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

  • Central South Island North Canterbury
  • 18/01/2024

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

Central South Island Report

School holiday salmon success

The salmon fishing has been fantastic this week at the Tekapo Canal.

It’s hard to say how long the good fishing will last, but we anticipate there should be a few caught over the weekend.

Young anglers like Louis Alexander and Harlee Cross (pictured above) have been getting in on the action while enjoying their school holidays.

All the classic lures and baits have been catching.

Canal salmon go-to lure options are:

Spinners / hard body lures - shiny metallic silver, or silver and pink.

(authors choice in spinners are zed spinner and ticer / hex wobbler)

Scented soft baits and unscented rubber lures - white or bright colours like pink.

Harlee Cross with his school holiday salmon-photo by Rhys Adams

Natural baits - whole anchovies (they usually outfish prawn/shrimp for salmon).

Our rangers are active on the canals currently, in plain clothes and in uniform, and with the salmon fishing being great now we wish to remind anglers of a few key regulations.    

  • The daily bag limit is 2 fish at the canals.
  • Anglers must stop fishing at the canals for the remainder of the day (calendar date) when they have kept 2 fish.
  • Fish bait must be a whole and fully intact fish (using parts / portions of fish as bait is illegal)
  • Other than fish bait, all other authorised baits can be used as parts / portions (e.g. using a portion of a crustaceans like shrimp or prawn is legal).   

Note: The above is the author's interpretation of the regulations for the purpose of this newsletter, refer to the 23/24 regulation guide here for the wording of the official regulations. 

Sockeye Salmon fishing peaking

A quick reminder – it’s one of the last weekends of the peak period for sockeye salmon fishing at Lake Benmore.

There are some perfect-sized sockeye for eating this year, typically 320 – 380mm.

Boaties need to troll at depth using lead line, downriggers or paravane.

Shoreline anglers are best fishing around the Benmore Dam.

Watch this video for tips on how to target sockeye while trolling on Lake Benmore.

Don’t be surprised to catch a Chinook salmon while you are at it, there have been a few beauties caught in Benmore this summer.

Outlook for the weekend

We are due for some high-country rain on Friday and into Saturday morning – great news for these crispy dry areas.

Heavy rain is forecast for deep in the Main Divide so watch out for the Rangitata, Ahuriri and other main divide rivers to rise dramatically.    

There may be enough rain (hopefully) to bump up flows in other more central waterways like the Twizel River and Mary Burn but I’m not holding my breath.

Further out East in central Areas like the Hakataramea Valley very little rain is forecast. This is a shame as the Hakataramea River is low and drying up in places.

It’s looking like a hot and sunny day on Saturday for central and easter areas.

During recent hot spell the Hakataramea has been getting up to 24 degrees as presented on the ECan flow website.

As a rule of thumb fishing is best at temperatures of 19 degrees or less – many waterways get to this temperature by 11am and don’t drop below it until 11pm again.

Hence why we strongly suggest fishing early in the morning during hot spells. Go for a swim in the afternoon and have a siesta!

Anglers fishing in water temperatures above 19 degrees should expect the occasional fish not to recover – so take a chilly bin and enjoy eating your catch (so long as you can legally take it).

When keeping a fish it’s best to give a swift blow to the head, then bleed it by snapping one of the gill arches, gut it about 2 minutes later (bury the waste or bag and bin), and critically - chill it asap.

How do you know the water temperature?

A snippet from the ECan flow website showing the Ōpihi River at SH1 has a temperature of 18.17 degrees at 10am on 18-0-24

Check out the ECan flow Website – in the far-right column water temperatures are listed for some of the flow gauge stations. Take note of the timestamp – it’s often delayed by an hour or so.

Alternatively, you could carry a cheap thermometer – Mitre 10 sell one for $5.50. 

Tight Lines

Rhys Adams

Central South Island Fish & Game Officer 

North Canterbury Report

Read about Tim Wilson's first Rakaia salmon below.

As we write this week’s fishing report, a big nor-west front is hitting the high country, raising the flows of most of the rivers in our region.

So unfortunately we would say that these rivers will be unfishable for the weekend. 

However, this front is exactly what we need for two reasons, the first being this should lower the water temperatures of the rivers, so once they clear up, which will take a few days (check the outdoor access cameras and the ECan river flows website) the fish will be a lot more active which theoretically should make them easier to catch. 

