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East Coast Fish Spotting Mission Encouraging

Media release from Eastern Fish & Game

East Coast Fish Spotting Mission Encouraging

Eastern Fish & Game Officers have been out fish spotting, carrying out their annual underwater surveys of trout numbers in East Coast rivers.

Staff have carried out drift dives in the Ruakituri and Waioeka rivers, to compare trout numbers with data collected a decade ago. ‘Drift dive’ is the term for a small group of wetsuit-clad snorkel-equipped officers who swim down river in formation, counting trout as they go.

Fish & Game Officer Matt Osborne says the Eastern Fish and Game Council has been keen to reassess populations in several East Coast rivers, following heavy flooding that’s occurred over recent seasons.

He says river conditions for the dives over recent weeks were outstanding, with low water and up to 10m visibility in the lower Waioeka, which runs through the Waioeka Gorge in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. Three sites on the Ruakituri River (a major tributary of the Wairoa River) in the Gisborne region were surveyed. Two of the sites were on the upper river near Papuni Station, and one was in the mid-section of the river.

Mr Osborne says the highest numbers of large and medium fish were encountered around Papuni Station. Counts were similar to surveys conducted during 1999, but contained much higher numbers of small trout.

Eleven 500m long stretches were also dived on the Waioeka River and above average numbers of large and medium- sized fish were counted in the upper river (above Waiata).

“The upper river, during the height of summer provides better living conditions with cooler temperatures and superior oxygen levels for fish to live, compared to the warmer lower reaches,” Mr Osborne says.

“Anglers who fish the lower river will find fishing harder at the moment as trout are not present in the same numbers as higher up. The trout counted were in good condition due to plentiful insect life and baitfish populations observed.”

Mr Osborne says the trout numbers they observed was encouraging, adding that it’s reassuring to see that these big wild populations of trout seem able to manage whatever Mother Nature throws at them. Of particular interest was the high number of ‘small’ trout holding in the riffles on the Waioeka. “These fish will grow on to a nicely catchable size by next season.”

The drift dives were part of Eastern Fish & Game’s three year monitoring program of the back country rivers on the East coast to gauge trout populations.


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