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Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Archive: Over one hundred years (Part 2)

From Hunting and Fishing in Marlborough – A history of the Marlborough Acclimatisation Society and a guide for present day sportsmen; pages 9, 10. Originally published 1980. Scans of the pages are at the bottom of this article. This article shows the text from the original that relates to fishing, with some editing to help with flow.

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Over one hundred years (Part 2)

1880 saw reports of good sized trout in rivers such as at Taylor's Pass and the Waihopai and one was estimated to weigh 5 pounds.

The Annual Meeting of 1881 reported that "all the principal streams and headwaters" had been stocked with brown trout procured from Otago and Nelson.

Salmon from Tasmania were procured and liberated also. Confusion seems to have been evident as to the exact nature of the fish and the Society "was unable to say whether these fish are the English salmon or sea trout."

"We have now in the rivers of Marlborough, American salmon, English salmon or sea trout and brown trout."

The Annual General Meeting of 1882 reported that a shipment of salmon from England had perished and was "an utter failure". Finances of the Society were "in a fairly healthy position".

The 1883 Annual Meeting reported starlings had increased and trout liberation had continued with private individuals also releasing fish. Rivers such as the Flaxbourne and Mahakipawa received trout, although today they are unsuitable for trout.

There was a certain amount of criticism on the fisheries management work by the Acclimatisation Society but in the Marlborough Express of January 30th, 1884, a "magnificent trout" weighing 10.25 pounds was reported as being captured in Spring Creek. The "New Zealand Gazette" of November 4th, 1884 stipulated the conditions for trout fishing in Marlborough. The licence fee was ten shillings and the season ran from 15th October to 31st March.

Marlborough's trout were undoubtedly thriving. A 12 pound brown trout was captured in 1885 from Spring Creek by Mr E. Paul. "Trout of fine size and condition" were reported in tributaries of the Wairau River. Five trout fishing licences were taken out in 1885.
The 1885 Annual General Meeting reported that "the Society has taken no active steps in the introduction of either game or fish." Obviously it was considered both fish and game were well established.

"Brown trout, salmo fario" were "considered thoroughly established in the Counties of Marlborough and the Sounds, by a judicious system of netting spawning fish and once more utilising the hatching boxes at the Messrs Redwoods' weir on Spring Creek."

The Waitohi Stream at Picton was reported as giving "good fishing". The Society's secretary reported that in an hour he had killed half a dozen good trout from the Waitohi. Good sized trout up to 11 pounds in weight were reported as being taken. The committee regretted that "no trace of a salmon, whether salar or quinnat, liberated prior to 1878 and in 1880, has been seen."

In 1886, dry weather was reported to be killing trout in the Waitohi Stream. However, an inspection of the stream by Society staff showed it to be "abounding with trout of all sizes from a couple of pound fish down to small, fry-like minnows".

The Waitohi Stream was described as "now one of the best streams in the colony."

In 1886, 3,000 young salmon were liberated in the Pelorus "without the loss of a single fish".

In December, 1886, the Marlborough Express reported that "Mr Clouston caught this morning in the Opawa at St. Andrews, an enormous Californian trout, the largest ever taken in Marlborough and probably one of the biggest yet caught in the Colony." The trout weighed 24.5 pounds and was 35 inches in length.

Poaching was becoming common and the 1887 Annual General Meeting expressed concern at "those unprincipled individuals who make a practice of taking fish and game out of season".

The Nelson Society had successfully liberated young salmon in the Tinline Stream, a tributary of the Pelorus River.

In 1888, pheasants were reported as still scarce and nothing had been seen of the young salmon liberated in the Pelorus River.

Brown trout and Loch Leven fry were imported in 1889. More evidence of the successful establishment of trout was seen by the capture of a 14 pound brown trout from the Opawa River. It was reason for celebration, for several Acclimatisation Society and press representatives met at the Criterion Hotel to consume the monster, which was served in "capital style with a delicious salad and a bottle of choice sauterne." The meal was described as reminiscent of "the balmiest days of the Roman Empire."

