At 0001 hours on Saturday the 7th of November, the high country fishing season kicked-off throughout Canterbury. Anglers in their hundreds flocked to the iconic Canterbury high country to take part in the annual fishery opening with many anglers out on the water just after midnight. A combination of good weather before the southerly change hit meant anglers were able to celebrate this tradition with gusto. At the annual Lake Coleridge fishing competition over 200 anglers entered the popular contest and many more came for the prize draw.
Whilst it’s not necessary for anglers to catch a fish to enter the competition (anglers only need to present their licence to enter the prize draw), any fish that were entered were also analysed by Fish & Game staff to build up the picture of the state of the fish population in the high country.
Anglers go in the draw for thousands of dollars worth of prizes generously provided by Christchurch Hunting and Fishing.
As well as recording weight and length, Fish & Game staff remove scales, otoliths and stomach samples of selected fish caught for age and diet analysis.
The otolith is an ear bone in the fish, which in simple terms records the age and chemical signature of where the fish is from, and can be analysed by Fish & Game staff to assist in management of the fishery.
North Canterbury Fish & Game CEO Rasmus Gabrielsson says "The High Country is part of the uniqueness of the Canterbury Fishery, nowhere else in the world do anglers get to fish in such beautiful scenery so close to a major population centre."
"These lakes are easy to get to and have healthy populations of fish that give anglers the chance to get a meal for the table with only a day trip from the city."
"These types of competitions also enable Fish & Game to gather lots of valuable data about the health of the fishery, we are able to assess things like where the fish come from, how old they are, their condition. All of which helps us maintain and manage a sustainable fishery for all kiwis."
Angler Danny Pye from Cust says" I’m always up here, Lake Selfe is my favourite lake, I’m up here as much as I can".
Pye’s efforts were rewarded with the heaviest fish landed during the day a 3.8 kilogram brown trout from Lake Selfe. Check out the video in this article to see more.