Reel Life September 2020
Opening day prospects
As usual opening day prospects are determined largely by weather and river conditions on the day.
There are some factors which will have some effect on the start of the season.
Firstly it has been a dry winter, this has meant low stable flows for the headwaters and larger rivers.
Right: A windy day on Lake Taylor.
This provides good conditions for trout in terms of food production as the lack of floods means less disturbance to invertebrate populations.
However, the lack of snow in the headwaters is alarming this year.
Expect the main alpine rivers to get very low towards the end of summer.
We are expecting some significant rain in the headwaters before the end of September.
So despite backcountry rivers being low and stable all winter, anglers are going to encounter high flows on opening day.
This is usually the case, anglers will be rewarded though with large trout in good conditions as a result of the benign winter conditions.
One option where the river may still be fishable in the Hurunui below Lake Sumner before the junction with the South Branch of the Hurunui as this lake fed section of the river generally remains fishable when other rivers are discoloured.
As some of you will be aware trout packed on the condition last year due to the mouse plague.
The mice numbers have well and truly died away during the winter but it is hoped that trout have kept their fantastic condition.
Also due to Covid-19 border restriction there will be far less non-resident anglers.
Non-resident anglers tend to target premium sight fishing rivers and can cause angling pressure on some rivers.
It is expected that these rivers will have less angling activity this year.
An angler survey carried out in the Lewis Pass area last season suggested that up to 58% of angling activity was from non-resident licence holders.
Lowland tributaries around Christchurch such as the Lake Ellesmere tributaries have been flowing a bit lower than normal over the winter.
Despite this some very good fish have been seen in all the Ellesmere streams, the lake is still reasonably low so an opening to sea is still some way off.
This year angling for sea run salmon is open again on the 1st of October.
If there is some colour in the main alpine rivers (highly likely) then the river mouths and lower reaches for an early salmon or sea run trout could be a good option.
There are also some new opportunities this opening day.
In particular, some of our backcountry lakes are now going to be open all year.
Check out below for details.
Regulations changes at a glance
Here is a summary of the changes for the upcoming 2020/21 freshwater fishing regulations:
- The introduction of four backcountry fisheries.
- Lake Coleridge will now be open from the first Saturday in November to 30th of September and will be open to all methods with a total limit bag of four sports fish (either trout or salmon).
- Lake Lyndon, Taylor, Selfe, Pearson, Ellesmere and Guyon will be open all year round.
- Trolling is no longer permitted on Loch Katrine.
- The following rivers will now be open all year, with all methods and a bag limit of two trout:
- Ashley River downstream of Ashley Gorge Road.
- Halswell River downstream of Seabridge Road.
- Heathcote River.
- Hurunui downstream of the Lake Sumner outlet.
- Rakaia River downstream of the Coleridge Tailrace (white posts).
- Selwyn River downstream of State Highway 77.
- Waiau River downstream of the Hope River confluence.
- Waimakariri River downstream of Staircase Stream.
The sea run salmon season will be open from the 1st of October until the 31st of March
These are significant changes that allow more angler opportunity, especially in the winter season. Please check our online PDF version of the regulations for more detail. https://fishandgame.org.nz/assets/Uploads/FG-Fishing-Regs-SI-20-21-.pdf
This year North Canterbury Fish & Game Council have decided to designate four rivers as back country rivers requiring an endorsement.
This is something that anglers will be familiar with in other South Island regions.
To fish a designated backcountry fishery, a Backcountry Licence Endorsement is required on your licence.
First you must get one of these qualifying Whole Season Sports Fishing Licences:
- Whole Season (Adult, Junior or Child)
- Loyal Senior
- Local Area (only qualifies for an endorsement in that region)
- Non Resident
Obtaining the additional endorsement comes at no extra cost to the angler.
It does however provide Fish & Game with a database of anglers who fish backcountry rivers.
This is a useful tool for doing surveys of angler use and perception of these waterways.
Back country rivers can be sensitive to angling pressure.
North Canterbury has designated the following rivers as backcountry fisheries:
- Hurunui River South Branch upstream of the Esk River confluence
- Hurunui River North Branch above Lake Sumner upstream of grid reference BU22 3088 7229. This is approximately 500 metres upstream of where the North Branch meets Lake Sumner. Signs will be installed prior to the fishing season to mark the boundary. Anglers fishing the river at the mouth to Lake Sumner will not require a Backcountry Licence Endorsement.
- Hope River upstream of the confluence with the Boyle River.
- Waiau River upstream of the confluence with the Hope River.
Please remember to get your endorsements when you get your whole season licence.
It will need to be carried with you when you fish these rivers.
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