Central South Island Region 31st March 2017

A bit of rain and a bit of sun will be the theme of the last weekend of the sea run salmon season in the Central South Island Fish & Game Region.

Next Friday, the 31st of March is the last day of the season.

The rest of the summer season continues through to the last day in April, and then year round fisheries and winter seasons will see us through to the next October the 1st.

So plenty of fishing options ahead.

If you are a one-eyed salmon angler then by next weekend it will be time to turn your attention inland to the canals and lakes of the Mackenzie Basin where year round salmon fishing is on offer.

Before winter kicks in though, remember the last two public holidays before winter are just around the corner.

Easter and ANZAC weekend offer enough time to plan a decent trip to finish the summer season.

Many will head to the canals, last year while we were conducting an angler use survey at the canals we recorded the Sunday of ANZAC weekend (ANZAC day fell on a Monday) as the busiest day of the season.

Around 500 anglers fished throughout the canal system that day, which is more than on Boxing Day etc.

If big fish are your buzz, then the canals are the go-to place in the Mackenzie.

After the Canals I’d be looking to fish either the Ahuriri River or Lake Alexandrina.

Although fishing the Ahuriri could be a bit frustrating currently.

Fish & Game Officer Hamish Stevens was there last Wednesday conducting an angler satisfaction survey and said that spawning sockeye salmon were schooled up in numbers and swimming around erratically throughout the pools and spooking easily.

He said the trout couldn’t but be disturbed by these. If you have fished the Ahuriri lately please fill in our online angler satisfaction survey, we’d love to get some info from you. Here’s the link.

Our spawning surveys reveal that the sockeye spawn has peaked and they are dying off at a rate of knots, as they do. If you want to see sockeye spawning you better go look quick.

The Twizel River is the most easily accessible spot to do so.

Brown trout in the 6-9 pound class are common up at Lake Alexandrina, but a few even bigger get caught there each year.

This past week Fish & Game staff were up at the lake undertaking annual maintenance on the two spawning creeks at the lake, Scotts Creek and Outlet Creek.

Plenty of work has gone into these two creeks by the Lake Alexandrina Conservation Trust in recent times to modify the creeks to improve spawning habitat.

The fishery is considered to be limited by spawning habitat rather than food availability.

One part of the enhancement was the introduction of tons of ideal size spawning gravels.

So, each year Fish & Game head up to the creeks and mechanically ‘reset’ the gravel spawning beds by pushing the back upstream with a small digger.

While there, we got talking to trust member Alister Clarke, who informed us that some big fish had been caught this summer including a rainbow over 10 pound.

The biggest he had heard of was a 14.5 pound brown.

He’s been fishing a lot to and caught a fair few, most being rainbows in the 2-3 pound range and he reckons the enhancement works have meant more of these are around than there used to be.

Alister and the Conservation Trust will be at the lake undertaking more enhancement works of the creeks this weekend and he said anyone interested can come and lend a hand.

They are meeting at 9:30 am on Saturday the 25th of March at the top end huts.

First job is to install rock block weirs that increase the velocity of Scotts Creek around the gravel beds.

Second job is back down at Outlet Creek placing rocks on the banks of the creek to narrow the stream.

There will be a BBQ for lunch. Apart from Fish & Game and the trust, Genesis Energy make this ongoing maintenance possible by funding the efforts.

The efforts to enhance Outlet creek have gone downstream this week.

Massive diggers and a loader have skilfully enhanced the final enhance-able section down the bottom end of Outlet Creek near Lake MacGregor.

Huge boulders now line the banks, and they are filled with graded spawning gravels.

This season trout will have even more area to spawn.

Good news for the future of the fishery.

Alister said the conservation trust couldn’t have achieved the expensive enhancement without the help of Pub Charities and the Mackenzie District Council who assisted with funding.

I wanted to share pics of the work with you all but a power at the office means my photos are trapped on the work computer and I’m writing the report at home.