Fishing contest where size is a snag

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 17/05/2014

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A fishing contest in the Mackenzie hydrocanals has been cancelled because the size of the prizes could be detrimental to the fishery.

Jake's Hardware co-owner Jake Preston-Marshall wanted to host a three-day salmon and trout fishing competition over Queen's Birthday Weekend with nearly $3000 in cash and gear prizes for the biggest catch, but the competition was cancelled because Central South Island Fish and Game was "uncomfortable" with it.

It felt the biggest catch prize would encourage smaller dead fish to be discarded, and instead suggested hosting a "mystery weight" competition.

Preston-Marshall said the event organisers were happy to hold a mystery weight competition in conjunction, but felt without the "biggest fish" component, it became a lottery.

"The Waimakariri salmon fishing competition offers $4000 prizes for the heaviest salmon. It's a bit inconsistent for Fish and Game to approve that competition and not ours," Preston-Marshall said.

"We were happy to work with Fish and Game, and appreciate we need to manage the fish resource, and prevent rogue anglers.

"But the canal is a great fishing resource for beginners and casual anglers. It's noted for its big fish."

CSI Fish and Game chief executive Jay Graybill said the organisation was "uncomfortable" with the idea of offering prizes for the biggest fish.

"With the size of the cash prizes, there was a real risk people would discard a smaller fish for a bigger one. The ethics became a real issue for us," he said.

Graybill said the Waimakariri catchment was managed by North Canterbury Fish and Game.

"It's about the sustainability of the fishery. There may be a view that the fish in the canals are farmed fish and ‘not real', but once they're released from the pens, they come under our management.

"Fish are easier to catch in the canals than in natural rivers."

Fish and Game's Central South Island region extends from the south bank of the Rakaia River to Moeraki.

Anglers are allowed to catch up to two regulation-sized salmon or trout per day in the region during the fishing season.

Preston-Marshall said the organisers planned to donate all competition proceeds to Fish and Game for the improvement of fishing in the Twizel area.

"So it's a shame we couldn't go ahead with the competition in the original form."

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- The Timaru Herald

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