Prospects for the 2016-2017 Salmon Fishing Season

Brad Stuart with an early season salmon.
Brad Stuart with an early season salmon.

Brad Stuart with an Early Salmon for 2016/2017 Season

Brad Stuart with an Early Salmon December Salmon. Prospects for the 2016-2017 Salmon Fishing Season
Brad Stuart with a fairly rare early salmon caught in December.

It has been a difficult salmon season in Canterbury so far. The main rivers just begin to clear and then another flood comes down. Some years we get quite a few nor-westers where it rains in the Southern Alps and a lot of salmon fishing time can be lost. The Waimakariri River can sometimes clear in just a few days so you have to be ready to hit the water straight away between each fresh. So what are the prospects for the 2016-2017 salmon fishing season?

Rangitata River Salmon

The Rangitata River has feared the worst with dirty water and southerlies coming through so often that there have been only a small handful of fishable days in the past six weeks prior to Christmas.

The Rangitata River salmon fishery appears to be in trouble. Last season there were only 71 salmon taken on the south side of the mouth all season. Just 112 fish returned to the hatchery, and only 171 fish were counted spawning in the headwaters. So the prospects don’t seem that great for the Rangitata River this season. To put these figures into perspective in years gone by it wasn’t unusual for there to be 50 to 80 salmon taken at the mouth each day for weeks on end. Also in the past, it wasn’t unusual for there to be two distinct salmon runs into the Rangitata River. The first prior to about the 18th of December, followed by a second later run beginning in early February. As far as I have been able to determine this season there have been no salmon at all taken prior to Christmas 2016. I have had numerous reports about adverse effects on the salmon fishery in this river caused by the Rangitata Irrigation Scheme.

Waimakariri River

The Waimakariri River has produced at least a couple of salmon prior to Christmas at McIntosh’s Rocks. They were quite small fish of 10 and 12 pounds. As of Christmas, there has been just one salmon entered in The Complete Angler tackle store’s salmon fishing contest. It was a small fish weighing about 6lb caught in the Kaiapoi River.

Last season the main Waimakariri River salmon run was quite late nearer the end of March and into early April. The sea temperatures this year are again warmer than in the past. On a brighter note, there have been heaps of kahawai at the Waimakariri River mouth. These fish provide great sport on light gear. One evening just recently I hooked and mostly released 14 kahawai on light tackle on the south side of the mouth which was a hell of a lot of fun! Kahawai don’t like dirty water so you need to watch the river flows to avoid the floods and pick your days for good kahawai action.

Prospects for the 2016-2017 Salmon Fishing Season

It is still a bit too early to tell quite how the salmon fishing season will pan out. Perhaps when the rivers clear we’ll get a better idea. However, as the old saying goes you won’t catch a salmon if your zed spinners are in the garage!

Below is a link to the Salmon Management Report by Steve Terry, Fish & Game Officer, North Canterbury Fish & Game Council. Released in August 2016. It is well researched and makes very interesting reading if you are a keen North Canterbury salmon angler.

2016 Salmon Report Final

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