Weekly Fishing Report for Central South Island and North Canterbury for 29 Feb 2024

  • 29/02/2024
  • Richie Cosgrove

Weekly Fishing Report for Central South Island and North Canterbury for 29 Feb 2024


Autumn is coming

Enjoy the lingering summer weather on Saturday and be sure to get out on the rivers and lakes for a fish and a swim.

Come Sunday through Tuesday we are forecast for a cold and (hopefully) wet spell. 

This will be a “welcome to autumn” weather event.

Above: Although summer is officially over back country trout will keep rising for big terrestrial dry flies in March.

A reminder to be prepared for all conditions, pack some warm and wet weather gear and sun cream. 

Summer-style fishing will largely continue through March, though, with low and clear rivers and backcountry trout still keyed into rising for big dry flies imitating terrestrial bugs that fall into the water.

It’s the peak of the sea-run salmon season at the Rangitata / Rakitata River and indeed, a few have been caught in the lower reaches this week – albeit of a relatively small size.

Sockeye salmon will be schooling up in the thousands near the top ends of lakes Benmore, Ōhau and Pūkaki and will run the rivers and streams in force over the coming weeks.    

Lake Opuha near the Bennets Road boat ramp - low and nearly unrecognisable.

Lake Opuha – too low for boating

If you’re keen to take the boat out on Lake Opuha / Ōpūaha, don’t bother – head on up to Lake Tekapo / Takapō as the next best option.

Water levels are currently very low at Lake Opuha after a dry summer.

The boat ramps at Hays and Bennets Roads are unusable being well and truly high-and-dry.

Walking the lake edge sight fishing for cruising brown trout is still possible near the Bennets Road access.

The sea-run salmon season is closed on the Rangitata River upstream of Turn Again Point from 1 March - the red line denoting the closure line.

Upper Rangitata sea-run salmon fishing closure from 1 March

The sea-run salmon fishing season for the upper section of the Rangitata / Rakitata River and its tributaries is closed for sea-run salmon fishing from Friday 1st of March. 

The upper section is identified as the river and its tributaries upstream of Turn Again Point.  

Turn Again point is located on Rangitata Gorge Road about 12km upstream of the gorge.

The image above gives an overview of where Turn Again Point is on a topo map. For a closer look, check out access point 18 on the Rangitata River on our online angler access maps here.

The trout fishing season remains open in this upper section upstream of Turn Again Pont until 31 March.

Refer to page 36 in your 2023/24 sports fishing regulations guide here to view the open season listings for the Rangitata / Rakitata River. 

Sockeye spawning closure from 1 March

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

The trout fishing season remains open in the same waters.

Refer to Note 1.10 on page 36 of your 2023/24 sports fishing regulations guide here to view the full regulation for the sockeye salmon fishing closure.

Notice board

Lake Benmore trout diet research – Haldon Arm

Next week CSI Fish & Game are undertaking research to better understand the predator-prey interaction between adult trout and juvenile sockeye salmon.

Otago University student Blake Harper is leading the project for his master’s project.

The big question of Blake’s master’s research is to determine what could happen to the productivity of the Lake Benmore trout fishery if the sockeye population collapsed. 

We are setting nets in the lake to catch adult trout – our floats/buoys are marked with Fish & Game contact information.

If you come across these nets, please leave them as you find them.

DOC fish survey @ Ōtūwharekai / Ashburton Lakes

Next week DOC will be undertaking research to identify the fish species present at lakes Clearwater, Camp, Emma, Roundabout and Denny.

Expect to encounter nets and traps – please do not disturb. 

Tight Lines

Rhys Adams

Central South Island Fish & Game Officer 


Helping out North Canterbury Fish & Game, CSI Fish & Game Officer Nikki Dellaway checks an angler at the Coleridge tailrace on Friday whilst doing joint ranging during the Rakaia Fishing Competition - Photo Hamis Stevens

It’s been all go on the fishing front here in North Canterbury.

The Rakaia Salmon Fishing competition was held last weekend, and we had ranging teams throughout the river.

Seeing anglers out on the river making the most of the fishing opportunities last weekend was great.

We have also written a piece in our Reel Life newsletter about our designated waters in our region and why we moved over to this system, so be sure to check out this newsletter.

Even better, you can sign up for this monthly newsletter by visiting the Fish and Game website.

With the peak of summer ending, angler use slowly drops due to other commitments that happen this time of year, e.g., The Roar.

This means the fish aren’t getting as much pressure, so they can stay out longer and feed up before heading up for spawning.

They will want to put on as much condition as possible before heading into winter, and because of this, trout tend to go into a bit of a silly season, and they aren’t quite as spooky as you might find in, say, January.

Outlook for the weekend

All our sea-run salmon rivers should stay fishable for the weekend.

So, if you're still after securing your first salmon for the season, this would be a great opportunity as some rain is forecasted by the end of the weekend in the main divide, which could raise the level of the rivers.

For anyone chasing trout this weekend, remember that it will be a relatively strong northwest wind on Sunday.

So, my pick of days to head into the high country would be Saturday, and I would make the most of it by getting up early and being on the water's edge at first light.

Rakaia Salmon Fishing Competition

Anglers at the south side of the Rakaia River mouth on Saturday morning.

Last weekend, over 400 anglers hit the Rakaia River for the annual Rakaia Salon Fishing Competition.

It was great seeing anglers from all over the country and overseas out enjoying the fantastic conditions on Friday and Saturday.

 Unfortunately, Sunday was unfishable, but 48 fish had been entered by the end of Saturday.

We had ranging teams checking compliance over the weekend, our neighbours at Central South Island, kindly sent up a team to help range the Rakaia River over the weekend.

This enabled other teams to not only check the Rakaia but also our other sea-run salmon rivers at the same time.

Only one offence was detected, which was an excellent result for the weekend.

The competition is a great community event and brings many people to the Rakaia area.

The organisers do a phenomenal amount of work between each competition, getting top-notch prizes and putting on a fantastic event each night for the enjoyment of all those taking part.

Next year will be the 40th anniversary of the competition; put a mark in your calendar now, as it will be an awesome celebration of freshwater fishing.

Tight Lines

Harry Gram-Samson, North Canterbury Fish & Game Officer.





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