Weekly Fishing Report for Central South Island and North Canterbury for 15 February 2024

  • Central South Island North Canterbury
  • 15/02/2024
  • Richie Cosgrove

Weekly Fishing Report for Central South Island and North Canterbury for 15 February 2024


Heaps of fun in the high country

February is a great time to mission inland to the high country and other central waterways.

Hamish Stevens took his sons Sefton and Finn on a 4WD camping and fishing mission to the Tekapo / Takapō River last weekend.

Sefton caught the pictured rainbow trout on the first cast of the trip! He used a soft bait, as can be seen in its mouth.

Finn caught two nice trout, too, spinning with toby lures.

Above Right: Sefton Stevens with his Tekapo River rainbow trout- photo Hamish Stevens

Hamish said the riverbed is covered by algae and didymo after a summer’s growth. Anglers seeking pristine conditions should mission elsewhere.    

The algal growth didn’t deter one iota from Hamish and the boys having a fantastic high-country mission, which included frying up Sefton’s trout on the barbeque for a delicious dinner.

Lake Waitaki report  

Allan Davidson with a Lake Waitaki brown trout caught fly fishing in the shallows. Credit: Allan Gillespie.

Four South Canterbury Anglers Club members had a successful fly fishing day last week at Lake Waitaki.

Eleven brown trout were landed, using mostly damselfly nymphs. At least one ‘big’ one got away.

Allan Gillespie remarked that the fish were in excellent condition, probably the best he’s seen at Lake Waitaki.

The anglers waded in the shallows, fishing for sighted fish and blind fishing in between sightings.

If you’re looking to do some social fishing and learn a few tricks from some of the region's most knowledgeable anglers, consider joining a fishing club like the South Canterbury Anglers.

One of the benefits of joining a fishing club is they often have huts at great fishing spots for relatively low-cost hire – the South Canterbury Anglers Club has two huts at Lake Alexandrina (BTW – a 10.5lbs trout was caught there this week).

Click here to check out the South Canterbury Anglers Club website.

Terrestrial time

Terrestrial time enjoyed by the Author-photo by Rhys Adams

There are ultimately two origins of trout food: aquatic – from the water, and terrestrial – from dry land.

When discussing terrestrials in trout fishing, we usually talk about bugs such as cicadas, grasshoppers, crickets and blowflies.

Summer through early autumn is terrestrial time. Terrestrial time is an important period for fly anglers as the fishing can be gobsmacking easy and action-packed.

I got to experience the best of terrestrial time this last week in the Canterbury high country.

All I had to do to get a bite was put my #10-12 Royal Wulff dry near the trout I had spotted.

The trout would go out of their way to swiftly pounce on my fly – even chasing it several metres downstream when my cast came up a bit short. Don’t look away! 

The Royal Wulff is my pick of terrestrial fly as it is really buoyant when treated with floatant and is highly visible with its white wing posts. 


Outlook for the weekend

It’s a pretty good forecast for the weekend, region-wide, with Sunday being the pick of the days – sunnier and hotter than Saturday.

Just as we hear of a few catches of sea-run salmon picking up at the Rangitata /Rakitata River, there is 70mm of rain forecast for the headwaters over Thursday and Friday.

Keep a close watch on the ECan flow recorder at Klondyke on the Rangitata River; it fishes best below 80 cumecs.

If you are heading out sea-run salmon fishing, obtain and carry your sea-run salmon season bag card. You’ll also need to have a pen, as the details of any sea-run salmon kept must be recorded immediately on the card.

Find out all the info about the sea-run salmon season bag card at our website here.    

If you’re keen to check out a new spot this weekend or maybe try your luck at the Tekapo River or Lake Waitaki after being inspired by the stories in this report, then check out our new online angler access maps here.

Notice board

Environment Canterbury - Targeted weed control works on riverbeds.

Starting early February to March 2024 – as weather permits

ECan is spraying targeted weed species (specifically willows, gorse, alder, poplar, broom and lupins) growing on identified specific riverbed islands /areas.

