Dunedin Community Salmon Trust volunteer Lyall Nash lured and hooked two 3-year-old salmon, collectively weighing about 8kg, from the lower harbour yesterday.
Mr Nash caught them within half-an-hour and said it indicated the traditional pre-Christmas run had started.
The Roseneath resident said Dunedin was known as "salmon city", and for good reason.
"When the salmon are returning, the average fisherman can pick up half a dozen pretty easily. It's the result of hours of volunteer work in the hatchery at Sawyers Bay," he said.
Mr Nash said only one or two salmon had been caught recently, but he expected more to be hooked in coming weeks.
"Normally we get a run before Christmas and another afterwards."
The salmon were raised from eggs in the hatchery then released in the Leith about May, which triggered their annual return to the Leith and upper harbour to breed in autumn.
Asked what kind of salmon they were, Mr Nash said "tasty".