Reel Life April 2021
- Central South Island
The Summer season has wound up
With the end of the summer season finishing up on Friday the 30th of April, it’s time to dig out your 2020-2021 regulation guide and familiarise yourself again with the CSI’s “all-season” and “winter” fisheries.
Click here to view the online version of the guide.
Above Right: 'Fish-on in May at the large lakes and canals of the Mackenzie Basin-photo credit Rhys Adams.
Fishing ideas for May
A useful selection of our high-country lakes and canals are open for fishing in May and offer a variety of opportunities.
Canals – time to get your eggs flies out and drift them along the canal bed.
This technique has exploded in popularity over the past three seasons and to learn how to do it pop into your local tackle shop or find YouTube videos here.
Hydro Lakes – Trolling - Rainbow trout generally don’t spawn for a month or two yet so target these in lakes as per usual in May.
A fish finder on your boat may prove valuable for fishing the deeper water.
Try trolling drop-offs and river mouth deltas.
In shallow areas a lead line may be too weighty for trolling, so an alternative would be to use a standard spinning rod with a small sinker about 1.5 metres in front of a Parsons Glory or Mrs Simpson flies.
Lake Benmore is a great sports fishery and is open all year.
Hydro Lakes – Shoreline – brown trout will be congregating around river mouths ready to spawn.
An evening or night-time fish can be productive if you strike the timing right.
Some rain to raise the flow in a tributary stream will help.
Be sure to fish the lake only as streams and rivers are closed in May.
Flies like woolly buggers and spinners like black and gold tobies will get results.
Upper Tekapo Canal closure
For the first time ever, the upper part of the Tekapo Canal will be closed for the 3-month period, 1 June to 31 August 2021.
The closure only applies to the upper half of the Tekapo Canal, upstream of the State Highway 8 Bridge to the Tekapo A Powerhouse.
This includes the Magic Carpet.
The closure is a conservation-minded approach to managing the intensive fishing pressure experienced at the upper part of the Tekapo Canal during the peak of the winter fishing period and rainbow trout spawning season.
The closure does not apply to the lower part of the Tekapo Canal including the “fishbowl” or any other part of the Pukaki and Ohau Canals.
Sea-run salmon surveying underway
Every year CSI Fish & Game estimate the total run sizes of our sea-run salmon on our main rivers.
Those surveys are underway currently to estimate the 2020/2021 run size.
The estimates are based on two surveys – a survey of angler harvest (fish kept) and spawning surveys.
The angler surveys of salmon kept are via email and phone.
Be sure to check your email and fill out the survey – it was distributed on April 21st.
Anglers without email, or those who don’t respond via email, are surveyed over the phone.
Spawning surveys are undertaken from late March until mid-June and provide an estimate of live spawning salmon or redd (egg nest) counts.
If you haven't checked out our Hydro Canal guide then click here.
The guide has some great advice on important canal fishing etiquette issues like camping, rubbish and toilets.
Please remember most of the canal banks are privately owned and today’s anglers must obey all signage and act responsibly to ensure access is provide for generations to come.
Catch and Release
For many anglers, any canal fish landed is one destined for the dinner table but for a growing number of anglers, catch and release is preferred — especially in winter while the trout are in spawning mode.
It is critical if you want to catch and release that you handle your fish with the utmost care.
After all, we all want that 20-pounder trophy you catch to go on to grow to a 30-pound mega-trophy or that 1-pounder going on to be a good eating size 5-pounder.
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.
Click here for a great video demonstrating proper fish handling skills.
Upper Ohau Spring Season
The upper Ohau River Spring Season will not open in September 2021, see your current 2020/2021 regulation guide – page 41.
The Opening date for the 2021 and 2022 Spring Seasons will be decided at the upcoming meeting of the Central South Island Fish and Game Council in May 2021.
Rhys Adams, Central South Island Fish & Game Officer