Reel Life September 2023

  • Central South Island
  • 18/09/2023

Reel Life September 2023

The most wonderful time of the year

Season’s greetings to you all - the fishing season that is.

Only one more week until the Opening Day of all our lowland lakes, ponds, and rivers on Sunday, October 1!

This happens to fall right in the middle of the school holidays this year when everybody will be needing a touch of fresh air.

Grab the kids and some grubs and head out to your favourite family-friendly fishing spots like Borton’s or Bell’s Ponds – you can find them on our Waitaki access pamphlet map. Lake Opuha / Ōpūaha can also turn it on for opening.

Alternatively, head out for some me-time and cast away your stresses on one of our many lowland waterways.

Stay up to date by checking this season’s regulation guide here. I look forward to seeing some of you out and about on Opening Day.

Above right: Frank Laban with his Brown Trout at Borton’s Pond on Opening Day last year. Photo by Rhys Adams

October hot spots

The month of October can offer awesome fishing in our lowland rivers and streams.

Top spots include the Ōpihi River and its tributaries, and the Waitaki River mainstem.

The lower reaches of rivers can fish well for sea-run brown trout in October as prey fish like common smelt migrate into the river from the sea.

If flows are low and clear, take a careful approach and use small lures.

If the flows are up and silty, try bigger flies, lures, or a worm as bait. Check the flows here.

October is also a great time to fish shallow lake margins and stream mouths in our large hydro lakes.

Always keep in mind when using any access way through private property such as farms to gain permission, respect landowners' requests, avoid disturbing ewes with young lambs and leave gates how you find them.

South Canterbury Anniversary Weekend

South Canterbury folk have a public holiday to enjoy this weekend on Monday the 25th of September.

We expect fishing to be a popular activity at the canals and Mackenzie Country lakes like Tekapo / Takapō, Benmore and Waitaki.

The shallow margins of the lakes fish well at this time of year as the brown trout cruise the edges looking for bullies and sockeye salmon fry. A small bully style lure cast ahead of a sighted fish may get results.

Please be aware that a 2022-2023 licence is required for the remainder of September and that the new 2023-2024 licence only becomes valid on the 1st of October.

If you didn’t get a whole season or winter licence for the 2022-2023 season then a short break or day licence might suit best for this weekend.

Rakitata Revival Strategy

The Rakitata River 91cumecs at Klondyke. What are your priorities for the revival? Photo by Rhys Adams

Trout and salmon anglers - we’re urging you to get involved with the future management of the Rangitata/Rakitata River.

Mana whenua and partners are aligning work to revive the Rakitata River through a strategy entitled Ko te Whakahaumanu o te Rakitata.

Click here to read a summary of the strategy.

Ensure your aspirations to shape the future management of the Rakitata River are heard.

Make a submission by emailing or fill out the online survey form found in the grey box at the link above. Submissions close on October 2.

Canal Anglers Support Community

We believe that canal anglers contribute massively to the thriving Mackenzie Basin community.

With your help, we can research the economic benefits canal anglers bring by way of providing jobs and income.

This research will create opportunities for Fish & Game and the community to progress the management of the canal fishery.

We have partnered with Otago University to gather information on spending patterns – This will be in the form of a survey so keep an eye on your email inbox.

To help answer the survey questions, have a think about your spending over the past year directly associated with your canal fishing activities, for example, accommodation, hiring a guide, meals, fishing tackle and anything else that makes your trip a success.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to help proactively manage this iconic fishery.

Speeding on canal roads puts access at risk.

Fish & Game urge anglers to adhere to the speed limits posted on canal roads.

Speed limits vary across the canal system and anglers need to be observant when moving between locations to ensure they know the speed limit.

Speeding on canal roads has implications for everyone’s safety, including your fellow anglers and the staff of the power companies and salmon farms who are on the canal roads every day.

Speeding also has the potential to damage gravel roads – requiring more frequent and expensive maintenance.

Save The Dates

Nixon Philpott with dad Kane at last years Kid’s Salmon Fishing Day. Photo by Rhys Adams

High Country Opening – Saturday, November 4. Many of our waterways remain closed until our traditional high-country opening weekend in November.

Kids Salmon Fishing Day – The 2023 Kids Salmon Fishing Day at Loch Cameron near Twizel will be held on Saturday, November 4. No prior registration is required.

Sea Run Salmon Bag Limit Cards

Anglers are required to obtain a sea-run salmon season bag limit card to fish for sea-run salmon in the Central South Island and North Canterbury Regions. 

We’ve heard your feedback and you’ll notice this year that your bag limit card will be credit card style, like your whole season fishing licence.

We hope this will help you make it easier to fill in your catch. 

You can purchase your sea-run salmon licence together with your full-season licence or at any time before going fishing, provided you hold a whole-season licence.

Purchases can be made at our website here.

Remember that while fishing for sea-run salmon, in accordance with the regulations, you must carry your bag limit card and a pen so that you can immediately fill it in when you have kept a salmon.

Designated waters

You may have heard by now about the new Designated Waters licence that has been brought in to replace the old backcountry system.

The aim of this licence is to reduce crowding and disperse angling pressure to protect and maintain your fishing experience in these areas.

Central South Island have opted not to implement any Designated Waters this season, however, some of your favourite backcountry waterways in other regions may now be classified as designated waters.

Find more information here

Catch and Release

Catch and release is becoming popular at all our fisheries, especially the Canals.

Good catch and release skills are an important part of angling.

Read our top tips below, how many are already standard practice for you?

  • 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.

Tight lines

Nikki Dellaway, Fish & Game Officer 

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