Record low salmon runs have resulted in tighter rules for the Central South Island sports fishing season which opens on Tuesday.
Central South Island Fish and Game officer Rhys Adams said over the last two seasons the salmon runs had been some of the lowest on record, which was a trend for all sea-run salmon fisheries in Canterbury.
“The sea-run salmon fishery is at a point where we need to ensure enough wild salmon are making a successful run up the rivers and are spawning to maintain a viable fishery.”
Regulations introduced this season aim to reduce the number or percentage of salmon being harvested by anglers to allow more to spawn.
The changes in the Central South Island region sea-run salmon fisheries are:
The season length has been reduced to December 1 to March 31 (was October 1 to March 31).
The daily bag limit has been reduced to one (was two).
Night fishing for sea-run salmon prohibited (was unrestricted).
Winter season closed for sea-run salmon fishing (was available).
Mr Adams said that in addition to the new regulations, Central South Island Fish and Game was asking anglers to voluntarily limit their total season harvest of sea-run salmon to four or fewer.
Sea-run salmon fisheries within the Central South Island Fish and Game region include the Waitaki River, Opihi River, Orari River, Rangitata River and Ashburton River.
Mr Adams said the Opihi River and Lake Opuha were traditional favourite spots for opening day celebrations, with both having healthy numbers of brown trout. Lake Opuha also offered a good chance of catching a rainbow trout.
“We had a few good reports from the Opihi River during its winter season below State Highway 1, with good numbers of brown trout encountered and the river in good order, so we anticipate a successful opening day on the river and a good start to the season.”
For most lowland waterways and high country rivers and streams, the season runs though to the end of April 2020 for trout. However, there are some year-round options at the Mackenzie Basin canals and lakes.
Popular waterways and sports fish targeted in the Timaru/Mackenzie area in October are the Waitaki, Opihi, Temuka and Rangitata rivers as well as lakes Opuha, Tekapo and Benmore.
The Rangitata River has a reduced trout daily bag limit of two (was four).
Mr Adams reminded anglers that many waters were closed until the “high country opening”, the first Saturday in November, to allow rainbow trout to finish their spawning undisturbed.
Mr Adams said the season opening fell within the school holidays this year, so Fish and Game was encouraging experienced anglers to make the effort to take children fishing and pass on their skills.