The second reason, which will be more for salmon anglers, is that this fresh should pull fish into the river and they will start their journey up to the headwaters. 

Once the rivers are back to their normal flows, I’d suggest filling up the boat or quad bike with fuel and start looking for new salmon holes, as the salmon will need to rest up from time to time as they make their way upstream. 

However, Our high-country lakes have been fishing well, especially our bigger/deeper lakes, where the water temperatures are much cooler. 

Hence, the fish can stay active a lot longer, increasing your chances of catching a trout or salmon, depending on which lakes you fish. 

If you are eager to get out fishing this weekend, then I would suggest fishing our lakes; although it might be wet and windy on Saturday, the forecast for Sunday isn’t looking too bad, so if you can find a sheltered part of the lake to fish then I’d say go for it as you could have it to yourself potentially. 

If you can’t get away over the weekend, then it is a good opportunity to head down to your local tackle shop to top up your fly or tackle box as well as doing a general gear check (do I need a new line on my reel? Have I got enough tippet material?).

From all the fishing I’m sure a lot of you did over the holiday period, once we get some good fishing conditions then you want to be out on the water and not in the tackle shop necessarily. 

Ashley River fish salvage 

North Canterbury Fish & Game staff and volunteers salvaged fish stuck in disconnected pools in the Ashley River. 

In two small pools just downstream of the Rangiora Rail bridge, rescuers found over 50 good-sized brown trout (2-8 pounds) and dozens of bullies, galaxids, torrent fish and short-finned eels. 

As many as possible were relocated to areas of continuous flow and cooler water. However, exploring the riverbed found examples where the river had dried up quickly, stranding and killing fish and eels. 

Hopefully, the rain forecast for Thursday this week will reconnect the river and provide relief for all fish in the Ashley River that are hunkering down, avoiding the hot temperatures. 

A big shout out to Ashley Village resident Ron Cameron and his son Jo, who alerted us to the stranding and for coming along and helping with the rescue. 

Whilst some anglers may decry the state of our lowland fisheries, the trout and other fish life that was present in these two small pools on a very small stretch of the Ashley River shows that there are some excellent fish for anglers in rivers like the Ashley.

The wide variety and number of fish present also shows that there is some suitable habitat for these fish to live in when the water is flowing. 

And whilst rivers drying up is not ideal for the fish present, it shows that the efforts to protect our waterways that Fish & Game undertakes are worth it as there are some fantastic fish out there. 

Fish Salvage Info required: 

If you report a fish stranding to us, there are some key 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?
Lake Coleridge Competition Feedback Survey 

Thank you to all those who participated in our feedback survey for the Lake Coleridge competition. We received some great insights, and it was great to see support for a potential new venue going forward. 

Congratulations to Caleb O’Halloran and Troy Rutledge, who won the survey prize draw and nabbed themselves a Daiwa Trucker Cap each 

A small reminder to be a tidy angler! 

We’ve recently been notified of several fish frames being dumped in shallow water at a public area where sports fishing is permitted – while we are confident freshwater anglers did not do it (they were not sports fish), it’s not a great look for anglers in general! 

With this, we just want to remind you to be tidy kiwis and ensure you take any rubbish with you when you’re out fishing - including spent line and damaged hooks.

We’ve attended a few incidences of game birds having been caught up and injured by discarded fishing lines, including swallowing hooks! 

If you are gutting or filleting your fish on the river, ensure you appropriately discard any remains or take it all home with you (fish frames are great for the garden!). 

We know many anglers who make an effort to pick up rubbish and line while out fishing.

Thank you, and keep up the good work! 

Tim’s salmon 

To end on a positive note, Tim Wilson sent us the picture above and the report below on his first Rakaia River salmon. 

My first ever Rakaia Salmon!

With my pregnant wife due to pop in March, my motivation to get a salmon has been higher than usual, as I only have Jan & Feb to give it a crack. 

I normally fish the Waimakariri exclusively as I live in Rangiora, so this season, I have focussed more on the Rakaia.  

In late December, I scouted out a very fishy looking piece of water, so on Friday, I did the long drive and beelined it on foot to spot X. 

Five or so casts at sunrise, and it was on. 

Funny enough, it was the same lure that had caught a Waimakariri salmon last season. (Amazing baits snake! ). 

Cheers - Tim Wilson 

Tight Lines

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

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