2022 Special Winter Edition Fishing Report - Central South Island
- Central South Island
- Richie Cosgrove
Welcome to our one-off winter special edition of the weekly fishing report.
It’s a great time, just ahead of the school holidays, to remind you that there are many great winter fishing options available right now.
We also have a few quick updates and important info to share.
Above Right: Rug up warm and enjoy some fantastic winter fishing in the Mackenzie Basin's hydro lakes.
Winter fishing options
Be sure to read up on your regulations guide here to ensure you know first-hand the waterways that are open and what regulations apply.
If in doubt of any regulation, be sure to contact Fish & Game directly for clarification.
- Lake Hood is open year-round.
- Downstream of State Highway 1, The Ashburton and Rangitata rivers have winter seasons open from 1 June to 30 August.
- Downstream of State Highway 1, The Opihi river has a winter season open from 1 June to 30 August.
- Downstream of State Highway 1, the Waitaki River has a winter season open from 1 June to 30 August
Mackenzie and Waitaki Valley
- The Ohau and Pukaki canals are open year-round. The Tekapo Canal, downstream of State Highway 8, is open all year.
- The big hydro lakes are open year-round, including Tekapo, Pukaki, Ohau, Benmore, Aviemore and Waitaki.
- Lake Middleton near Ohau village is open year-round.
- A winter season from 1 June to 31 July is open at Lake Alexandrina.
Tekapo Canal winter closure
The upper half of the Tekapo Canal, from the Tekapo A Power Station downstream to the State Highway 8 Bridge (main road bridge at Irishman Station), is closed from 1 June to 31 August.
Winter fishing inspiration
The fishing can be surprisingly good at Lake Pukaki during August – or neighbouring hydro lakes for that matter.
Click here to watch this Pure Fly NZ episode on YouTube filmed during August.
Spin anglers can mimic the style of short-range fishing displayed with lightweight lures (7grams or less).
Alternatively, fish “blind” by casting out into the lake as far as possible.
A variety of traditional and modern spin lures and soft baits will work just fine.
Sea-run salmon spawning update
Our team of Fish & Game Officers have been out on the water undertaking annual surveys of live salmon and spawning redds (egg nests).
Here’s a brief summary of our observations.
Ashburton, Opihi and Orari Catchments
Low salmon spawning activity was observed, consistent with other poor return years.
We estimate that 1,823 wild salmon spawned this year in the Rangitata Catchment.
It was great to see spawning numbers practically quadruple from the last two years.
In a historical context, the 2022 returns were at moderate levels.
It was encouraging to count 659 salmon redds at the Waitaki Catchment – 146 of those in the Hakataramea River.
That’s about double what was observed annually over the past four seasons.
In a historical context, the 2022 redd counts were relatively low for the Waitaki.
Ōhau River Spring Season ballots to open on 15 July
Central South Island Fish & Game (CSIFG) has set up a ballot system (lottery) to limit angler numbers at the Ōhau River between lakes Ōhau and Ruataniwha.
Limiting angler numbers on the Ōhau River will maintain the high-country fishery aesthetics during the increasingly popular September and October “Spring Season.”
Three separate ballot draws will be held to ensure that the limited number of highly sought-after controlled period licences are issued randomly and fairly to anglers.
Controlled period licences enable anglers to fish for a specified 2–3-day fishing allocation only.
The first of three ballot draws opens on 15 July for entries and closes on 1 August at 5 pm.
The ballots can only be entered by anglers who hold a Central South Island Region backcountry licence endorsement (free of charge).
Visit the Ōhau River Controlled period webpage here to find out more and submit your entry (from July 15).
Tekapo trout tagging project
Thank you to all the anglers who have reported their capture of tagged trout.
We have some phenomenal results to report so far.
Check out this article here to discover how fast canal fish can grow – even when they started life in one of Lake Tekapo’s spawning creeks.
Keep it clean
Unfortunately, in society, there is often 1% of people that let the team down.
This appears to be the case when it comes to the littering at the canals.
However, we reckon 99% of “good citizens” can make a massive boost to keeping the place clean and tidy.
Together we can make a big difference if we simply pick up a few strands of fishing line or other fishing-related litter each day we fish the canals.
Care for your catch
All anglers – from newbies to life-long fishers – need to be aware that how they handle the fish is critical to its survival after being released back into the water.
We’re certainly not urging anglers to release every single fish, but we encourage you to do your very best to look after them if you are practising catch and release.
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; 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.
Tekapo Canal road closure – one week of July 2022
Later this July, Genesis is planning on completing some minor road maintenance along the true left road of the canal from the last bridge down to the irrigation offtake at the stilling basin (fish bowl).
The Tekapo Canal Road will be closed to vehicle access for approximately one week. Pedestrian, fishing and cycling access is available.
Rhys Adams, Central South Island Fish & Game.