Fishing report for the North Canterbury Region Friday 29th November 2019

  • North Canterbury
  • 28/11/2019
  • Richie Cosgrove

Hello and welcome to the North Canterbury region fishing report, despite a westerly front coming up the South Island on Wednesday, there was very little rain in the headwaters. 

The weather heading into the weekend looks quite reasonable. 

Right: Salmon season starts this Sunday, December 1.

There is a high over the South Island bringing calm conditions on Friday and Saturday. 

The temperatures are going to be cool though as there is a southerly clearance on Friday morning. 

Great conditions for fishing.  On Sunday a North West wind starts to build into the afternoon.

This Sunday the 1st of December brings in the opening of salmon season. 

The later opening is a first this year in an effort to reduce salmon harvest after a couple of years of low returning numbers. 

It feels as if it hasn’t been too restrictive as the river conditions haven’t been fishable for most of November anyway.

There has been some salmon spotted at river mouths. 

There have also been some good catches at Kaikoura, with fish in great condition. 

The later opening has created some buzz and has created a salmon fishing event. 

Anglers will be in the unusual position of having fish in the river system already creating opportunities upriver, especially on the Rakaia.

Sunday should be a great event.  The wind may pick up in the afternoon so early morning will be best. 

The Hurunui and Waiau are dropping fast and should be at ideal salmon fishing flows by Sunday. 

The Waimakariri and Rakaia are flowing higher and are taking longer to clear. 

They could be marginal for ideal salmon fishing but I think it will be well worth the effort.

I have heard of many anglers making plans to camp out with friends on the river for Sunday morning. 

This is great to hear that the later opening has created an event that will provide an overall experience out on the river which is more than just fishing. 

Salmon fishing is a great sport especially when the experience is shared with friends and family. 

Although they are a great eating fish, it is not about harvesting for many dedicated salmon anglers.

Catch and release of salmon is successful if fish are played quickly and kept in the water as much as possible during the unhooking process. 

Single hooks for salmon are available at all the stores and do make it easier for a quick release. 

We are still encouraging a voluntary season bag limit of four fish to protect our spawning stocks.

Remember the limit is now one salmon per day so if you catch one early and you want to keep fishing for salmon you need to release your first fish. 

It certainly makes you think about keeping only the best fish for the table and being more selective. 

It is a great feeling releasing a hard fighting fish to be on its way to spawning grounds or offer a thrill to another angler.

Fish & Game would like anglers to keep any salmon heads they catch in the Rakaia River in Dec/Jan, recording the date and location caught, weight, length and sex of the salmon. 

From analysing the otoliths, we should be able to determine where they were born (natal origin), determine at what size they entered the ocean (life history type), and determine if their size (length or weight) and sex differs significantly from later run fish, helping us to sustainably manage this much anticipated early run of salmon.

This year we are going to give away spot prizes of 3 x $200 vouchers to spend at one of the following stores; Hunting & Fishing, Complete Angler and Fishermans’ Loft. 

Salmon heads2

Each salmon head caught from the Rakaia in December/January and given to Fish & Game will go in the draw for a spot prize. 

The draw will take place in February 2020.  A big thank you to these three stores for getting on board and donating the vouchers this year.

Please let us know and we will collect these heads and the information from you.  Contact our office on 366 9191 or  They can be kept in your freezer in the mean time.

For those of you not caught up in the buzz of salmon fishing this Sunday, there are plenty of opportunities for trout this weekend. 

All of the back country fisheries will be clear and fishable this weekend.  Saturday will be the better day in the high country before the winds get to strong on Sunday afternoon.

There are plenty of trout in the back country this year.  The extra supply of protein rich mice has seen some superb trophy specimen being caught already. 

The mice plague is well spread this year so any headwater catchment is producing good fish. 

Remember to be courteous with other anglers.  If you meet other anglers at a carpark make sure you both discuss your plans for the day so both parties can have a good experience. 

Don’t drop in on other anglers.  Leave them enough room to have a decent days fishing.  You are better to move on and find some space elsewhere.

Fish are a challenge to catch this year.  Feeding on mice at night can mean a docile fish during the day.  A lot of the fish have been down deep digesting their full bellies. 

Anglers should try fishing two nymphs to get down to the trout’s level.  I have noticed that fish are deeper this year. 

River flows have also been on the high side as well meaning the terminal tackle has to be adjusted to suit. 

High country lakes will be a good option especially Friday evening and Saturday during those calm conditions.  Look for surface activity during these calm conditions. 

Even though Saturday will be a bit cool there is definitely more insect activity around at the moment.  Plenty of brown beetles around low country areas and just starting in the high country as well.

This is a good time to be fishing before the Christmas madness starts in December. 

Get out there and make the most of it.

Tight lines.

Tony Hawker

Fish and Game Officer, North Canterbury Fish and Game Council

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