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    [b:2xbooa3d]Here is the difference between a 15 and 35 pounder.[/b:2xbooa3d]

    [i:2xbooa3d]The late Keith Reinke was one of the best salmon anglers around and a Waitaki River stalwart. Here Keith has landed a hefty 35 pounder together with a 15 pound fish. In this picture you can really see the difference in size. A fish of over double the weight is not so much longer but is rather much broader and heavier in the body. Very few New Zealand anglers will ever catch a salmon weighing anything like 35 pounds. To catch such a fish you need considerable knowledge and skill combined with a certain element of luck![/i:2xbooa3d]

    Thanks for posting a link to that Fisheries Report about Munida gregari (red krill). There is certainly thought to be a link between the abundance, or scarcity, of krill in the sea off Canterbury and Otago, and the size and number of returning salmon to our South Island east coast rivers. I remember once fishing for big sharks off Otago Peninsula. The dark blue/black sea water was laced with enormous clouds of dark maroon coloured red krill stretching as far as the eye could see in every direction. The volume of which was just unimaginable. The krill were being preyed on by vast schools of barracouta and kahawai. The sky was full of seabirds. It was an incredible sight.

    In the worst salmon season on record in 2001 red cod catches off Canterbury and Otago also collapsed. Salmon returns at that time were poor in all the east coast rivers which shows the problem was at sea. Part of the allure of salmon fishing is anticipation of the season ahead. It takes patience, skill, and knowledge to catch salmon no matter how many are running our rivers in any given season. Any day you catch a salmon is a day worth celebrating.

    Ross Millichamp, of North Canterbury Fish & Game, regarded as one of our most knowledgeable salmon anglers, once said, “In Canterbury, each season, perhaps 100 anglers catch as many salmon as all the other salmon anglers put together.” In my experience I would say Ross is quite correct!

    I would like to point out to some of our readers, who may be unaware, there have been days in the mid 90s when over 100 salmon a day have been landed at the mouths of the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers. Sometimes this has occurred for days at a time. Most of the fish caught were well over 9kg (20lbs). Many of the salmon landed weighed around 16kg (35lbs) – some were even heavier.

    Here you can see the winning fish weights in the Waitaki Salmon Fishing Contest over the years: … eights.htm


    Participant Some info on Krill. Interesting that in the article on what salmon eat at sea that they say the really good body weights are achieved in an extended shoalling for krill season. I remember the krill were particularly abundant 2 years back. Be interesting to see if things bounce back next year.



    Where do the salmon go when they leave our rivers is a good question. Gavin James of NIWA talks about what they are eating while at sea in this article:

    It is reasonable to assume that they are going to follow the most readily accessible food supply. But they don’t like warm water which is a large part of the reason salmon have not become established in the North Island.

    According to New Zealand King Salmon chief executive Grant Rosewarne, warm sea temperatures at the company’s Waihinau Bay farm, in Pelorus Sound, had contributed to the deaths of a large number of salmon. Rosewarne would not say for commercial reasons how many salmon had died, or how many fish were at the farm, but said the mortality rate was a “multimillion-dollar problem to solve”. Water temperatures at the Waihinau Bay farm had stayed above 18 degrees Celsius for three months, Rosewarne said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had it quite as bad as this year.” King salmon cannot regulate their body temperature. They function best when water temperatures are between 12C and 17C.

    So I’m picking they won’t be headed very far north once they leave the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers. Some years sea water temperatures are warmer than others. Temperatures in the deep ocean are colder and more constant than surface temperatures. So salmon may go deeper when the surface water is too warm. However they also have to eat while at sea so will have to move to where the food supply is in the water column.

    Sea temperatures in Canterbury have been warmer in the last few years. A snapper was caught recently at Birdlings Flat, and yellowtail kingfish have been taken this summer in Otago Harbour. There have also been a lot more kahawai around the Canterbury coastline. These species are generally associated with warmer waters further north. :grin:



    In a not so good season you have to work hard for every fish!

