Sanford donates 60,000 smolt to Lake Tekapo to boost salmon population
A smolt donation from commercial salmon farm has boosted Lake Tekapo's salmon population by 60,000.
Sanford's gift equals donations from other commercial salmon farms in previous years.
Central South Island Fish & Game officer Rhys Adams said historically a self-sustaining salmon population was not known to exist in the lake.
"So the capture of these silver bullets can be put down to the 'put n take' fishery created by multiple releases of juvenile salmon by Fish & Game."
A total of five releases of 200,000 fish had occurred since 2010.
The 60,000 smolt were "gifted" to licence holders and released near the Tekapo township, he said.
"This year Sanford Ltd generously gave us 60,000 smolt from its salmon farm on the banks of the Waitaki River, and it equaled the highest number previously gifted from commercial salmon farms.
"We were also helped out by Roger of Ladybird Hill Salmon Farm who offered Fish & Game the use of his fish transporter which has a bigger capacity than our trailer tanks."
The smolt were "only the size of a thumb" and not ready for consumption. "They are not big enough for anglers to catch and eat yet. They should be takeable by summer 2017."
The fish released in previous years, though, are ready to be caught.
"This season I have heard three separate reports of salmon being caught in the lake. The fish are reportedly around the two pound (0.9 kilogram) mark but some were said to be the length of a fish bin."
Licence holders should try their luck fishing for salmon in Lake Tekapo, he said.
"If there are no fish getting caught, there really is no point in continuing the release.
"If a Lake Tekapo salmon is caught, please let Fish & Game know. The continuation of the stocking programme is dependent on the fish being caught by licence holders."