North Canterbury Fishing Report 2nd February 2018

  • North Canterbury
  • 2/02/2018
  • Richie Cosgrove

North Canterbury Fishing Report 2nd February 2018

Dear Anglers, there’s no doubt about it, the last few weeks have been pretty tough going for anglers.

This is not surprising as salmon and trout do not like hot days creating warm water, which also depletes oxygen levels.

Fish will be doing everything they can to find  cool well oxygenated water if at all possible.

Right: Anglers can get surprised now and then, here is Neil Hartland with a 12 pound kingfish caught at Kairaki.

This means the deepest, and tree lined shaded areas will be where the fish are holding.

The high country rivers offer cool water most of the year round, but the mid and lower reaches of all our catchments are certainly under heat stress this season.

January is often regarded as a difficult month for salmon anglers also, so there is not too much out of the norm at present.

Lets hope February provides cooler conditions more suitable for fish activity.

How’s the weather looking for the weekend?

Well maybe the tide has turned we have a true nor-wester gale creating dust storms down the river beds on Thursday, and torrential rain has fallen in the Alps.

A true nor-wester of old, that’s more like it!   

The forecast is not flash for anglers this weekend.

The best pick will probably be the high country Lakes with winds expected to die down by mid day Saturday.

This is only a small window as nor-west winds will build again on Sunday through to Monday with more Alpine rain forecast.

Some settled days are due from Monday night on for anyone lucky enough to have days off.

The coastal forecast is for rough seas on the back of the Southerly.

The wind is expected to ease Friday night and into Saturday, however the 5 meter sea swells will take a while to settle.

Again there is a settled period in the low country from Monday night on. 

So in general, the main rivers will be in flood this weekend.

The Rakaia river peaked at 1157 cumics down to 673 today and the Waimakariri at Otarama peaked at 236 down to 183 today.

It is still raining in the Alps but the intensity has lowered.

The Hurunui river may not be affected as much as the former and is possibly worth a look late in the weekend or early next week.

The thunderstorms that have being playing havoc in our high country most evenings, with high level isolated rain events, are not forecast in the near future.

These have made river conditions very difficult to predict due to the small rise in flows, but chocolate coloured water coming in from small side streams.

The damage done by these storms was very evident to staff this week when conducting annual aerial duck trend counts inland.

Rakaia MouthMassive fresh slips have been exposed in all catchments, and future rain in these areas will continue to affect the clearing rate of the main rivers. 

Left: Rakaia surf, only a couple of salmon caught on this day, and the aggressive kahawai certainly gave anglers a few false alarms. 

I don’t like to say this however a strategic plan maybe to get all those jobs done round home this weekend, and get ready to fish after this fresh has cleared.

Enhancement programme releases

Due to the biosecurity issue, with unusual red rashes found on trout at the Waimakariri Lakes area, North Canterbury Fish & Game made an early decision not only to close the affected area for fishing immediately, but to also to protect our three fisheries enhancement facilities by locking down all public access to them.

In addition to this all transportation or movements of any fish stocks in the region were shut down.

Effectively we were in total lock down which put the annual enhancement programmes, both salmon and trout on hold.

This also included all kids fishing days with hundreds of kids from many Christchurch schools booked in.

Since the all clear was given late last week the weather has been too hot to even consider transporting any stocks.

Now the forecast is looking cooler, thousands of yearling rainbow trout will be on their way to our high country lakes over the next week.

Predetermined numbers of trout based on the size of the lake, angling pressure, food abundance, and natural spawning capacity, will be released at selected sites.

Many of these lakes have limited, to no spawning habitat, so the only reason they are productive to anglers is because of the annual release programme.

It is issues such as the Waimakariri Lakes trout rash that highlights the importance of the enhancement programs.

Staff and Council will be investigating current population levels in the Waimakariri lakes in the near future, and if needed will be stepping up enhancement programs in the area.

Due to stocks carried at the North Canterbury salmon and trout enhancement facilities, we are in a fortunate position to restore severely damaged fisheries quite quickly.

Three different year classes of browns, tainbows and salmon stocks are all grown at the sites.

This is our fisheries insurance policy, and our commitment to maintaining our fishery, in an increasingly very difficult environment.

Lets hope it was an uncommon occurence simply caused by a prolonged unusual weather pattern with no wind with mid 30's temperatures in the high country.

The strong winds and wave action that all high country trout anglers curse, are actually a good thing for the well being of our trout, it seems.


Since the acclimatisation of salmon and trout in NZ over 150 years ago, dedicated staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly to protect and enhance fisheries stocks in our country.

Not one decade has passed since the introduction of sportsfish that teams of local anglers have not been working on stream habitats, securing ova and milt from natural brood stocks, and enhancing fisheries populations.

In some regards it should have been easy for the fish culturists of old, but spare a thought for the difficulty of covering the country in those days.

Our modern technology has certainly made our country more accessible, however the downside to that is the man-made pressure that's been put on the habitat and environment.

Spare a thought for these early guys above, and all our generations of anglers, who've created and continually enhanced our fishery.

Teams of anglers just like them are still giving their time working tirelessly behind the scenes, enhancing and protecting our fishery for all to enjoy.