    This salmon was caught at the mouth of Canterbury’s Waimakariri River on 7th March 2015. Although the fish are smaller this season they are actually harder to catch because there are fewer of them.
    There are good seasons; and not so good seasons
    The main run of salmon in the Waimakariri River is in mid to late March. However this 2014/2015 season has been a poor one. It is a poor season in two respects; the numbers of salmon returning are very low, and secondly the salmon are small and skinny. When the salmon are small and skinny the numbers are always well down too.

    Many anglers are unaware that the difference between the numbers of salmon returning in a good season to that of a poor season is quite large. In a good season there may be as many as twenty times as many fish entering the rivers for anglers to catch.

    The salmon are small because the numbers of sprats and krill, the species which salmon mainly feed on at sea, have been noticeably down this summer. This has also effected yellow-eyed penguins which have been starving.

    Early season fish weights are a good pointer to the prospects for the season ahead. If you look at the early season salmon weights for fish caught by Rakaia Hut Owners, in their competition.

    The heaviest fish caught weighed 7.97kg (17.5 pounds), caught on 18 December 2014. The average weight has been 5.54kg (12.2 pounds). Up to the beginning of March there had still been no fish weighed in heavier than 7.97kg.

    By way of comparison in the 1983/84 salmon angling season there were many big salmon landed. A 16kg (35 lbs) fish won both the Rakaia and Rangitata fishing competitions that year. There were reports of even bigger salmon weighing over 20kg being taken during the 1983/84 season. One salmon was weighed in at 18.4kg (40.9 lbs), 117cm, it was a tagged fish landed at Kowhai Flats in the Rakaia River. 1993/1994 was also a very good season. 1999/2000 was a shocker.

    In other words it is a poor season this time around. The salmon are small and there are far fewer of them. Many anglers I know who usually catch quite a few haven’t even caught one. It comes down to conditions at sea. Salmonids grow big quickly if they have a good supply of food and the water temperature is to their liking. You can see a good example of this by the huge size of the trout and salmon caught down at the Twizel Canals where they get plenty of free food. Conversely they grow slowly and are a lot smaller if they can’t find much to eat. A good example of this can be found in Lake Coleridge where the landlocked salmon are small and skinny because there isn’t much for them to eat.

    Next summer, or perhaps the one after that, the salmon will be bigger and there will be a lot more of them for anglers to catch. Still some anglers will catch fish – good season or not.



    I wasn’t at the Rangers Comp yesterday but apparently there were two salmon caught at the mouth :grin: about 30 minutes before the end. One was just over 4kg and the other just under. There was a lot of sea lettuce making it difficult to fish.



    There were 14 salmon weighed in at the Waimakariri River Salmon Fishing Contest today. :grin:



    I heard there was nothing taken at the mouth today. The surf is still rough with the odd surge coming up the river. One caught at the Banana Hole this morning. There were 6 taken at mouth yesterday at low tide :grin:



    Rakaia Hut Owners Comp 2014/2015 salmon weights.
    Rakaia Hut Owners Comp 2014/2015 salmon weights

    Salmon caught during the recent Rakaia River Salmon Fishing Contest. It weighed about 4kg. Again typical of the salmon this season
    Salmon caught during the recent Rakaia River Salmon Fishing Contest. It weighed about 4kg. Again typical of the salmon this season.
    Rakaia Hut Owners Competition 2014/2015

    The hut owners at South Rakaia hold a fishing competition which runs throughout the salmon fishing season from November through to April. Here are the fish weights. They make interesting reading. Note the heaviest fish caught weighed 7.97kg (17.5 pounds). The average weight (excluding the very small fish at the top of the list) was just 5.54kg (12.2 pounds). From memory the last time the salmon got down to these sort of weights was the 2000 season. The most likely reason for these low fish weights is poor feeding conditions at sea.

