Weekly Fishing Report for Central South Island and North Canterbury - 22 Feb 2024

  • Central South Island North Canterbury
  • 22/02/2024
  • Richie Cosgrove

Weekly Fishing Report for Central South Island and North Canterbury - 22 Feb 2024


Big Benmore salmon

There have been reports of some great Chinook salmon caught in Lake Benmore this season, perhaps the biggest being the 11-pound fish caught during the week by Vanness Hoare (pictured above and below) with the photo taken by Brian Hoare.

Vanessa fished at the Ōhau C tailrace (Lake Benmore) spin fishing with a silver-with pink stipe Daiwa Chinook lure.

If you’re keen to target salmon at our inland Chinook salmon fisheries like Lake Benmore or Lake Tekapo then it's best to get stuck in over the next couple of months before they switch into spawning mode.

These inland salmon fisheries, including the canals, are not sea-run salmon fisheries, therefore anglers are not required to obtain and carry a season bag limit card.

Targeting and keeping sea-run salmon does require you to obtain and carry a sea-run salmon season bag limit card.

A list of sea-run salmon waters can be found in the first questions of our sea-run salmon FAQs – click here.

If you’re keen to target sea-run salmon then get stuck in now. We are now in the peak period for sea-run salmon fishing on the Rangitata / Rakitata River with the peak of the season on the Waitaki River just a few weeks away.

Sockeye spawning closure from 1 March

All streams and rivers where sockeye salmon are present are closed to sockeye fishing from 1 March.

The trout season remains open in the same waters.

If you are keen to try catch an early-run sockeye in a river or stream you have until next Thursday 29 February.

To view the regulations for sockeye salmon fishing refer to your 2023/24 sports fishing regulations guide here.


Lake Heron Report

Jerry Walton with a pair of fine brown trout from Lake Heron

Jerry Walton considers Lake Heron to be the jewel in the crown of the Ashburton Lakes.

Last week, in strong northwest and cloudy conditions, Jerry put in a big day fishing with 6 hours of walking involved.

He caught two very nice, 4.5 and 5-pound trout (pictured), and reckons those two fish and others he saw caught were in superb condition.

With no sun and big waves ruling out sight fishing, Jerry fished blind and battled somewhat — fly casting in the strong wind.

Using a big, weighted damsel fly nymph tied by a mate, Jerry scored the beautiful lighter-coloured 4.5-pounder after a few casts.

Jerry accidentally flicked off the gifted fly so he replaced it with a self-tied size 12 green Woolly Bugger.

Jerry saw a swirl some distance from shore, and thought he should pause and put on a dry fly, but threw caution to the wind instead and hastily cast out his Woolly Bugger and did a fast retrieve.

Jerry was surprised to get a heavy hook-up on the third cast!

A fast-retrieved Woolly Bugger can work!

That second fish at 5 pounds was a much darker fish — camouflage with the weed bed over which it was caught.


Learning about the Hakataramea River

Fish & Game Officer Hamish Stevens demostrates electric fishing to students from the Waitaki Valley School

Fish & Game Officer Hamish Stevens attended the Hakataramea River Diversity Day last Friday along with representatives from ECan, Waitaki District Council and Te Rūnanga o Moeraki.

Around 100 students from Waitaki Valley School descended on the Hakataramea River to learn about the various species that inhabit the river and some of the challenges they face.

Workstations for the students included a close look at invertebrates (aquatic bugs), mahika kai values, tuna (eel) trap and transfer program, riverbed weeds and fish species that call the river home.  

Hamish provided an electrofishing demonstration capturing a number of different species including tuna (longfin eel), Canterbury galaxias, upland bully, juvenile Chinook salmon, and brown and rainbow trout.

Despite the low river level, Hamish said it was promising to see the diversity of species present and a notable number of juvenile Chinook salmon on-rearing before their migration to the ocean.

A large brown trout and tuna proved to be the biggest hits with the children along with the lunch kindly provided by the Hakataramea Sustainability Collective.            

The Hakataramea Sustainability Collective Facebook page has a ‘Reel’ from the day – click here  


Outlook for the weekend

Sunday looks to be an absolute cracker of a fishing day region-wide!

