Weekly Fishing Report for Central South Island and North Canterbury - 28 September 2023

  • Central South Island North Canterbury
  • 28/09/2023

Weekly Fishing Report for Central South Island and North Canterbury - 28 September 2023

Above Right: Lenard Luke of Ashburton fishing the Waitaki River on the 2022-23 Opening Day - Photo: Rhys Adams

Central South Island Report

Welcome back!

Welcome to the first weekly fishing report for the 2023/2024 sports fishing season, soon to open this Sunday - the 1st of October!

If you haven’t already, be sure to purchase your new 2023/2024 licence.

Licences can be purchased from the Fish & Game NZ website, click here, and in-store from your local licence agent.

Be sure to read up on the new 2023/24 regulations here

Share your trip reports

This weekly report is written by the staff at Fish & Game but your input helps to make it a great read.

Please email through a short trip report, photos, successful lures etc. from Opening Day and throughout the season - we love to share these.

Email me, Rhys Adams: radams@fishandgame.org.nz for the Central South Island trip reports, or, email my colleague Richie Cosgrove rcosgrove@fishandgame.org.nz for North Canterbury trip reports. 

If you are sharing a photo of a fish that you have kept — please wash off any blood off the fish and your hands – it makes for better presentation.

If you are sharing a photo of a fish that you have released — make the photo displays the following careful catch and release techniques.

  • Cool your hands and landing net by wetting them before touching the fish.
  • Keep the fish in the water while removing the hook.
  • Do not squeeze the fish and never touch the gills.
  • Photograph the fish in or over the water and make it quick - the fish should not be out of the water for more than 5 seconds.
  • Revive the fish facing into the current long enough for it to regain its swimming strength.

Outlook for Opening

The focus on Opening Day for many will be the re-opening of our lowland waterways, although some anglers do celebrate opening at other year-round fisheries that offer fantastic fishing at this time of year, Lake Benmore for example.

Lake Opuha / Ōpūaha and the Ōpihi River and tributaries usually see a good number of anglers out and about for opening as does the Waitaki River – especially by those anglers that launch their jet boats at Kurow.

If you’re new to fishing the Waitaki River please read our Waitaki access guide here for tips on managing your fishing trips around fluctuating flow levels — flow levels can be viewed at ECan flow website here.

Opening Day, falling on a Sunday and with the school holidays, provides a great opportunity to take the kids out fishing. Top spots for young kids include the relaxed park-like settings of Lake Opuha/ Ōpūaha near Fairlie and Borton’s and Bell’s Ponds on opposite side of the Waitaki River.

The easiest form of trout fishing for kids is bait or spin fishing from a lake/pond shore.

Garden worms are a great bait if you can find them, a more convenient option for bait may be shrimp/prawn – especially for rainbow trout.

For tips on worm fishing local rivers check out page 81 of the Fish & Game Magazine here.

Weather and Water Outlook

The weather for the Opening Day looks favourable at the time of writing (Wednesday) for the low country! A NW front is predicted to hit the high country later in the day so it may be a bit breezy in exposed places.

I highly recommend checking the forecast on Saturday for yourself, it will be much more reliable than my review.

The YR.no forecast website is handy as you can often search out a localised forecast, for example, the township Pleasant Point.

Try the “find location in map” feature found in the menu if the search engine doesn’t display your location of choice.

Currently, water levels are great for fishing on our lowland waters after a small increase in flows related to last week’s rain.

With only a relatively small amount of rain in the forecast for Friday and Saturday, I’d predict most lowland rivers will be good for fishing come Opening Day.

Again, best to keep an eye on flows closer to the time via the free ECan river flows website and rainfall website.

A live river and lake checking option is the subscription-based Outdoor Access livestream cams.

Outdoor Access offers a 30-day free trial for anyone keen to check out their service.

If you are heading to the Rangitata River or Ashburton River for Opening Day then I’d highly recommend keeping a close eye on the weather and waterway conditions there as they are discoloured and receding after recent rain and snow melt – with more headwater rain forecast.

For the Ashburton River, its silty colour as often seen off the SH1 Bridge, originates from its North Branch, while the South Branch can be clear and fishable.  

The junction of the North and South Branches of the Ashburton River is 3km upstream from the SH1 Bridge on the outskirts of Ashbuton Township. 

Economic impact of the hydro canal fishery – research underway

Fish & Game believes canal anglers contribute massively to the thriving Mackenzie Basin community.

With your help, we can research the economic impact canal anglers bring by way of their spending that then provides jobs and income.

This research will create opportunities for Fish & Game to progress the management of the canal fishery and shed light on how trout and salmon fisheries support local communities.

We have partnered with the University of Otago to survey information on your spending – this will be in the form of an email survey. Keep an eye on your email inbox over the next week.

To help answer the survey questions, have a think about your spending over the last fishing season in the Mackenzie area that you made while on a canal fishing trip, for example, accommodation, hiring a guide, meals, fishing tackle, lures, and bait.

