North Canterbury Reel Life August 2019

Fishing opportunities in September

September is always a good time to have a couple of outings before the real show starts in October. 

Some years the weather can be warm enough that trout will respond to dry flies. 

Usually though the rivers will flow a little higher and heavy nymphs are needed to get down to the trout’s level.

Spin anglers do well at this time of year as the bigger flows and coloured water mean the fish are not as spooky.

For river anglers there are still some options but it is catch and release only. 

Such as the middle reaches of the Rakaia, Waimakariri and Ashley from State Highway One upstream to the Western Zone boundary. 

For the Hurunui and Waiau rivers there is a catch and release for the winter months, this applies from the mouths to Western Zone boundary. 

The catch and release winter season on all these rivers is for trout only, salmon cannot be targeted until the 1st of December this year.

For lake fishing there is still the option of fishing Lakes Selfe, Pearson, Taylor, Katrine, Sumner and Forsyth.

Please remember that Coleridge is closed for the months of September/October to protect the rainbows that gather at the stream mouths in preparation for their migration to spawn. 

The lakes are very full at the moment and September is when the brown trout recover from spawning and go on the feed again. 

Look for browns cruising around the edges making the most of the feed opportunities from a high lake. 

Rainbow trout will be starting to think about spawning and may start going off the feed in the later half of September.

2019/2020 season prospects

It is always a little hard to tell in mid August to predict what the upcoming fishing season is going to be like. 

A major factor in any season’s success are the weather and river conditions at the time. 

However, there are a couple of factors happening now that will have a bearing on what can happen in October.

Firstly the amount of water in all the catchments, lowland streams are very full from all the southerlies we have had recently. 

Groundwater aquifers have been replenished and foot hill streams have had a high and continuous flow for the later half of the winter. 

Lake Ellesmere is currently open and will need to be for some time to allow the Lake to drop. 

This is great for fish movement in the Ellesmere catchment. 

Not only for the trout themselves but for food sources such as whitebait.

Lowland and foothill streams should have good flows at least for the first half of the summer. 

The main alpine rivers should also have lots of snow melt for the first couple of months of the season. 

This will help with maintaining flows and keeping the water temperature cool. 

The lakes have also benefited from all the rain with lakes like Georgina looking as high as I have ever seen them.

There is also the prospect of a mouse plague this season due to an unusually large and widespread beech mast.

Some Canterbury catchments benefited from this in the 2010 and 2014 seasons. 

Anglers experienced some fantastic angling in the back country with many trophy sized fish being captured. 

Not only were trout bigger due to feeding on mice but also there were higher numbers of trout in the back county.

This year it is expected that the mice plague will be fairly widespread so any catchment with beech forest should fish well this year.

Salmon regulation changes

This year there are two important regulations changes in relation to salmon fishing. 

The salmon fishing season will run from the 1st of December until the end of March. 

There is also now a bag limit of one salmon per angler per day. 

These measures have been introduced to reduce the percentage of salmon being harvest by anglers. 

Spawning escapement has been low in the last three seasons and Fish & Game need to ensure that there is enough spawning fish to provide future salmon runs. 

While these measures are in place Fish & Game will continue to advocate on factors that can affect salmon numbers such as inefficient fish screening and water takes that drop the river levels to unsustainable levels.

Error in the regulations

In the new regulations book it seems that we are missing the lines that describe the winter fishing months on the Hurunui and Waiau Rivers. 

It is meant to read the following:

Hurunui River    Downstream of the South Branch confluence      1 May to 30 Sep               0              Notes 1,2

Waiau River        Downstream of Hope confluence                              1 May to 30 Sep               0              Notes 1,2 

So basically the same as last year catch and release during the winter months for trout only, apologies for any confusion.  

Tony Hawker, North Canterbury Fish & Game Officer.