Last weekend of low-country fishing

The main low-country river fishing season ends on Monday after a successful summer's angling, in which 97% of anglers complied with regulations.

While the season got off to a slow start due to unseasonal weather and occasional high streams, conditions improved, ending with a "superb April", Fish and Game Otago general manager Ian Hadland said.

"The weather has been settled and calm, giving patient anglers near-perfect angling conditions.

"Brown trout, in particular, graze up big in April, putting on condition for spawning," he said.

They often moved around more and could be present in areas where they not been abundant during summer.

Fishing ended in low-country rivers to allow fish to spawn, many already congregating for spawning or in the process of digging nests and laying eggs.

About 20 offenders had been dealt with for a variety of offences, most commonly fishing without a licence, during the season.

A ranging "blitz" in the Wanaka area found compliance rates of more than 97%, which was consistent with the rest of the region and a "very good result", he said.

Typically, those brought before the courts had faced fines of $600 to $700, although recently an angler was sentenced to 80 hours' community work for fishing without a licence, as he claimed he could not pay a fine, Mr Hadland said.

It was one of the better summers for fishing in Central Otago for some years.

That showed in the increase in licence sales which had been slow over the start of the season. A moderate run of salmon into the lower Clutha had generated a good deal of interest.

"Some agents were caught out by a sudden rush on licences and ran very low."

River flows were good all season, due to regular rainfall. The standout was Maniototo, where the oxbows, flooded early in the season, remained full for most of the season.

"There were plenty of fish in the 2kg-3kg mark taken from these."

While the low-country rivers had closed there were still fishing opportunities in the lower Clutha and Taieri and the large southern lakes were open all year round, Mr Hadland said.



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