On Saturday there will be wet westerly front battering the Main Divide and spreading eastward in the high country.

Keep a close watch on the ECan flow recorder at Klondyke on the Rangitata River, and the ECan flow recorder at Ahuriri River to gauge how the westerly rain effects the flows in Main Divide rivers.

Central and low country waterways are still experiencing summer low-flow conditions for the most part and for some the algal growth is at the point where it can detract from the scenic values we enjoy – such as at Lake Emma.

Rain showers may reach some central areas on Saturday, but it doesn’t look to be enough to refresh the waterways in need.


Notice board


LINZ Aquatic Weed Control – Lake Benmore 

Boat-based aquatic weed spraying is scheduled to be carried out on Lake Benmore Thursday, 22nd February 2024.

Diquat in gel form will treat aquatic weeds targeting Lagarosiphon major.  

The following sites will be targeted for treatment: 

  • The Neck
  • Sailors Cutting 

The following sites were successfully treated on Wednesday: 

  •  Ahuriri Arm and Delta 

LINZ/ Boffa Miskell recommends a 24-hour stand-down on swimming, fishing or taking water for irrigation or domestic supply once the spraying is complete. 

Signage will be placed at critical public access points and boat ramps 24 hours before and after control.  

If you have any questions about this work, please feel free to call us on 0800 638 943 or keep up to date with treatment progress including maps of treatment area on the LINZ website.   

Tight Lines

Rhys Adams, Central South Island Fish & Game Officer 



Over the past week, we have been getting plenty of good feedback from our anglers saying how great the fishing has been throughout the region, whether you are a trout angler or salmon angler, as we have photos to prove it!

Corey Reid caught this lovely brown, above, on Lake Georgina over the weekend; six fish were caught by Corey on his trip to the Coleridge lakes,  two from Lake Georgina.

He bumped into a couple of other anglers whilst there, including one in the process of landing a 6.3-pound brown trout.

This weekend is a big weekend for some salmon anglers as it is the Rakaia River salmon fishing competition, and the river is looking to be in great shape for the weekend.

This will give competitors a great opportunity to hopefully catch a salmon for the weigh-in station.


Outlook for the weekend

A Rakaia river salmon from earlier in the week

The weather forecast in the high country is predicting strong northwest winds on Saturday, which will likely have rain with it, so I would guess that the alpine rivers will come up dirty.

But this probably won’t happen until Sunday afternoon.

However, I would check the ECan river flows on their website, as the rivers can sometimes rise much quicker than expected.

On Sunday, there doesn’t appear to be any rain at this stage however, it could be windy in some places.

So, if you watch the forecast carefully, you could potentially find a nice, sheltered spot on one of our great lakes where it might be quite pleasant to fish.

Check out the Outdoor Access webcams as well to get the live vision from many of Canterbury’s fishing hotspots.

These windy conditions will undoubtedly test the fly angler, but this is where spin fishing comes into its own.

If you fish with aerodynamic lures, then it makes casting a lot easier.

On the other hand, it will be warm on the plains, and yet again, the fish in these streams will be sitting deep in any pools they can find to keep cool.

 With the Rakaia River being a lot busier with anglers this weekend due to the competition, I would suggest if you wanted to target sea run salmon this weekend without being around the crowds of people, either check out the Waimakariri or Hurunui Rivers, as these should be less crowded with anglers depending which stretch of river you intend on fishing.

Notice Board


Windthrow Salvage – Waimakariri River

WHAT: ECAN will be harvesting and replanting windthrown forests on the North bank of the Waimakariri River, as detailed below.

WHEN: Starting late February and continuing for approximately one month, weather permitting.

Planned harvest:

  • Waimakariri River, North Bank: We will be salvaging 14.63 hectares of windthrown Radiata Pine forest. These will be replanted with the same species. All stands are adjacent to North River Road and will require road closures during harvesting of the roadside. The forest will be restricted to kaimahi/workers only for the duration of the harvest.


Tight Lines,

Harry Graham-Samson, North Canterbury Fish & Game Officer



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