Weekly Fishing report for Central South Island and North Canterbury for 19 October 2023

  • Central South Island North Canterbury
  • 19/10/2023

Weekly Fishing report for Central South Island and North Canterbury for 19 October 2023

Central South Island Report

Anglers report great catches at Waitaki River

Mel Fowler, pictured above, got in touch to report he had a great weekend fishing the Waitaki River recently catching trout on soft plastics, soft bait, and fly.

Using a jet boat to access the river, Mel and friends predominantly caught well-conditioned brown trout, but also found good numbers of three to four-pound rainbow rockets.

The highlight of the trip for Mel was that his two novice-angling companions caught the biggest fish — an awesome five and half-pound rainbow down deep off a drop-off and a nice 4.8-pound brown jack in the shallows, both on an olive-coloured Berkly paddle tail soft bait. 

Kurow’s Graeme Hughes reports that the evening caddis hatches are already underway on the Waitaki River. 

After an underwhelming Opening Day on the river, Graeme was pleased to report a recent short trip to the river between 8 and 9pm resulted in him landing four trout. 

Graeme caught one rainbow and three browns (that thought they were rainbows) and reports “great runs and numerous aerial displays” and “The heaviest 4lbs, perfect specimen, bright orange flesh”. 

Graeme’s method for caddis-hatch fly fishing is to use a floating line and either a single or tandem caddis emerger fly – casting across the current and swinging the flies in the water’s surface in an arc back towards the shoreline. 

Bites can be ferocious – no place for fine tippet! 

Top-to-bottom, 14g silver toby, 7g silver daffy, 57mm sockeye salmon and 14g ticer or hex wobbler- Photo R Adams

One of Graeme’s top tips is to avoid this style of fishing while the moon is bright. 

Try silver lures for sockeye-eating trout

Hundreds of thousands of sockeye salmon fry – the product of last season’s spawning run of 84,000+ sockeye are making their way into Lakes Ōhau, Pūkaki, Benmore and Aviemore. 

Our latest sockeye salmon spawning populations report can be found here.   

Do consider matching the natural food on offer for trout currently by using a shiny silver lure that mimics a sockeye. A grey ghost or similar fly would be a good option too.   

We estimate sockeye fry will range in size from 30 – 60 mm currently, so it’s best to use lures of the small to medium size if you can.

This summer we are teaming up with an Otago University Masters candidate to research the diet of Lake Benmore’s trout population. 

Along with other prey items we are researching the prevalence of sockeye salmon in the diet of trout. 

The sockeye pictured above was caught for the research project this week while electric fishing the Lower Ōhau River just a short distance from Lake Benmore.  

If you catch a Lake Benmore trout and find sockeye salmon in its stomach content, we’d be keen to hear from you and receive any photos - email radams@fishadgame.org.nz, phone 03 6158400. 

Hard Labour at the Canals

A rare sight - Kayakers will be in the Ōhau B and C canals this Saturday as part of the Twizel Hard Labour multisport event

The Twizel Hard Labour multisport event is on in Twizel over Labour Weekend. 

Saturday the 21st is the one morning of the year that anglers must be patient and courteous to the kayakers racing from Lake Ruataniwha, through the Ōhau B and Ōhau C Canals and out into Lake Benmore via the Ōhau C Tailrace. 

Lake Ruataniwha is closed to all powered craft from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m. 

Kayak racers will be entering the canals from Lake Ruataniwha at about 8:30 and finishing at Lake Benmore around 11 a.m. Please do not fish while kayakers are passing by. 

This annual event has Meridian approval. 

Busy weekend ahead for the canals 

It’s highly likely you will encounter other anglers in your favourite corner of the canals this Labour Weekend, so please be courteous if you wish to share the area with them.

The angler who is there first has the so called ‘right of way’, be sure to ask them if it is OK for you to fish near them – for example, if your casts are likely to cross over.

If fishing nearby is not acceptable for the angler with ‘right of way’, then please move on and find a new spot. 

The canals are privately owned property and anglers are effectively the guests of the power scheme’s owners and operators, Meridian, and Genesis.

Check out our canal fishery guide for all the details here, but I’ve selected a few matters Meridian and Genesis want you to take note of.

  • Camping is prohibited at the canals – although night fishing is allowed, if you appear to be camping you may be asked to leave by a power company security guard.
  • Adhere to signage and do not climb fences or barriers– signage and fencing are erected around structures and hazardous areas to notify you of hazards and to keep you out of dangerous places.
  • Rubbish – Your rubbish and fish waste are your responsibility.
  • Pack-in and pack-out of all waste is required at the Tekapo Canal as there are no rubbish facilities provided.
  • On the Ōhau Canals, Meridian provides skip bins for anglers to use. These bins are located near the Ōhau power station intakes. Do not leave fish frames and guts in the margins of the canals, wrap them in paper and a plastic bag and dispose of them in the skip bins.

