Landlocked Quinnat salmon fisheries were sustained by artificial stocking
Landlocked Quinnat Salmon are no longer released into South Island lakes by Fish & Game.
According to Fish and Game’s Richard Cosgrove, “there hasn’t been any salmon releases into Coleridge since 2019. While Fish & Game has done enhancement releases in the past, there has long been evidence of wild salmon spawning in the tributaries of Lake Coleridge.
As you pointed out the late Bob McDowall highlighted in several places that despite fears that land-locked Quinnat in Lake Coleridge might die out after a few generations if stocking stopped, they have in fact established many self-sustaining populations around the South Island, including Lake Coleridge.
There was some great work done on the variations in the Lake Coleridge fishery both by acclimatisation societies running fish traps and spawning surveys, and more recently in the 90’s when Trustpower was going for reconsenting of the power station” (Updated July 2021).
Here are a couple of links to articles that were published when the hatcheries were closed last year (in 2020).
Landlocked salmon are the same species of Quinnat salmon that return as sea-run fish to our South Island east and west coast rivers over summer and autumn to spawn.
Landlocked salmon are no longer released (stocked) into the lakes by Fish & Game. They do spawn successfully and these lake fisheries have proven to be self-sustaining. In the past, this was thought not to be the case with hatchery releases taking place over many years.
Landlocked salmon tend to swim in schools. The food supply for them in Lake Coleridge isn’t very plentiful so they don’t grow that big. Most reach only a kilo or two at most. Though anglers occasionally catch a larger one. The shoaling behaviour often leads to multiple hook-ups. There may be nothing happening for the shore anglers fishing the “picket-fence” then suddenly fish are hooked by several anglers at once!
Salmon trapped in lakes are voracious feeders and will tend to hit almost any lure that comes near them. For this reason, the catch in Lake Coleridge, for example, is dominated by landlocked salmon, followed by lesser numbers of rainbow trout, and browns making up a distant third place.
Landlocked salmon will also readily take fluorescent lures at night that have been powered up to glow with a touch. They are good fighters and make good eating – though possibly not quite as good freshly caught sea-run salmon which must surely rank as one of the best-eating fish in the sea!
Steelhead in New Zealand – To Sea or Not to Sea? Often the Question By Malcolm Flain. Looking at Chinook salmon, Sockeye salmon, Steelhead rainbow trout, Brook char, Brown trout and Atlantic salmon. Whether there are or ever were sea-run populations of these salmonids in New Zealand.
Land-locked salmon are bright silver in colour with a blue tinge on their backs. This is a typical colouration of schooling land-locked salmon. They will readily take trolled or cast lures. It is not unusual for several anglers to hook up in quick secession when a salmon school is encountered. It is important to keep casting when fishing from shore so that your lure will be in the water when a school happens along!
Rainbow Trout or Landlocked Salmon
They can look very similar when caught in lakes.
There are also landlocked salmon in Lake Coleridge, Heron, Sumner, Wakatipu, Wanaka, and Hawea.
See photographs of salmon smolt being released at the Montrose Fish & Game hatchery, Upper Rakaia River.