Weekly Fishing report for Central South Island and North Canterbury for 18 April 2024

  • Central South Island North Canterbury
  • 18/04/2024
  • Richie Cosgrove

Weekly Fishing report for Central South Island and North Canterbury for 18 April 2024

Central South Island Report

Waitaki River weekend a winner for Watson and friends

Leon Watson and friends fished the Waitaki River last weekend targeting sea-run salmon on soft baits.

They fished the lower reaches of the river at flows fluctuating from around 310 to 350 cumecs on the flow recorder.  Leon said these were good fishing flows for the lower reaches but when he fishes the upper reaches, he prefers the flows to be much lower to allow for good shoreline access.

They fished light with 6lb braid, 6lb fluorocarbon leaders and 1/12 to 1/8 jig heads.

Soft baits used with success included the 2.5” Berkley T-tail minnow in olive-pearl, and 3 gram Savage cannibal shads in white/black with hot orange and speckled black and silver.

Leon’s crew all found their target and took home a salmon each, Leon’s salmon weighing in at 8.5 lbs.

They also caught numerous rainbow and brown trout too, between 1 – 4 lbs – a couple of the brown trout were sea-run.

Leon’s advice for fishing soft baits is to drift and roll them with the current through the pool or run. Don’t retrieve during the drift just keep enough tension to feel for bites and twitch the rod tip to give the lure some life like movement - once the drift is complete wind in slowly.  

Leon reckoned didymo was a bit of a nuisance catching on their hooks frequently but that didn’t detract from the experience given the number of fish they were catching.

In the arvo they targeted kahawai at the mouth and caught heaps making for a four species weekend at the Waitaki.   

Pictured above: Leon Watson’s Waitaki River sea-run salmon. Credit: Leon Watson.

Rain brings respite

The Ōpihi River mouth open to the sea thanks to the recent rain event. Credit: Rhys Adams.

Some much needed rain was received last week bringing flows up a little.

Much of the drought-stricken parts of the region received between 18 and 50mm of rain over the week.

The Ōpihi River near SH1 went from disconnected to 5 cumecs of flow.

With the Ōpihi flows up its hāpua / lagoon filled up high then opened to the seas and drained out.

Fingers crossed a few sea-run salmon snuck through while they could as it’s their time to run the river for the spawning season.

Lake Opuha filled up by over 1.5 metres but remains at a very low level and in a drought restricted management status.   

The Twizel River was brought back to life from a trickle and even disconnected in places to just shy of 5 cumecs.  

All-in-all it was a helpful rain event but flows are again dropping down and many waters remain at critical low flows.

Further rain is needed asap to restore flows that are ideal for the impending  salmon and trout spawning seasons.  


Catch and Release tips

Catch and release is becoming popular at all our fisheries, especially at the canals during the trout spawning period from May through September.

Here’s our ‘Quick 5’ tips for handling fish with care: 

  • 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.

For those anglers that have no intent to harvest a fish to eat, please consider de-barbing your hooks to make de-hooking the fish easier. It’s easy to de-barb your hook by clamping the barb with a pair of thin-nosed pliers or forceps.  


Outlook for the weekend

The weather is looking great this weekend for some School holiday fishing action.

Expect light winds and mild temperatures – excellent conditions to take the boat out on the lake.

The canals were relatively busy while our team was ranging there yesterday afternoon.

Reminder from the rangers – when using fish as bait the fish must be whole and intact. In other words, it is illegal to cut up anchovies etc and use them as cut bait.

A few nice salmon were getting caught at Ōhau B and Tekapo canals.

The main season ends on April 30th for many of our waterways - be sure to check your regulations guide.      

Flows in Main Divide rivers like the Rangitata / Rakitata that flooded last week are dropping back quickly and should be high but fishable this weekend.

Keep a close eye on the ECan rainfall and river flow and  Outdoor Access livestreams for the latest info on river conditions.


Notice board


JBNZ – Ahuriri River permit

Club members of Jet Boating NZ hold a permit to jet boat the Ahuriri River between Lake Benmore and the Ireland Road Bridge.

The permit may be exercised on one day of 20 or 21 April and only if the river is 20 cumecs or above at the SH8 flow recorder. 


Tight Lines

Rhys Adams

Central South Island Fish & Game Officer 


North Canterbury Report

The Rakaia River mouth this morning from the Outdoor Access live web camera

Weekend Outlook

This weekend is looking perfect for some fishing.

Temperatures should be mild, and the trout should be more active with those cooler temperatures than during the summer.

Our high country lakes are always a productive spot for anglers to visit, and with mild winds predicted over the weekend, they’d be the perfect spot for a fishing trip.

The Outdoor Access live streaming webcams are also an excellent resource for helping plan a trip; if you want to see how good their service is, call into the fishing hut at Hunting and Fishing Tower Junction and check out the feed they have on display there.