    This salmon caught at the mouth of the Waimakariri River, and entered in the Kairaki Beach Motor Camp Comp, weighed about 5kg. It is typical of the salmon taken this season. They have been difficult to catch too.
    This salmon caught at the mouth of the Waimakariri River, and entered in the Kairaki Beach Motor Camp Comp, weighed about 5kg. It is typical of the salmon taken this season. They have been difficult to catch too.



    they do stop feeding, the feeding continues in the tidal zone, and once in fresh the stomach begins to close.

    the reflex to feed and strike a bait, lure is still there however.



    Outstanding. Great documentary. Food for thought. I have little doubt the disease and viruses are the cause of our salmon run decline. I have caught several sick fish in the past few years. Skinny with mal formed tails. Intensification of food production with live animals is fraught with challenges, and money talks.



    Lol S.S I was referring to Aretheyrunning yet…. Still can’t see yours.



    they don’t take the pilchards because of hunger, its the same as fishing with a zeddie… annoyance when the pilchard gets in the way on its way past.



    Did anyone pick up a black co2 life jacket today from the north side of Hurunui. Left on a log.
    Went back to pick up but was already gone. Cheers.



    26 salmon Friday.



    Bloody good Canterbury King That. Cheers for the pic.

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  1. The Tasmanian Devil is a very good still water lure for use on lakes. Try casting out and then waiting for 20 or 30 seconds for the lure to sink before starting a slow retrieve. At 13.5g Tasmanian Devils can be cast a long way out to where the fish could be schooling. They work very well in the Stilling Basin at the western end of the Tekapo Canal.

  2. John Barnes says:

    Great info on sea-run trout.

  3. John Barnes says:

    Cool article about salmon fishing.

  4. sea-angler77 says:

    Thanks for that info

  5. Great update Burkefish. Thanks for that. The salmon do seem to be waiting that extra bit longer before running the river. The end of March and beginning of April was certainly the best time to fish McIntosh’s last season!

  6. burkefish says:

    an update on the waimak. the first week of April 2016 saw 40 salmon taken at mcintoshs which gave a total for the season there of about 300. silverstream hatchery had 114 fish return from which 200,000 eggs were harvested,some of these fish would have been over 20lb when entering the rive. the other interesting thing is that not all the returning fish were finclipped. salmon also spawned below the hatchery some of those were also finclipped. while the numberes weren’t great there was a reasonable spawning up the top of the waimak but it was later than usual being at the end of May. seems in the last few years the salmon are not running as early as they use to probably one of the factors is that the river flow is getting lower each year which is a big problem especially when more water is being taken than should be by consent holders. this is being monitored by salmon anglers and edcan have admitted mistakes. low water flows also seems to be contributing to smaller size fish, there is some evidence that this happens.

  7. Sadly, it was bulldozed. What a waste I reckon!

  8. Several subscribers have contacted me asking, “do Fish & Game check licences at McIntosh’s.” I’m told they have been checking them there almost every day this season. I did see them myself checking licences several times this month at McIntosh’s. I’m not sure they go down the bait anglers end though.
    I gave a talk some years ago at the Canterbury Anglers Club to about 70 members. I asked for a show of hands to the question; “how many of you fish over winter?” Only about three people put their hands up!

  9. Hi Paul,
    Our Fishingmag forum membership login is the same login you used to become a member of the site.
    The forum had well over a 1,000 members and for over a decade was very active. In the past year most prefer to post on facebook instead – a trend worldwide. However site membership is growing steadily and many view the forums without posting. If you do post questions on our Fishingmag forum I’m sure we’ll be able to help you. Best wishes Allan Burgess

  10. Hey Alan

    I have just come across your website and would like to know how to join the forums. I have only recently started to Flyfish and have planned a trip to New Zealand next Oct 2016. I live Ln Perth Western Australia.



  11. Thanks for that. Bottled kahawai is actually very good. The bottling process seems to improve the taste quite a lot.

  12. Awhina Allen says:

    Thanks for the info, a friend gave me a bottle of preserved kahawai and I have always wanted to preserve kahawai for the whanau.

