Weekly Fishing Report for Central South Island and North Canterbury for October 5 2023

  • Central South Island North Canterbury
  • 5/10/2023

Central South Island Report

Fishing season off to a frying start!

Frying, BBQ, smoking, pie, curry – all favourite trout dishes were back on dinner plates last Sunday, Opening Day of the 2023/34 sports fishing season.

Above Right: Flynn Scott frying up his Opening Day catch for lunch at Lake Opuha / Ōpūaha - photo by R Adams

If you haven’t already, be sure to purchase your new 2023/2024 licence and get out there and enjoy the fishy fun.

Licences can be purchased from the Fish & Game NZ website, click here, and in-store from your local licence agent.

Be sure to read up on the new 2023/24 regulations here.

Opening Reports 

Ken Saito and a stunning Opening Day brown trout caught from the Ōpihi River - photo by R Adams

We had rangers out on the Ōpihi and Lower Waitaki River catchments on Opening Day – following are a few highlights of the faces, places, and successful lures.

Pictured left is Ken Saito from Christchurch with a beautiful Ōpihi River brown trout.

Ken often makes the trip to fish the Ōpihi River or Lake Opuha for the opening of the season.

Ken fly fished, catching two fish for the morning on two different flies: a #16 horned caddis nymph and a #14 pheasant tail nymph.

The Ōpihi was flowing relatively low and clear, making for good sight fishing once the dull morning brightened up a bit.

Right to left - Reuben Foster - 5 years old from Geraldine, Zander Foster - 9 years old from Perth, at back - Max Cleverley, 12 years old from Christchurch, and at front - Angus Foster – 7 years old from Geraldine. Photo by R Adams

The wind stayed at bay for most of the morning at Lake Opuha / Ōpūaha but picked up around lunchtime.

Some 30 fishing boats and a scattering of shoreline anglers tried their luck during the day – many being successful in catching brown and rainbow trout as we have come to expect at this productive fishery.

A crew of young cousins did well, each catching a fish each under the guidance of their grandfathers (see picture).      

The successful bait used was huhu grubs, and the technique was to cast out and wait patiently for a bite while enjoying time spent with family.

Advice from successful boat anglers was to troll with the tried-and-true Tassie or Cobra style lures. The favourite colours mentioned were bronze and traffic light. 

Toru Yuasa from Ashburton with a 'keeper' rainbow from Bells Pond-Photo by N Dellaway

In the Lower Waitaki River Catchment, there were anglers scattered throughout the river on shore and in jetboats. Flows were low, down at around 210 cumecs on the ECan flow recorder at Kurow.

Low flows allowed for plenty of shoreline access that would have otherwise been underwater.

However, the wind was whipping down the valley, making it a challenge for casting and spotting fish.

Near the Waitaki River’s SH1 Bridge, Kerri Priest of Timaru caught a fighting fit brown trout around 1kg on a black and silver soft bait. 

Borton’s and Bell’s Ponds, irrigation offtake ponds of the river, were a popular spot as usual.

Toru Yuasa (pictured) made the trip down from Ashburton and was rewarded with a plump rainbow to take home from Bell’s Pond. Toru caught his fish on a #16 flashback pheasant tail.

Twelve-year-old Max Sinclair of Ōamaru caught a nice rainbow trout at Borton’s Pond on a rainbow trout style Rapala.

If you’re keen to head to the Waitaki River this season, our key piece of advice for your safety and fishing success is to monitor the flows via the ECan flow recorder at Kurow and adapt your trip to suit.

Our Waitaki River Guide here gives more advice on working around the river's high flow variability.

The map in our guide also shows the location of Bell’s and Borton’s ponds – great spots to fish for young and old.

Economic impact of the hydro canal fishery – research underway

Thanks heaps to the hundreds of anglers who have already completed our canal research survey.

The survey was emailed last Friday and Saturday to tens of thousands of anglers who held a fishing licence last season.

We have partnered with the University of Otago to survey information on your spending.

With your help, we can research the economic impact canal anglers bring by way of their spending that, then provides jobs and income.

This research will create opportunities for Fish & Game to progress the management of the canal fishery and shed light on how trout and salmon fisheries support local communities.

If you fished the canals last season and haven’t yet completed the survey – we encourage you to do so. Look back in your email inbox to Friday, 27 and Saturday, 28 September. The email was sent by our friends at the University of Otago.

To help answer the survey questions, have a think about your purchases over the last fishing season in the Mackenzie area that you made while on a canal fishing trip, for example, accommodation, hiring a guide, takeaways, fishing tackle, lures, and bait.