Also think of any other one-off spending you added on to your canal fishing trip, for example, scenic flight, hot pools, local artwork or upgrading to a new fishing rod.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to help proactively manage this popular sports fishery.


Rakitata Revival Strategy

Trout and salmon anglers - we’re urging you to get involved with the future management of the Rangitata/Rakitata River. Mana whenua and partners are aligning work to revive the Rakitata River through a strategy entitled Ko te Whakahaumanu o te Rakitata.

Click here to read a summary of the strategy. Ensure your aspirations to shape the future management of the Rakitata River are heard. Make a submission by emailing RakitataAwa@doc.govt.nz or fill out the online survey form found in the grey box at the link above. Submissions close 2nd October – don’t delay.

Tight Lines

Rhys Adams, Central South Island Fish & Game Officer


The new fishing season is just around the corner! 

Only three sleeps to go till the start of the 2023/24 fishing season, with some clearing northerlies predicted by Metservice for Sunday and a temperature of 18° forecast, it looks like a perfect day to start the fishing season.

 I’ve had more than a few people ring the office this week in a bit of a panic, wanting to buy a licence over the phone so they can go fishing on Sunday. 

So, it’s a worthy reminder that you can buy your licence online and be ready to go first thing Sunday morning. 

Over the winter, our rivers have been getting some regular top-ups from regular dumps of rain, which will bode well for an El Nino summer where we may face some dry, hot periods. 

One of the best ways to check river and lake suitability for the Outdoor Access live stream cameras. 

You get a real-time look at how conditions are at some strategic spots throughout the region. 

If you want to see what they provide, you can check out the screen at the Fishing Hut at Hunting & Fishing Tower junction. 

Another great website is the ECan River flows website, which allows you to check river flows at 132 sites across Canterbury. 

Lake Coleridge fishing competition 

The Lloyd sisters, Hannah (left), Charlotte (middle) and Lucy (right) from Rangiora with catch from Lake Coleridge 2022.
Our annual Lake Coleridge Fishing Competition is on Saturday, November 4. 

This celebration of the high-country fishery opening has been a fixture on the calendars of hundreds of anglers for decades. 

It’s generously sponsored by the three Hunting & Fishing stores in the area, Tower Junction, North Canterbury, and Ashburton.

More details will follow in coming fishing reports; there are some great prizes in the adult and junior spot prize draw. 

All you need to enter is to present your fishing licence at the Fish & Game tent before 1 pm and be there for the prize giving around 1.30 pm. 

Lake Roto Kohatu family fishing 

Looking for something to do in the school holidays? 

North Canterbury Fish & Game have released a number of salmon into the Roto Kohatu lakes. 

The Christchurch City Council has done some great work making this site an excellent, safe family fishing venue; the bag limit is two sports fish.

Close to the Sawyers Arms roundabout, it’s a very close accessible site for families looking for a morning or afternoon activity. 

Designated Water Licence 

This season, our back country rivers have migrated across to the new Designated Waters System. 

It’s important to note for anglers that a Resident is someone who is:

  • A New Zealand citizen, or:
  • holds a residence class, student, or work visa, and
  • has lived in New Zealand for at least six of the 12 months immediately prior to their licence purchase and
  • has New Zealand as their primary place of established residence. 

It’s not a resident of a particular Fish & Game region, as a couple of people have thought, and they have thought they needed to purchase a non-resident licence to fish in another Fish & Game region – which is not the case. 

Also, a resident has no restriction on the number of days that they can fish a region's designated waters, that applies only to our non-resident (i.e. tourist) anglers. 

The Designated Waters fisheries in our region are: 

North Branch of the Upper Hurunui River - from 500 metres upstream of Lake Sumner marked by a Marked with a sign at or about coordinate BU22 3088 7229. 

South Branch of the Upper Hurunui River - Upstream of the North Esk River Confluence 

Lewis Pass Fishery – the Hope River and ALL tributaries upstream of the State Highway 7 Bridge. 

Upper Waiau Uwha River – river and all tributaries upstream of the Hope River, excluding Lake Guyon

Saltwater Creek discharge incident update. 

Anglers wanting to learn more about the recent discharge incident at Saltwater Creek can check out this page from ECan 

Trout Festival 

On September 16, over 500 anglers celebrated the upcoming fishing season at the 2023 NZ Trout Festival in Christchurch.

The largest trout festival in New Zealand, anglers came from across the country came to the Groynes Fishing Lakes and Clearwater Resort to learn from trout fishing experts from across the globe.

Check out the video here

Salmon report & new salmon card 

Sea run salmon fishing requires you to carry your licence, season bag card and a pen.

Keen salmon anglers will have already received their new season licence and plastic sea-run salmon bag limit card. 

This year’s new card is made and delivered by the same provider that prints the licence; doing so has enabled us to keep the cost for the card the same as in previous years, which is a bit of a win for anglers. 

Our technical reports for the last sea-run salmon season are available here and here

Please note that the CSI reports will be presented at their Council meeting in November and will be uploaded after that meeting. 

Tight lines for the coming season

Richie Cosgrove, North Canterbury Fish & Game Officer.

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