Weekly Fishing Report for Central South Island and North Canterbury 28 March 2024

  • 28/03/2024
  • Richie Cosgrove

Weekly Fishing Report for Central South Island and North Canterbury 28 March 2024


Easter offers four days of fishing freedom

Easter is a favourite holiday to get out fishing, don’t miss out.

This year Easter spans the last three days of March and the first days of April, that’s important for three reasons,

  1. The sea-run salmon season is closed on the upper part of the Waitaki River in April – (see below article),
  2. The trout fishing season is closed on the upper section of the Rangitata / Rakitata River in April (see page 42 of regulations).
  3. And, Winter fishing licences are valid from April 1st and are a great part-season licence option (find out more here).

 Above: Salmon anglers near the mouth of the Waitaki River last Saturday - photo Rhys Adams

Clear water sight fishing on the Tekapo Canal - just like fishing a giant spring creek

NZ’s best pseudo spring creeks

For many fly-only anglers dedicated trips to fish the man-made Mackenzie hydro canals are often at the bottom of the to-do list with so many great wild rivers, streams, lakes, and spring creeks to explore nearby.

I reckon if those fly anglers simply thought of the canals as giant spring creeks, with stable flows, clear water and fish feeding around weed beds – they’d prioritise exploring the canals and set themselves up for a rewarding experience.

I was on a section of the Tekapo Canal last week, far from the salmon farms and with only one other angler in sight for several kilometers and I found plenty of brown trout!

They were all easy to spot right (in between wind gusts) on the edge in shallow water. Most appeared to be around 2-4 pounds with one trophy-size brown around 15-pounds seen.

In this section the white-coloured canal liner made spotting easier.    

A screen capture of the Ōpihi Hapua river flow gauge Screen shot - Source ECan

How to tell if the Ōpihi River mouth is ‘open’ to the sea

It can be rather disappointing heading down to fish the Ōpihi River mouth only to find it’s been blocked off by the beach bar and is not connected to the sea.

That experience can be avoided thanks to ECan’s Ōpihi Hāpua / lagoon river flow gauge– click here.

Refer to the numbers on the image which correspond to the numbered gauge reading explanations below.

  1. When the mouth is open, the gauge is influenced by the tides and displays a regular up-and-down tidal cycle of water height.
  2. As the mouth becomes partially blocked the tidal fluctuations start to increase in water height with successive tides.
  3. When the mouth is closed by the beach bar the water height steadily increases without displaying the tidal changes.
  4. When the mouth re-opens fully, the water height drops dramatically back down to base level during dry spells or a higher level if the opening is due to the river flooding.

Note: Rain events and seasonal base flows can cause river height readings to display differently to the above advice. 

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

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

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 power lines 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.

The season for trout remains open in all waters of the Waitaki River Catchment during April.

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 in office hours or email csi@fishandgame.org.nz. 

Busy Easter likely at the canals

Easter is typically a busy time at the canals, or at least at the hotspots around the salmon farm and intake structures.

The canals are owned and operated by Meridian and Genesis and canal anglers are guests on their land and assets.

One of the key reasons the canals are so popular is that they are super easy to access.

Respectful and safe use of the canals by anglers goes a long way to ensuring that access to the canal fishery remains open and easy into the future.

Here’s a few reminders of what angler behaviour should look like at the canals.

  1. speed limits on canal roads are respected.
  2. General rubbish is collected and disposed of responsibly.
  3. Fish waste is disposed of appropriately, away from the canal banks and water.
  4. hazard warning signs and safety fences are respected.
  5. Overnight camping, including sleeping in cars, is undertaken away from the canals at designated camping areas.
  6. Toilets provided on the canals and at power stations are used.

Please view our angler access map website here, zoom in on the canals to see where toilets are provided by Meridian and Genesis and rubbish bins are provided by Meridian.    

Tight Lines

Rhys Adams

Central South Island Fish & Game Officer 


Happy Easter to all our North Canterbury anglers.

