Reel Life October 2021

Early Season is Awesome

The new season starts on Friday the 1st of October!

Why not take the day off work and make a long weekend out of opening!

The first two weeks of the season are the school holidays too; what an excellent opportunity to get the kids out of the house and into one of NZ's favourite pastimes – trout fishing!

Above Right: School holiday success at Lake Tekapo for Evan Adams-Credit R Adams

Top spots in October

The month of October can offer some of the best fishing of the season in our lowland waterways.

Top spots in October include Lake Opuha, the Opihi River and its tributaries and the Waitaki River mainstem.

RL SEPT CSI 1 Early season is a great time to target brown trout in the Opihi River Credit Rhys Adams

Early season is a great time to target brown trout in the Opihi River - Credit Rhys Adams

Add to that it's a great time to fish lake margins in large Waitaki and Mackenzie Country lakes like Tekapo, Benmore and Waitaki.

If you need another option, the Mackenzie Country canals fish well in October after a salmon or fat trout for dinner.

Try imitation-egg drifting, soft baiting or bait fishing with shrimp or huhu grub around the salmon farms.

Click on the names of the linked waterways above to find access info and tackle tips.

"Big" regulation changes for the new season

Be sure to check out the new 2020-2021 season regulation guide here first-hand.

Here are some of the major changes:

Backcountry licence endorsement required for the Ohau River

RL Sept 4 The upper Ohau River opens for trout fishing on 1 October 2021 and a backcountry licence endorsement is now required in addition to holding a sports fishing licence

The upper Ohau River opens for trout fishing on 1 October 2021, and a backcountry licence endorsement is now required in addition to holding a sports fishing licence'.

The (upper) Ohau River flowing between Lakes Ohau and Ruataniwha is now designated a backcountry fishery.

This means when the new "Spring Season" opens there on the 1st of October 2021, to fish the Ohau River, you must hold a CSI region backcountry licence endorsement in addition to your new whole season licence.

Click here to learn more about the Ohau River backcountry fishery.

Click here to obtain a backcountry licence endorsement.

Sea Run Salmon Season Bag Limit Card required for Central South Island and North Canterbury Regions

Any angler that targets sea run salmon or wishes to keep any incidentally caught sea run salmon while trout fishing must hold a Sea Run Salmon Endorsement and a Sea Run Salmon Bag Limit Card.

All the information you need to learn about the new sea run salmon fishing rules and requirements and how to obtain your endorsement and bag limit card can be found here on the Fish & Game Website.

If you have a specific question, try our helpful Sea Run Salmon FAQ's, click here

Bag limit change for the canals

The daily bag limit for the Mackenzie hydro canals and Lake Ruataniwha has been reduced for the new season.

The daily bag limit is now 2 sports fish total (combined catch of trout and salmon),

Additionally, the only size limit regulation in place at the canals is a minimum size of 300mm for salmon.

South Canterbury Anniversary Weekend

South Canterbury folk have a public holiday to enjoy on Monday the 27th of September, a favourite day to head out for a fish at our year-round fisheries like the canals, Lake Tekapo and Lake Aviemore.

Please be aware that a 2020-2021 licence is required in September 2021 and that the new 2021-2022 licence only becomes valid until the 1st of October.

High-Country Opening Date

It's time to start planning your annual fishing trip with friends and family for High-Country Opening Weekend.

This year it all kicks off on Saturday the 6th of November.

Catch and Release

Catch and release is becoming popular at all our fisheries, especially the canals in winter and early Spring.

Here are our 'Quick 5' tips for handling fish with care: 

  • Cool your hands and landing net by wetting them before touching the fish.
  • Keep the fish in the water while removing the hook.
  • Do not squeeze the fish and never touch the gills.
  • Photograph the fish in or over the water, and make it quick - the fish should not be out of the water for more than 5 seconds.
  • Revive the fish facing into the current long enough for it to regain its swimming strength.

In the unfortunate instance that a fish you intended to release does end up bleeding from the gills, so long as you can legally take that fish, you should keep it as part of your bag limit and utilise it. 

Tagged Tekapo Trout

RL SEPT CSI 3 Graham Johnson displays his 18 lb tagged brown credit Ben Booth

Graham Johnson displays his 18 pound tagged brown trout- credit Ben Booth

Keep an eye out for tagged trout in the Tekapo Canal. 

Check this video out for more info on the Tekapo Canal tagging project.

If you catch a tagged trout, please get in touch and let us know the unique four-digit tag number, location, whether it was kept of release and an estimate of size.

Contact – email csi@fishandgame.org.nz, phone 036158400 

Thanks to those anglers that have reported catching tagged trout recently, and don't be shy to report any that you may not have found the time to as yet! 

The most impressive tag report to date is of the 18-pound brown caught by Graeme Johnson this winter. It grew to 18-pounds incredibly quickly after being tagged and released by Fish & Game staff 12 months and 18 days earlier. 

When tagged, it was 461mm long and estimated to be no larger than 3-pounds, meaning it has grown five times its size in about one year!

Only at the canals…!

Tight lines

Rhys Adams, Fish & Game Officer