Outlook for Labour Weekend 

The weather forecast is decent this Labour weekend - but take a rain jacket just in case. It is forecast to be mostly dry and cool temps but there will likely be some rain in eastern areas on Saturday and/or Sunday. Inland areas will probably escape the rain.   

Many of our rivers received a nice top-up in flows during the week and will be fishing well this weekend as flows drop back. A view of the Rangitata / Rakitata River via the Outdoor Access live stream

reveals it is flowing a silty grey colour as of Wednesday – it might not clear up in time for the weekend.


Kids Salmon Fishing Day 

Thanks to Mount Cook Alpine Salmon, the Kids Salmon Fishing Day is on for 2023!

The event is being held at Loch Cameron, 5km from Twizel on the morning of Saturday the 4th of November.

The event is for kids between the ages of 4 and 11 only.

Registration is on the day from 8:30am, fishing starts at 9am. 

Please click here for all the event information.

Tight Lines

Rhys Adams, Central South Island Fish & Game Officer


Lowland tributaries 

We had Ranging teams out on Friday and Saturday night checking the Selwyn area from Lake Forsyth across to the Harts Creek area.

The conditions were great on Friday and even on Saturday night after the howling nor-wester dropped away in the early evening. 

In fact, the conditions looked so great that one of the rangers with me Vaughan Morrissey, pictured right, went back on Sunday and caught this 9.5-pound beauty.

This goes to show our lowland streams are a great spot to go early in the season before the trout get too wise to anglers. 

My colleague Harry Graham-Samson says ”The lowland fisheries provide a great early season opportunity before some of our high-country waterways open. Never underestimate our lowland streams as some of these streams hold very large trout in the double-figure weight category. These large fish predominantly feed on baitfish e.g., cockabullies and silveries so fishing with lures or flies that imitate a baitfish in the evening or early morning would be the prime time to get an opportunity to catch one of these large trout”. 

Long weekend fishing options 

This weekend provides anglers with the chance for an extra day’s fishing before work comes a calling. 

Why not use it as an opportunity to introduce someone new to fishing? Or have you got a mate that wants to get into trout fishing, but doesn’t know how or where to go? Why not take them out to your favourite lake or river and share the experience of what freshwater fishing is about? 

It’s super satisfying when you see them catch their first fish and nine times out of ten that gets them addicted to fishing. 

The big plus is you now have gained another fishing mate for trips into the future. 

Don’t forget about our sister Fish & Game regions with the long weekend, the West Coast has some great fishing around Lake Brunner and the same can be said for the Waitaki lakes around Lake Benmore. 

They are only a short drive away and offer some good fishing opportunities.

The weather is looking good for fishing this weekend, only a little bit of rain forecast for Sunday but Saturday and Monday are looking great. 


New Hurunui Mouth Webcam 

The team at Outdoor Access live streaming cameras have recently added a new camera showing the Hurunui River Mouth 

Their service is pretty awesome and enables you to get real-time vision from a bunch of sites across Canterbury. 

The addition of the Hurunui Mouth will be a boon for salmon anglers wanting to check the conditions there before driving from Christchurch.

Last Couple of Weekends for Fishing at the Roto Kohatu lakes

There are still a couple of weekends fishing available at the Roto Kohatu lakes.

Our close-to-Christchurch winter fishery of the Roto Kohatu lakes closes to fly and spin anglers on October 31. 

The lakes are a great option for a day’s fishing, but because of the popularity of the lakes for other users in the coming months, we close them to fishing for the summer to reduce conflict with them. 

They reopen on April 1 next year and are a great school holiday fishing option when other rivers and lakes are closed.

They are a great family fishery, stocked with salmon and all methods can be used till they close, the bag limit is 2 fish per day. 

Lake Coleridge Competition in prizes

We can confirm that the Fish & Game Tent and weigh-in site for this year’s Lake Coleridge Competition will be at the Harper Campsite, NOT at the Ryton Bay like last year. 

There are over $8000 in prizes for this year’s competition, not only for those who enter fish but also some great prizes in the spot prize section.

All you need to do to enter is to show up at the Fish & Game tent and present your licence before 1.30 p.m. on Saturday, November 4 

You can learn more here. 

High-Country Opening 

Whilst the focus on the  1st Saturday of November which is on the (4th) this year is normally around the Lake Coleridge competition, the rest of our high country fisheries open then as well.

The high country opening draws a lot of anglers in and for many it’s like Christmas Day to some.

Our high country fisheries offer a great variety of fishing, from trolling in your boat to stalking the shoreline for cruising trout. 

This year we have changed some of the season dates on a couple of our rivers which traditionally opened in December but now they open on the 1st Saturday of November these are: Harper & Avoca Rivers and the Wilberforce Diversion. 

So, these are great opportunities to explore for the summer.

Tight Lines 

Richie Cosgrove, North Canterbury Fish & Game Officer.

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