Bumper start to salmon run

Salmon are returning to the Rangitata River in record numbers this year.

Thirty fish were caught on the south side of the river mouth on Wednesday, numbers not seen in more than 10 years, Fish & Game says.

It has been a bumper start to the season with 81 fish caught in the first six days of this month. In November 80 salmon were caught on the south side of the rivermouth, the most since 1999 and with a top weight of 24.5lb (11 kilograms) landed.

Central South Island Fish & Game officer Mark Webb says he cannot recall when more than 20 fish were landed in one day.

"If this had been 20 years ago it would have been normal; we've had 12 years of dismal salmon runs."

He said it was a good sign. "No one can predict salmon runs and anyone who tries to is a fool.

"It would be great if this season continued and heralded a new dawn to get back to where we were before 2000."

He said the Rangitata was within a good flow of 100-110 cumecs, meaning a good clarity for angling, with the water only slightly discoloured.

The McKinnon's Creek Salmon Enhancement Trust has had a big increase in the number of fish raised and released from the hatchery. About 300,000 salmon are raised each year at the hatchery on the banks of the Rangitata River.

Trust chairman Phil de Joux said good salmon numbers reflected the work of Fish & Game and landowners along the banks of the Rangitata.

Locals had been fencing off streams, planting trees and enhancing the area.

The Timaru Herald