North Canterbury Reel Life May 2017

Winter fishing

The opening of the Game bird hunting season is often a welcome transition for many licence holders from fishing to hunting. 

As we head into the winter, there are still a few good options for North Canterbury anglers.

Above Right: around 60 stranded salmon circle in a pool in the Waimakariri.

The mid-river reaches of the main snow-fed fivers can be quite rewarding for keen anglers, as this is generally a period of low flows in these larger rivers, and the side braids can hold good numbers of smaller trout.

Our regulations allow anglers to take trout from these mid-river reaches, however most hardy winter anglers release these trout which is encouraging to see.

While these mid-river sections of the rivers can be quite productive for smaller trout this time of year, anglers are reminded that all waterways East of State Highway 1 are closed to fishing for the winter season, which is 1st May – 30th Sept.

Winter lake fishing can be magical on a clear day, with the various lakes offering different opportunities and experiences.

For those anglers with access to a boat, trolling either of the larger lakes, Coleridge or Sumner, can be both a scenic and productive experience, with lakes Selfe, Pearson, Lyndon and Taylor also providing a great winter experience.

Please check your regulation guidebook for specific regulations for winter fishing. 

FGNZ NC WaimakSalvage021Staff and volunteers been busy over the last month or so.

Unusually, we have responded to a number of fish strandings, including salmon that were stranded in the Waimakariri River.

Left: Stranded salmon are recovered from a pool in the Waimakariri River.

We have also been asked to salvage irrigation schemes as they shut-down for the winter, with both trout and salmon salvaged from below fish screens and relocated back to their source river.

There are ongoing investigations into irrigation fish screen effectiveness, and we will keep anglers updated with progress.

Salmon have been spawned for next year’s enhancement programs, with a few minor challenges as a result of the poor salmon returns to all the rivers.

Staff have continued to monitor habitat and water chemistry in key high country spawning streams, along with carrying out traditional aerial salmon spawning surveys.

Fish & Game continue to advocate for clean water, essential for the ecosystems and the species we value.

Social media has enhanced this message and pressure continues to mount on local, regional and national governments to address the various complex issues around water.

Aerial salmon spawning counts are almost complete, with one to go in the Waimakariri catchment, however to date, counts have been very poor in all rivers.Waimak Spawning stream

These flights are also a good opportunity for staff to record any changes in habitat and the health of headwater spawning streams, with natural annual changes resulting in losses and gains in habitat, as floods move the mainstem of the rivers across the headwater floodplains.

Right: One of the pristine salmon and trout spawning streams in the Waimakariri Headwaters not often seen by anglers, with wind and snowfall debris, creating ideal habitat for juvenile salmon and trout. 

A report on the salmon spawning, along with summary of angler harvest will be presented to the North Canterbury Fish & Game Council meeting on Wednesday 21st June.

Good luck if you are heading out fishing this winter.

Steve Terry, North Canterbury Fish & Game Officer.