Reply To: Salmon Season 2018 – 2019

Allan Burgess

Prospects for the 2018 – 2019 Season (date 5 January 2019)

By any measure, things are not looking good on the salmon front so far this season. There is just the odd salmon being caught here and there. It is now 5 January 2019 and as far as I am aware there have only been about half a dozen salmon caught in Canterbury all season.

In the North Canterbury Fish and Game E-mail Newsletter dated 3 January Dirk Barr says salmon have been caught in most rivers over the past week, and there are some pretty nice fish amongst them too. The biggest seems to be weighing in around 18 pounds. Dirk being a Fish & Game ranger is in a good position to know this.

We’ve had a lot of rain in the headwaters of the major Canterbury rivers since November which has kept the rivers high and discoloured making it difficult to gauge how many salmon may be in the river systems. We have not seen the fish caught prior to Christmas we did the previous year. The salmon that have been caught have been taken upriver.

In past years, even when there were large numbers of big salmon still returning to Canterbury rivers, constant freshes would make it difficult to get a good shot at them. So there is nothing unusual happening in that regard.

According to NZ King Salmon chief executive Grant Rosewarne in 2015. “King salmon cannot regulate their body temperature. They function best when water temperatures are between 12C and 17C.” king salmon is another name for the Chinook or Quinnat salmon that we have here in Canterbury. Surface seawater temperatures along the Canterbury coast are already at or exceeding the top of this range. This causes salmon to become stressed.

Predicting salmon runs is notoriously difficult. Salmon don’t generally travel upriver in ones and twos. Instead, you tend to get a run of fish. The problem is you don’t know when that run of fish might take place. At present, the shape of the Rakaia River mouth is such that there is very little holding water and a small run of salmon could easily pass through unnoticed. You would expect a few fish to be caught in the surf there but that doesn’t appear to be happening.

A couple of years back things were looking very grim for the season. It wasn’t until late March and the first week of April that many of the Waimakariri River stalwarts began to catch salmon.

My advice for all those hoping to catch a salmon this season is to keep an eye on river conditions and get out and cast when you get the chance. There will be salmon caught and you just have to be in the right place at the right time.