Winter closure of Upper Tekapo Canal allows for further research into sustainability of fishery

The closure will be in place from June 1 until August 31.
The closure will be in place from June 1 until August 31. Photo credit: Getty Images

With June marking the beginning of the winter fishing season, there is one popular spot that won't be opening this year.

With concerns over sustainability of trout stocks, the Upper Tekapo Canal fishery will be closed as a precautionary measure.

Rhys Adams, fish and game officer at the Central South Island Fish and Game Council (CSI Council) says the closure comes from a concern there is too much pressure on the spawning trout population.

"Over the last four fishing seasons there has been a dramatic rise in the use of the Tekapo Canal in the wintertime by anglers targeting the rainbow trout spawning run," Adams said on Thursday.

"The results of an unpublished survey show that the use of the upper Tekapo Canal increased by approximately 34 percent during the winter of 2020 when compared to 2019."

The closure will be in place from June 1 until August 31.

Adams said by closing the upper part of the canal, spawning would be able to "occur unaffected by fishing". It would also allow the CSI Council to carry out further research into the sustainability of the canal fishery and also its value to anglers.

One of the main priorities for the council over the coming years, Adams said, is to assess if sonar fish counting technology can be used to assess fish stocks in the canals.

Andrew Simpson, CSI Council chair, said despite the closure anglers still had a number of other locations they could fish at.

"There is no need to put away your fishing rods for the winter as there are many other fishing opportunities available during the winter months in the CSI region."

He said the Tekapo Canal, downstream of State Highway 8, and the Pukaki and Ohau canals remain open year-round, as do several large lakes of the Mackenzie Basin including Tekapo, Benmore and Waitaki.

Other locations, including Lake Alexandrina and the Ashburton, Rangitata, Opihi and Waitaki rivers, downstream of their respective State Highway 1 bridges, were also now open for the winter season, he said.