  13. sara paisley says:

    Hi im looking forward to this years open day comp at Coleridge .Its my first fishing there and my first fishing comp and it is my birthday on the 7th and couldn’t think of a better thing to do on my birthday.and where are you aloud to camp ?

  14. Larry Brown says:

    I so enjoyed your Lake Coleridge article,it brought back memories of my Feb.1970 visit with Ted and Grace porter(just before his death)Ted was about to finish his book”under the nor’west arch”,we discussed his and my trip to Antarctica and many stories of his adventures.The lake was pretty remote in those days,but worth the trip.I now live in Panama City,Florida and enjoy surf fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.Thank you for reminding me of those times.

  15. Hi Jim, The Complete Angler tackle store in Christchurch will have cicada patterns for sure. This is a “must have” in any trout angler’s fly-box so any good tackle store should stock cicada patterns.

  16. Jim Othrow says:

    Where can I buy the cicada shown above?

  17. Johnny T says:

    I agree, 15-20 minutes bait change. Also, i believe if you cast out and retrieve your line and find your bait still on the hook, regardless if its been out for 5 minutes or 15 minutes, chuck it and re bait your hooks to fresh bait.

  18. Graham Bell says:

    Just to say it worked a treat all four sections are fitting nice and snug now thanks for the tip

  19. Candle wax not only helps to keep the sections together; it also makes it easier to twist the sections apart. Multi section 3 and 4 piece rods are more prone to coming apart during casting. Good luck with that.

  20. Graham Bell says:

    Thanks for that I had a tight joint and decided to sand it down a little and like most heavy handed blokes did it a little too much so it can be loose unless I push it together like there is no tomorrow. I will try this tip here hoping at my Blackrock Helboy 4 piece spinning rod is great for just walking along the back casting here and there for trout, chubb or perch

  21. Many people have been complaining to the city council about the mess and rubbish anglers leave behind and the difficulty they have in walking past all the fishing rods and crab pot lines. I just hope this doesn’t eventually lead to fishing being banned on the pier.
    Salmon anglers often fish at river-mouths in close proximity with one another. At times almost touching shoulders. There is a certain unspoken etiquette which involves mutual respect for one another. Disputes are very rare. Sadly, some who fish from the New Brighton Pier seem to have never heard of this!

  22. I agree that 15 minutes sounds about right. On occasion I have fished several rods and been spin fishing with a third. Generally I’ll have a cast and wait about five minutes the first time, before winding in to check the bait is still there, and that the sinker isn’t being buried – as can happen on a shingle beach. If the bait is untouched I’ll cast it back out then proceed to setting out a second rod. Squid is a surprisingly good bait. I note that the guys fishing the Ninety Mile Beach in the far north skin it first.

  23. When Surf-casting what approx length of time should one keep line out ….I personally prefer 15 min spells as mentioned in your article, and rebaite my squid as mentioned every 15 min.

  24. Hi Roger, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  25. Roger Jones says:

    great reading

  26. Hi Bob, I think you have nailed it. That is exactly how I cast and retrieve Tasmanian Devils. It pays to watch the lure coming in as fish will sometimes follow it all the way to your feet, at times striking at the last moment. Tasmanian Devils have sufficient weight in a compact package to cast very well. I have had great success with them on winter rainbows by motoring up wind into the lake shallows, switching off the motor, and casting over the weed, as the boat drifts downwind. On the Otago Lakes like Benmore, Ohau, and so on, a rainbow will often take the Tassie on the first or second cast with this method. They are also very popular for lake trolling, especially in Lake Taupo and the other Central North Island Lakes, and in Lake Wanaka, Dunstan, and the others in the south.

  27. bob says:

    hi was wondering how are the 13.5 devils used? cast, wait, retrieve, twitch the rod and continue retrieving? or is there a different more productive way?

  28. Hi Shane, I can’t agree with you more about this. I used to go fishing on the old breakwater down past the container area. We would catch a lot of fish off there back-in-the-day! That was blocked-off years ago. It is a shame that the whole port has been closed off to fishing and has been for a few years now.

