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Results of the third annual Fish & Game survey of landlocked salmon populations has found anecdotally the numbers are increasing.
The survey conducted by Fish & Game Officer Paul van Klink recorded 17 salmon caught in Lake Wanaka in the 2020-21 season, compared with 24 salmon caught in total over the past three seasons.
Mr van Klink said landlocked populations of quinnat salmon occurred in Lakes Wanaka, Wakatipu and Hawea.
They were an important component of the sport fishery, even though they were relatively small and easily caught.
The walking and helicopter surveys conducted in the tributaries of the lakes identified where the salmon had spawned in the past and where they were spawning at present, he said.
Most of the 17 salmon caught by anglers in the 2020-21 season, were caught near the Makarora River mouth, indicating the river catchment held the likely spawning areas.
Earlier in the season, the salmon were caught in the Glendhu Bay area, Wanaka Faces and the Makarora River mouth.
Mr van Klink said the comprehensive salmon spawning surveys had also identified ‘‘extensive brown trout spawning activity’’ in many of the tributary streams surveyed.
Healthy populations of brown trout were observed in the Hunter River but some tributary streams of the Makarora River had been affected by stock having access to the stream, he said.
‘‘There was a noticeable absence of brown trout and brown trout spawning in these tributary streams that had high silt loadings from farming operations.’’
Future salmon spawning surveys would concentrate on Lake Wanaka’s inflowing tributary rivers and streams but could also cover Lake Wakatipu if resources allowed, Mr van Klink said.