower Waitaki River, this is usually on years where spill flows have occurred over the dams allowing high number to migrate downstream.

Anglers can target sockeye in rivers and stream up until 28 February only.

No licence holder shall fish for sockeye salmon in any river or stream between 1 March and 30 April.See Note 1, 1.10, on page 36 of your 2021-2022sports fishing regulation guide.

Tagged Trout

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

Contact options –, phone 036158400

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

The most recent tag report came from Greg Downing’s catch of a tagged rainbow trout in the Hakataramea River during the summer holidays.

RL CSI 2 Greg Downing with his tagged Rainbow trout form the Hakatarmea River January 2022

Greg Downing with his tagged Rainbow trout form the Hakatarmea River - January 2022

We tagged this trout in September 2018, during its spawning run from the Waitaki river up the Hakatamea River.

It was already a large, mature trout, about 5-pounds and estimated to be at least 4-years old when it was tagged. Getting caught over three years later in good condition and still about 5-pound, indicates this old trout has lived a good life and likely contributed to several spawns.

Keep up to date

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

Click here to sign-upor find thelatest edition hereon the CSI homepage of the Fish & Game NZ website.

Aerial spraying of riverbed weeds 21 February to 18 March

From 21 February to 18 March 2022 (weather dependent) Environment Canterbury are planningto use helicopters for targeted aerial spraying of riverbed weeds.

Environment Canterbury manages weeds for flood control and biodiversity protection.Left unchecked, invasive weeds in these areas are a significant flood risk.Weed control clears the active part of the river channel that carries fast-flowing water during floodsand protects biodiversity. This control work often maintains and improves angler access ways too.

Aerial Spraying is planned at many riverbeds across Canterbury including these popular fishing areas in the CSI Fish & Game Region:

  • North Opuha River -Fox Peak Bridge to Lake Opuha
  • Tengawai River -Cricklewood Road to Cross Road
  • Orari River -the Gorge
  • Opihi River -Roaring Camp Road to Opuha confluence and Fairlie to Cloudy Peaks Bridge
  • Rangitata River -Various areas
  • Waitaki River– Mouth to dam
  • Tekapo River –From Lake Benmore to the Tekapo spill gate
  • Ohau River –From Lake Ohau to Lake Ruataniwha

More information, including maps can befound here.

Tight lines!

Rhys Adams, Fish & Game Officer

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