Party’s not quite over
Camaraderie and annual contests will be reminiscedwhenthe traditional fishing season ends tomorrow, but every South Island region offerssomewinter fishing.
In the approach to autumn the river flows are often less than desired, and this year saw a huge effort by Fish & Game staff and volunteers to rescue fish stressed by the drought.
It usually encourages anglers in one of two directions: an opportunity to either seek out spring-fed streams and cooler lake waters, or to make a special effort to get some additional time on the salmon rivers. Both options offer enjoyable fishing – usually in sunny weather that attracts good hatches in the high country lakes. There is a certain urgency as the season rushes towards the end of the traditional season tomorrow and hence the comment I have been getting recently: ‘‘It’s all over for another season.’’
But wait. If you check the regulations booklet you received when buying your licence you’ll find that every region in the South Island offers a continuation of fishing pleasure.
What will anglers look back on tomorrow?
The dry reaches of streams and the fish salvage will be in the thoughts of those who value the environmental aspects of fishing. And I expect many anglers will recall the camaraderie in contests such as the Rakaia River salmon fishing competition, the Otago salmon anglers’ harbour competition, the North Canterbury salmon anglers’ fishing competition on the Waimakariri River, and several surfcasting competitions along the South Island coastline.
For many anglers these are indeed the season highlights.
But so, too, has the South Island’s lake fishing. Canal fishing has been extremely popular, while the solitude one seeks when sight fishing for trout around a lake edge has largely been the domain of nymph or dry fly anglers desirous of undisturbed water.
Surfcasting competitions have been around for a long time, but as with salmon competitions in the past decade seem to indicate a problem of some sort in the marine environment; thus the fish size appears to have decreased.
A positive step forward is North Canterbury Fish & Game’s plans to refine its method of counting spawning salmon. Their huge database will be further refined by looking at new practices, procedures, and examining the various theories that should result from the new focus. I thoroughly support that effort to gather scientific data.
Hatchery manager Dirk Barr says evaluation of the number of salmon that need to be in any spawning stream might be among questions asked. ‘‘We need to ascertain how many square metres of the stream are necessary to grow a smolt to 7 grams weight,’’ Barr says.
But until North Canterbury Fish & Game staff complete the wild origin counts next month it’s encouraging to note that early indications suggest many salmon have returned to spawn. This is very encouraging and appears to be because of the release programme, which is in its third year.
It’s the sharing of new ideas and the data collected that provide the scientific basis necessary for managing a sustainable resource amid huge variables that affect the salmon fishery. The marine environment is the major variable.
The change to the counting system allied to the huge effort from Canterbury salmon anglers in recording tagged fish returns next season and needs your support.