Also, think of any other one-off spending you added to your canal fishing trip, for example, scenic flight, hot pools, local artwork or upgrading to a new fishing rod.

If the fishing wasn’t successful, you may have even bought some salmon from High Country Salmon café or Mt Cook Alpine Salmon shop at Lake Pūkaki.

Outlook for the weekend

Keep an eye on the forecasts and waterway conditions to make your trip as successful as possible. 

Weather to watch out for includes a wet and windy Westerly front set to hit the high-country on Friday – low-country options may be your best bet. 

The Westerly front is followed by a cold and wet southerly front set to smother the entire region on Saturday – it’s hard to say how much rain we will get. It might be a flow top-up for the waterways. 

Encouragingly, there is some promise that Sunday could be perfect conditions for fishing. Keep a close eye on it. 

Notice board

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 8:30 a.m.; fishing starts at 9 a.m. 

Please click here for all the event information.

Tight Lines

Rhys Adams, Central South Island Fish & Game Officer

North Canterbury Report

Opening weekend 

Opening Sunday delivered a super Sunday for anglers who went out early before the wind picked up. 

Eddie Suckling (Pictured Right) caught this beauty out on Lake Forsyth on opening morning and posed nicely for Dad Mark to take the picture. 

Lake Forsyth is open to the sea at the time of writing and can be a productive trout fishery early in the season, especially when open to the sea. 

It also holds good numbers of perch, which are a great eating fish, and those keen-eyed anglers amongst you would have noticed that in the regulations, there is no daily limit for perch for the North Canterbury region. 

Our rangers were out in force checking the backcountry areas and encountered good numbers of anglers in all waters.

Fish & Game Officer Harry Graham Samson checks Designated Waters licences in the Boyle River.

Some anglers were surprised at how popular opening morning was, with some arriving around 9 a.m. to see other anglers packing up after having been there at first light. 

Lake Rotokohatu 

With one weekend of the School holidays to go, Lake Rotokohatu is an excellent spot for a close-to-Christchurch fishing trip for the whole family.

Salmon were released into these lakes earlier in the year and are now of legal minimum size of 300 mm. 

The bag limit is two sports fish, and all methods can be used.

If the weather warms up, please be conscious of other lake users there when fishing. 

Weather this weekend 

There is a little bit of rain forecast for Saturday, with a southerly due to flow through before back to more northerlies. 

Temperatures are looking mild (under 15°) for both Saturday and Sunday, so there is plenty of opportunity to get out for the last weekend of the school holidays. 

The Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers were slowly dropping in flow from the fresh earlier in the week and dirty as viewed from the Outdoor Access cameras today. 

Windscreen cards 

Fish & Game Officer Emily Craig places a ranger visit card on a car in the Waimakariri catchment

One of the issues for our ranging team is that in the backcountry or in our new Designated Waters Fisheries, it is harder for angler encounters to occur. 

As we increase our ranging presence in these waters, you may return to your vehicle and find a Fish & Game card on your windscreen. 

We are doing this so that anglers will be aware that we’ve been in the area. 

Plus, if you see a couple of people looking at your vehicle from a distance, it will put your mind at ease when you return to know it was just a couple of Rangers doing a patrol in the area. 

The cards basically states that F&G Rangers have been active in this area checking licences and that their vehicle was visited as part of our compliance activities.  

We’ve had a couple of calls about the ones we left on vehicles already, so anglers are definitely spotting them. 

Lake Coleridge competition 

Our annual Lake Coleridge Fishing Competition is on again this year on Saturday, November 4. 

Generously supported by the Hunting & Fishing stores in the region -Tower Junction, Ashburton and North Canterbury it’s a great day out for anglers and a great celebration of the opening of the High-country fishery. 

We are still to confirm the location for the weigh-in tent and camping arrangements, but we will update anglers shortly once we have confirmed the location and camping options. 

Coleridge spawning survey 

One of the spawning streams in the Avoca Valley.

This week, staff and volunteers were up in the Harper, Avoca and Ryton catchments undertaking the annual rainbow spawning survey of those water bodies. 

Whilst the numbers are still being crunched, they reported that the spawning streams looked in good health, and reasonable numbers of redds were spotted. 

An interesting aside was the damage done to the area from a vehicle fire when two tourists were directed up the valley by Google Maps as a route by which they could drive to the West Coast. 

At the confluence of the Harper and Avoca, you can see the remains of their vehicle and the surrounding area of a couple of hectares, which was burnt by the blaze. 

Tight lines

Richard Cosgrove

North Canterbury Fish & Game Officer.

More Posts