Depression times made finances difficult but the Society managed to import brown trout, Loch Leven trout and American brook char for release. The brook trout were liberated in the Waitohi, Avondale, Branch Creek, Omaka, Spring Creek, Okaramio and other streams.

Big trout continued to be caught. A net fisherman at the Wairau Bar caught two large trout of 21 and 26.75 pounds. They were described as "brown trout, salmo fario". The Waitohi Stream at Picton continued to draw praise as a fine trout stream.


Page 9 of Hunting and Fishing in Marlborough – A history of the Marlborough Acclimatisation Society and a guide for present day sportsmen.

Page 10 of Hunting and Fishing in Marlborough – A history of the Marlborough Acclimatisation Society and a guide for present day sportsmen.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Archive: Over one hundred years (Part 1)

From Hunting and Fishing in Marlborough – A history of the Marlborough Acclimatisation Society and a guide for present day sportsmen; pages 7, 8. Originally published 1980. Scans of the pages are at the bottom of this article. This article shows the text from the original that relates to fishing, with some editing to help with flow.

Read Part 2 >
Read Part 3 >
Read Part 4 >
Read Part 5 >

Over one hundred years (Part 1)

In September, 1873, Mr Henry Redwood supervised the transportation of 1,000 young trout from Christchurch, but they failed to survive despite the extreme care taken. They were to be liberated in Spring Creek and the Omaka River.

Undoubtedly trout were liberated soon after this initial failure and in February, 1878, 500 salmon were liberated in the Opawa River, by Mr Charles Goulter of Hawkesbury. The salmon were a gift from the Wellington Acclimatisation Society.

Details of the administrative side of the Acclimatisation Society are not always clear. Meetings undoubtedly took place - but in the words of the Marlborough Express, the Society went about its work "quietly". So unobtrusive was the work that in December 1873, one enthusiast wrote in a letter to the Editor:
"Mr Editor, can you inform me what is doing with respect to the above Society. I think they are in funds and according to the Auckland papers, fish are cheap in that province. Why not buy some and make a start? Our worthy secretary seems more inclined to pheasants than fish. I wish you would give a little time to the importation of the latter and leave the pheasants alone, as they will do very well by themselves."

It would seem that in 1876, 1,000 young trout were placed in the Omaka and Spring Creeks. However a shipment of 12,000 young trout failed to survive the coastal steamer journey to Marlborough, "notwithstanding the great care taken by Mr H. Redwood in trying to preserve them."

Salmon were liberated about this time and a Marlborough Express item in March 1878 stated, "A person who went up to the Omaka yesterday discovered a quantity of salmon, alive and healthy, close to the spot where they were turned out nearly a fortnight ago."

Trout liberations were still hampered by deaths in transit. Salmon were again liberated in the Opawa and Omaka Rivers, as well as the Pelorus River.

Liberations are difficult to assess accurately. It appears individuals were liberating fish and game, and a letter to the Editor of the Marlborough Express on May 8th, 1878, placed on record the introduction of salmon in the Clarence River by Mr Walter Gibson of Waipapa. "Some 300 - 400 young salmon were successfully turned out on Good Friday, 1878, into a most suitable stream situated on the Waipapa Run emptying itself into the Clarence."

In June the Society again met to authorise a sub-committee to act to obtain a lease of land from Mr Hilcy for the purpose of constructing "store and breeding ponds".

Trout liberations continued and use was made of the hatchery facilities.

32,000 ova in "a very advanced condition" had arrived and losses were minimal. Hatching of the trout was successful and in December a meeting was held to discuss liberation points.

Trout were liberated in Spring Creek and the Waihopai River. An editorial in the Marlborough Express showed admiration for the liberations of trout as "a very important work" and for the way the Society went about the task in "a quiet, unobtrusive and selfless manner".

In 1879 complaints were made that North Bank residents were guilty of dynamiting the Wairau River for native grayling, which today are extinct. Trout, and to a lesser extent, salmon, continued to be imported into Marlborough and eventually liberated in streams ranging from the Awatere area to the Avon Valley.

