Weekly Fishing Report For Central South Island and North Canterbury for March 9 2023


A Rangitata River Salmon Run in 2023

Back in the good old days of sea-run salmon fishing in the 1990s, the Rangitata River mouth was an incredibly productive fishing spot.

Our historical catch records reveal it was common for 20 salmon to be taken there in a single day and on a run at the peak of the season, there could be 100.

My colleague Hamish Stevens and I paid the Rangitata River mouth anglers a visit yesterday morning to check on compliance with the season bag limit regulations.  

Word on the riverbank was that a run went through on Monday and Tuesday.

What’s a run these days? Rumour has it that about 10 fish were caught on Monday and five fish on Tuesday.

By Wednesday when we were there, it was all over. 

Above Right: Fish & Game Ranger Hamish Stevens gets the goss from salmon anglers at the Rangitata River mouth-Photo by Rhys Adams

All but one angler was sticking to the rules and in his case, failing to carry his sea-run salmon season bag card and produce it to a ranger.

This meant he was issued an offence notice and had a long drive back to Orari to collect his card so he could resume salmon fishing legally.  

The graphic difference in a run between the good old days and today illustrates the change in salmon populations and the need for the season bag limit to be introduced across the Central South Island and North Canterbury regions. 

The goal of the season bag limit is to get a higher proportion of the run to the headwaters to spawn whilst retaining a fishing season.

If combined annual spawning salmon numbers in the Rangitata, Rakaia and Waimakariri rivers reach a threshold three years in a row, then increasing the season bag limit will be recommended.

For the 2021/22 season (last year) we reached the threshold, and there is optimism based on catches so far that it may occur again this season.

For more information on how the sea-run salmon season bag limit is set – read this report.    

Photo Comp Offers Big Prizes and Bragging Rights

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David Pringle's photo competition entry taken at Lake Benmore's Ohau C tailrace.

The famous Fish & Game NZ photo competition is underway!

Thanks to the generosity of our sponsor, Kilwell Sports, you have the chance to not only win a $500 Kilwell Sports Voucher as a monthly winner.

But to have your winning photo enter the grand final draw to appear on next year's fishing licence AND win the grand prize worth $2000.

March photo entries are open now – visit our website here to enter and view all of the current entries.

Thousands of Critters in River Ecosystems 

WFR2223.57 Year 4 5 student from Beaconfield School watch on as Fish Game Officer Rhys Adams collects bugs from the Opihi River

Year 4-5 students from Beaconsfield School watch on as Fish & Game Officer Rhys Adams collects bugs from the Opihi River.

At a glance, we might see a trout, eels, ducks or maybe even bullies while down at the local river.

As the year 4 and 5 students (and their parents) from Beaconsfield School recently found out, there is thousands of critters living in and around our rivers and they all play a role as predator or prey in the river ecosystem.     

The Beaconsfield kids recently invited me and my colleague Nikki Dellaway to the Opihi River at Raincliff to teach them about the river’s ecosystem. 

We did an electrofishing demonstration catching adult and juvenile brown trout, upland bullies, longfin eel, canterbury galaxias, and a seldom-seen critter – torrent fish. 

IMG 0015 CopyWe also rumbled around in the rocks stirring up the ‘bugs’ living on the bed of the river and found a ton of critters including mayflies, caddisfly, worms, snails, water boatmen, dobsonflies and more. 

Although we had some specialist nets and the electric fishing equipment, there are many species that you can discover with the kids with a cheap butterfly net.        

Just stir up a few stones and rocks in a part of the river with current and hold your net just downstream.

Put whatever you catch in a white container with a little river water – you might be surprised to find what you have caught! 

If you don’t have a butterfly net, just try turning over a few larger rocks to see what’s living on the underside – roll them back after looking.  


Environment Canterbury (ECan) – riverbed weed spraying 

ECan is currently undertaking riverbed operations that may impact on your fishing.  

ECan’s Current Works website provides maps and further information. 

Rivers to be weed sprayed include Lower Waitaki River at SH1 Bridge and Rangitata River from Approx. Badham Road upstream to Peel Forest.

Tight Lines

Rhys Adams, Central South Island Fish & Game Officer


FGNZ6916B4With a bucket load of rain falling on the main divide, this weekend’s fishing options will be our lakes and lowland streams. 

Even though the wind may be up a bit, that offers the trout angler the chance to target the downwind edges where any insects are blown into the water by the wind will collect. 

In December at Lake Taylor(pictured right) we witnessed a great sight as anglers targeted around 20 trout who were gorging themselves on the windfall of insects in the water.

They were so close to the shore they were being rolled in the waves, a truly fantastic sight that goes to show those anglers prepared to venture out will reap the reward. 

Our high-country lakes with their easy access offer many options to fish with the wind; checking the Outdoor Access camera for Lake Coleridge today showed some strong wind but (at the time of writing) not much evidence of heavy rainfall.

If you don’t have a subscription to their service but want to check it out, drop into Hunting & Fishing Tower Junction and see the feed on the screen by the fishing hut to see what it looks like.

Our lowland trout streams have been getting regular top-ups of rainfall which is making them a good option for times when the bigger rivers are out of action.

Lake Sumner road is open at weekends only 

334561768 1591716231307065 808587194639311307 nThe Hurunui District Council advises that the Lake Sumner Road is open during weekends but to a 4WD standard.  

There are drop-outs, rocks and soft spots still present on the road. 

It’s important to note that the road will be closed at 7 am on Monday mornings as it will revert to an active worksite and with zero public access.  

They advise with some rain expected this weekend, so it could get sloppy on the temporary road and to use it with caution. 

Heathcote discharge incident 

Around 300 dead fish were found in Heathcote River/Ōpāwaho on Thursday 2 March. 

Environment Canterbury suspects their deaths were caused by a discharge incident but doesn’t yet know the source of the discharge. 

Importantly they say DO NOT eat any fish from the Heathcote River until further notice. 

Salmon anglers competition 

With the rising rivers, I called Larry Burke, the President of the NZ Salmon Anglers Association, about whether the annual Waimakariri Salmon Competition will be on. 

Larry says they will be making the call on Friday at 10 am about the competition and to check their Facebook page for updates.

However, Larry points out that no matter what they will still have the Prize Giving at 4.30 pm at the Pines Beach Hall even if the river is unfishable. 

Fishing licence photo competition 

Screenshot 2023 03 09 at 11.01.21 AMGot a great fishing picture?

We are holding our annual Fishing licence photo competition at t eh moment, there are $3000 in prizes up for grabs for the winning photo, plus your photo will be on next season's fishing licence. 

Click here to enter.


The NZ Salmon Anglers Association Waimakariri Salmon Fishing Competition

River conditions permitting, Saturday, March 11 2023, start time 5 am, finish at 3 pm.
Weigh in station is located at the Waimakariri River mouth and opens at 8 am.

Click their Facebook page for details.  

Ranger Competition

The Annual Rangers Fishing Competition will be held on Friday, March 31; watch for more details in this section soon. 

If you have any recent photos of your fishing exploits or events you want to publicise, send them to northcanterbury@fishandgame.org.nz ; even if they aren’t from our region, I’ll pass them on.  

Tight Lines, 

Richie Cosgrove, North Canterbury Fish & Game Officers.