North Canterbury Fishing Report Friday 23rd February 2018

  • North Canterbury
  • 23/02/2018
  • Richie Cosgrove

North Canterbury Fishing Report Friday 23rd February 2018

Over the last few weeks there have been limited opportunities for Canterbury anglers due to frequent heavy rain in the alps.

The East Coast rivers in Canterbury have had a series of freshes and high flows, with cyclone Gita providing the most recent top up in all the rivers.

Above Right: Adipose Fin Clipping Weekend at Montrose, Feb 2018.

The Rakaia River is likely to remain dis-coloured for some time with a number of tributaries adding a significant amount of sediment to the river.

None of our rivers are fishable at present and they will remain this way for the weekend, and with another Nor-wester forecast to hit the main divide Sunday night, this is likely to top up the main salmon rivers again.

The weather looks good throughout the region tomorrow, with only light winds forecast, so the best bet for anglers would be the high country lakes.

All these lakes will have cooled a little with the recent cold snap and rain, a welcome change from the warm temperatures they have seen all summer.

The recent rain has sent dis-coloured water from a creek into Lake Grassmere and sight fishing for cruising trout is not possible there at present.

Fish & Game will be releasing 480 salmon into the Groynes Junior Fishing Lakes today, with another 1,100 going in over the next week. This is the largest amount we have put in these lakes in such a short period, so the fishing there will be fantastic for the next two weeks. 

Salmon fishing has been relatively quiet in all the rivers in the small windows when they have been fishable, with reports of only the odd salmon being caught.

We still hope to see reasonable numbers of salmon show up in all the rivers sometime over the next month, with the Waimakariri generally fishing well in this latter half of the season.

Anglers wanting to target salmon upriver would be best to be on the water at first light and use light tackle as there is usually little activity throughout the day.

All the recent freshes and floods will have changed the main salmon rivers significantly, so it’s anyone’s guess where the good fishing spots are, with the keen anglers putting considerable time into reconnaissance for the prime spots on the river.

When conditions do come right, anglers please remember there is no salmon fishing in the Western Zone of our rivers above the white posts and there are to be no salmon taken between 10pm and 5am, as we have had reports these regulations have been broken by some anglers recently.

Rangers will be actively monitoring the headwaters over  the next few months, with these regulations in place to protect spawning salmon.

With the variable weather we get in Canterbury, planning fishing trips is often a challenge, and along with the river flows website at the bottom of the weekly emails.

I find the following websites useful when planning trips away; Metvuw shows images of predicted weather for up to week in advance, and I use this to forecast rainfall and wind direction -, I use the 7-day Thumbnails for the South Island. Combine this with the Metservice National Weather site -, and to see how much rain has fallen in any particular area, use the ECan rainfall page – 

Good luck if you are heading out for a fish this weekend. 

Steve Terry, North Canterbury Fish & Game Offcier.

Salmon and Trout Enhancement Programs

Volunteers really stepped up to the mark last weekend, to complete the annual task of marking all remaining enhancement program stocks, by removing the adipose fin for identification and monitoring purposes.

50,000 Chinook salmon stocks were clipped in November when they only weighed 4 grams and these stocks were then transferred to the Whisky Creek enhancement site a few weeks later.

These stocks are currently doing well and reaching target growth weights strategically measured to replicate growth rates of natural smolt at the same age.

This conditioning factor is important to the survival of smolt when competing in the ocean environment for food.

Another important factor of a slow growth rate at this stage is maturation.

Smolt grown hard and fast such as commercially grown smolt, with a purpose of harvesting adults quickly for the table, are very prone to maturation as 2 year olds.

These adult salmon reach weights of about 6 - 8 pounds in this time depending on how hard they are fed.

In the natural fishery these fish are not desirable, and may in fact encourage future generations of salmon to migrate and spawn at the same age.

On the flip side to this is the fact that smolt grown in this nature do not have a very good survival rate when released into the competitive ocean environment.

Three, or four year old salmon weighing 14 – 25 pounds (depending on feed availability at sea) returning to spawn are what anglers desire, and this age and weight range has many other positive implications for our fishery.

In the past anglers recall the generic 12 pound and smaller tagged salmon from the Glenariffe days.

The current North Canterbury Enhancement Programs have learned how to replicate “smolt to adult return” growth rates to the point where size differences are no longer recognisable from the naturally spawned stocks.

How do we know this? Because the salmon smolt were marked by volunteers fin clipping the adipose fin at Montrose.

There are many other applications that can be applied to the natural salmon fishery from having the ability to mark the Enhancement Program stocks.

One of the main ones is through comparisons. Staff have gained extremely valued fisheries knowledge from this, and in tern have passed it on to the volunteer Salmonid Culturists from many groups, the members of the NZ Salmon Anglers Association (NZSAA) especially.

None of this would ever have been possible if it was not for the tireless efforts of generations of hard working fisheries volunteers.

These are the anglers who built our fishery, and from the support shown last weekend by the 130 angler volunteers that turned up to help with fin clipping, that immense dedication to our beloved fishery is obviously as strong as ever.

During the course of the weekends fin clipping, 180,000 salmon smolt were fin clipped.

There has never been this many clipped in one weekend.

This was largely due to having two consistent days with good numbers present.

The diverse range of volunteers from hard working 90 year olds to little 4 year old runners bucketing fish to the clippers was amazing to see.

FISH! they yelled, and they kept on coming, and coming.

Both days the clipping was finished by 3pm, I must admit that the last hour on Sunday to finish the last few, seemed to take ages.

But what an accomplishment by all! 

The weather was great, the camraderie was as always, plenty of first time clippers.

Lots of new people were educated by the experienced as to the how’s and whys of our fishery.

Lots of families with many kids gaining real hands on experiences and just having a great time at a pretty special place.

The Salmon and Trout Enhancement sites at Montrose, Isaacs, and more recently Whisky Creek and Bully Creek, were all created by angler volunteers, mostly from the NZSAA.

The countless hours that have been put in by so many over the decades are simply incredible. 

Fish and Game would just like to say thanks to all involved for an outstanding effort last weekend and for their constant dedication devoted to our fishery. 

Dirk Barr, North Canterbury Fish & Game Hatcheries Manager.

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