If you are looking for a family fishing trip close to Christchurch, you can’t go past the Rotokohatu lakes.

These lakes opened for fishing on April 1st, and all licence holders, including children, juniors, and adults, can fish there, making it a perfect venue for a family trip.

The effort that Christchurch City Council has put into improving the facilities there has been fantastic, and we totally recommend a visit.

Last weekend, the nor-west rain dump gave a welcome top-up to many of the region's rivers. The Rakaia River got close to a mean annual flood level, and the Waimakariri River was about half of that.

Needless to say, though those sea-run salmon that have been waiting offshore for a fresh to come down the river will have entered the rivers after last weekend.

Salmon anglers have a couple of weekends left in the season, so this weekend is a good opportunity for salmon angling.

Fish & Game Officer Emily Craig releases a lamprey back into the Ashley River.

Last week, the North Canterbury staff and staff from other Fish & Game regions and other agencies undertook Electric Fishing Training with NIWA.

The NIWA electric fishing course is an industry-standard required to safely operate its electric fishing machines. It also allowed us to see the abundant aquatic life in a couple of our lowland rivers and streams.

One rare example recovered during our training in the Ashley River on the second day was this adult kanakana or lamprey pictured being released back into the water by Fish & Game Officer Emily Craig.

These fish are classified as Threatened – Nationally Vulnerable and are a rare sight in most of our waterways but more so in daylight hours.

Lamprey (Geotria australis) are ancient fish that have existed for over 360 million years. There are 38 known species worldwide, but only one species is found in New Zealand.

Lamprey are migratory fish, moving between fresh and saltwater to complete their lifecycle. The lamprey lifecycle differs distinctly from New Zealand’s other migratory freshwater native fish. Lamprey spend most of their lives at sea and only move into freshwater to spawn and for their juvenile life stage.

Adult lamprey could be mistaken for eels from a distance, but a closer look easily distinguishes them. Eels have jaws and teeth, but the lamprey’s jawless mouth is a circular fleshy sucker filled with hundreds of tiny teeth and a rasping tongue. Unlike eels, lamprey have no fins near their head. Just behind their eyes, lamprey have seven pairs of small holes that are the openings of their external gills.

Lamprey are secretive and can be very hard to spot. They often hide during the day under logs or large rocks or burrow into streambeds, venturing out at night to feed. Lamprey use their powerful sucking mouths to climb steep waterfalls while migrating upstream.

It was a privilege for staff to see one of these in the wild, and it goes to show we should never be surprised by what lives in our rivers.

Ashley River Fish Salvage

Staff and a volunteer headed back out to salvage brown trout from the Ashley River this morning. 
While the pool was quite shallow, the temperature and oxygen levels in the pool were very good and the fish were quite lively.
This leads us to believe this was a new isolated pool created when the water dropped following the recent downpour. 
All 14 of the good-sized brown trout were captured and relocated.

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.


Notice Board

Proposed Fishing Regulations Changes

We usually conduct our regionwide regulations review on a two-year basis, and in this the intervening year, we normally only make adjustments for corrections and or clarity.

However, we are committed to successfully implementing the Designated Waters Fisheries system, so we need to continually monitor the system.

This will involve surveying Designated Waters licence holders and wider consultation around the system's effectiveness.

It will highlight if other control measures are required if the system is not achieving the desired results.

Plus, it will alert us to any instances of angling pressure displacement.

The proposed changes we would like angler feedback on are:

  1. We would like angler feedback on possible controlled fishery options in the North & South Branch of the Hurunui River Designated Waters Fisheries and any other Designated Waters or similar pressure-sensitive fisheries.
  2. We would like angler feedback on suggestions and or comments on clarifying the boundary of the Upper Rakaia sea-run salmon fishery.
  3. For clarity, we are considering removing the separate entry in the regulations for Hackett’s Creek. This is because the site is not actually a gazetted location. It is a local name only and a tiny tributary of the Kowai River, which is already covered with its own regulation, which covers its tributaries, of which Hackett’s Creek is one.

Feedback needs to be emailed to ncevent@fishandgame.org.nz  by April 30, and a public meeting for anyone wishing to discuss these changes will be held at 6 pm on May 7 at the North Canterbury Fish & Game Office, 595 Johns Road.

From this consultation, a report will be collated for the Council to consider at their May 24 meeting.

Groynes Lagarosiphon control

The Christchurch City Council is currently undertaking Lagarosiphon control at the Groynes children's fishing lakes.

The current proposed application dates are:

  • Tuesday 23rd April ( Approximate duration half day)
  • Tuesday 30th April ( Approximate duration half day)

We advise anglers to avoid the area during the central dates.


Tight Lines,

Richard Cosgrove, North Canterbury Fish & Game Officer.

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