If any of you are keen on playing a part in practically enhancing your fishery contact the New Zealand Salmon Anglers Association, or NC Fish & Game, or simply make contact and come along to the advertised fin clipping event weekend at Montrose later in this report.   

Junior Fishery at the Groynes

News Flash! 250 Salmon have been released into three ponds at the Groynes Junior Angler Fishery on Friday.

After a long period of no releases due to biosecurity protocols with the Waimakariri Lakes issue,  the Groynes fish are back.

Weed has been an issue in the top lake with the jetty closest to the Clearwater Golf Course so no fish will be released into that pond.

This will still be an issue in some areas of the other ponds but there are also clear places that should fish well.

Opportunities for juniors anglers under the age of 17 as of the 1st October for catching fish at the Groynes will be good as long as the weather is cool.

whisky creekThe Groynes junior fishery ponds are a great place to teach your children how to cast and there is a very realistic chance that they may catch one. 

Left: Whisky Creek Enhancement site, completed by Fish & Game volunteers in 2016. The first smolt release of 30,000 stocks took place in July 2017 with over 100 local residents helping. Great potential for the Rakaia salmon fishery with adult stocks expected to return to the site in 2019.

Soft baits and spinner type lures such as “veltics” and bait fishing with shrimps or worms are favoured.

Remember a fishing licence is required for all children regardless of age and it is a 100% Junior Fishery - Rangers will be frequenting the ponds.

Licences are available at most major tackle stores, or North Canterbury Fish and Game, 595 Johns Road Belfast. Phone 0800 347 426.

Fin clipped salmon

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for any fin clipped salmon that will be making their way into our rivers soon.

If you do happen to catch a fin clipped fish, make a note of the details  and have your information available for the annual phone survey carried out at the end of the season.

This information is important to assessing how well the enhancement programme releases did and may help us to decide how best results are achieved.

Fin clipping weekend at Montrose

Club Funds Raising Event, 2 days. 

Saturday 17th  and Sunday 18th   February 2018 

Urgent Volunteer Assistance Needed! 

Hatchery staff are already juggling stocks and flows attempting to hold oxygen levels in an effort to avoid having to release  non marked smolt which are smaller than recommended, and not monitorable in our fishery.

Part 1 of the annual fin clipping program was held in early December with volunteers clipping 50,000 smolt weighing 4 grams. This was an especially fine effort due to handling of the small size of the smolt. These stocks are now doing well at the Whiskey Creek site. This second session in February should allow much higher numbers to be clipped with the smolt weighing around 20 grams. 

Part 2 of the Annual Chinook Salmon Smolt fin clipping program will take place at the Montrose hatchery at 8.30am  Saturday the 17th of February and will involve 2 days with a good team finishing on Sunday. 

This important task of marking Chinook salmon for the purpose of identification within the fishery is one of the most essential fisheries management tools we have. 

North Canterbury Fish and Game are inviting members of the New Zealand Salmon Anglers Association and the Canterbury Lurefishing Association, and members of the public to assist with the task of adipose fin clipping approximately 180.000 Salmon Smolt at the site. These smolt stocks are destined for release into Silver Stream, Otukaikino, Rakaia, Coleridge, Kaikoura,, Clarence, and the West Coast in July.

Numbers of members advised to complete this task on this weekend are 40 volunteers on both days.. Members of the public are also invited and they will be adopted by the clubs and be included on the daily registration list. So invite your friends and children to enjoy the comraderie of anglers on this social and educational outing. 

It is very important that we achieve the fin clipping target of 180,000 on this weekend. So please rally any help you can to make it happen. Many hands make light work so numbers of around 60 each day will make it easy, and clippers will also be able to finish early on the days. Typically with good numbers about an hour after lunch will see the job done. 

Fish and Game Rangers and Council members are also invited to take part over the weekend. 

The car pool meeting point will be at the Yaldhurst Hotel car park, at 7.30am Saturday. Volunteers whom have not been to the Montrose hatchery before are advised to meet at Blackford Road which is the first Road on the right after crossing the Rakaia Gorge bridge , on the south side of the river. The entrance to the property is six kms up the road from the turn off and will be marked with an angler access sign on the days. 

Fish & Game will also be providing a barbecue lunch on the day.

Warm clothes and wet weather gear is advised. Gumboots or waders are also advised. 

An indication of numbers from the clubs prior to the weekend would be appreciated. 

This is a big one guys, we cant do it without your help!  A brief presentation to enlighten North Canterbury anglers and their tireless teams of  Salmonid Culturists, regarding our enhancement programs progress, and the current national review which is questioning the viability of the 150 years of dedicated work our anglers, our forefathers, have put into creating and enhancing our fishery, will also feature on the days. A strong show of numbers is needed on this weekend so please spread the word far and wide. 

Members of the public please use contact below.

Off with their heads!

Fish & Game is working with the Cawthron Institute to investigate the genetic structure of salmon populations across the South Island.

We need anglers to help us collect tissues samples by saving the heads of ALL salmon you catch.

Place each head in a separate plastic bag with a note on catch location and fish details (size, sex, fin clips) and then freeze.

Please note angler samples from the canals are not required.

Contact your local Fish and Game Office for more information about target sampling areas or arrange a pick up/drop off for your samples. 

Thanks all,Tight lines!

Dirk Barr, Fish and Game Hatcheries Manager, 021 221 8378.











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