This weekend being Easter weekend means it’s a long weekend, and the weather conditions look settled and calm, which is perfect for fishing.

I would highly recommend getting friends and family together and heading away fishing, whether it’s just for the day or, even better, making it an overnight trip.

There are only four weeks left before the majority of our rivers and lakes are closed for the season, which is April 30th.

Are you heading into the backcountry hunting and want to fill in some downtime during the day?

This is where carrying in some fishing gear and stalking trout up a river or lake edge is a great opportunity. Plus, getting the backcountry double of catching a trout and shooting a deer is always a bonus!

The trout at this time of year are generally in good condition because they are trying to put on as much weight as possible before heading up into their spawning streams.

Lake Coleridge is our region's only lake with a high-country landlocked salmon fishery.

They will start congregating at the river mouths, providing an excellent opportunity for shore-based anglers to target them in the early morning and later in the evening before they drop back into deeper water.

Even better if you have a boat or kayak, trolling is another great option on Lake Coleridge as you can fish in slightly deeper water than shore-based anglers, and it is a great social way to fish, chatting away with your mates.

The prize giving at the 2023 North Canterbury Rangers Competition


2024 Rangers Competition

Celebrate the end of the sea-run salmon season with Fish & Game Staff, Honorary Rangers and fellow anglers at the 2024 Rangers Competition!

When & Where

Friday 26th April

Kairaki Beach (North side of the Waimakariri River mouth)

There are toilet facilities in the carpark area.

How to enter

No pre-registration is required; just start fishing!

If you catch a salmon, come to the weigh-in station at the Fish & Game tent by 1:00 pm to weigh it in! You must show your 23/24 season fishing licence AND your filled-in sea-run salmon licence when entering a fish (We will not accept any entries without these two licences being shown).

If you don’t have any luck on the day, you can still present your licence at the Fish & Game tent any time before 1:00 pm to go into the spot prize draw! 

Fishing & Weigh-in

Fishing may commence at 5:00 am as per North Canterbury fishing regulations

Fish must be caught between the Waimakariri Mouth and the Kairaki Yacht Club at Kairaki Creek on the north side only (area highlighted in red below)

Weigh-ins from 8:00 am – 1:00 pm at the Fish & Game tent on the beach (can’t miss it!)

Prizegiving to follow at 1:30 pm

The competition will be held rain or shine!



The angler with the heaviest salmon on the day will be immortalised with their name engraved on the coveted Rangers Trophy.

We will also award the Jack Kerapa Memorial trophy for “Rangers Fisherman of the Year”.

We also have a great range of spot prizes kindly donated by North Canterbury Hunting & Fishing, Christchurch (Ballingers) Hunting & Fishing, Amazing Baits, Desolve, Hunters Element, and more!

For any further queries, please email ncevent@fishandgame.org.nz or call the office at (03) 366 9191.

Rohan Kempthorne's 2.168kg brown from the L2 is weighed in on Saturday.-Photo Rachael Don

Clubs Fishing Competition

Last weekend, the Clubs South Island had their annual trout fishing competition on Saturday.

Over 100 anglers entered the competition, and 15 fish were weighed in at the Richmond Club on Stanmore Road between 4 and 6 pm on Saturday.

Of the fish, 12 were caught on our lakes, and three were caught in our rivers.

The biggest fish was a 2.168kg gilled and gutted brown trout from the L2 River, caught by Junior Rohan Kempthorne, whose fish was 68 grams heavier than Isaac Thompson’s brown, also caught in one of our lowland streams.

Salvage Reminder

If you report a fish stranding to us, there are some critical pieces of information we are after as we triage the urgency to attend versus other important work at hand.

  1. Exact location.
  2. How many live fish, and what are their sizes and species?
  3. How deep is the water in the pools - we can only recover using electric fishing in knee-deep or less
  4. Is there water flowing into the pool where they are stranded?

Tight Lines and Happy Easter 

Harry Graham-Samson, North Canterbury Fish & Game







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