Giant fish and lots of them, so the story goes

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:29 23/03/2013

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It's been a season of whoppers and good hauls for anglers at the Upper Waitaki hydro canals over the last few months.

Earlier this week, New Zealand's largest trout was fished out of the Ohau canals, a 20.5kg effort.

Meanwhile, anecdotal reports suggest a large upturn in fishing licence sales this season - although the final tally would not be known until next month.

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon chief executive Geoff Matthews said several hundred anglers were benefiting from the creation of the hatchery in the Ohau canals about 18 months ago. "We released about 36,000 salmon into the Ohau canals about 18 months ago, it's part of our sustainability story," he said.

"We're a secondary user of the water, but we also want to give something back to the community, and the more people who come to fish at the canals, the more tourists come to the region. It's a win-win for everyone."

Mr Matthews said it was unlikely that feed levels were responsible for the massive trout fished out of the canals. "Once they get to that size, they would've been eating a lot of smaller fish. They're cannibals, basically."

Fish and Game New Zealand's resource management co-ordinator Neal Deans said Meridian keeping its part of the system at high flows should not have too much of an effect on fish numbers.

"What you're probably seeing is the effect of the commercial fisheries," he said. "I don't think we need to be worried about there being too many big ones, there might be a few more, but we shouldn't worry about children being at risk from being gobbled up by these things."

This is not the first time the hydro canals have reported big hauls - back in 2005 there was a report of a Timaru man catching a 16.72kg trout, while in 2003, the Herald reported a spate of "monster trout" being caught, ranging from 13kg to 17kg. Another fisherman managed to haul a 39-pounder (nearly 18kg) from the canals last year.

Timaru fishing columnist Peter Shutt expected there to be bigger ones yet in the future.

"They just keep on feeding and feeding. With the salmon farms expanding, they're going to get bigger still."

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- The Timaru Herald

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