North Canterbury Reel Life Jan 2017
Good trout fishing on the cards for coming weeks
As I write this report, the East Coast rivers in Canterbury have peaked in flood, with flows higher than seen for some time.
New river mouths will have formed and the river braids will all be different.
Although frustrating in terms of getting out on the river fishing, for many anglers this is a welcome natural event which will freshen up the rivers, and renew the challenge of finding good fishing water.
Above Right: Anglers try to get in a few last casts at the Rakaia River before the weather bomb arrives.
Hopefully once flows recede, salmon and fishable waters will still be plentiful.
On the trout fishing front, most of our high country lakes should continue to fish well over the next month or so.
The larger rivers are likely to take some time to recover for trout, with resident fish having to find new homes as the large flood was likely to re-design most of their lies.
If the weather in recent weeks has any ongoing trend, I would be inclined to say this isn't the last of the big nor-west floods we'll see this season.
The catchments will be fully saturated now, with up to 400mm of rain falling in 48 hours in the headwaters of the main rivers to produce this last flood, and any future heavy rainfall will run off much faster with less capacity for absorption in the catchment headwaters.
Any clear water between freshes should be taken advantage of.
Although this flood will clean the substrate of these mainstem rivers, didymo is still present in many of the tributaries not affected by the flood, and will re-colonise very quickly in a matter of weeks.
So this is a timely reminder to anglers; take care when moving between rivers over a short period of time, due to the risk of spreading not just didymo, but other unwanted algaes and pests, which can have drastic consequences on local stream ecosystems, as we've seen with didymo.
The mid reaches of the Ashley River between Rangiora and the gorge should produce some nice trout over the next month, and the Waiau tributaries and mid reaches of the Hurunui are also worth a look, as these rivers tend to recover from large floods faster than the Rakaia and Waimakariri rivers.
Lowland rivers such as the Styx and south branch of the Waimakariri River should fish well for the remainder of the season…assuming no drought.
Please keep an eye out for drying rivers, as Fish & Game are usually able to relocate fish to more permanent waters, but once flows drop off between pools, waters warm very quickly and oxygen levels drop off - so the window of opportunity to salvage fish reduces very quickly.
Fish & Game released 50 salmon into the junior fishing lakes at Groynes this week, so there will be some great fishing for these over the next week or so.
Anglers are reminded that Fish & Game produce a daily recorded phone message with river flows and likely fishing conditions of the main rivers throughout the fishing season.
Please call (03) 366-2986 for the recording.
With the variable weather we get in Canterbury, planning fishing trips becomes a challenge, and along with the river flows website at the bottom of the weekly emails, I find the following websites useful when planning trips away:
Metvuw shows predicted satellite images use for up to week in advance, and I use this to forecast rainfall and wind direction http://www.metvuw.com/forecast/, click on the 7-day Thumbnails for the South Island.
Combine this with the Metservice National Weather site http://www.metservice.com/national/home
And to see how much rain has fallen in any particular area, the ECan Rainfall in North Canterbury Region page https://ecan.govt.nz/data/rainfall-data/
Good luck if you're heading out for a fish this weekend.
"Before and after" photos below were taken at the Rakaia Mouth by Dirk Barr. The one below shows a new mouth about to break through.
Below - Same location five minutes later, showing the new mouth breaking through and forming.
Below - Photo below taken of the Rakaia Gorge in flood (Photo Dirk Barr) .