Opihi provides good catches

PETER SHUTT
Last updated 08:12 13/01/2014
salmon fry
SUPPLIED/ Phil de Joux

SECURING THE FUTURE: The recent salmon fry release into Three Springs (near Fairlie) replicated a longstanding effort to augment the Opihi River salmon runs of the 50s and with today's reliable river flow these fry should return in three years' time.

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Some excellent catches from the Opihi River this past week have provided angler highlights for both trout and salmon anglers - including one trout angler who landed a well conditioned salmon on eight pound line.

But no two days have been alike. Last weekend the Opihi saw just a small angler interest at the river mouth for little reward but early this past week about 12 salmon were caught on one day.

That increased angler interest with 30 to 40 anglers in attendance most days since.

Alas, the salmon catches have been inconsistent but many are the kahawai that have set angler hearts fluttering.

During some seasons we see very few kahawai so it is good to see this resource return. Are they a table fish? They can be, but few anglers take advantage of it. Those who do are aware of the necessity to immediately bleed the fish.

Many anglers consider it a pest that simply interrupts their salmon fishing pleasure.

A skilled angler landed 10 kahawai one day this week.

The options are to immediately release the kahawai unharmed and hope for a salmon with the next cast or to vacate the river mouth and seek the solitude of an upstream salmon hole.

My inspection of the Opihi flow this week would suggest that some salmon got past river mouth anglers midweek and upstream fishing is now a distinct possibility.

My inspection of the Orari and Rangitata rivers last weekend was not encouraging but the heavily discoloured Rangitata River is dropping and providing there is no more alpine rainfall it should become fishable in a few days.

The Orari River has a perfect flow and is worthy of inspection, and I'm told it is producing an occasional salmon.

Inland waters are seeing a lot of angler interest in the hydro canals. Central South Island Fish & Game officer Hamish Stevens tells me he saw some good size salmon caught in the canals near Twizel, with some in the three to five kilogram range.

He did, however, express concerns about the way the fishery is being treated by some anglers.

"Treat the fish well and they will treat you well," he says.

"If you don't plan to take your catch home, immediately release it unharmed back into the water from which it came.

"If you release the fish without removing it from the water it has a much better chance of survival."

Sportspeople know the importance of angler ethics. "Hundreds of fishing licences have been checked by Fish and Game officers in the holiday period to date and just one offence notice has been issued," says Stevens.

"That is an exceptionally good effort by anglers and a credit to all those who have observed angling ethics and appreciated the fisheries."

Alas, that attitude has not been as visible along the canal fisheries with fish being left to die on dry land or badly bruised on rocks before being roughly handled and thrown back. It's an attitude that will likely see a strong increase in ranging duties.

Recent events at boat ramps would suggest that boating ethics are also of concern. Relax, it's holiday time and momentary holdups at the ramp are to be expected. Losing your cool doesn't make for a pleasant day on the water.

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Early in December Environment Canterbury announced it will implement new rules to improve the quality of water throughout Canterbury.

Having accepted the hearing commissioners' recommendations, the council's decisions will be notified on January 18. The plan will then become operative later in the year, subject to any appeals on questions of law.

The Land & Water Regional Plan sets the framework to implement community aspirations for water through the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, a community led, collaborative approach to improving water outcomes throughout the region.

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Environment Canterbury reports that rain in the Upper Waitaki Catchment over the Christmas/ New Year period has saturated this area and resulted in high inflows into the Waitaki Lakes. Significant spill flows have been occurring from Lakes Benmore, Aviemore and Pukaki for several days.

By Tuesday of this week a modest amount of more rain has fallen in these catchments, and Ecan says this rain is not expected to result in increased spill flows but will delay the recession of spill flow and lake levels.

Spill amounts in the upper Waitaki Catchment are expected to begin to recede this weekend. Out of river flood problems are not expected in the rivers of the upper Waitaki Catchment. However, fisherman and other recreationalists using the rivers and campers close to river and lake margins need to remain wary that river levels and flow patterns may still change, the report continues.

Lake Tekapo remains well below maximum control level though the lake will begin to rise slowly in the coming days due to the run-on effects of Genesis Energy's planned canal outage which has now commenced. Spilling into the Tekapo River is not anticipated in the near future.

The lower Waitaki River flow was 700 cumecs as at 4pm Tuesday, and Ecan says the flow will stay at approximately this level, with some minor fluctuations, for another day or two before receding towards the weekend, and no further spill-flow alert will be issued unless the situation changes significantly.

SNAP TO WIN

Don't forget your camera when you go fishing. It could win you a copy of Graeme Marshall's new book Why Trout Usually Win. Tell me why you enjoy fishing and send your entry to peter.shutt@mediamate.co.nz or post to 88 Pages Road, Timaru 7910.

- The Timaru Herald

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