Four Seasons Safaris
Red Stag Antlers
Big Game Animals
Sea-run salmon can be found in many South Island rivers during the New Zealand summer and autumn (December through to April). The Rakaia River, which is situated 10-minutes from Hunter Downs Sportsman’s Lodge. Not only has the largest runs of salmon of all the South Island rivers, its tributaries offer both excellent salmon and trout fishing.
The salmon spend 1-3 years in the ocean before returning to the East Coast spawning rivers. The weight of the fish varies, often from season-to-season, with specimens of 35lb (16kg) being caught.
As the salmon leave the salt water, they acclimatise to the change to fresh water and move on up the glacier feed waters towards their spawning grounds. As they enter the fresh waters, they have a silvery sheen and are carrying fat reserves from their last feeding. The further upstream they travel, the ‘sheen’ gradually diminishes as they fight their way up as much of 100-kilometres of swift, icy river currents. Often they will travel in small groups or breeding pairs. It is relatively common for an angler to catch both fish in a breeding pair in the one pool.
Because salmon do not feed on their upstream journey, it is the flash of the metal lure or a streamer that attracts them to react and bite at the lure out of pure aggression. The most common lure in use by New Zealand salmon fishers, is a z-spinner, however, many other lures will also work as well. Because the salmon has a very hard mouth, our lures have exceptionally sharp treble hooks fitted. The use of 7-9ft graphite bait casting rods with open face or egg-beater type reels with a capacity of up to 200 yards of 20lb (8kg) test nylon is usual. We change the weight and pattern of lures frequently over a day’s fishing depending on the type and colour of the waters being fished.
A valuable hint for the novice salmon fisher. When you feel the slightest
hesitation or ‘knock’ on your lure, immediately lift your rod tip to set the hook - then prepare to do battle. If the salmon gets into the swift water of the main stream, it will strip yards of line from your reel. You will then have to run along the river edge to keep up with the departing fish. Every situation is different and sometimes we will send a jet boat to follow the salmon (and angler) downstream. Hooking a salmon is pure adrenaline pumping action and hopefully at the end of it all, a fine plump salmon will be the prize.
Four Seasons Safaris are specialist in river fishing using custom-built Dart Craft and Hamilton Jet Boats. As part of the safari, you will enjoy and enthralling jet boat ride as we skim along the braided Canterbury rivers, often in just inches of water. Whether your quarry of choice is Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout or the mighty King Salmon, the ‘getting to’ the likely fishing spot is part of the fun and the use of the jet boats, we find, is the most productive way of fishing for salmon.
They enable us to cover miles of water in the search for the idea pool salmon may choose to rest up in. We travel from the river mouth, where the salmon begin their river journey, right into the headwaters taking up to 6 anglers to a boat. Using jet boats means when we don’t encounter salmon in one pool we simply move on to the next, saving a lot of footwork and/or uncomfortable 4x4 driving over river stone.
The most productive times of the day for salmon are first light in the morning, when the salmon have rested overnight in a suitable pool. In the evening we hope to encounter the salmon entering the pool in order to rest before having to do battle with the swift currents during the following daylight hours.
The King Salmon was introduced from the West Coast of North America and released into the Waitaki River on the East Coast of the South Island in 1901. As well as sea-run salmon, much smaller land-locked salmon can be found in many South Island lakes and are often caught by anglers targeting brown and rainbow trout.
Distinguishing features of Salmon include:
- Prominently forked tail
- Mouth black inside between the teeth.
- Long-based low anal fin
- Hooked snoot
- Feral Boar (sus scrofa)
- Rusa Javan Deer (cervus timorensis)
- Sika Deer (cervus nippon)
- Raindow/ Brown Trout, and Chinook Salmon
- Free Range Sambar Deer (Cervus unicolor unicolor)
- Fallow Deer Hunting New Zealand (dama dama)
- Buffalo, Ox Hunting Australia (Bubalus bubalis) (genus bibos)
- Free Range Chamois New Zealand (rupicapra rupicapra)
- Elk Hunting New Zealand (cervus canadensis)
- Goat hunting New Zealand (capra hircus)