Signage indicating that spraying is underway will be placed at all spray operation refilling stations and public access points on the rivers. Public access will be restricted during operations.

WHERE: rivers include Hinds, Ashburton, Ōrāri, Rangitata, Ōpihi, Opuha, Pareora and Waitaki.

Please see all the detailed maps on ECan’s website here, including those in the North Canterbury Fish & Game Region.

Tight Lines

Rhys Adams

Central South Island Fish & Game Officer 



The Rakaia River last weekend.

Last weekend was a great weekend for fishing, and we were even greeted with a fresh dumping of snow on the mountains on Sunday, which cooled off the water temperatures and increased the flows of some of our foothill streams.

A weekend of firsts

Lou with her first salmon

Fish & Game Officer Harry Graham-Samson and his friends Angus and Lou, who came up from Wanaka for the weekend, had a great time on the Rakaia River, managing to land three salmon between them.

Lou caught her first-ever sea-run salmon in about the first five minutes of fishing on a silver/chartreuse 22g Zed spinner!

Angus also got his first salmon on the Spey rod with a home-tied intruder fly, which he was stoked about.

It proves that there is more than one way to catch a salmon!

Ben's first NZ trout

On the other hand, Fish & Game Officer Matt Garrick had his buddy Ben over from the United States, and they went up to Lake Coleridge on Sunday.

They trolled around the lake, with Ben catching his first trout in New Zealand. He was absolutely over the moon with his fishing experience in the North Canterbury region and is already planning his next trip back to New Zealand.

We would love to hear more stories from our anglers, so please send them in to us and we will publish them in our weekly newsletter.


Outlook for the weekend

Unfortunately, some of the salmon rivers will colour up again this weekend due to heavy rain falling in the main divide on Thursday and into Friday.

Angus with the first of his two salmon caught last weekend.

 However, I would keep an eye on the Outdoor Access cameras and the ECan river flows data as some of the rivers may remain clean, but they also might clear up quicker than we expect as there isn’t much rain predicted in the long-range forecast.

This weekend looks great for being up at our high country lakes, as the weather forecast isn’t predicting too much wind.

So this would be an excellent opportunity to get the boat or kayak out on the water.

Try to fish those out of the way/exposed areas of the lake that tend to get cut up by the wind early in the day, as the fish in these areas might not have had that much pressure, so your success rate would be slightly higher.

Rakaia Salmon Competition

Next weekend is the annual Rakaia River Salmon Fishing Competition, held from February 23 to 25. 

The Rakaia Salmon competition is one of the biggest freshwater fishing competitions in the country. 

Often, many people enter the competition just for the daily prize draws. It is usually more of a celebration of fishing at the Rakaia Community Centre each night with fantastic prizes. 

Anglers often ask us how Fish & Game can support the competition when the salmon fishery is in recovery mode? 

Simply, the introduction of the two-fish season bag limit means that as anglers can only catch two fish, harvesting them during a competition makes minimal impact on the overall harvest as anglers can still only harvest two fish per season. 


Environment Canterbury Targeted Weed Control Works

Starting early February to March 2024

ECan will be surveying the rivers first to identify islands in the riverbed that require weed control and then spraying targeted weed species (specifically willows, gorse, alder, poplar, broom and lupins) growing on these specific islands.

Signage indicating that spraying is underway will be placed at all spray operation refilling stations and public access points on the river. Public access will be restricted during operations.

WHAT: Targeted weed control using helicopters for aerial spraying

WHEN: Early February through to March, as weather permits

WHERE: Waiau Uwha River, Ashley River, Waimakariri River, Selwyn River, Rakaia River

Please see the detailed maps of control areas at this link: 

Current river works | Environment Canterbury (ecan.govt.nz)

Tight Lines,

Richie Cosgrove and Harry Graham-Samson, North Canterbury Fish & Game Officers.






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