Reel Life November 2023
Drift Dive Update
Five drift dives have been completed so far this season; the Upper Motueka, Lee, Opouri, Pearse and Maitai.
Word on the street was that there had been a seal right up the Opouri which was later confirmed by the farmer where the dive takes place, so we were expecting the fish population to take a hit.
The dive result revealed that fish numbers were lower than last year’s record tally, however, they were still pretty decent with 24 large browns and 19 large rainbows in residence, though anglers take note: the 1km stretch above the Ronga confluence held few fish, so it’s best to get up higher to find better numbers of fish.
Next up to be completed before Christmas are the Motupiko, Kaituna and Riuwaka.
The Opouri trout population was decent despite a seal having been in the area.
Fish releases so far this season
It’s been a fairly busy start to the season so far in terms of fish releases.
To date, we have released 1264 1kg + fish into Lake Argyle, 100 into the lower Leatham, 250 into the middle reach of the Branch and 809 into Waimea Park.
All told we have around 5000 fish to release this season, including 100 double-digit fish which will be liberated during the season at Lake Argyle.
We will be adding more fish to Lake Argyle and Waimea Park before Christmas, including 200 tagged fish for the Lake Argyle tagged fish comp.
Designated waters compliance
Staff have been active on Designated Water fisheries so far this season and have made numerous trips to the Travers, Upper Wairau and a possible future Designated Water fishery – the Wangapeka.
Observations to date are fewer non-resident anglers compared to the first six weeks last season, though it has been great to see Kiwi anglers out enjoying the great fishing on offer.
It has been pleasing to find 100% compliance with the new licence so far.
Branch River access restricted - Update
Due to logging operations, access up the Branch River will be restricted during weekdays going forward.
The logging will be taking place in the area around Greig’s Hut, and will likely be ongoing for some years.
We will still continue to release 1kg+ fish here as well as in the Leatham, even though there are limitations to the Branch fishery in terms of access.
It is possible to fish on foot from the Branch/Leatham confluence, as well as on weekends and public holidays, and we are working with the contractor to see if it’s possible for after-hours access.
Removal of bridge below Siberia Hut - Branch River
DOC is in the process of organising the removal of the severely damaged Branch bridge below Siberia Hut in the Branch/Leatham Valley.
The bridge was severely damaged in the flood event last August.
This work is pencilled in for the 18th of December, weather permitting.
The bridge (also known as the ‘bridge to nowhere’) is useful in times of flood, though we believe it is still possible to access the area between this bridge and Siberia Hut in the event of a flood via a rough track and some bush bashing, and generally won’t affect anglers who are unlikely to be fishing there during flood events.
Waimea River Slalom Event 3rd December
Jet Boat New Zealand has applied for speed uplifting for their Nelson Marlborough branch to organise a combined charity day and Giant Slalom event on the Waimea River on the 3rd of December 2023.
For this event, a slalom course will be created and then returned to how it was prior.
Marlborough Freshwater Plan - Feedback sought from anglers
NMFG asks motivated licence holders to consider going online to the Marlborough District Council website to provide public feedback to the Council on the values you hold dear for Marlborough’s various Freshwater Management Units (FMUs) as part of the National requirement for all Councils to develop and notify new freshwater plans by the end of 2024.
While F&G will be providing detailed feedback on your behalf, it would also be great if licence holders could also provide feedback as part of the Council's identification of public values for freshwater ecosystems held by the community, as these processes tend to be influenced by the number of submissions a Council receives.
Issues of concern to NMFGC that have still not been resolved to our satisfaction within the existing Marlborough Environment Plan (MeP) despite having spent considerable time and money on these since 2015, include the following:
- Water allocation and minimum flows – these issues were attempted to be resolved through a Plan Hearing and subsequent Environment Court appeal process by FG on your behalf, however they remain substantially unresolved and will now be required to be sorted out through this new freshwater planning process – its is Fish & Game’s view that significant overallocation risk currently exists for the Wairau, Kaituna, and Rai catchments, and existing minimum flow cutoffs do not meet good practice guidelines adhered to by other Councils within NZ and overseas – these issues need resolving through the development of the new freshwater plan.
- Access - riverbed fishing access - recently gates have been locked within the stop-banked areas of the Wairau bermlands in an attempt to avoid stop winter bank damage from 4WD joyriders– we have complained to the Council and are still in the process of trying to resolve this with some now being opened, but if the gates get locked permanently it will severely hamper access for salmon angling via 4WD riverbed access to favourite salmon holes this summer, and limit accessibility for trout angling – if you value vehicle access to the Wairau riverbed, let the Council know or you may lose it in future.
Please take the time to go online and provide feedback here – if all licence holders remain silent, we will only have ourselves to blame if our grandkids cannot participate in the fishing opportunities that we all currently enjoy today within NZ.
Also check out one of the lovely fish, above right, caught by Brian O’Keefe, a visiting angler from Idaho in the Owen River recently.
Jacob Lucas, Nelson Marlborough Fish & Game