Salmon Season 2021-2022 Final Washup

Charles Smith says that not all the salmon were big this season.
Charles Smith says that not all the salmon were big this season.

Salmon Season 2021-2022 Final Washup

There was a big improvement in fish numbers in the Rakaia River but overall returns were patchy!

By Allan Burgess

Salmon anglers fishing the Rakaia River witnessed a marked improvement in fish numbers overall compared with recent years. I have been told by a number of old hands that it was the best season in a decade. How you got on in the recent salmon season 2021-2022 final washup depends on your perspective.

Images from the 2021-2022 Canterbury Salmon Fishing Season

This was especially the case early on in the Rakaia River. It was also the first season of the new ground-breaking change to freshwater fishing regulations with the introduction of a two-fish season bag limit for sea-run salmon in Canterbury, in place of a daily catch limit. Although a novelty in New Zealand, season bag limits have long been a tried and tested freshwater fishery management tool used by the Fish and Wildlife Service in the United States.

This change meant that salmon anglers had to not only purchase a fishing licence as usual but also carry a catch card on which their fish had to be recorded as soon as they were caught.

As soon as you reached your two salmon limit you had to stop fishing for the remainder of the season. Despite a few teething problems, early-season the catch card system seems to have worked out ok. For some, it meant their entire salmon fishing season was over in just a couple of hours!

The Rangitata and Rakaia Rivers produced a few good runs in January but didn’t push on. This seems to have caused consternation for some, especially near the Rakaia River mouth. You just had to take your opportunities when the salmon were there.

A number of anglers were hooking salmon, bringing them to the bank, and then releasing them in the hope of catching a bigger one later – a risky strategy. I was told of one very good salmon angler who caught and released 8 salmon near the Rakaia River mouth on a single day.

Larry Burke Salmon Season Report as of the last week of April 2022

The Rakaia River spawning count so far stands at 1800 fish.

Rangitata River. Talking to Mark Webb CSI said it has been the best since 2000, with the number of salmon spawning greater than the last few years combined.

Waitaki River salmon anglers have had a good April.

The Clarence River has a lot of fish as does the Waiau River. I have not heard much about the Hurunui.

The lower Waimakariri River has not been so good. I have verified fish caught currently standing at 113 as against 240 last year. However, there are salmon right up in the spawning area and F&G have done their fish count. I don’t know what it is yet. There are still a few fish coming through the mouth and April has produced the most fish caught in any month of the season with 10 days to go.

There has been a variation in size which is good with some salmon weighing 20lb and over. I think things are improving fish wise.

Interestingly the number of anglers who fished on the Waimakariri River has been way down at an estimated 5000 angler days compared with 34,000 angler days in the NIWA freshwater angler survey of 2014-15 and that was down from 75,000 salmon angler days in the Waimakariri River in 2007. It means the loss of a lot of licence revenue for NCF&G. May council meeting will be interesting.

Angler usage of New Zealand lake and river fisheries. Results from the 2014/15 National Angling Survey Prepared for Fish & Game New Zealand by NIWA July 2016 July 20.pdf

Salmon Caught in the Lower Waimakariri River 2020-2021 versus 2021-2022 Seasons

In the final count for the season for the Waimakariri River below the bridges; of 118 verified salmon caught, two-thirds were probably caught at the mouth. I have very little information on the Kaiapoi River caught fish this year. Spawning is slow and small, but three years ago we only recorded 23 redds in Silverstream. I have heard of other salmon up the Cam River but have not been verified yet. Will be doing a walk count on Wednesday. Salmon spawning in the Avon and Heathcote. The number of verified salmon 2020-21 season lower Waimakariri River was 165 plus around 100 up the Kaiapoi.

South Side of the Rangitata River mouth

Bill Whipp reports only 37 salmon were caught the previous 2020-2021 season, and 38 this year 2021-2022 season. Hopefully, the new fish screen will lead to a big improvement for the Rangitata River. Giant fish screen installed to protect native species in Canterbury’s Rangitata

NZ King Salmon to close farms due to rising sea temperatures
25 May 2022

The country’s largest salmon producer says it is being forced to close farms and let go of staff due to warmer water temperatures brought on by climate change.

New Zealand King Salmon will fallow three farms in the Pelorus Sound by next summer, with one kept to run trials.

It comes after a summer blighted by unusually high fish mortalities.

Between December and February, trucks from Havelock and Picton made 160 trips to the Blenheim landfill, dumping 1269 tonnes of dead fish and waste. 

NZ King Salmon to close farms due to rising sea temperatures

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