Waitaki River Fishing Competition
The first recorded fishing competition on the Waitaki river was organised by the Waitaki Branch of the Acclimatisation Society in December 1884. It was followed by a second competition one week later. It wasn’t until after the events in February 1895, that prize money of six pounds for six prize winners was authorised.
In October 1894 Mr Rupert Cameron offered a reward of five pounds to the first bonafide New Zealand salmon caught in New Zealand waters (not ponds) on the condition that he be one of the judges.
There is no record of the reward having been won!
Mr Ayson, manager of the Hakataramea hatchery and Assistant Chief Inspector of Fisheries from 1918 to 1929, in a later report says that prior to the arrival of the “white man” to New Zealand, there was neither trout nor salmon in our waters. There was however one species of salmonidae called the native grayling, called upokororo by the Maori.
The grayling was the only member of the salmonidae family found in the Southern Hemisphere and is now believed to be extinct.
By 1905 salmon returning to the Waitaki River were observed to be spawning naturally. Since this time salmon have dispersed to other rivers along the South Island’s east coast.
The salmon run of 1929 was reported to be the best in the history of the river. The largest single total of salmon caught for the season was recorded by Constable Berry, who was stationed at Glenavy, who caught 60 fish. Over the season his family, with four rods, took 139 fish.