Hopes hatchery boosts salmon catch

Anglers will be hoping for better success this year for a salmon hatchery on the Waitaki River to increase their chances of catching good fish in future.

Over the past two years, the number of salmon the Waitaki Riparian Enhancement Society has released from its hatchery has been well below its capacity of 40,000 or more.

In 2014, problems at its Bell's Pond rearing pens left only 1100 for release.

This year, a lack of salmon because of flood damage to the trap resulted in 15,000 released.

The society trapped 50 salmon over 29 days this year, using a new trap in the Hakataramea River.

Of those, 16 females were suitable to harvest eggs from, and the society has about 50,000 fertilised eggs at its Welcome Stream hatchery to hatch and rear for next year's release.

Some have started hatching, marking a busy 10 months ahead with volunteers needed to clean the 16 trays once a week on a Sunday morning.

Society secretary Linn Koevoet said one of the problems with trapping this year in April and May was the drought and a lack of water in the Hakataramea where salmon spawned.

The new trap was moved downstream after it was found salmon would not enter the river when the flow was below about 2cumecs.

Volunteers also removed and released 168 trout above 1.3kg in weight from the trap, including one which weighed about 6kg.

This year, the society and volunteers fin-clipped 15,549 fish in its rearing ponds at Bell's Pond before they were released at the confluence of the Hakataramea and Waitaki Rivers, five places in Welcome Stream and from Bell's Pond.

It is hoped the Welcome Stream releases will encourage salmon to return there for trapping.

The programme is aimed at raising salmon to reverse the declining numbers returning to the river.

In the salmon angling season, until the end of March, two released salmon were weighed in for a contest and a third was trapped in the Hakataramea.

Mr Koevoet said the late return of salmon during April after the season meant it was probably not a true indication of hatchery-reared salmon numbers there.

david.bruce@odt.co.nz

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