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Back-country heaven . . . The opening of the back country fishery in the Canterbury high country drew thousands last weekend. Roy Thompson, from Nelson, tries his luck. Photo: Richard Cosgrove: NZ Fish and Game.

By Robyn Bristow

Several thousand anglers headed to high country lakes and rivers last weekend to try their hand at luring a salmon, brown or rainbow trout as the back-country fishing season opened.

North-westerly winds did little to dampen their enthusiasm. While boat-based anglers were hindered by the choppy conditions, shore-based anglers were consistently reeling in good fish.

The Lake Sumner and Lake Coleridge areas proved popular, attracting anglers from through
out North Canterbury in search of their first catch of the season.

More than a thousand anglers headed to fish the Lake Coleridge area alone. It is one of the few lakes where an angler can catch all three sports fish.

Rivers also proved popular for catching salmon and trout, including the upper reaches of
both the Hurunui and Waiau rivers.

The Waiau marks the northern boundary of Canterbury’s wild sea-run salmon fishery, with
salmon runs reported to be good, but sporadic.

Two hundred and sixty anglers of all ages entered the annual Lake Coleridge fishing competition organised by Fish & Game, with more than $5000 in prizes sponsored
by Hunting & Fishing Christchurch given away beside the lake, at Ryton Bay, on Saturday afternoon.

Anglers and their families can camp in Ryton Bay due to the generosity of the owners of
Glenthorne Station, who allow anglers to continue a tradition that many generations of Canterbury families have enjoyed.

With a large number of anglers in the area, Fish & Game rangers were out in force and checked 460 anglers over Saturday, with no offences detected.

North Canterbury Fish & Game has also been checking whitebaiters, venturing into the remote regions.

Fish & Game rangers were joined by Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers when they headed to the Waiau River mouth recently, in the first of several joint operations planned this summer.

Fish & Game rangers were joined by Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers when
they headed to the Waiau River mouth recently, in the first of several joint operations planned this summer.

DOC staff hitched a ride in North Canterbury Fish & Game’s jet boat because public vehicle access to the mouth is almost impossible, enabling both organisations to enforce their respective legislation.

Around a dozen whitebaiters had ventured into the remote site to try their hand at catching
some of the elusive white gold.

The mouth proved the most popular site for whitebaiters. It was equally popular for a
dozen or so New Zealand fur seals, seen frolicking inside the bar.

No fines were issued but some new whitebaiters were educated about leaving their nets
unattended and being more than 10 metres
from their nets.

Fish & Game and DOC have run these operations frequently over the years and will be
repeating this week’s visit at random times over summer.