Fishermen have more than tales

Denise Lukey, of Westport, with her first salmon in five years, a 6kg specimen landed off the...
Denise Lukey, of Westport, with her first salmon in five years, a 6kg specimen landed off the Customhouse Quay pontoon yesterday morning. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Salmon are jumping on fishing hooks around the Otago Harbour and fishers have been making net gains for the past month.

Westport couple Brian and Denise Lukey had caught their first salmon in five years within an hour of casting from the Customhouse Quay pontoon yesterday.

"We usually pop down for a fish on our way through Dunedin. We're retired old fogeys and you meet a lot of nice people down here," Mr Lukey said.

"We couldn't believe how quickly this fellow got on." Two more salmon were landed in the 30 minutes the Otago Daily Times spent at the wharf yesterday.

Jia Liu, of Dunedin, pulled in a 5.2kg specimen and Al Brown, of Dunedin, followed that with a 3.6kg salmon.

"It's my lucky day," Mr Liu said.

"That's the secret. If you're lucky, you catch fish every day."

New Zealand Salmon Anglers Association Otago branch chairman Wayne Olsen said the harbour was teeming with salmon, ahead of the annual Otago salmon fishing competition this weekend.

"We've been averaging sixkilos and people have been getting some really good catches," he said yesterday.

"Some people have already landed more than 30 salmon.

Anywhere from the Leith Wharf up to the Ravensbourne Wharf is a good spot for trolling, while the wharves around by the Monarch and the harbour board have also been really good," he said.

"The competition is a great social and family event, although we've had out-of-town anglers win it the last two years, so it would be nice if a Dunedin angler could win it this year."

The minimum takeable size for a salmon is 450mm.

"Anything smaller than that must be returned live to the water," Mr Olsen said.

Quinnat salmon smolt were originally released in the harbour in 1985 and the Dunedin Community Salmon Trust now releases around 35,000 smolt a year.

The largest salmon caught in the harbour was 15kg, in 2008.

The Otago Salmon Fishing Competition is on Saturday and Sunday, with weighing at 4pm on both days at the Wharf Hotel.

There are prizes for the heaviest salmon caught by men, woman and juniors.

Entry is $30 for adults and $5 for children .


Fishing tips
- A 2.4m rod with 9kg monofilament line will do the trick, although a 3.7m rod is often favoured, as it helps keep the float and your hooked salmon from tangling with wharf piles.
- The best rig for wharf fishing is a whole baitfish bridle, with two or three hooks suspended just off the bottom with the aid of a float.
- Recommended bait is anchovies, yellow-eyed mullet, pilchards, baby barracuda or other oily fish.
- Hooking a salmon is only half the job. You will also need a drop-net if you want to take your fish home.
- The most successful spots for wharf fishing have been around the harbour basin and at Ravensbourne.
- For trolling, the word on the water is a blue lure with silver and green works best, with a paravane to control the depth.
- Most salmon are caught just above the bottom of the harbour floor.


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