Page 7 of Hunting and Fishing in Marlborough – A history of the Marlborough Acclimatisation Society and a guide for present day sportsmen.
Page 8 of Hunting and Fishing in Marlborough – A history of the Marlborough Acclimatisation Society and a guide for present day sportsmen.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Archive: Old Maori Calendar - Fishing by phases of the moon

From Saltwater Angling in New Zealand, by R. B. Doogue, page 58. Originally published 1957.

(I have been considering combining whatever sources of 'best fishing' that are currently around, and producing a compiled result from them all. After my fairly minimal analysis today, I'm wondering whether the result will just end up with every day being 'average fishing'...

Comparing the table below against the Angler's Almanac and Bill Hohepa's calendar (although Bill's don't seem to be consistent with moon phases anyway), the only thing that they all appear to 'agree' upon, is that the day after a new moon should be very good fishing.)




Thursday, 12 July 2012

Wairau Hydro Scheme on hold

We've just received some good news from Fish & Game - the Wairau River hydro scheme is currently on hold! The following is to appear in their Nelson/Marlborough regional supplement.

Wairau Given a Stay of Execution

Due to the economic downturn, the Christchurch earthquakes and less demand for electricity than predicted, it has recently been announced that many of the South Island Hydro Scheme proposals have been given a stay of execution – at least for now.

Unfortunately most of these schemes have only been put on hold until the economic climate is more conducive for building them. Even so this is good news for anglers, the wildlife and others who utilise the resource.

We can only hope that by the time the economic climate and electricity demand picks up again, more environmentally friendly alternatives will be viable for meeting New Zealand’s energy demands.

In the meantime get out and make the most of the Wairau while you can enjoy it!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Archive: Looking Back

From Hunting and Fishing in Marlborough – A history of the Marlborough Acclimatisation Society and a guide for present day sportsmen; pages 19, 20. Originally published 1980. Scans of the pages are at the bottom of this article. This article shows the text from the original that relates to fishing.

Looking Back
by Frank Mogridge





Frank Mogridge, 95 years young in 1980 and a life member, recalls...

I can recall the Society’s first hatchery at Springlands where Mr S. Tapp had a wool scouring works. The introduction of trout to our waters was very successful and some fine big trout were taken at the turn of the century. From the Taylor River at a spot not far from the present Criterion Hotel a twenty-six pound trout was taken in 1901. About the same time one of thirty pounds was taken from the Opawa River.

The Springlands trout hatchery was eventually abandoned, due I think to a lack of finance and the Marlborough Society turned to a policy of purchasing fry for liberation. The Fisheries Department endeavoured to establish quinnat salmon in the Wairau River and built a hatchery at Maori Creek near Te Rou on the North Bank. This operated for quite some time but the poor results with salmon forced the eventual closure of the complex.

The failure of salmon to colonise the Wairau in substantial numbers is the result of unfavourable ocean conditions with temperatures being too warm. As a result the colder waters the Clarence, Waiau and Hurunui Rivers further south probably gained more benefit than the Wairau.

One of Marlborough’s best rivers in those early years was the Opawa. It originally formed from a breakthrough of its banks by the Wairau River.  It came down across the plains and formed numerous small streams which joined just below Renwick to form the Opawa River proper.

The Taylor also was a fine trout river and held quite good fish from the High Street bridge to the junction at the Opawa gas works. About 1937 a property owner planted some water lilies in the stream and in a short time the water lilies had filled the whole of the river. All sorts of efforts were made to remove the lilies but without success. Enquiries by the Society were made worldwide in an effort to save the Taylor River and a machine for weed cutting was obtained from America. It cost £l5O, but the Society had just £lO to spare. However, grants were obtained from the Blenheim Borough Council and the River Board and a shipping company, Eckford's, who used the Opawa wharf, and the machine was landed and presented to the River Board. It was a big success and constant cutting eventually completed the destruction of the masses of lilies.

Page 19 of Hunting and Fishing in Marlborough – A history of the Marlborough Acclimatisation Society and a guide for present day sportsmen.
Page 20 of Hunting and Fishing in Marlborough – A history of the Marlborough Acclimatisation Society and a guide for present day sportsmen.