Reel Life February 2023
- North Canterbury
Rakaia Salmon Competition
Around 500 anglers participated in the Rakaia Salmon Competition last weekend.
Held for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic, it was also the 40th anniversary of New Zealand's biggest freshwater sports fishing competition.
Organised by Rakaia River Promotions, it's a great event, with a great prize pool that draws in anglers from around the country.
Sometimes no fishing can be held as the river can come up quickly with a fresh following some nor-wester rain, but this year was perfect for angling; the river was at optimal flow levels for anglers, and anglers were spread from the mouth throughout the river.
Fish & Game Ranger Brian Hodges took this lovely picture (Above Right) of the action at the mouth on Saturday.
Over thirty salmon were caught by anglers during the competition; the biggest salmon entered was 8.46 kgs or 18.65 pounds.
Due to the introduction of the sea-run salmon harvest card in 2021, anglers can only catch two salmon per season, and these rules still apply during the competition meaning angler harvest is still limited.
Sea-run salmon videos:
Over the last few weeks we've been publishing a five-part series on sea-run salmon fishing, we've combined all five videos into one video, and you can watch it here.
They've been incredibly popular across social media, and have hopefully helped salmon anglers achieve success.
Catch and release of sea-run salmon
We sent this article by Fish & Game Officer Harry Graham-Samson out with last Thursday's fishing report but thought we would share it again for readers that don't receive the North Canterbury and Central South Island Weekly Fishing report.
With it being the second year that the season bag limit has been introduced to salmon anglers, there has been a big talking point about catch and release amongst anglers.
As they are seeing fish being mistreated which has caused some fish to die.
So we are wanting to provide some advice on a good catch and release method so we aren’t harming the fish so they can either get to the spawning waters or provide another opportunity for an angler to catch who could harvest that fish.
When you are out fishing a nice piece of water and hook up on a salmon, whether you have one fish written on your card or not as soon as you see the fish you should make up your mind straight away on whether you want to harvest your fish or not.
If you are sure that you want to harvest it then that’s great, take your time and play it carefully, so you don’t lose it, but if you don’t want to harvest it then get the fish into the bank as quickly as possible.
Once you’ve got it into the shallows then wet your hands as touching the fish with dry hands actually injures the fish; grasp it by the base of the tail and lay the fish on its side with the hook facing you, so it is in an easy position to remove.
I’d suggest carrying a set of pliers with you so you can get the hook out quickly.
Once the hook is out get a quick photo with it and release it into the deeper water facing the fish upstream so the fish can get water flowing through its gills and quickly it will swim off to carry on with its journey.
What about the trout?
With all the talk about salmon, the region's trout fishery hasn't been forgotten, we've been getting great reports of some great fish being caught in the high country lakes and back country rivers.
The frequent spurts of rain have been topping up our rivers regularly which has been great for the habitat.
Normally at this time of year, we can be salvaging fish from rivers that have dried up, so any respite from that is good news for the fishery.
March is a great time for fishing the region, we've passed the peak of the hot summer temperatures, and fish are more active in cooler water and looking to pack on condition for spawning.
When the Lake Sumner Road finally reopens in March, the upper Hurunui Fisheries will be a great option for anglers to target for fishing.
Thanks to the road washout, the fish up there will not have had any angling for nearly two months; it'll almost be like another high country opening day when the road reopens.
Richie Cosgrove, North Canterbury Fish & Game.