Big boost for salmon hatchery project

SPECIALISED TRAP: The new salmon trap at Waitaki is a significant improvement.
SPECIALISED TRAP: The new salmon trap at Waitaki is a significant improvement.

The June newsletter of the Waitaki Riparian Enhancement Society Inc, indicates this group has had a very busy period thanks to strong support from within the wider community, and secretary/treasurer Linn Koevoet says it's been grants from these organisations that have enabled the Waitaki Riparian Enhancement Society to go forward.

The recent good turnout for their AGM is also a strong indication of community support for the Waitaki salmon hatchery project.

"Our specialised salmon trap is now a reality," he says. "Thanks to Selwyn Mercer, Murray Hanson and Murray Dench welding the salmon trap together the trap was constructed in time for this year's trapping operation."

Between them some 60 hours of labour went into the project and Linn says this new facility has made a huge difference - no leaf debris and no cold frozen fingers.

"We are indebted to those that helped in the manning of the trap at the caravan for 24 hours. Some did multiple days and without that effort we would not have been able to complete our trapping programme," Linn said.

He expressed some concern regarding the limited number of volunteers available to man the trap and hoped further volunteers could be recruited before next season.

"We were onsite for 42 days but had the trap in the water for 21 days," he says.

"The catch was more varied than many might expect, being 30 salmon in all (12 females), 57 trout, and 32 dead salmon that drifted downstream after their natural spawning. But we won't count the seven mice or the five ducks . . . our interest was only in salmon."

Twenty-one days' active trapping indicates the trap had to be removed to let a series of floodwaters pass, and this resulted in the collection of fewer brood- stock and achieved only half the amount of eggs the hatchery sought.

"However, these are currently under incubation. In the hatchery we have approximately 17,000 viable eggs/fry with three trays of unknown numbers of fry," says Linn. "The lack of eggs, combined with the good fertility rate of those eggs that we did get has meant egg cleaning has not been required this year."

As expected, some of the 2012 years release returned as adults to the river. "We released 2000 tagged fish from bells pond in 2012 and five have been weighed in this season.

"One was caught below Duntroon, one at the stone wall, one just below Bells Pond, and one about 1km above SH1 bridge.

"Using an established Fish and Game formulae, it's likely about 21 salmon returned to spawn and supplement the Waitaki River fishery."

Further fisheries supplementation will occur when five or six Society members and volunteers assist a Fish and Game Staff member to electric fish a 400m drain that is to be filled in on Tuesday. The volunteers will collect stunned fish and transport them to another area.

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The annual general meeting and presentation of trophies of the South Canterbury Anglers Club will take place at 7:30 pm on July 15, at the Caroline Bay Community Centre.

This is a public meeting open to new and intending anglers, and club members.

It has been indicated that after discussions at last year's AGM the club now expects to announce the location of a regular club headquarters that will enable members to enjoy club nights, swap meets, a fishing library (books and CD's), and in the words of president Alan Davidson, "have the space to involve members (and intending members) more and get into casting tuition, fly tying, guest speakers, etc".

The Timaru Herald