  29. Hi i am not to happy about not been able to fish over at lyttelton i use to go over all the time to catch sprat and at the same time set up a rig to do my salmon float fishing there are a lot of salmon over there and now i cant get to them i have court them up to 25kg most about 15kg mark just as well i can at lest still catch them on the sumner Break water i have been catching them for a few years now not a lot of people now of them as most of the time i catch them at night a well lit fishing warf just for fishing night our day over at lyttelton would be wonderful as the solmon come round well lit places as t do the sprat eney way just thourt i would share this

    S A Stringer

  30. Most anglers will be fishing a couple of metres of flurocarbon as a leader at the end of their braided line. The flurocarbon sinks well and is very hard for fish to see. As to the weight of the flurocarbon it depends on the area you are fishing and the likelihood of snags and sharp rocks. Many will fish for trout with a leader of say 8lb flurocarbon tied to the end of their braid with a surgeon’s knot. They will then tie a softbait to the end with a uni-knot. This works fine most of the time. Next comes tying a dropper and adding a nymph further up the line above the softbait. The softbait at the bottom supplies the casting weight. Tying a dropper with a blood knot, or double surgeon’s knot, in the leader will weaken it for certain no matter how good a job you do tying the dropper in the leader.

    Any weakness becomes critical when you hook a much bigger fish than expected. A fifteen pound trout or salmon in the canals for example will really test this light-weight leader and dropper setup. The fish could be on the line for an hour before coming to the bank. You have to really nurse the fish and not be tempted to tighten the drag resulting in loosing it for sure. Some very good anglers are successful tying the nymph to the main line and then tying the softbait to the hook bend. In both cases using a uni-knot. One answer is to fish with heavier flurocarbon 15 or 17lb test. This make the rig stronger. However I have witnessed plenty big fish lost in the canals on this heavier flurocarbon. You still have to take your time and not try to force the issue. The argument is heavier line might result in fewer takes versus having a rig strong enough to land most fish you might encounter. Personally I mostly use monofilament leaders and they work fine for me.

    Sorry not selling nymphs at the moment. They are very easy to tie yourself for about 30 cents each.

  31. Dave hampton says:

    Hi Allan, love your website am new to fishing have done some soft baiting at the canals with not much success. Like your idea of trailing a softbait minnow off a nymph hook.Will the fish still hook up on the nymph or be put off by the monofilament. What sort of knot would you tie and is that off the actual hook itself.. Sorry for all the questions. Ps do you sell these nymphs they look great!

  32. Good spotting. Have changed that now. I don’t know if you can get mentholated spirits – funny!

  33. Dude says:

    Mentholated spirits. LOL

  34. Hi Michael, You are very welcome. Regards Allan Burgess

  35. Thank you for the download

  36. Well Capt Justin, You are quite correct the Shimano TR200G isn’t a level drag, or at least my one isn’t. That was obviously a mistake which I have now corrected. Thank you for pointing that out! I have gotten it a bit mixed up with the similar looking Shimano Charter Special TR2000 .Cheers Allan Burgess

  37. capt Justin says:

    How is this reel a lever drag? Am I missing something?

  38. Years ago I remember campers down at the Rangitata River mouth boiling up jars of salmon next to their caravans to take back home. Great if you are away for weeks because you don’t have to worry about refrigeration.

  39. bearclaw says:

    Great article, thanks Allen, hopefully I will use it by December this year, might test it out on kahawai

  40. Great to hear from you Clive. Seventy years is a long time! Three fish last year is still pretty good going. More pictures would be great. Best wishes Allan Burgess

  41. Clive Morriss says:

    Hi Allan, 50 years of salmon fishing. Wow!! A good article. I’m still alive and up to 70 years of chasing salmon. Not so many fish in the Rakaia and I’m not spending too much time chasing them. Only caught three last year. Can send some more photos if you want them. Clive Morriss.