Weekly Fishing Report for Central South Island and North Canterbury - 14 Mar 2024

  • Central South Island North Canterbury
  • 14/03/2024

Weekly Fishing Report for Central South Island and North Canterbury - 14 Mar 2024


Young and experienced hooked on rainbows and more


We have some catch reports to share with you this week.

Last week at the Ōhau C boat ramp on Lake Benmore I bumped into Olly Walmsley. The usual anglers small talk “how’d did you get on” was met with a big smile and “amazing” from Olly.

Olly’s seven-year-old son Gregory had just landed his first trout, a stunning rainbow trout weighing nearly seven pounds (pictured above).

Pictured above: Gregory Walmsley and his big rainbow from Lake Benmore. Credit: Rhys Adams.

The catch was all the sweeter as Gregory had almost landed a trout on their last trip, losing it at the boat.

The big rainbow was caught trolling, using a standard spin rod rigged with a small sinker for weight about a metre in front of the lure, a Woolly Bugger fly. 

Grant Weston with a nice Waitaki River rainbow trout. Credit: Allan Gillespie.

Allan Gillespie from the South Canterbury Anglers Club got in touch to share some highlights from the club’s Kurow-based fishing trip last Thursday through Sunday.

Fourteen club members fished waterways in the Waitaki system from Lake Benmore to the Waitaki River – catching a total of 118 trout, mostly released but a few made it to the dinner table.

Most days were fine and warm but the blustery Nor Wester made fishing hard work at times. The Waitaki River was targeted over the weekend when flows dropped to 270-240 cumecs on the ECan’s Waitaki River flow recorder – a manageable level for shoreline anglers. 

Pictured above is club member Grant Weston with a rainbow caught on a mayfly dry on the Waitaki River upstream of Kurow.   

The hard luck story of the trip goes to Allan who hooked a double-digit fish thought to be a sea-run salmon. He hooked it on his fly rod swinging a bead-headed brown coloured Woolly Bugger. After playing the fish for several minutes it tore off downstream and when there was no more backing line left, the leader snapped…

Leighton Mehlhopt hooked into his first sight-fished high-country rainbow trout. Credit: Jarrad Mehlhopt.

Our final catch report takes us back to January when young angler Leighton Mehlhopt chalked up his first sight-fishing catch.

I’m sure Leighton would now agree with many anglers; sight fishing is the pinnacle experience for trout anglers.

That’s where, like Leighton experienced, in the picture above:

  1. The fish is sighted in clear water using polaroid glasses,
  2. A plan is made of where to cast based on the positioning of the fish in the current and considering any snags and obstacles,
  3. The fish can be seen biting the lure.

In this case Leighton got to see the fish race over and take his spinner.  


Waitaki sea-run salmon season – ‘upper’ section closed April 1st

The yellow highlight marks the powerlines at Stonewall & Bortons Pond - salmon fishing is closed upstream of these powerlines in April.

The so-called ‘upper’ section of the Waitaki River is defined in the regulations as “from the Waitaki Dam downstream to a line running beneath the powerlines across the river at the Stonewall or any tributary of that part of the river…”.

If you are not sure where Stonewall is, it is on the north side of the river. The powerlines run across the river here to Bortons Pond at Black Point on the south side of the river – see the above image.

In our Waitaki River access guide and angler access online maps – Stonewall is access point 10 and Bortons Pond is access point 28.

An open season remains for sea-run salmon during April in the ‘lower’ section, approximately 29km of Waitaki River downstream from these Stonewall/Bortons powerlines to the sea.

Please remember if you have kept your season bag limit of two (2) sea-run salmon across the combined waters of Central South Island and North Canterbury Regions you cannot continue to fish for sea-run salmon in these regions for the remainder of the 2023/24 sports fishing season.

If you need clarification on any regulation please refer to the 2023/24 sports fishing regulations,

If further clarification is required, please contact us directly, phone 03 615 8400 or email csi@fishandgame.org.nz.


Dry conditions persist

Fish & Game Officer Hamish Stevens prepares to recover trout stranded in a ponded section of the Hakataramea River. Credit: Nikki Dellaway.

Rainfall over the last week has varied across the region and done little, if anything, to lift the rivers out of summer low flow conditions.

