Central South Island Reel Life December 2019

Outlook for the holiday period

The fishing has been up and down like the river flows this December.

The outlook for the Christmas and holiday remains positive.

Regardless of the weather if you are keen to go fishing there is always an option in CSI.

Right: Lake Benmore offers a reliable holiday period fishing destination.

Big rivers, spring creeks, canals, glacial mountain streams and local river lagoons and more– and that’s just the flowing water.

CSI’s Still water options include some of the country’s favourite trolling lakes, a glacial lake with views of Mt Cook, high-country tarns, and hydro lakes.  

In general rivers draining the main divide have been in flood or high and silty throughout December and when they clear the fishing will be ‘fresh’.

Mid-country rivers are in great condition after a mild spring and recent rains.

Low country waterways are a mix of being in superb condition and in summer-low flow-mode.

The later will benefit greatly from any Easterly rain events we hope to receive.

These waterways have provided some amazing fishing this spring.

One thing to keep in mind is that there is a lot of water stored up in the Waitaki hydro scheme and spilling and flow management may occur over the coming months.

Places like the Upper and Lower Ohau rivers and the Tekapo River have seen some significant spilling flows in December and there could be more throughout the holiday period.

ECan have released this warning for Waitaki lakes and River boaties saying that logs and debris are currently a boating hazard in these waterways after the recent flooding and spilling.

Remember to keep an eye on the weather forecasts and the ECan river flows website and don’t leave things to chance - know before you go.

RL Dec CSI 1The sun sets on the Waitaki River before the night fishing begins Credit R Adams

The sun sets on the Waitaki River before the night fishing begins' Credit R Adams

Three quick fishing ideas for January

  1. Try night fishing – scout out the area and research the water levels beforehand. For rainbows and salmon try luminescent lures, for brown trout try dark lures.
  2. Try some advanced spin fishing techniques on fussy brown trout, as detailed in this pamphlet.
  3. Try trolling for sockeye salmon on Lake Benmore – here a video showing you how-to.

Fishing locations and access

If you are new to the Central South Island Fish & Game Region (CSI) or just looking to fish a bit further afield then you may find our “Fishing locations and access” webpage valuable.

The information covers: Ashburton Catchment, Rangitata River, Waitaki River, popular river fisheries, popular lake fisheries and the hydro canals.

For some of these fisheries a downloadable pdf brochure is available including a map to aid access.

Click here to visit the CSI fishing locations and access page.

Beat the heat

RL Dec CSI 3 If lake surface water temperatures rise use a leadline or downrigger to troll down in the deeper cool water

If lake surface water temperatures rise use a lead line or downrigger to troll down in the deeper cool water

As a rule, trout and salmon will stop feeding and seek cooler waters when water temperatures reach 19 degrees or more.

On long hot summer days rising water temps may affect your fishing – but there are easy things you can do to find cooler water.

Firstly, check out the ECan River flows webpage as some of those recording sites have water temperatures gauges too.

The coolest water is found in the morning and at night, so plan your fishing trips then and have a siesta and do your chores from 1pm through to 8pm.

In large lakes, deep water is cooler than the surface water – just try diving down deep when you are swimming!

Get your downrigger, paravane or lead-line into action and troll the depths.

In river catchment with many tributaries – like the Opihi, some tributaries will be cooler than others – especially those with spring creek water.

Tight lines!

Rhys Adams, Fish & Game Officer