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Good catch . . . Timaru's Donald Little had success with this brown trout at the confluence of the North Opuha River and the lake on opening weekend. PHOTO: RICHARD COSGROVE

by Claire Allison

A positive start to the fishing season in the central South Island region has seen some good catches and no compliance issues.

Fish and game officer Rhys Adams said anglers seemed to have adjusted to tighter rules around the sea-run salmon fishery, as Fish and Game attempted to ensure enough wild salmon were making a successful run up the rivers and are spawning to maintain a viable fishery.

Changes included a shorter season, a reduction in the daily bag limit to one salmon, a ban on night fishing and the winter season being closed.

“Anglers know the state of the fishery, a lot have had seasons where they have not caught a salmon at all, so if they catch one, they’d be quite happy.”

Mr Adams said the Opihi River had been fishing well, as had Lake Opuha, with about 50 anglers trying their luck on opening day.

Trout and salmon anglers now have a brand-new online resource to help them gain access to the Waitaki River for fishing.

A review of angler access on the Waitaki River by Central South Island Fish & Game (CSIFG) has resulted in the listing of 35 accessways in an online pamphlet.

The pamphlet is available free from the CSIFG website and can be downloaded to a smartphone or computer.

The pamphlet is designed to help both local and visiting anglers to access the Waitaki River and enjoy its excellent trout fishery.

Mr Adams said the Waitaki can offer some truly phenomenal trout fishing, but was one of the hardest rivers in New Zealand to access.

“The Waitaki is a challenge to access and fish due to its huge everchanging volumes of swift water and the vegetation of willow, gorse, and blackberry that smothers the banks.

“Anglers who know how to access and fish the Waitaki River catch plenty of trout. Our goal with this pamphlet is to provide a large range of access options to anglers, both reliable and ‘adventurous’.”

The pamphlet provides helpful tips about managing fishing trips around flow levels, as knowing the flow level that was suitable for each access point was the key to being successful at the Waitaki.

Over the coming months CSIFG will be investigating options to collaborate with Environment Canterbury and farmers to re-establish and maintain historic accessways and put in place measures to maintain their ongoing accessibility.

Anglers on the Waitaki are still being asked to report any capture of tagged trout in the Waitaki River, Hakataramea and Maerewhenua rivers directly to Fish & Game this season.

Last year, hundreds of brown and rainbow trout in the lower Waitaki River fishery were tagged with yellow, numbered tags near the dorsal fin, and Mr Adams said there would still be plenty tagged trout in the catchment.

Information captured so far showed that the Hakataramea spawning run was important to maintain the whole lower Waitaki fishery.

Anglers who catch a tagged trout, please report: Tag number, catch date and location, and if it was kept or released.

Please report to: Central South Island Fish & Game. Ph 03 615 8400, Email: csi@fishandgame.org.nz