Over the past seven days, some front country areas like Peel Forrest received around 30 mm of rain, central areas like McRae’s Gorge in the Hakataramea Valley got none, while close to the Main Divide Mount Cook Village received a modest 15mm.

Locals and our teams have been keeping a watching brief on drying sections of rivers, especially the Hakataramea.

Last week we relocated 91 trout and 16 eels /tuna from the Hakataramea around the Wright Crossing area down the Waitaki River.


Outlook for the weekend

We are forecast to get a blustery, cold and rainy Friday – let’s hope we get a half decent rainfall out of it.

Saturday and Sunday look great for fishing with mainly overcast and cool conditions with light winds – take some warm clothes.

Water levels are likely to stay low and clear from Friday’s rain for the most part, but there may be a few exceptions - keep a close eye on the ECan river flows website and outdoor access live stream cameras.


Notice Board

Waitaki Voluntary Salmon Hatchery (WRES) – Annual General Meeting

  • Where: Glenavy Hall    
  • When: Tuesday, 26th March – 7:30pm

To find out more about the voluntary hatchery check out the website here.


CSI Council Meeting

Licence holders and members of the public are welcome to attend the next bi-monthly meeting of the Central South Island Fish & Game Council.

  • Where: 32 Richard Pearse Drive, Temuka
  • When: 7pm Thursday 14th March (tonight)


Tight Lines,

Rhys Adams, Central South Island Fish & Game Officer.




Good weekend to try Designated Waters areas

Screenshot of Rakaia Mouth. Credit: Outdoor Access live web camera.

Some well-needed rain on Friday with the expected southerlies will hopefully provide cooler temperatures for anglers wanting to fish this weekend.

Trout are more active in the cooler temperatures, and our lakes will be a prime option for some fishing.

It would be a good weekend to try some of our Designated Waters Fisheries, especially with the milder temperatures.

Our compliance efforts in these areas have shown that angling pressure by non-resident anglers has definitely decreased, which is a great result for the Kiwi anglers.

There is still some cicada activity around (just), but fish are certainly becoming more active.

Some of our alpine rivers have closed to fishing but there are many other options for anglers to try out in the region.

The ever-expanding network of Outdoor access live web cameras is a fantastic resource for the angler looking to check out conditions before heading out at the weekend.


Waimakariri Salmon Comp

The annual Waimakariri River Salmon Fishing Competition is on this weekend - 16 March 2024.

The competition is organised and administered by the New Zealand Salmon Anglers Association (Incorporated). All entries must include current season fishing licence number on each entry form and the rules provided in the NZSAA competition booklet.

Entries must be on the official entry form, which is available from New Zealand Salmon Anglers Association committee members or Facebook, Ballinger’s Hunting & Fishing 73 Clarence St, Tower Junction, Christchurch; North Canterbury Hunting & Fishing 305 Flaxton Road Rangiora; Kairaki Beach Camp office; Fishermans Loft; and Anglers Warehouse. There are separate divisions for adults, juniors, children, and toddlers.

All categories will be subject to the Competition Rules. Competitors entered in the competition are invited to attend the prizegiving to be held in the Pines Beach Community Hall, Dunns Ave, Pines Beach, commencing at 4.30 pm. BYO refreshments. $2 sausage sizzle BBQ available.


Rangers Competition Date

The North Canterbury Fish & Game Rangers’ competition (also known as the sausage sizzle) will be held this year on April 26.

We’ve picked a day in the school holidays, and many may be taking a long weekend with ANZAC day to maximise the opportunity for anglers and their families to come down and have a cast, catch up with other anglers, have a yarn, get a sausage off the BBQ and go in the spot prize draw and hand in their sea-run salmon card.

Watch this space for more details in next week’s edition.


Notice Board

Map of river works upstream from the Whakaora Te Ahuriri constructed wetland.

Environment Canterbury want to advise anglers of some remedial river works they are about to undertake to repair erosion on the banks of the Huritini/Halswell River. 

These works involve working from the bank of the river, removing material that was slumped in and rock placement to stabilise the bank. 

Completion of this work will involve revegetating the bank and should help remove a source of sediment into this river. 

The site is shown in the map above, and is approximately 1.5km upstream from the Whakaora Te Ahuriri constructed wetland.


Tight Lines, 

Richard Cosgrove, North Canterbury Fish & Game Officer.

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